Should Poker Pros Be More Practical with Staking Markup?

Posted on by RTR Dennis

Poker tournament pros typically offer staking deals to potential investors with a markup. The markup is the price that tourney pros charge based on their history of success.

For example, a poker pro who sells 50% of their action at 1.2:1 markup is asking investors to cover 60% of the buy-in(s). Meanwhile, both sides will still split 50% of the profits.

These types of staking deals ramp up around WSOP time. But a few of this year’s packages have drawn serious criticism. In particular, Johnnie “JohnnieVibes” Moreno and Allen Kessler were bashed by certain pros over their markup asking prices.

Let’s take a closer look at these stories and examine whether or not the pros are in the right over their markup deals.

Moreno Seeks Elite Markup

Johnnie Moreno is a poker Twitch streamer with marginal success in live tournaments. He’s only earned $72,244 in six years of being on the tourney circuit.

Nevertheless, JohnnieVibes recently offered a WSOP package that includes 1.38 markup. Moreno isn’t necessarily asking for this lofty markup because of his skills, but rather as a way for fans to support him as a streamer.

“If you want to gamble with me, support the vlog, say thanks for providing you value through this group or my videos.” he explained, “Strike it rich with tournaments this summer, help me win a bracelet, etc., this is your chance to ride with me.”

Poker pros Doug Polk and Shaun Deeb were offended by the type of markup that Moreno is asking for. They believe that he’s a “scammer” who’s taking advantage of inexperienced investors. Tweeting under the handle Markup Police, Deeb wasn’t forgiving in his criticism:

“Dear @JohnnieVibes when selling a package that after almost 1.4 markup equals lifetime cashes you’re scamming people. If you need the money just beg next video like you’re on twitch.”

Polk chimed in with the following sarcastic tweet:

“Not cool Deeb, Johnnie is an excellent tournament player (He talks about it in his vlog all the time). If he wants to sell at 1.38 on 43k worth of buyins, investors are getting a deal! He has a proven track record in tournaments, lets just let the numbers speak for themselves.”

Daniel Negreanu Jumps In to Debate Markup Police

Deeb also took exception to Kessler asking for WSOP staking without providing how much he’s spent on buy-ins. Kessler instead only touted how he’s won $900,000 in nine years at the WSOP:

“Listen i know how obsessed with numbers and data you are how don’t you include your total buyins for these 9 years. I’m guessing they’ll show your -ev”

Daniel Negreanu defended Kessler by noting that he’s not asking for a “package” but rather a one-off deal for the Main Event. ‘Kid Poker’ continued by blasting Deeb’s efforts to expose other pros:

“And I mostly did that to force you to put your money where your big mouth is anyway. You didn’t. Your goal here is abusing and bullying people. Cause it’s who you are dude.”

“[…] In poker tourneys people often sell percentages at a marked up rate. Shaming these people is wrong. Mocking the buyers of pieces is shameful. It helps no one and hurts the tourneys. People wanting to play but are afraid of the backlash.”

Deeb responded by claiming that he tells things like they are and wants to expose the so-called scammers:

“I am an asshole but not a bully I just don’t sugercoat shit I’m not fake like you and I don’t screw over the community for my own finically stability like you. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is lets bet 250k Wsop poy me vs you ignore any events over 100k”

Should Kessler and Moreno Feel Ashamed of Their Asking Prices?

Negreanu and Deeb are definitely on different sides of the fence when it comes to calling out mediocre pros over markup. Neither side seemed to convincingly win the argument.

Kid Poker is right in that Deeb could go about criticizing other pros in a nicer manner. But Deeb may legitimately feel that he’s helping the poker community by doing so. Furthermore, he’s sparked some interesting thoughts on whether certain pros should charge such high markup.

Most winning tournament players charge between 1.2 and 1.5 markup. The latter end is reserved for top-notch pros. Moreno is therefore offering a bad deal (1.38) when considering his lack of success.

Kessler, meanwhile, has a more-reasonable offer ranging from 1.05 to 1.2 markup (depending on WSOP event). But the issue is that he only focused on his winnings and ignored the buy-ins.

You can argue that both Kessler and Moreno could stand to work on their offers. However, calling them scammers is a bit over the top.

The onus is on the investor to do research and find out whether they’re getting a quality deal. Failing to google Moreno’s tournament results before throwing money at him is inexcusable. Staking Kessler without noticing that he left his buy-ins out of the description is also really bad.

This isn’t to suggest that true poker scammers shouldn’t be held accountable. However, Moreno and Kessler aren’t blatantly trying to bilk investors out of money. Any interested backers need to perform due diligence and decide if either player is worth the money.

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