Make truly informed decisions: Education on investing and offering shares for online poker tournaments
(Disclaimer: I use the male form in this text („player“, „he“ and so on), please just assume I mean everyone instead.
This guide will try to help you make better decisions in the longterm both when investing in a player and when offering shares on yourself to investors.
Two sentence about me, I've been playing online poker for about 10 years now profitably and I am also staking people profitably for about 5 years now. I've seen almost everything that can happen in the business, with people giving me 10000+% ROI longterm and people running off with the money.
Define your goals!
Sweat the player
Agressive vs. Conservative
What do we look for in a stakee?
How do we find profitable investments, what are the pitfalls you should avoid
Define your goals!
Longterm deals vs. Shot taking
Maximizing ROI vs. Reliable stakers
How to setup your offer
What do I show in my offer?
What should I best offer?
What is a fair mark up to take?
Rules of stakings
Who should be allowed to do what?
A successful player may choose to put a markup, also called premium, on his package. Doing so, he makes the package less profitable for the staker and more profitable for himself, essentially charging the staker for the opportunity to invest in him and the time he spends playing. This is not inherently a bad thing, as by doing so, the package can actually become fairer in terms of the profitability split between staker and stakee. For more information on what is a fair markup, see 3.2.3.
ROI (Return of investment)
The ROI describes, what percentage of an investment you get back as profits. For example, if you invest $100 with a 30% ROI, you will on average get back $130. If a stakee has played 5000 tournaments so far with a ROI of 16,5% - that means that on those 5000 tournaments he got back 16,5% on his buy-ins for each of them.
Variance describes, how often an actual result can differ from what we mathematically expected. In tournaments, the variance is usually very high, which means we can go very long stretches without getting your expected results. This holds certain risks to investors that I will further explain later.
Define your goals!
Now, let's say you invest some money. First of all, you will need do define what your goals are for doing so. In poker, I have found that a lot of people are very money-driven and most of them are in for the profit, but I know there are a few around who do it for the weekly sweat, same as buying lottery tickets. You need to define what group you are in because ultimatilly, the things you look for will differ and other investment opportunities might be attractive to you than to the next guy.
Now that you have found how serious you are about your investments, it is time to figure out whether you want to invest aggressively or conservatively. If you are willing to sustain high variance and you are fine with the risk of maybe doing some unprofitable investments in order to gain a potentially higher bankroll growth rate, then you will be able to find investments that conservative investors have to back away from. Those will have the advantage of a much steadier bankroll increase and less risk of going broke or doing unprofitable staking though. Write down what your goals are and be consistent in reaching them!
As for me, I definitely fall under the conservative money-making category, so you can see the whole guide more clearly with this information.
What do we look for in stakee?
Arguably the most important trait in a stakee is trust. If you cannot trust a stakee with your money, chances are you are gonna be unprofitable just by the possibility of him running off with the money which means an ROI of -100% to you. Because of that, it is immensely important to have some form of insurance that the players you are backing are trustworthy. You SHOULD find out whether he has been offering packages before and whether the payouts then were fine and I don't think it is at all out of line to ask for personal information, be it a telephone number or the facebook. However, you can never be a 100% sure, so you have to take whatever percentage you think is accurate into your profitability calculations. Be rather generous with that percentage.
Immensely important is transparency in an investment. You will find a lot of sugar coating, misleading information and brightened up graphs. Be sceptical. Here are some examples:
Are the graphs shown up-to-date? People like to include their big ships and exclude the latest downswings.
Are the offered tournaments much higher than the avg. Buy-in shown? Why is that? Ask for a filtered graph with relevant buy-in filters.
Does the stakee have a very small percentage of himself in the tournaments? If so, why is that and if he is selling with mark up, ask how that is justified. He may be essentially freerolling on the stakers' costs.
Whenever you see any of these things happening, be very sceptical and don't be afraid to ask. The staking might still be very profitable if the stakee can believably answer your questions.
Is the deal fairly splitting the profits? You don't want to invest into deals where you are at best break even. If the offer seems to one-sided either way to you, don't be afraid to bring it up (either way!) and ask for a better price or other benefits. For example, if someone is selling midstakes tournaments with a high mark up where he is breakeven so far, but he is crushing the lowstakes, you could either ask to reduce the markup OR add some lowstakes tournaments to the package to make it more valueable.
How do we find profitable investments, what are the pitfalls?
When you look for a profitable investment, you will have to do some math. I will not lay out the complete mathematical prodecure here, but I will name the factors that contribute to a profitable staking.
The stakee's skill:
Obviously, this is the most important part. Has the player the ability to beat the game for the amount of ROI that his offer suggests? For people you don't know, you'll have to look at his previous results and try to get a best possible grasp on how his abilities, if you know the player you can go by his play style. If you yourself are not beating the limits offered though, there is a very good chance you cannot accurately tell whether he would be winning there or not.
Basically, if someone offers his package with a 20% markup, he will need a 20% ROI in the game for you to be breakeven. Should his ROI be lower, you will loose money and it needs to be substantially higher for you and the stakee to split the profits. If it is only 25%, he will take about 90% of all the profits just by the markup. Do your math here, you are the person risking your money here and the split should reflect that. I emphasize this because I'm of the opinion that investors get screwed over massively here.
The amount of games (variance):
Mathematically, the longer the deal is before you get paid out and staker and stakee start from zero, the better the cut for the stakee should be, because it will lessen the variance and risk for the investor. Reversely, if only one tournament is offered in a staking, the markup should be lower.
Again, if you feel that the cut is to high for the amount of tournaments, you cut ask to get percentages for the next package reserved (with the same cut!) to essentially nullify that disadvantage.
The spread in buy-ins:
If the buyins someone is offering have a very high spread, the higher buy-ins become potentially more important, so the ROI in those must reflect the markup more clearly whereas the lower limits become less important.
As an extreme example, if someone offers a $215 and a $1 tournament in an offer, he crushes the $1 games but is losing in the $215 games, this will not be a profitable investment. This also explains why having relevant graphs and information is very important.
I'm gonna give you an example of a staking I would invest in:
Someone offers 15 tournaments with an average buy-in of $60 with a markup of 1,1 and he is providing graphs that show he has 80% ROI on tournaments $30 buy-in and lower and 12% ROI on >$50 buy-ins.
He is very trustworthy and he is offering reservers for stakers in future packages.
I might ask him to add maybe a high value $22 to the schedule, but other than that, if his curve in the higher buy-in tournament seems to be positive, I would assume he might be able to reach a 25% ROI in those longterm with the added benefit of a lower tournament. 16 tournaments is not a lot, but fine with the added tournaments I can reserve.
Define your goals:
Same as the stakers, stakees need to define what there goals in stakings are. There will be stakers who are looking for reliable stakers that will consistently buy their packages and might even offer helpful advice as to what will be the most profitable path to take in the future. Those longterm stakers can also be called backers. They might even pass up on some short time profits created by higher mark ups to get the more conservative investors interested.
Others will be looking for the maximum profits shortterm by trying to maximize the mark up they can offer vs. market demand. Their goals can be taking shots most effictively or trying to follow a very agressive bankroll management.
If you want people to buy your packages you need to find out what people you look for and be consistent in that.
How to setup your offer:
What do I show in my offer?
I think it is very important to be bluntly transparent in your offers. You should try to explain what you are trying to accomplish with your offer and you should be all out with relevant information. The most important thing you have as a stakee is your reputation! If you, for some reason, lose that, you will not be able to sell your packages anymore.
If you're upfront about your situation, your intentions and your results, people are going to be willing to take more shots with you even if the information is not as optimistic-looking as if you had sugarcoated it.
What should I best offer?
Try to make your package as convincing as possible to stakers. They are investing money into your endeavour, so you need to make it worth for them. Sell games you are already profitable in that you want to lower the variance in, sell high value games that you are not currently playing but you are convinced you can be profitable in. Or sell a reasonable mixture of it.
What is a fair markup?
A fair markup depends on what kind of investor you want to reach with your package. The more tilted the markup is towards your profits over the staker's, the more you will be looking for either aggressive investors or people who want to sweat. Be upfront about that as well and try to explain why you think the markup is fair.
Here is an example of what I would like an offer to look like. (Disclaimer: These are my real stats but it is NOT an actual offer!)
"Hey, I'm AvoidMe?.
I would like to sell a package for the next five days that includes the following tournaments:
Big 75 (5x)
Hot 33 (5x)
Big 22 (5x)
Big 44 (5x)
Big 55 (5x)
Hot 55 (5x)
Sunday Warmup (1x)
Sunday Million (1x)
As I'm currently not looking for regular stakers, there will not be a reservation list.
Total costs will be $1850 * 1,15 MU = ~$2125
Here are my graphs:
Rules of Staking:
This is where people take very different philosophical stands, depending on what their intentions are (investor or seller?) and whether they think the market should be totally free or 'regulated' in some way. I, for one, firmly believe in the latter and I'm gonna try to further explain, why.
Who should be allowed to do what?
Let's be honest, they way most marketplaces are set-up now is very seller-friendly. You don't have to provide any information at all and there are no repercussions at all for offering a package with a high MU that does not sell and there is, mostly, very little security measures taken to provide security taken. While I think that encouraging deal-making is a good thing, I think it should be recognized more that investors are the ones taking the risk. Sellers are traditionally the people asking for something, namely your money, in return for a service. I don't see why it should be frowned upon to critizise, in a reasonable manner, a bad product, they same way it's perfectly legal to critizise a bad product you buy in a store. Transparency should be the highest priority and providing transparency should be in the interest, and the responsibility, of the stakee. Lack thereof should be allowed to be fixed by others.
I actually think a more transparent way of providing data would, in the long-term, benefit the marketplace. For me personally, wading through all these bad offers, researching relevant data and asking further questions not being answered (like, how many % need to be sold in order for the stakee to play) is such a hassle that I, for the most part, just skip this forum for investment opportunities, which is a pity. From my experience, a lot more respected and wealthy people will come to a forum that is well structured and 'fairer' to the investors, at the expense of a subset of the people offering that will not be able to sell as well anymore.
With this little guide I try to start a reasonable discussion on what the terms of service should be for a forum like this. In my opinion, there needs to be change in the way some people are presenting themselves. Obviously, this is probably a controversial standpoint, so by all means, answer away explaining your stand on it.
Have a nice day.