Friday, February 12, 2010

Money Questions

Forgive my ignorance, but I’ll never know if I don’t ask. I have some questions about different types of compensation for poker players. This may be a good topic for the boys at Gambling Tales to discuss on their next podcast.

Years ago when I first started watching poker, it was just the final tables of the WPT and WSOP Main Event. I’m sure just being on TV was a thrill and it helped make some of these guys rich and famous. That was before the days of NASCAR like logos and advertising on players. Now there are tons of new shows that aren’t just broadcasts covering poker but are shows created for the sole intent of airing. As a player, how do they make it worth their while? It is my understanding that for the WSOP and WPT, you sign waivers and receive no additional compensation from ESPN or the network du jour that is broadcasting the WPT. If you are lucky enough to make it to a TV table there seem to be 1 day deals for wearing patches or hats, but those come from the poker sites. What about shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker? On PAD, each player puts up $20K in a winner take all format. Are they really putting up $20K of their own money? If so, are they getting paid something different for their appearance on the show? Otherwise, why do it? I realize it’s just a big commercial for Full Tilt but they don't all play for FT. On HSP and some episodes of PAD, it is strictly cash games. What is the advantage of playing on TV versus just doing it in Bobby’s Room? Does it avoid the rake? How much is the rake on these big games anyway?

Speaking of the pros, what is given to the ones that sign sponsorship deals? What is a ballpark figure for the salary of a pro? Do they get tournament buy-ins and travel on top of that? How long will Chris Moneymaker remain a PokerStars pro? I can only imagine the tax nightmare for the players that constantly have prop bets and win money in multiple countries.

Another subject I curious about is players backing other players. What is the proper distribution of prize money when you have financial backers? Is some ratio of % of the buy-in equal to a % of the amount won? I was kind of thinking 100% buy-in gets 50% of the prize and 50% buy-in gets 25%. How do you report that on taxes if it is a large enough amount to worry? Can the prize money be issued to multiple people at the time of collection like lottery winners?

To help put myself in a postion to have these worries, I joined 9 other guys and we are each contributing $180 to a pool. The person with the most points over 12 games in 2010 will get the $1800 to enter a WSOP bracelet game (1500 or 1000) and some cash. The other 9 will split 20% of the after-tax winnings if the person cashes. I’m not expecting to be in the large prize money situation, but it is coming up more as we start hitting more tournaments and are interested in buying pieces of each other.

I realize this was a bunch of rambling questions and I'm thankful any info you can give me to satisfy my curiousity. Also any advice about the financial backing would be appreciated.