Investing in the World Series of Poker

OK, I know the words investing and poker really should not be in the same sentence for any prudent investor, but who said I was prudent!

I play poker occasionally.  Mostly small home games where we play a hold’em tournament or a cash game.  $10-$20 buy-in’s with re-buys.  Small stakes.  On very rare occasions I will venture to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to play late night low stakes games.  Across the board my results are mixed.  I win some.  I lose some.  But, I have a fun time either way.

Lately, I just haven’t been playing at all.  My family has really gotten into playing Settlers of Catan, and well that’s more fun and it costs me nothing.  But, I digress.

Enter an acquaintance/friend I’ve known for about 20 years (unfortunately not Daniel Negreanu!).  We’re Facebook friends which in this case means I read his occasional updates and he gets bombarded by my pictures of my son and I fishing.  Recently he posted a link to his blog.  It turns out that over the past few years he’s made a living as a card dealer and poker player in Las Vegas.  He’s had good success in tournaments and has made it a practice of taking on backers.  In his latest offering,  he sold 40 shares at $250 each.  Each share entitles you to 1% of his winnings at 12 summer events (mostly $1k and $1.5k buy-in WSOP tournaments) as well as .05% of his main event winnings.  The WSOP main event is the huge $10k event that you see on ESPN.  Last year, the winner of the smallest tournament he’s playing took home $70k so that would bring me $700.  And, obviously if he does well at the main event then I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

I decided to buy 1 share using some of the profits from this blog.  The irony of using money I earned espousing personal finance skills and a conservative investment approach to buy a share in a poker player is not lost on me.  However, at least I diversified across tournaments!  Who am I kidding, but what the heck, I only live once, and it will be fun to follow him online.  His first tournament starts today.

And yes, I will of course update you all on the actual pay out.


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  • Ha. Stick it in your entertainment budget; not your investment portfolio. Even as someone who’s spent a lot of time with statistics (which is to say I understand that the whole point is for me to lose), I still budget $100 every time I go to Vegas for the tables… not because I think I know how to win, but because it’s a good time. Also, I too am a huge fan of Settlers of Catan

    • The blog account is separate from the entertainment account. I can justify this by blogging about it and having a potential for a return. If the return is 0 though, I might have to re-think that.

      • Cool. Well good luck regardless 🙂

  • I played in the WSOP a couple of times (using seed money I won from a freeroll). The backers’ wager is definitely a black swan seeking event. You’re looking for your friend to dodge a million raindrops (donkeys always draw, amirite?) and get the enormous payout. If you could back Phil Ivey over an entire Series, that might be +EV. The entertainment value (your endowed interest in your friend’s progress) plus the strengthened bonds of your relationship (you put your money into something important for him) will make this +EV, as you already have the right expectation of the financial outcome – a fat tail distribution of sad trombones.

    • Totally. You got this 100% right. In this case we’re definitely talking about a +EV where the E is Entertainment, not Expected.

  • I, for one, am definitely interested to see your ROI on this new venture.

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  • Mike G

    Your odds are higher than all the dummies buying Powerball tickets. Good luck!