How do players and their backers draw the line when it comes to cancelling a staking deal?
High profile staking disputes from the WSOP Main Event final table has done the rounds on social media platforms. While the poker community debates and ponders over when is too late to pull out of selling a piece for a tournament, here are pointers on the situation while we await the official verdict.
The controversy unraveled when Nick Marchington came 7th in the Main Event and is being sued by a staking group because he pulled the plug on his staking deal just before he played in it.
To sum it up, Marchington cancelled on his backers, who staked him for two events because he found a backer willing to pay higher markup for the Main Event. However, he ended up changing his mind and played the other event with their stake.
Nick confirmed he had still canceled their Main Event stake the day before he played and began arrangements to refund the amount to his stackers. The refund process started the day after his Day 1 and because he had funds to reimburse it likely meant he did not buy-in with their money.
The backers signed on the refund but gave Marchington flack for the last-minute cancellation and posted negative feedback for him. It was only when he went to claim his winnings that he discovered he was being sued, as $152,000 of his $1,525,000 winnings had been withheld.
Marchington apologized to the backers at the time and also took to Twitter for the same. The negative feedback on a staking thread was a given, for his action would really make people not want to business with him in the future.
The incident has left a few questions unanswered for the poker community. At what point can somebody cancel a stake and continue to play in the event they wanted backing for? Once you have agreed on a deal can you back out but still play the event? If so, what is the cut-off point?
- No sensible person would agree that a player can back out of a staking package once the event has begun for reasons two-fold:
- Opens up avenues of exploitation, if you bust early you could claim you were playing for the backer with their money
- If you make a deep run you could cancel as the money bubble looms and take a bigger cut of your winnings, risk-free.
- Another line of thinking seems to suggest that the cancellation is not official until the money has been refunded. This seems quite a sensible perspective, however this put the player in a vulnerable position, subject to exploitation. The backers could delay receiving their refund, then accept it if the player busts out early but claim to still have a piece if they make the money before they get it back.
- If both parties have agreed to the cancellation – In fair play, once both parties have agreed to a cancellation, even if the refund is delayed, the package is considered void. To look at it from the other side of the coin, if the player did not cash and the refund was still ongoing, would the backers really insist the player keep the stake?
This story probably serves as another good reason to honour your original staking agreements, even if you can find better deals elsewhere and maintain transparency. It might be about the money in the short run, but going back on your word often doesn’t help your reputation long-term.