Buying and Selling Action


I’m back to my regular Monday updates, though I may not be super consistent until the Fall Poker Classic at Canterbury Park is over. I’m planning on playing pretty much every event other than the first weekend when my family will be in town, and I’m also selling some action in those events. My total spend for the series will probably be about $5,000. While I’m on the topic, let’s use this series as an example for selling action in tournaments.

First of all, I know some of you would love to be backed in a long term deal. For some players that works great, but being in make up was awful for me. I hated it. I don’t need the motivation of working for a backer, and the lack of steady income when I was in make up really drove me nuts. I’m not against long terms deals with make up, they just aren’t for me, and you should think about whether you want to be in a serious commitment like that. Remember, once you are in makeup you are stuck in the deal until you are out of makeup which can take a long time if you have a bad run.

I really prefer selling pieces of my action. It gives all my friends a sweat, smooths out the rough spots for me because I make some money any time I cash, and even a small mark up makes me some extra money. I sold action in some smaller events in Vegas this year, and one person bought all of it. That person invested $9,000 and I only played enough smaller tournaments to spend $5,800, but won over $20,000, and they nearly tripled their investment. The mark up in that deal was 35%.

Speaking of mark up, let’s talk about how it works and what is reasonable.

If a player is selling action in a $10,000 buy-in tournament with a mark up of 25%, then you pay a 25% premium on the action you are buying. In this case you could buy 10% of that player for $1,000 plus the mark up of $250 for a total of $1,250. This would be a very high markup for a single event with a $10,000 buy-in because the field is very tough and the variance is so high when there is only one event.

The more events the player will be playing in a series, the better things are for the investors. This is because they are essentially getting makeup from the player, even though it expires at the end of the series. Over a significant number of tournaments it is fairly rare for a good player to go without a single cash, so you will usually make some of your money back even if you don’t make a profit. Anything is possible, and you shouldn’t invest money that you can’t afford to lose, but an investment in a strong player over a long series, especially with small field sizes, is a pretty safe investment.

If a world class player, let’s say Jason Mercier, were to come to Minnesota to play the Fall Poker Classic events, and he was going to play as many events as possible, it would probably be profitable to pay a markup as high as 100%. A great player in small buy-in events over a long series makes Jason a great buy, and he is very likely to make a significant profit over the course of the series.

What about a player who is only a slight favorite? Let’s say your pal plays weekly tournaments, makes a small profit, and really wants to play all of the FPC events to work on his game and find out how good he is. In this case he might not even be profitable. Buying his action at even money with no markup is probably the only way to go.

One of the problems with selling action is that almost every player I know thinks they are better than they really are. If I sell at a 40% markup for the whole series, there are at least twenty people who think they should be selling at 50%. They may even fail to understand that a whole series is different than a single event, and try to charge a 50% markup just for the main event. If the deal was only for the main event, I wouldn’t pay a 50% markup for Jason Mercier, Phil Ivey, or any other player you can mention. The field is too tough and it’s only one tournament.

I might pay a 25% markup for the main event for a really great player, but even that number is probably too high. I sold a piece of my action in the main event at Running Aces with a 20% markup and was quite happy with the sale.

Finding a fair markup number can be determined two ways. If you factor in the length of the series and how much advantage the player has in that series, you can come up with a “fair” number. You can also charge whatever the market will bear, which is also a “fair” number. A player is not required to offer a number that he thinks will be profitable for his investors, they are responsible for their own decisions about whether an investment is profitable.

I like to offer a number that is profitable for the investors because I appreciate the fact that they are helping me out and I enjoy the sweat. My investors are often my friends and people I see every day, and I want them to be happy they put their faith (and their money) in me, so I always charge a number that I think is profitable. I also don’t want to have to spend a lot of time trying to sell my action, and if the number is too high then you will see players working very hard to try to get the package sold out, while a lower number sells out on it’s own.

As an example, at the beginning of this blog I sent a text to the friend who invested in me during the WSoP this year, and I got a text back in the middle of the fourth paragraph that read “I’ll get back to you tomorrow, but save at least 25%“. If you offer a good price, and have a good track record, selling action is easy.

Another problem that pops up is when players who are not proven winners try to sell action. Selling a few percentage points to your friends for a little sweat can be fun, but selling a significant portion of a tournament series can be really tough if you aren’t already a proven winner and it’s best not to waste your time.

If you want to move up, but can’t find a backer, then study the game, join a training site, read books, and keep getting better. Play small enough tournaments that you can build up a bankroll and some results to prove to potential investors that you are a good buy, and it won’t be long before you are selling out your action and have investors begging for more.

If you are looking to buy my action for the Fall Poker Classic, or have questions about buying or selling action, contact me on twitter @foxpokerfox

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  1. #1 by Fox on September 23, 2013 - 8:17 pm

    You’ll get there bud, keep grinding and studying!

  2. #2 by robowolfman on September 23, 2013 - 8:16 pm

    This is the type of info i have been looking for. Anything along the lines of how to get started. P.S. i am halfway through the 500 hours and have been close but not quite where i need to be but will be soon

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