BY RUSS SCOTT
JULY 29, 2008
READER: HOW MUCH DO TOP PROS REALLY MAKE?
A reader in Springfield, Ill., wants to know how much money big-name poker professionals really make, and players in Iowa and Arkansas ask about online poker sites.
* Do the majority of poker player “personalities” we see on TV actually make a living “at the table” or do they survive on endorsements and sponsorships? — Doug B., Springfield, Ill.
Here’s what you have to remember about those high-profile players on television, Doug: They represent a very small percentage of all players who consider themselves pros. Most of these top players make a good living whether they win at the tables or not, thanks to endorsements and side businesses.
For example, being affiliated with a major online poker site can mean six-figure money annually for the game’s biggest stars.
Meanwhile, I suspect the “majority” of typical pros do not consistently earn a lucrative living at the tables. It isn’t easy to rake in big bucks every year without serious downturns. Those who stay pro more than a few years probably have backers who stake them in return for a percentage of their winnings.
You also asked how the pros document poker losses and earnings on their taxes. Well, it figures that the most successful players hire experts to keep their tax burden to a minimum.
As you know, the law allows you to deduct documented losses up to the amount of taxable winnings. That’s why everyone who plays poker for money, including amateurs, should keep good records of wins and losses, including receipts from tournament buy-ins, jackpots, ATM withdrawals at casinos, etc.
* I play a lot of low-limit sit-and-go tournaments and some ring games at PokerStars.com. My question is: Are these sites really random and fair? I also have tried the Doyle’s Room site. Are there others you would recommend? — Ron M., Eldridge, Iowa.
It makes sense to me, Ron, that the larger sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are the least likely to have trouble. There’s too much money at stake to risk their credibility and dominant position by causing or allowing unfair games.
You should check out reviews and updated news on all sites before trying a new one. Be sure to buy-in small at first and get a good feel for a new site before committing significant money into an account. Of particular importance is a poker site’s record for customer service.
* I play about 70 percent of my online poker at Ultimate Bet. Now that I’m hearing about the superuser account scandal, it’s no wonder I go out on the bubble with A-K vs. 9-6 offsuit, and the 9-6 is the aggressor. Pretty bad when you’ve sat there for four hours to get that far in a tournament, just to get busted out by a “donk” hand! — Adam M., Alpena, Ark.
I don’t know if you were cheated or just the victim of a lucky opponent, Adam, but the fuss over superuser accounts at sister sites Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker dates back nearly a year. A superuser account allows that player to see everyone’s hole cards in a game.
Fresh developments surfaced last week about both sites.
First was a statement by former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, a grassroots poker advocacy group that strongly condemns cheating in any poker format.
“We urge these companies and their regulating authority, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, to provide a full and transparent accounting of these breaches of the public trust to help lift the black cloud that has been placed over the industry,” D’Amato said.
One day later, KGC senior adviser Murray Marshall issued this:
“Over the past several months, it was discovered that individuals within two of KGC’s licensees — Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet — had created and carried out a scheme to cheat players.”
Marshall said the schemes were detected by affected players and that sanctions, management changes and improved system security were implemented. He also said cheated players were reimbursed and steps taken to prevent similar incidents.
Both news releases appear in full at luckydogpoker.com.
At week’s end, it was announced the two sites will move in August onto one platform called Cereus with shared players, tournaments and games.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2008 RUSS SCOTT
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