Circuit Secrets: AnonymousX

Editor’s Note: AnonymousX is an on-going Wicked Chops Insider feature. The column will provide insight on poker life from a real pro making a living playing the circuit and traveling the world. This column was drafted before this week’s news regarding the DoJ approval of Groupe Bernard Tapie’s acquisition of Full Tilt Poker.

When Wicked Chops approached me about writing an anonymous column for Insider, I was like, “What the fuck, why not?” Before Black Friday I probably wouldn’t have done it, but now, there’s really not much to lose.

In this on-going series, I’ll do my best to give as real of a look at what life’s like as a professional poker player.

I’ve been what I’d consider a professional poker player for about 10 years. You’ve probably seen me on TV. I’ve had a good life.

Although my life was much better six months ago than it is today.


Black Friday has sucked. Many players, including myself, had secure monthly incomes which were immediately lost. Add to that the lost bonuses, or rakeback, or whatever other incentives some of the more well-known players got, and it has been an absolute kick in the nuts.

Having a contract and known monthly income was obviously great. But every time I’d get on a magazine cover or had a TV appearance and wore a patch, I’d get more money. Most guys got some kind of bonus. And those bonuses add up. That’s all gone now and almost all of us are scrambling to find something else. What was once a very secure lifestyle has been turned upside down and we are back to the pre-online days.

Yes, at one time I was a Full Tilt Poker pro. And yes, it’s unbelievable to watch its downfall. No sponsored pro I know of had any idea how fucked up the company was. I don’t think any of the Team Pro guys had any idea either. I believe most of the Team Pro guys now think they are fools though for letting an idiot like Ray Bitar have the control he actually had, and I believe he is the person that has mostly caused this shit storm.

It’s just amazing. We all thought the company was doing great. When you’re getting your checks on time, and it looks like the company is growing, you just don’t even think to ask for any more details. Why would you?

But everyone is bashing Full Tilt now and rightfully so. I have no clue whether or not the company is going to sell and haven’t heard from management since Black Friday. We’ve been left in the dark. But I hope the customers at least get their money back. Fortunately I’ve never been confronted by an angry customer. I don’t know what I’d tell them except for “Sorry.” Most of the angry guys I hear from are pros. They keep bashing the company, but I feel as though it’s mostly guys that didn’t get signed by Tilt who are the ones speaking out about them the most. Not that I’m saying anything Tilt did was right, but it cracks me up seeing some of the people who are slamming Tilt now. We’re seeing everyone’s true colors since Black Friday.

For a guy like me, it’s really uncertain times. For example, I’ve always relied on backers. Given how much staking was done by Full Tilt guys or other pros with big contracts, that’s one thing a lot of people are overlooking when talking about the negative effects of Black Friday.

For those of you not overly familiar with backing, it’s a major part of the tournament scene. Some of the biggest names in the game, guys you probably thought bought their way into events themselves, guys like Phil Hellmuth or Michael Mizrachi or Scotty Nguyen, they all have backers. Backing is an arrangement that removes the swings in tournament poker where someone else, the backer, assumes the financial swings involved. In return, the backer gets a percentage of the profits once the player reaches the profit zone. This can at times take quite a while, so the backer puts up the buy-ins, and when the player eventually scores, all the buy-ins are paid back and the profit is split at a predetermined percentage. Ultimately I think Black Friday will have a substantial effect on the number of backed players which will drastically lower tournament fields. The industry has been lucky that fields have been good so far, but it can’t last. Especially with Full Tilt likely down the drain, or the guys who were making big money off the site totally cut off now.

Ok, that’s all for now. I’ll continue writing these and try to give a real look at what life is like on the tournament circuit.

About author
A real poker pro making a living playing the circuit, traveling the world and passing on insight into the underbelly of the tournament world for Wicked Chops Poker Insider.
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