Poker Players Decry Phil Hellmuth Charging WSOP Investors 1.8 Markup

The poker community sure loves drama. As the 2018 WSOP begins, Phil Hellmuth is causing a stir on social media for charging potential investors what some consider excessive markup on a $10,000 buy-in bracelet event.

Phil Hellmuth WSOP

Phil Hellmuth was heavily criticized for charging investors a steep markup on a WSOP event. (Image:

The Poker Brat posted an ad on YouStake, a poker staking platform, seeking a 30 percent investment in Event #2, $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty. Poker staking is common especially at the high stakes levels, but Hellmuth’s approach has many questioning his character and intelligence.

Hellmuth is asking for a 1.8 markup from investors on YouStake, which means a $1,000 investment, for example, would cost the buyer $1,800 (18 percent of $10,000) while only returning 10 percent of Phil’s payout if he cashes.

Most players charge a markup which is typically based on that player’s perceived skill level. A poker pro who has millions of dollars in winnings, such as Hellmuth, will often charge a higher markup than a less successful player because that’s what the market commands.

But few pros ever charge a markup as high as 1.8. Greg Raymer, the 2004 Main Event champ, currently has a staking package for the WSOP and he’s asking for a 1.3 markup for 72 percent of $100,000 worth of tournament buy-ins.

How Much is He Worth?

No one in history has more WSOP bracelets than Hellmuth (14) and he’s one of the winningest all-time tournament players. But many believe the “white magic” has rubbed off and he’s well past his prime. Still, he asked for and has sold the full allotment of $3,000 for a $10,000 buy-in event at a markup price that has angered many poker players.

Matt Berkey, who is no stranger to the high stakes poker scene and openly admits he sells off a portion of his action, criticized Hellmuth for frequently arriving late for tournaments and said doing so is “bordering on thievery” when backers are involved.

On Twitter, Berkey said although the free market dictates that consumers are free to “do as they please,” he believes it’s “critical to growth and protection of our marketplace/ecosystem to point out valuations that cannot ever see a fair return.”

In layman terms, the poker pro is suggesting, given the excessive markup Hellmuth is charging, his backers are investing in a losing proposition. Scott Seiver, another regular in the high stakes poker scene, agrees.

CardsChat ambassador Ryan Laplante also had harsh words for the Poker Brat upon discovering Hellmuth blocked Berkey on Twitter.

Hellmuth Defends Markup

Despite the backlash from the poker community, Hellmuth refused to apologize or offer his backers a better deal. Instead, he defended his actions by claiming to have “the best ROI in history.”

Hellmuth, like any outspoken person in any industry, has his critics. But, love him or hate him, his love for the game seems undying. For a long time it’s been a place where he’s made money both on the table and off.

Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.


es530 wrote...

Well, I’m not going to say I understand what these guys are talking about because I do not understand.
I think this player is misunderstood. No matter what upheaval he lives, if he thinks he is the best player in the world. Now he is the biggest winner of wsop, he is only left behind when someone goes through it. The problem is that I see many pointing the finger at him, judging him and this does not seem legal. As for the value he’s asking, accept who you want.

Vfranks wrote...

I guess he has the right to ask for whatever he wants, and it’s up to the people to decide whether to invest in him or not.. I mean I don’t think it’s a good ting to ask for so much more, but who am I to say what he can and can’t do.

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