The Dilemma of Being Backed


Lee Davy talks about the gratitude he feels after finding a backer to put him into some World Series of Poker action, and the conflicting feeling that comes with that.

The Dilemma of Being BackedLet me tell you something.

Every time I ask the universe for something, it delivers. It might not turn up in the first class mail, but it always arrives.

Coming into the 46th Annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) I was worried. It was the first time since I started coming out here that I didn’t have all of my expenses covered. Santa Claus went on strike, the Easter Bunny was infertile, and the Tooth Fairy ran off with Ant Man. The belt buckle was tightened. There would be no money to play.

It took one solitary year for me to learn that all work and no play, at the WSOP, is akin to sticking a toothpick in my eyeball, adding a pineapple cube, a small onion, and then serving it at a 4-year-old dinner party. I turned to the universe. I asked it to send me some money so I could play. It delivered.

I have a backer. I have a 50/50 deal. I have none of the risk, and 50% of the reward. I should be ecstatic. I’m not. So what’s going on? Why am I moping around like a kid on Sunday, when I should have a smile wider than the man banging Robin Wright?

It’s the story that I have created. The one where I tell myself that I am letting my backer down when I don’t win. It’s that piece of internal script that’s dragging the corners of my mouth down to Poltergeist clown levels. I am used to letting myself down. It stings. But I am not used to letting other people down. That feels like a cotton bud being thrust down my urethra.

I know it’s a story. I know the person who is backing me is doing so to help me out. They are taking a punt, whilst at the same time feeling great because they are enabling someone they respect and admire to turn a dream into the good stuff. I know all of this, and yet it’s still difficult to shift this mugginess. I don’t know how professional poker players do it? They must have skin as thick as David Brent.

My original deal was to play in the Casino Employee Event, The Colossus, the Millionaire Maker, and the Monster Stack. I told my backer that I would only fire one bullet in The Colossus. I did this because I didn’t want to appear greedy. After experiencing the first flight it was blatantly obvious that I should have entered all four. This was the easiest competition in the world.

I re-entered, but couldn’t get hold of my backer to confirm if he was fine with this. As a back up plan I asked a friend if he wanted to take 50% of my action if my backer didn’t respond. The word was still silent as the next flight approached, so I booked my friend in for 50%. I cashed for $1,800.

I know that $900 is nothing to my backer, but I feel shitty that I won this money outside of our deal. It became apparent, immediately, that I could have easily have played in the event on my backers money, and then talked about this afterwards – perhaps giving my friend 50% of action in the Monster Stack, as example. It was partly inexperience, and partly a rush of blood.

After I finish this article I am going to play in a cash game. I will use my backer’s money. The reality of how easy it is for someone to cheat a backer has never been so apparent. When you play online there are ways of finding out how much action you have taken. It’s not like that when you play live. It’s all about trust.

But this is poker.

I’m not saying the poker world is not a trustworthy one. I am more likely to make a loan to people in my local poker game than my own flesh and blood, but there is often a desperation that comes from poker, and it’s that desperation that can bend the word trust.

I could play the cash game and lose. The backer loses. I could play and win, and tell him that I lost, and keep the winnings. There is no record to prove otherwise. There is another more important point that is not often discussed. What happens if you play poorly? I know this can happen; it’s the make up of competitive sport. But what if you’ve just had a huge row with your other half, you know you suffer from tilt, and yet to play in a tough game? What if you are feeling off point but decide to play because it’s not your money? Then there is the fact that I am no Dan Smith. There are better prospects than me at this WSOP. I guess I feel a little uncomfortable about this also.

But I should just chill the fuck out.

I am playing well. I am concentrating on my game. The likes of Jason Wheeler and Dominik Nitsche are going through my hand histories and giving me advice. I am adjusting to that advice in every single event I play thereafter.

Most importantly, I know that my backer has faith in me. For him, this is not about the money. I helped him out during a time in need, and he is returning the favor. It’s not always about the money.

So now I ask the universe for more luck: a flip here, and a flip there. Now, more than ever, I want to return some green for the backer. It’s not about me anymore. The money would be nice, the prestige even nicer, but it’s the satisfaction that I would feel knowing that someone who put their faith in me was rewarded. But then I think again, and realize that putting faith in me has already rewarded that person.

Like I said.

It’s not always about the money.


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