A London stock trading business is developing a new market in which investors can put up money as stakes for experienced poker players to use in order to generate shared winnings. Although staking friends or business associates is not unheard of in the professional game, most successful players reportedly prefer to pay their own way, but London businessmen still believe there is enough action in Internet poker to make a profitable return on the concept.
Spearheading the initiative is the proprietary trading company Manro Haydan, which hopes to generate enough initial interest to stake up to 150 top Internet players.
The Financial Times reports that the privately owned company, which invests for its own account, believes that by applying the sophisticated risk management techniques used in money management to poker it can shift the odds in its favour.
Chris Smith, head of Manro, said the model was not that far from the business of employing traders – for a cut of profits – to make money from futures, options or foreign exchange. One major difference, though, is that poker players typically prefer to fund their own hands rather than give up a share of winnings to a backer.
“There aren’t enough players that would accept our terms because 99 percent of them want to fund it themselves,” he said. “It is a quite different mindset.”
Manro has set up BadBeat to recruit players, putting up their funding and imposing tight controls on their betting levels. BadBeat covers all losses and takes half of any wins – leaving poker players on a much better deal than ordinary traders.
Hedge funds and prop traders are not thought to have moved into professional poker before, Smith told the FT, adding that the arrival of online poker has made it possible to bring proper risk controls to what was previously a game many played intuitively. He adds: “At the baseline of it all, it is bloody enjoyable.”
The concept of mixing business with a fun pastime applies to many of the hedge funds set up to provide “alternative alternatives” to investors looking for returns not linked to shares or bonds. Funds pitched to investors or launched in recent years include ones investing in football players, art, wine, racehorses, and one that invests according to the findings of pollsters. Other investments that have since become normal in the hedge fund industry include film finance, backing lawsuits and buying up farmland.