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Backer Poker Term

Definition of a Poker Backer

by Jesse Knight
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Backer
Backer - A person who bankrolls another player.


A backer is someone who finances poker players. Many very good poker players, even some of the top players in the world, do not want to put up their own money when they play. Instead, they choose to use a backer, who is willing to put up the money for the player to play on, in exchange for a percentage of the profit from that play.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using a backer, just as there are advantages and disadvantages to being one. One of the major advantages to using a backer is that it relieves financial pressure. When a player is faced with a decision in a poker game, they have to consider pot odds, opponents’ playing styles, and other factors that are internal to the game. If a player has bankroll pressure, they must also consider the impact that losing the money would have on their life; a consideration that is external to the game, and has no bearing on what the correct poker play is. This financial pressure can be extreme, especially at higher limits, and it can result in poor decision making by even the best players. Having a backer greatly reduces this pressure, because the backer puts up all the money and takes all the financial risk.

Of course, the backer expects to be compensated for this risk. Typically that compensation is 30%-70% of the profit, should the player (also called a “horse”) win. Additionally, the backer may require their horse to play with “makeups,” which means the player must cover previous losses before he can collect any of the win. There are many different ways a deal between a player and a backer can be structured, but they all involve the backer taking the financial risk in exchange for a return if the horse wins.

Depending on how the deal is structured, and how well the horse plays, the return on investment (ROI) for the backer can be enormous. That being said, there is a lot of risk for the backer to accept, especially in the short term. Most backers have several horses playing for them at any given time, and some even run the operation as a small business, complete with an accountant, spotter, scouts, etc. During a major tournament run, a backer might experience fluctuations from his investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

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