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Protect Yourself

by Gavin Griffin |  Published: Mar 05, 2014


Gavin GriffinLet’s be honest. The poker world has become a tougher one to survive and thrive in over the last few years. Black Friday concentrated the player pools and removed quite a lot of money from the economy. This led to fewer players fighting for less money and the skill advancement over the almost three years (!!) since that fateful Friday has been astronomical. As a result, some people who had come to expect the money to roll in like usual have fallen on hard times. They didn’t adjust to the times as much as they should have or they weren’t as good as they thought they were. Perhaps they just hit a really bad downswing with very poor timing and have begun to struggle. As a result, they’ve turned to scamming or cheating or outright theft. In many instances, the casinos or websites that we patronize do their best to rectify the tough situations and the simple ones. In some cases, it’s the casinos or websites themselves who are perpetrating the bad deeds. Some situations are just not resolvable through the casinos, the sites, or the courts. This is the downside of working in an unregulated sector. Since there are no regulations, there are no legal repercussions for those that are wronged. So, what can you do? Instead of looking for restitution once you’ve been wronged, protect yourself from being wronged in the first place. Here are some helpful and hard-earned tips on how to go about protecting yourself from the scammers and cheats that are trying to get at you.

Don’t Lend and Don’t Borrow. This seems a simple solution but it has worked well for me over the years. There are a very small handful of people whom I would be willing to lend money to and every single one of them doesn’t need to borrow money. Of course, there are times when we’re registering for a tournament and their wire hasn’t come through or the cage screwed something up or they didn’t bring enough money to buy in to the second tournament of the day, and I’ll lend them what they need until we get back to the house we’re staying at, but since I know they don’t need that money to live, I know my loan is safe for the few hours they’ll need it.

Since I’m pretty careful with my money and my bankroll, I don’t find myself in situations where I need to borrow to survive. These people who are flush or broke constantly have to be willing to lend when they have money so they can borrow when they don’t. If you keep yourself out of these situations, you’ll be safe from the perils of lending and borrowing.

Be Careful with Your Stack. If you’re playing in a casino setting, be careful with your stack. Make sure you have a pretty good idea of how much money is in front of you any time you walk away from the table and confirm that amount when you get back to the table. This way you’ll know if something is amiss the moment you get back to the table and you’ll be able to get the casino to look at the camera to see if they can discern who took the money that’s missing. Be especially careful if you’re playing at a place where cash plays. These tables are ripe for the picking. I recently played at a casino in Las Vegas at a table that was right along the rail in a seat that was about three feet from thousands of people walking by throughout the night. I’d like to think my fellow table mates would stop someone from attempting to steal the bills at my seat, but I still put them under my stack of chips just in case.

Put It in Writing. OK, so you’ve decided you’re going to loan someone some money or you’re going to back them to play in some tournaments. That’s fine, it’s ultimately your decision whether you’re going to do this or not. Get it down in writing, even something as simple as loaning someone $100. Just write it down on a piece of paper and have both parties sign. This way there is some record of the deal taking place.

If you’re entering into a backing deal, a contract is a must, especially for the backer. I was recently reading a disaster of a forum thread related to a backing deal between two parties. There were disputes on the amount of money that changed hands, the original amount of the stake, the settling up schedule, how much profit was made, and so on. Now, Black Friday happened and things got confusing. As a result, they are fighting over whom owes what money to whom and it all could have been avoided, or at least easily arbitrated, if they had put a contract into place at the beginning of the deal.

We live in a cutthroat world where we are all ultimately responsible for our own dealings and our own bankrolls. I hope none of you readers find yourselves in a situation where you’ve been scammed or cheated. If you do though, I hope you’ve taken some precautions to be sure that you’re as protected as you can be when push comes to shove. ♠

Gavin Griffin was the first poker player to capture a World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour title and has amassed nearly $5 million in lifetime tournament winnings. Griffin is sponsored by You can follow him on Twitter @NHGG