The Worst $10,000 You Could Ever Spend

I was sent an email about this and now I see him self-pimping his story here and there so I thought I would comment. I guess the story is that this guy wants someone to put up $10,000 so he can be the first to bust out at the WSOP. Wow, now talk about return on investment. A guy who’s goal is to piss away your $10,000. Better yet, it’s being promoted as an advertising opportunity. Yes, you will get to advertise on his blog for your $10,000 payment.

I’m wondering if the promoter understands that by selling it as a sponsorship he’s going to be creating a taxable event which he will need to pay taxes on. Even if he tries to claim the $10,000 loss I’m going to take a wildly uneducated guess and say that Uncle Sam isn’t going to let him. He didn’t make the $10,000 gambling so he can’t write off gambling losses against it. In other words, he’s going to owe taxes on the $10,000 just as if he had sold banner ads on the site.

But, let’s just pretend that he’s solved that problem and let’s look at the ad on eBay:

You are bidding on the chance to sponsor the buy-in of a player looking to be the first out at the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event. I am giving your company the chance to sponsor me as I go all-in every hand until the first player is eliminated. This will give me the chance to be the first out which ESPN has covered during their previous broadcasts. I will be wearing my sponsor’s shirts, hats and other clothing so they should expect to get exposure if I am successful in being the first out. (This is not a guarantee as being the first one out doesn’t guarantee TV time and another player could have worse luck!)

I guess the first problem is that the only player I remember getting any sort of serious airtime for being first out was Rafe Furst at the 2003 WSOP. And the only reason I remember that is because I know Rafe and ESPN made a big deal out of Phil Gordon busting Rafe’s chops about it. Of course, ESPN didn’t actually mention any of that until the 2004 WSOP when they figured out an interesting angle.

Technically I do remember the Sammy Farha vs. Kate Hudson’s brother first out but that was only because the hand was actually exciting. The first out part of it was completely secondary to the fact that set over set is pretty damn exciting to watch on television. Would ESPN have shown that hand if it wasn’t Kate Hudson’s brother and he would have pushed all-in pre-flop with Q3 and been called down by AA? That’s the gamble you’re taking if you decide to sponsor this guy.

Now, the second problem I have with this is that the seller can’t possibly guarantee he’ll be anything close to the first person out. Why? Well because there are FOUR FIRST DAYS!!! Day one is broken down into A, B, C, and D so if you bust on Day 1 in groups B, C, or D you are certainly not the first to bust. And technically, even the first person to bust in group A isn’t really the first person to bust out since groups B, C and D haven’t even played a hand yet.

The eBay ad goes on:

The buy-in to the main event is $10,000 dollars and it is expected to draw 8,000 poker players from around the world. I will be blogging the progress of my world series of poker experience at My sponsor will have it’s own page and also a side banner which will show on every page of the blog. This is a once in a life time opportunity as there are only so many players covered during the world series of poker television broadcast. It is generally just pros, no-names that make the final table and a couple other players who I call the “lucky few” usually including the first out! If I am not successful in becoming the first player out I will change my strategy of going all-in to playing to make the final table.

Exactly how exciting is this blog supposed to be? Even if you buy into the thrill of being first to get knocked out, we’re talking about a grand total of 10 – 20 minutes of play. How many blog posts are you going to get out of that? In this particular case, 15 minutes of fame might be a gross overestimate.

Another problem here is the statement “This is a once in a life time opportunity.” Technically, every year they have a WSOP there will be a similar opportunity. This once in a lifetime claim is pure rubbish.

The part that really gives me a chuckle though is; “If I am not successful in becoming the first player out I will change my strategy of going all-in to playing to make the final table.” If he was being honest he would say that once his marketing strategy failed he would try to last as long as possible. Making the final table at the WSOP against 8000 opponents is not as simple as changing your strategy. Notice that he doesn’t offer to split any winnings with the sponsor. There’s not a single mention of getting a cut of the action for putting up his registration fee.

It’s also not clear whether his change in strategy also allows him to abandon his sponsor. Let’s say he ends up making the final table and PokerStars walks up and says they’ll pay him $1,000,000 to wear their gear at the final table. I’m simply not buying the fact that he wouldn’t try to weasel out on his original sponsor.

Which brings up the most important aspect of this entire offer; he’s in it for him, not you. Most successful marketing relationships are built on the marketer promoting the product. The entire tone of this offer reeks of some guy who wants to play in the WSOP but doesn’t want to put up the $10,000 out of his own pocket. That’s not exactly the makings of a good marketing campaign from the sponsor’s point of view.

The one good thing about this though is that if he does find a sponsor, I’m going to have a lot of material to blog about 🙂