Poker players are no strangers to staking. Some players want to stake others instead of playing poker, and others seek investors in order to be able to play more games. It is an integral part of the poker industry, though only in recent years has it been discussed openly.
YouStake is a company that rose from those honest discussions. While it is described as a “fully integrated sports staking platform that allows the masses to invest in skilled sports players for entry in live events,” its focus at the moment is solely on poker. And its growth speaks to the need for such a service in the poker community.
How It Works
The process of staking a poker player or accepting investors is an arduous one. There are stats to track, agreements to devise, contracts to sign and distribute, money to transfer before and after the events, tournament progress to update, and numbers to crunch for investors, players, fees, and taxes.
YouStake takes the complication out of that process. Players and investors alike follow a very streamlined procedure, and YouStake handles the details while providing as much information as either party might desire. Funds are secured in an escrow account and transferred in a timely manner, and updates are provided throughout the process of every deal.
Players simply sign up, browse, and post events for which they seek investments in their poker action for any live tournament. They can also add their poker statistics and any other information that will entice backers to invest. Those who wish to stake players pay a minor markup of five percent. Every participant and transaction must be verified and approved, and at that point, all information can easily be shared on social media to garner attention. YouStake also pre-registers players into live tournaments, and representatives are available for questions and interactions.
For those interested in participating for the first time, the YouStake site is easy to navigate. And investors can start with a stake as low as $20. This welcomes poker fans to invest in players of their choosing and players to expand their poker horizons via investments.
The company’s growth has been so impressive that it caught the attention of Forbes as a “cutting edge tech company you need to know.” YouStake is described there as “Kickstarter meets FanDuel for poker players.”
YouStake also caught the eye of “500 Startups,” a project that offers investments in startup companies as well as assistance in finding resources and maximizing talent, marketing, and growth. It is now a part of the program and finding additional success there.
And just in the past few weeks, YouStake acquired TastyStakes, another poker staking platform, in order to combine resources and expand its reach. At that time, longtime poker player and commentator David Tuchman was announced as a brand ambassador, and he joins Jamie Gold and Anthony Zinno, both of whom were already on the roster, Gold as an ambassador and advisor and Zinno as an investor as well. Other names listed on the website as ambassadors include Greg Raymer, Joe Cada, Mike Leah, Lizzy Harrison, Josh Brikis, Casey Jarzabek, Justin Pechie, Brett Jungblut, and Allen Kessler.
In the first month of business, YouStake’s website garnered nearly three million page views from 22,000 unique visitors. More than 1,400 poker players signed up to participate from 108 different countries and nations. And as the one-year anniversary of the site approaches, Poker Update talked to co-founders Frank DeGeorge and Scott Hansbury to dig deeper into YouStake.
Poker Update: When did you officially launch the site and how have you grown since then?
Scott Hansbury: We opened the marketplace to the public on June 1, 2015. We have more than tripled our use base since the 2015 WSOP.
Poker Update: Tell us a little about the “500 Startups” accelerator program.
Frank DeGeorge: The program culminates with Demo Day on May 13, when our CEO Frank DeGeorge will pitch to hundreds of investors in San Francisco. We’re humbled and grateful for being accepted into the program, as we get direct access to the most successful and intelligent founders, mentors, and investors. While in the program, our marketplace has grown 47% month over month.
Poker Update: Forbes mentioned that YouStake considered opening up to other events besides poker. Where are you with that thought process?
Frank DeGeorge: Our vision is to become the place where fans can invest in their favorite poker players. We’re getting ready to launch into our next vertical, too, and an official announcement will come soon.
Poker Update: A look at the site shows a range of players in whom the public can invest, from relative unknowns to pros. Who makes up the majority of your invest-able player roster?
Scott Hansbury: We’re proud to have the top players in the world and the up-and-coming players on our platform. In total, they have over $85 million in lifetime earnings. The great thing is that we’re giving players of all skill levels and fans of all demographics access to exciting deals across the full spectrum.
Poker Update: What is the average return on an investment?
Scott Hansbury: When a player cashes, the average return on YouStake is five times the investment. We’ve had anywhere from two times up to 1,000 times returns on our site. Anyone can go directly to the player listings to see the results.
Poker Update: Do most players reach their staking goals?
Frank DeGeorge: A proud statistic that we like to share is that 76% of all projects receive at least one investment. What we try to emphasize is that players should bring friends, family, and previous backers to the marketplace so they can focus on their game and we can take care of all the administrative work. Players who state that they are guaranteed to play no matter how much they raise get the most action, as backers want the sweat.
Poker Update: What exactly are the roles of Zinno, Gold, and others listed as advisors?
Scott Hansbury: Anthony Zinno is both an investor and an advisor; he assists with pain points from a player’s perspective. Jamie Gold is a longtime friend of the founders and assists with ambassador and celebrity relationships.
Poker Update: And what are the roles of the numerous ambassadors listed on the affiliates’ page?
Frank DeGeorge: All ambassadors provide our team with blunt feedback so we can continuously improve our product. Each one brings a unique aspect to the table, and we’re thankful for their involvement.
Poker Update: Is there anything else you’d like to add about YouStake?
Frank DeGeorge: We’re excited to provide a marketplace that solves a real issue and brings more transparency to the masses. Having completed the acquisition of TastyStakes, we are working hard to release a new site with the goal of making it even easier to use and increase the fan engagement tools and player management functionality.