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Poker Staking Controversies: When Poker Dreams Turn into Nightmares

Suspicious poker player holding chips and cards.

Poker staking deals can be an exciting and potentially lucrative way for investors to become part of the action without playing a hand. However, as with any financial transaction, disputes can arise, and misunderstandings can turn a profitable deal into a bitter feud. Let’s take a look at some of the more recent poker staking controversies involving prominent poker players.

1. The Maurice Hawkins Debacle

Maurice Hawkins, a multiple WSOP Circuit ring winner, is no stranger to staking controversies. Despite his successful track record, his staking relationships have often ended in disputes and even lawsuits. The most recent controversy involves allegations that Hawkins owes over $100,000 to a backer, Randy Garcia, with whom he entered into an agreement two years prior. The matter, currently unsettled, has even led to a lawsuit (source).

2. Cate Hall’s Public Dispute

Cate Hall, known for her impressive tournament winnings, became embroiled in a staking controversy with her backer, Chad Power. The dispute centered around an alleged debt of $60,000, with Hall accusing Power of using “extortion” and “strong-arm techniques.” Power defended his claims, stating that Hall agreed to the debt as part of their staking agreement. The unusual nature of this dispute highlighted the importance of having clear, transparent, and mutually agreed upon terms in a staking deal (source).

3. Ian O’Hara’s Staking Scandal

Ian O’Hara, a professional poker player with $4 million in live earnings, was publicly accused by former poker pro and commentator Kane Kalas of scamming him and Jonathan Jaffe out of six figures. Kalas alleges that O’Hara, with whom he had a 50/50 staking arrangement, failed to disclose that he was also being backed by Jaffe. After discovering numerous inconsistencies in O’Hara’s reported winnings and losses, Kalas and Jaffe concluded that O’Hara had been fabricating data, resulting in a significant financial loss for both backers (source).

These cases emphasize the crucial importance of clear and legally binding staking agreements. In all three incidents, the lack of formal, written agreements led to misunderstandings and disagreements, resulting in public disputes and financial losses. Avoiding such controversies is possible by using a platform like, which provides secure, signed and legally binding staking contracts that are accessible via the cloud and downloadable as a PDF. The contract also has an audit trail so no one change the contract without evidence. By ensuring all parties are on the same page, such contracts can protect your investment and maintain the integrity of the game.

For more information, take a look at our single Tournament Staking Contract or our ongoing Cash Staking Contract products.

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