In Part Two of this series, we got some information about Raechel Whetstone’s poker journey from humble home game beginnings in Kentucky, during her college days, to dealing and playing cash games in Hawaii to the best run of her life, in late-2022, in Vegas.
Additionally, we explored Raechel’s first place finish at a Venetian Daily Tournament, which was the best cash result (according to Hendon) that Raechel had enjoyed in quite a few months.
Standard Backing almost certainly enjoyed that August of 2023 Venetian win as, this player who they saw potential in from her late 2022 results, might have finally started to turn a corner and would now start delivering the results that both they, and she, believed she’d be capable of.
But, something happened to the money won in that Venetian tournament. SPOILER ALERT: That ‘something’ was not the money being stolen by a roommate.
The remainder of this article will consist mostly of the rest of the interview, with minimum added commentary, as it will be the longest of the three by a fair margin. Please don’t groan. You don’t have to read it all in one sitting, but do feel free to live it up on your browser; that’s good for page time metrics.
WHERE’S THE FLIPPING MONEY, RAECHEL!?
We left off discussing how Standard Backing took the almost unprecedented action of reporting Raechel’s failure to pay them on Twitter, and that is where we will continue:
Brandon: They say, “Hey, you want to avoid—don’t do business with this person,” right?
Brandon: But, never before have they gone to Twitter?
Raechel: Actually, I saw a post awhile back where they posted one guy on there, but it got no attention whatsoever.
Brandon: When they’d go to 2+2 poker forum-were any of these more than 7.3k?
Raechel: Yes. There was one guy who was like forty-six grand.
Brandon: Jesus. So, he took first place, or final table at a pretty substantial tournament for that to be 46 grand, right?
Raechel: Yeah. I want to say that was maybe one of their online players and that number included a win and some other funds.
Brandon: Okay. They just go to 2+2 for that guy, but they go to Twitter for you, and they tag you in the thing, but I just don’t understand…there’s a lot about them I don’t understand.
For one, I don’t understand how they make money. If they back you in a tournament and you lose, but then you don’t owe them anything because you didn’t cash—that’s got to describe a lot of players, right?
Raechel: Yeah. I see some on here–one guy is about 9k, another guy is about 20k, another guy is about $1,800. These are varying amounts.
Brandon: Right. You’re kind of in the middle.
Brandon: But, they picked you to go on Twitter with.
Brandon: And, not the forty-some thousand guy?
Raechel: I think the forty-some thousand guy is the one other person they posted about on their Twitter feed.
Brandon: I just have trouble comprehending the motivation to take to Twitter.
I can’t even figure out how they make money. They back people in these tournaments and the casino’s cut, I think The Venetian one the juice was like 15% (difference between the sum of buy-ins and prizes paid out.)*** assuming all of them pay the buy-in.
That’s assuming everyone paid. Maybe some people get comped entries to tournaments, I don’t know what they do.
If everybody paid, then The Venetian is taking like 15%, or more, of the buy-ins, right?
***NOTE: The Hendon site lists 87 entries at $400/entry for $34,800 in entry fees if everyone paid, total prizes are listed as $28,971, which means The Venetian held $5,829, or 16.75% of all buy-ins.
Brandon: Right. If I’m Standard Backing, why would I want to back a tournament like that? How could I ever hope to make money? If they were getting a markup on winnings and not paying a markup on entry fees, like 20%, then I really don’t care how people place if I have everyone in the tournament, but that’s not what’s happening.
So, you’re backing a player and you hope they win, but the player backing themselves would have to overcome 15% juice.
House edge wise, it seems like these tournaments are a very, very, bad slot machine.
Raechel: I mean, that’s probably true, but that juice is fairly standard and it’s all incumbent on what’s available.
Brandon: I’m just trying to figure out how Standard Backing makes money backing people.
Raechel: I’m pretty sure the majority of their player base is not in the United States, and are mostly online players, so maybe that allows them to take risks in other areas.
Brandon: I guess it does. It might give them room to splash around.
It’s kind of like—I was looking at the numbers from their annual report, I think it might have been PokerStars, whoever owns PokerStars, and their U.S. operations were actually losing money.
NOTE—Flutter Entertainment owns PokerStars and, according to the 2022 Annual Report, I was correct. If you jump down to Page 83 of the document, then you will see that they lost a few hundred million in operating losses on U.S. operations.
If they’re primarily based overseas and do online stuff, I guess they can splash around. I suppose if they back you in a major tournament, they’d only need one extremely successful player to be doing really well.
Brandon: What would the normal payment procedure be for that Venetian tournament? You took first place, I assume that they expect you to report your finish to them, right?
Brandon: What do you do? Do you call them right after the tournament? Do you text them? Do you send an Email?
Raechel: Anytime that you have a cash, you’re expected to text them with a picture of where the document you sign for the cash out. Everywhere is different. The Venetian actually gives you a little slip that you take to the cage and they cash you out there.
You’re expected to—when you buy in to the tournament, you’re expected to send a photo of the receipt of you buying in to the tournament. Whenever you bust, regardless of whether you’re in the money or not in the money, you’re expected to let them know. You either tell them you busted, or that you cashed, then provide proof of what you cashed.
Brandon: Okay, so did you–you sent them a picture of the Venetian buy-in?
Brandon: Did you communicate to them, at the appropriate time, that you won with the picture of the receipt right after you got it?
Brandon: Okay, so the Wynn tournament is two days later. It was finished two days later. You played the first day of that the day after Venetian?
Raechel: I bought in the day after The Venetian tournament. I think it was a three starting day tournament, so Hendon might have it listed as whatever the first day was.
Brandon: So, you send them a picture of the receipt from The Venetian. I assume that this is something late p.m. Vegas-time, right?
Brandon: When are you supposed to pay them their cut of the winnings?
Raechel: Contractually, within seven days.
Brandon: Okay. So, you have seven days to do it and they’re really not too uptight about it.
As you’re playing the Wynn tournament, you send them proof of your buy-ins, because you fired two bullets.
Raechel: Right. There was another tournament that’s actually included in the numbers, as well. That was a Wynn $400 that was on the 21st or 22nd.
Brandon: But, this is all inside of that seven day window to pay, so they don’t care.
Brandon: Just because people might be interested-if they’re backing you in a tournament, then you bust out, but you buy back in…do they still get a percentage of any cashes, or is that all you because you bought back in?
Raechel: No. If they have committed to a tournament, then they’re also committed to any re-entries for that tournament.
Brandon: Okay. If they hadn’t fronted you the money to buy back in already, then you did it, but busted out on the rebuy, they’d send you money to cover that?
NOTE: As we can see, and as Raechel will reiterate later in the interview, Standard Backing and she had a positive relationship prior to these events. I do have to be fair and say that they seem to handle their business with players pretty loosely and are consummate professionals…unless you don’t make good on payments to them, anyway.
Brandon: The Venetian win happens, you sent that receipt. You take pictures of the buy-ins from the Wynn and eventually cash, so send the pictures of all of that.
You’ve publicly admitted to, ‘Misappropriation of funds,’ already.
Brandon: Nothing is going to change that. I can’t imagine Standard Backing cares HOW they were misappropriated, they only care THAT they were misappropriated, I would assume.
Brandon: That being the case—you’ve as much as admitted there was no roommate that stole these funds and you were just buying time.
Brandon: Which is understandable if you didn’t have the funds. Shit, you’ve got to tell them something!
Brandon: And there’s not a chance in Hell they’re going to buy that, but maybe they exist somewhere other than Hell and there’s a chance wherever that is.
Raechel: (Laughing) Yeah.
Brandon: In what fashion were these funds misappropriated, if you don’t mind sharing that.
Raechel: I definitely torched them in the slots.
Brandon: Torched them in the slots. I mean, that happens. Some advantage players have holes. For most of them, it’s table games.
Raechel: I definitely don’t want to suggest I am an advantage player. I know there are advantage play machines; I know (some of the plays) but I don’t even always play those ones.
I just play the ones I like. Initially, I went to the casino. I forget how much I took with me; I shouldn’t even have taken that much with me, but I hadn’t lost all of their money.
It kind of spiraled. I lost something like 3k and thought I could get it back, so then I used the remaining funds to try to chase their money back. You know how that ended.
Brandon: Well, yeah.
They call that like, “Call to the void,” have you heard that? It’s like, have you ever been walking by a precipice, or a bridge and you just have a random urge to jump, but then the feeling passes?
Raechel: (Bewildered) Ummm…I guess?
Brandon: Just me? Okay. They call that, “Call to the void.”
There was another book I read, I think it was Johnathan Glazer, (NOTE: it’s Andy Glazer, not Johnathan) who calls it, “Misery Indifference.”
He coined that phrase with respect to table games and slots. Basically, you get down to where you’re down so far that you’re like, “I am already so f***ed, that I might as well get to where I am either unf***ed, or…”
Raechel: Yeah, or less f***ed.
Brandon: Yeah. It’s like, “Having what I have right now and having nothing are equal levels of f***ed–”
Raechel: (Laughing) Yeah!
Brandon: “--so, I might as well just have nothing or I might as well get unf***ed.”
Was it one of those kinds of situations?
I know that’s the cycle and type of thinking that I have to break, because, let’s say I lost half of their money and came to them and said, “Look, I have a gambling addiction. Not kind of, I do. I had too much money on me and made some bad choices, but I stopped myself and here’s half of the money—can we work out a payment plan (for the rest)?”
That would have been way better.
Brandon: Yeah, yeah, yeah! But, when you’re there in the moment dumping C-Notes into the slot machine, and now you’ve only half of Standard Backing’s money and have effectively lost all of your own money.
Brandon: Because, once you get down below that six-something thousand figure, that is now entirely Standard Backing’s money. Zero of this is your money, at this point.
Raechel: Right. Correct.
Brandon: In the moment, you’re saying, “There are no varying levels of f***ed, here. I am just F***ED unless I make this amount of money look more like 6.8k, or whatever it was.”
Brandon: When you talk about going to the casino with the money–when you cashed out at The Venetian, did you leave the casino with the money or just go to slots immediately?
Raechel: That specific day? I did leave the casino with money. I had a friend who came there to, you know—
Brandon: Make sure you left the casino with money?
Raechel: (Laughs) Correct.
I did. I honestly don’t remember what day was what, but I went to the casino with my buy-ins for the (Wynn) tournament and I had my cash from The Venetian win and some of their money, but not all of it. I think I ended up taking five grand, or whatever it was, to the casino.
Brandon: Right. Your portion of the buy-in, their portion of the buy-in. If I’m doing my math on this right, you said they had 75% of you in The Venetian one?
Brandon: Right. So, you won $8,400, we’ll call it. We divide that by four, so we get $2,100 of it that’s your money.
Raechel: Right. I had actually swapped with someone in that tournament and I paid my swap that day.
Brandon: Can you elaborate on what, ‘Swap,’ is, please?
Raechel: If you and I are playing in the same tournament, and I ask, “Do you want to swap 10%?”, any amount that you cash, or I cash, we would swap 10%.
If I win first place for 8.3k, whatever, and you don’t cash at all, then I would owe you 10% of what I won.
Brandon: Oh, so it’s basically just having a piece of each other, but no money changes hands until after the fact?
Brandon: But, there’s obviously—there’s not a markup either way. Basically, you’re reducing your variance slightly.
Brandon: When you do that—if you get put in a spot where, you know, you don’t know how good you are and can’t see each other’s cards, but pre-flop, both of you are pretty good and know each other are pretty good—is there any sort of semi-collusion where you both say, “Screw this,” and check-check-check-check.
Or, for 10%, do you just play each other as you would anyone else?
Raechel: So, in the home games in Hawaii–you play with a lot of (the same) people, I’ve been there for a long time…and these are cash games…there are instances where I’ll be in a hand with someone and we won’t bet against each other.
Coming to Vegas, and playing tournaments, I do have friends that I’m close to and mistakenly expected that sort of thing to occur. But, one of my friends is from Hawaii, lives here, and when we would swap he always said, “Just play your hand, just play your game.”
It’s funny–the guy I swapped with in this Venetian tournament, I actually eliminated him from the tournament.
Brandon: Oh, really? You knocked him out?
Brandon: Who had the best hand…we know who had the best hand at the end of the hand, you knocked him out–
Raechel: Oh, I had the best hand.
WINNING BECOMES LOSING…AGAIN
With that, we’re going to get into the sort of mentality that takes over when someone goes into almost a fugue-like state with their gambling. In Raechel’s case, she actually did pretty well in the Wynn tournament, at least how I’d look at it, but still tilted, as you will see:
Brandon: You had the best hand at the time he shoved and you called, or did you do the shoving?
Raechel: I opened, he shoved, I called and took him out.
Brandon: See, you can play some poker. You probably had the best hand every time you called a shove or did the shoving.
Raechel: There was one hand at the final table where I got pretty lucky, but that’s okay. (Laughs)
Brandon: Eh. You’ll have those sometimes.
If you have the best of it when all the money goes in 80% of the time, you’re not losing long-run. You just aren’t. As long as you can do that while being aggressive enough and not being a total rock.
Brandon: So, we go to the Wynn, we do that tournament.
Had the Wynn tournament been completed and you had been paid before any part of Standard Backing’s money got put into the slot machines, or is this all taking place at the same time? Are you playing slot machines during breaks at this tournament?
Raechel: I normally don’t play the machines while I am still in a tournament. Usually, my meltdown comes after I bust.
From what I recall, it was after I cashed at the Wynn tournament, because sometimes when I bust, I am a little tilted. If I have money on me, it’s pretty f***ing dangerous.
Brandon: Let me understand this: Everyone has to understand, this is basically a PSA for people. Not to pick on you, but this happens to a lot of people, right?
Brandon: Just so people can understand the mentality and how things can quickly spiral out of control: You bought into the Wynn tournament for $600?
Brandon: And the rebuy was how much?
Brandon: Right, and you cashed out for how much?
Raechel: 13. (NOTE: $1,376, according to Hendon Poker.)
Brandon: Right. So, it’s not a windfall, but you’re profitable. You’re objectively profitable. You did well.
Because you busted out when you did, or didn’t do as well as you were hoping or had expected to do for the position you found yourself in, is it you felt like you did terribly and then went on tilt with the slots?
Raechel: Yeah, I think that there are times–say, for whatever reason, I have money—and I go to the casino with the intent to play slots…I could win the tournament and still sometimes play slots after.
It’s always worse when I lose. Sometimes, it is easy to win and just leave because, “Mission accomplished,” but there are other times where I feel like I didn’t win enough or think, “I’m just going to smoke a cigarette and play a couple hundred on the machine and unwind.”
But, sometimes it spirals, or…honestly, I don’t even know why I do it. I wish I knew.
Brandon: It’s just a draw. That’s what it is. A lot of people just have that draw.
You know, it’s the quick windfall thing. You see the huge jackpot on the thing, you only have to bet $4, $10, I don’t know if you’re playing high-limit slots or what.
Raechel: Sometimes. This time I kind of was.
Brandon: This makes me kind of curious. In an alternate universe, you buy into the Wynn tournament, you lose, then you rebuy, but you just don’t cash…you’re out, you didn’t cash…do you walk out of there without even playing any slots?
Raechel: Sometimes. I would say I’d play slots the majority of the time.
Brandon: Oh, wow.
So, you play the slots basically every time you walk into a casino.
Unless you come in first, like at The Venetian, and you have a friend who’s there to pick you up.
You say, “Hey, let’s go throw $100 at (Buffalo) Ascension really quick. It’s just $100.”
She says, “Hey, you can’t see it, but I have a TASER trained on you. If you take one step towards Ascension, you’re going down.”
Raechel: (Realizing I’m being hyperbolic) Yeah.
Brandon: And, the bigger problem is—do you want to pursue poker professionally? Would you like to endeavor to become a professional poker player?
Raechel: I would.
Brandon: I mean, Hawaii sounds GREAT if you can beat the competition because you can deal and get some money from that, then you can play some games.
But, there are also states like Texas and New Hampshire where they don’t have casinos. New Hampshire has card rooms that have poker and maybe a little Blackjack
Brandon: And Texas, the closest thing Texas has to a casino is I think two Native American places with Class II Electronic Bingo that are absolutely in the middle of freaking nowhere.
Raechel: Yeah. I’ve had this discussion with other people. It’s almost like, I do think that the environment would be good for me, at the same time, I want to eventually get to the point where I can go into a casino and only play the tournament I want to play—to have enough self-control to say I’m not going to play those machines.
I feel like, if you pursue poker professionally and do extremely well, and you have a ton of money to lose…like a big bankroll…that you don’t necessarily have to win every tournament, maybe you’d look at the slots and say, “What the hell do I need that for? Why would I play the slots? I have way too much to lose.”
I think about that. Obviously, I have these thoughts after–am I the best tournament player ever? Of course not. Do I think I have potential? Sure. I mean, we all kind of have an inflated idea of our skill level.
Brandon: I mean, you felted the guy you had a 10% swap with.
Raechel: I think we may have swapped 5%, but that’s irrelevant.
Let’s just say I was going to go blast $5,000 on the slots. Why? Let’s say I really just wanted to gamble on something, then I could go buy action on other players.
I could just invest in myself. You have a much better chance of success playing poker, obviously, than on a slot machine that’s just there for you to lose.
Brandon: Right. Going back to the $1,300 and change cash at the Wynn, it’s that day we start hitting the slot machines?
Raechel: Yes, I definitely did play that day.
Brandon: Did we just tank it all, totally tilted and lost everything that day? Was it half that day and half the next? How did–
Raechel: It was over a period of two days.
Brandon: Okay. Was this a two-day slot binge, or was this like–you went home and went to bed, woke up and said, “Well, shit. What do I do now? Well, only one thing to do—try to get back to some six-something thousand figure?”
Raechel: It was like a binge.
Brandon: Oh, so this was—you did not sleep?
Raechel: I’m trying to remember. I’m pretty sure there was a cool down period. I had to go get some more money and I did that, actively made that choice, you know?
Brandon: Yeah. When you were doing that, when you were getting that—it sounds like it was roughly half and half.
Brandon: Because, you had taken some of Standard Backing’s money (to the Wynn), not all of, I think it was a couple grand of theirs.
You had a couple grand of theirs, the $2,100 from The Venetian that was yours, then the buy and the rebuy from the Wynn tournament, right?
Brandon: So, do we lose all of that before we leave the Wynn? Like, all of that nearly 5k total is just gone before we walk out the door?
On the day of the $1,300 cash, do we leave the Wynn with any money at all?
It’s the next day and you’re looking at the situation. Maybe it’s later that day. Did any part of you think, “Okay, I’m pretty f***ed here,” clearly you knew that.
Brandon: Did any part of you think, “What if I just take the rest of this,” and, no offense meant but, “Let’s just do something I’m good at. Maybe I should go to a poker cash game with this money and try to double it.”
Like, maybe just play ultra-conservative and try to goad someone into shoving against the nuts?
Raechel: Yeah. Since I’ve gotten into playing tournaments, I really don’t like cash games, at all.
I’m pretty sure that, when I went back, I went with the intention of playing a tournament that day and then was just going to go from there.
I honestly don’t remember if I played a tournament that day. I don’t think that I did. I think I went immediately to slots and lost what was left.
Brandon: And, that’s the day after the Wynn cash.
CAN’T BUY ANYTHING ELSE, MIGHT AS WELL BUY TIME
Brandon: At this point, we have no money, but Standard Backing gives you seven days to pay winnings. It’s like, day four or five, at this point, relative to The Venetian tournament.
Brandon: So, how long is is—do you reach out to them, or do they call you on the seventh day like, “Hey, Raechel, I think you might owe us a little something, here.”
Raechel: At some point in those seven days, after the Wynn cash out, they wanted me to send $6,000 to whoever and I was like, “Yeah,” making excuses like, “Yeah, I didn’t get to the bank on time.” Just making excuses.
Brandon: Right. How many days do we string that out before we concoct the roommate?
Raechel: To the seventh day.
Brandon: The seventh day?
Brandon: On the seventh day, we concoct the roommate.
Raechel: Yeah. To be honest, I don’t even remember the entire lie I told them because lies are hard to keep up with.
I do have a friend I stay with who is very generous to me and helps me out a lot.
I just want to say I wasn’t trying to implicate her, at all, in the story that I told them. I can’t really keep up with my lies, but I think I told them that I was staying with some guy, and it’s a bad situation, and he took the money. They said roommate.
I just think it’s important for everyone to know the person who I DO stay with in Vegas absolutely did not steal any money from me and I wasn’t trying to put blame on her. I was just making up fictional characters.
Brandon: Right. And, when you say it’s a guy…I can’t imagine they asked, but just to clear the air, you didn’t even put a name to this guy, right?
Brandon: Yeah, I can’t imagine that you’d throw an actual person’s name out there. You seem like a really sweet and intelligent person, so I’d be shocked.
With that, you concoct some random guy, they obviously don’t buy it…
Brandon: So, what do they tell you at that point? How do we get from that to, “Okay, just pay us $50 per week.”? Did they start at $500 a week? How did we get here?
Raechel: They are actually the ones who suggested the $50/week. I’d also said to them that I’m in an awkward living situation and I don’t know what I’m going to do moving forward.
I told them I’m going to try to gain employment and they said, “Obviously, we’re going to need something from you. How about $50/week?”
I said, “Okay. Yes.” That’s a snap call, right?
Brandon: Of course.
So, you acquire $50/week from…I don’t care where, it’s irrelevant. It’s not for anyone to know.
Raechel: (Laughing) Free play.
Brandon: Oh? Free play? Okay. (Raechel is still laughing) Nice.
Raechel: I mean, that’s where it came from.
Brandon: Hey, at least the slots gave you a little of it back, I guess. Or, Video Poker, or some machine.
Raechel: Yeah. I’d gotten some free play here and there, but I have to survive, and eat, things like that, so even $50/week was about what I could do.
I can try to get a job, but that’s not going to get me $50 today, you know?
So, you’ve paid the $50/week for four weeks, but now we’re to the fifth week, and you simply do not have $50.
Brandon: I’m sure you communicated this to them. Did you call them on the day it was due, or did they call you like, “Hey, where’s our $50 at?”
Raechel: Everything is done on WhatsApp. On the prior four weeks, they’ve sent a reminder the day before. Our payments were scheduled for Mondays, so they sent the reminder the day before.
I forget what I was doing that Monday, but I forgot to message them. Then they messaged me and were like, “Hey, you’re supposed to send the $50 today.”
That’s when I told them, “Look, I don’t have $50 today.”
Raechel: It’s like–-I didn’t respond for an hour. After that, I get a message saying, “If you don’t send the $50, then we’re going to post this stuff about you.”
I’m like, “F***ing RELAX!!!”
Brandon: Oh? They went straight to that?
Brandon: Didn’t you say something about—they’re talking about a 100% fee for a penalty; they talked about that on Twitter, but didn’t they communicate to you that there would be some sort of penalty if you missed a payment, but not that it would be 100%?
Raechel: Let me clarify—the penalty is for misusing the funds, not for making a late payment. This penalty is going to be enforced regardless of whether you make payments on time or you don’t.
Brandon: Had they said anything about the penalty at the time they asked for $50/week?
Raechel: Their wording was, “You are aware that there is a penalty for misusing funds.” I told them I was aware.
Brandon: Right. But, you do have a contract with these guys.
Raechel: We do. Yes.
Brandon: Is there a 100% penalty outlined in the contract for misuse of funds?
Raechel: No. The way that I understand it is that there is a penalty for misusing funds/having funds go missing. So and so will post a summary of how much you will owe us with the penalty, though we are a bit flexible with it once you are paid in full—whatever that means.
Brandon: What? Paid in full what-before or after the penalty!? What the hell does that mean!?
Raechel: Right. So, I’m just like, “Okay, whatever.”
I’m thinking…and I want to preface this by saying it’s totally possible that I am misunderstanding the terms of the contract…however, as I understand them, my understanding is the penalty should be an amount equal to double the ENTRY FEE (to the tournament) plus they are entitled to their share of the tournament winnings.
But, since all of this started, maybe I’m not understanding it correctly. Initially, it says that we agree due to the nature of breaches, actual damages may be difficult to calculate. Therefore, in the event of termination from the company for cause, which obviously, they have cause, they are entitled to liquidated damages in an amount equal to twice the entry cost plus 100% of the company’s shares.
Upon further reading, it’s possible that it’s interpreted the way that they’re saying.
Brandon: Right. When they talk about their actual cost–their actual cost is whatever money they’re out, right?
They are OWED seven-thousand whatever some dollars it comes to, and if they want to double it, they’re OWED 14.6, whatever, they’re not OUT seven thousand three hundred.
Raechel: Technically, they’re entitled to that money.
Brandon: I don’t dispute that. I’m talking about OUT. Like, “We have laid out x amount of cash and we do not even have that.” That amount is not seven thousand three hundred.
Raechel: I could even see something like a 20% penalty fee, or something like that…let’s just say I’m not interpreting this portion of the contract correctly–I still don’t see this being enforceable because of one, the vague language; two, the unreasonableness (of the penalty).
After the fourth payment, that’s when they sent me the updated numbers that said, “You owe us seven-thousand-whatever-it-is times two for the penalty,” and I’m like, “Okay.”
When they sent that number, I didn’t respond right away. I was thinking about this, and reviewing the contract, and I’m just like, “There’s no way this is f***ing true.”
But, at the same time, I didn’t agree in writing, or verbally, to this number.
Brandon: It’s usurious anyway.
Raechel: In my mind, I’m thinking, “I did totally F up. Let me just try to keep paying them weekly.” In my mind, I’m just trying to come up with their $50/week and I’m not even looking into this information.
When they asked about the $50 on the fifth week, I was like, “Look, I think this penalty is a little steep.”
It almost puts me in a situation where I feel like I’m never going to clear that number.
RAECHEL ADDS: Just to clarify, I was not made aware of the amount of the penalty until AFTER the 4th payment, and it was just before the 5th payment was due.
Brandon: Right. I do wonder if you could file personal bankruptcy on it. Probably not. It would probably cost too much (at once) anyway.
Raechel: I don’t know. That’s a good question.
PROFESSIONALISM AND THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS
In my mind, something like this happening, from time to time, is going to come with the territory of being involved with gambling. In addition to attempting to charge a usurious 100% penalty, which amount (of the penalty) Raechel says she was not made aware of until after four weeks of compliance with the payment arrangement, Standard Backing also did their social media posts in which they made irrelevant negative statements about her.
Brandon: Looking at it from my perspective, if I’m going to be engaged with poker players and backing/staking them…call me callous, call me a bit cynical…but I don’t believe you are the first poker player to have gambling holes who has ever existed.
Raechel: Oh. Definitely not.
Brandon: How is this not the cost of doing business? This sort of thing is going to happen sometimes and…if we have a poker player who wins a tournament, then five weeks after a tournament where they won eight grandish they don’t have $50….like, what is the most likely cause of what happened to this money? There’s only one cause.
Brandon: Poker is still gambling. If a gambler goes from having a large amount to a small amount, then there’s only one way that happens. Unless they have a lot of debts otherwise, then maybe they paid those off.
That’s not the case with you; you’re saying you lost it on slot machines.
I don’t think you’d be saying that if it were untrue because you’d look better if you said, “Well, I had all of these pre-existing debts and I paid those off instead.”
Raechel: Definitely didn’t.
When you say that you lost it on the slot machines—considering that is the worst reason for it to be gone that could possibly exist, I don’t think you’re lying, right?
Brandon: When I say, ‘The worst reason,’ I don’t mean to disparage you. I just mean if I am a company who stakes players and I’m considering whether or not to back you for something like this–there are a lot of things I don’t want to hear and that’s #1 on that list.
Brandon: That being the case, there has to be some level of sympathy. Obviously, they’re not backing any more tournaments because you owe them money.
Brandon: But, is anyone reaching out to you and asking, “What’s going on in your life that you don’t have $50?”
Raechel: No. There was none of that.
Brandon: Is anyone suggesting, “Hey, maybe you should look into gambling counseling?”
Raechel: No. It was just–if we don’t receive our money today, then we’re going to post negative feedback.
I said, “I’m trying to come up with it. I don’t have it right now. I’m working on it.”
“Okay, we’ll send you the link after we post it.”
This was within five messages. Unless we receive the payment today, we’re going to post this first thing in the morning. It’s already written up.
Brandon: And, why would this behavior encourage you to pay them? (Laughing) That’s the thing that baffles my mind.
Raechel: That’s essentially what I said to them.
When they (portrayed me as saying), “Why would I continue paying weekly if something bad is going to happen?”, they took that out of context.
That was a small part of an entire paragraph that I sent them where I essentially said, “I understand it’s your money, but what can I do at this moment? Why would I continue paying weekly if I know one missed payment can result in something negative when the likelihood of having a missed payment is high considering the amount I owe. If I pay you on time for 100 weeks, then the one time I miss a payment you’re going to post something negative about me.”
Brandon: Yeah, and also the fact that they’d have it be weekly to begin with, as opposed to monthly.
I’m confused by them having it weekly instead of monthly.
I just don’t understand weekly. Let’s say that you’d normally deposit the money into whatever it is on Monday and send it. On Sunday, your appendix bursts, so you’re in the hospital on Monday.
That didn’t happen. I’m saying hypothetically. So, what’s going to happen? They’re going to post this because you’re not responding to their messages due to being too busy having an emergency appendectomy and then blow you up on Twitter.
I think you’re just asking for a missed payment if it’s weekly. If you do $200/month, then they don’t have an excuse.
Raechel: Right. I agree there.
In the contract, I also agreed that my non-compliance could be shared publicly. This goes for anything because people put people on blast all the time for this shit, but if you truly feel like you’re protecting the poker community, then why not just post it immediately?
Brandon: That’s true.
***Raechel makes an excellent point here. Standard Backing certainly didn’t seem too concerned with the community when Raechel was paying in accordance to the $50/week agreement; it was only after she missed a payment that Standard Backing would become so concerned with the state of the poker community.
***In fact, Raechel could have theoretically sought out another backer in that four weeks and used THEIR money to pay Standard Backing, which I imagine would have made Standard Backing happy, despite their purported concern for the poker community being potentially defrauded.
Brandon: The other thing that baffles me is that poker is its own isolated type of community. I don’t understand why you’d take to Twitter.
Number one, it’s just the cost of doing business. In terms of the amount of money that they’re out, in the light most favorable to them, you went into that week all square and were holding $1,466 of theirs, you’ve paid $200, so they’re OUT $1,266.
Raechel: Yeah. Also, if I had no intention to pay them or acknowledge my wrongdoing, then I wouldn’t have paid them anything.
Raechel: Especially knowing that this is going to result (if a single payment is missed) anyway.
Brandon: You probably have friends and family on Twitter, and stuff like that. It’s not like they sanctimoniously claim, for the protection of the poker community, but seems more like it’s more to go after you personally.
We’re going to try to make sure you lose all of your friends, even the ones who aren’t necessarily involved in poker. We’re going to make sure your f***ing family knows about this, right?
Brandon: And then, if anyone in the future has a situation similar to this, they can just point and say, “Well, look what we did to her! Do you want that to be you?”
Because, people love drama. I’m shocked this hasn’t blown up even more than it has, which I think was their goal.
Brandon: So, you misappropriated the funds into a slot machine. Lied about that. Are taking responsibility for doing both of those things and intend to pay them?
Raechel: I do intend to pay them. It’s just as I expressed to them–I didn’t think their number was fair and arbitration is the stated method in the contract for this to be resolved.
I don’t think there’s an arbitrator in the world, and I could be wrong, that would say, “Yeah. This is fair. You owe double.” If any says that, I’d say, “Okay.”
I think the best case scenario is the arbitrator says, “No, you owe $7,300, or whatever the number is.” And then they can be paid that amount.
Brandon: Yeah. That’s not even taking into account that they’re not OUT $7,300.
When I use the word, “OUT,” let’s say you go to a bank and take out an unsecured loan for $5,000, and you do not make a single payment, that bank is OUT $5,000. The bank did indeed give you $5,000, they got $0 back, and are therefore out $5,000, right?
Brandon: If the bank gives you $5,000 and you pay $2700 back before you stop making payments, then they are out $2,300.
But, this is the bank giving you, in the light most favorable to them, $1,466 and were paid back $200, so they are OUT $1,266. They’re owed $7,300-whatever it is, but they are OUT less than $1,300, at worst.
Raechel: Yeah. I also think that it’s possible that I’ll go to arbitration and they’ll deem some of these provisions to be either invalid, or unenforceable. I could be wrong.
Brandon: I would expect the arbitrator, with the full scope of the truth being known, I’d expect they’d want to see some gambling counseling.
Raechel: Which I need, so that’s fine.
Brandon: Right! Do that. Immediately. By all means. Please. Right!?
But, in the meantime, you don’t even have—you don’t even play cash games.
Raechel: I should.
Brandon: But, should you?
Raechel: Obviously, not right now. Just, in general, tournaments can be really volatile.
They had expressed that if I repaid, then they would take off some of the penalty. Basically, the way I understood it, if I paid more than the weekly payment, then they would credit me with 50% of the amount over, which would come off the penalty.
So, if the weekly payment is $50, and I pay $150, then they would subtract $50.
Brandon: From the penalty?
Brandon: So, what’s the plan? Are you going to try to find a stable job? Traditional job? Do you think you might go back to Hawaii and get into dealing some more?
Raechel: I might. I don’t want to get into too much detail as to why I don’t want to go back there, but basically, just from talking to people back home and assessing the situation—there’s a reason I wanted to leave there to begin with.
I feel like getting a real job is the way to go. I haven’t had one for a long time, but it’ll put things back into perspective for me and help me truly understand the value of a dollar.
As far as making payments to them, I have no intention to do so until the number is settled. Whether with them or via arbitration, but I don’t agree to that (14-some thousand) number, so I don’t want to be seen as agreeing to that.
Brandon: Yeah. There’s no question it has to be a fixed, solid, non-malleable number. That’s just going to be that number.
And, if they want to proscribe some fixed fee for missed payments, that’s one thing. If it’s something like a fixed $25 fee until you’re caught up on payments and late fees. That would be fine.
One thing I don’t understand is…I feel like they’re not helping their own cause going to Twitter with this because, suppose the most qualified you are for a traditional job is—and I don’t know if you have a record—I’ll assume you don’t.
Raechel: I do.
Brandon: But, it’s your intent to eventually pay at least $7,300 back?
Raechel: Yeah. And, I’m not totally against some form of penalty. I think it’s reasonable, given the circumstances, just not 100%.
Brandon: But, if you’re trying to get traditional employment, surely, they’re almost shooting themselves in the foot, in a way, because—if I’m an employer, and I’m going to do my due diligence and at least Google your name, then I’m going to find this Standard Backing company on Twitter who says you bilked them out of fourteen-something thousand, which is before clarifying that’s AFTER a 100% penalty, then how am I going to hire you?
It’s like, nobody is ever going to notice 2+2 poker forum outside of the community, but when you go to something like Twitter, anybody could see that.
If I’m Standard Backing, and I’m going to make it more difficult for you to get traditional employment, then how the hell does that help me get my money?
Raechel: Right. If we went to arbitration and I don’t have a job, or other means to pay them—I certainly don’t have assets, so, what are they going to do if I can’t get a job? Garnish my non-existent wages?
Brandon: Exactly. Feel free not to answer, but do you have any credit cards they could take by way of payment, or nothing like that?
Brandon: Nothing. You could always maybe apply for–
Raechel: No. I’m literally at rock bottom. I have terrible credit.
Brandon: Poor credit, or no credit?
Raechel: No credit, except student loans. I essentially have no credit, but it’s also bad credit because of student loans and stuff.
Brandon: It seems like, if you’re in poker backing, then something like this happening is just the cost of doing business. It doesn’t seem like wrecking someone’s personal life, and perhaps making traditional employment more difficult for them, is a good way to recoup that cost.
Raechel: Right. I would say, regardless of them posting something publicly, then even if it takes years, they’ll get their money. As long as I don’t die. If I die, then they’ll never get it.
Brandon: They’ll at least be backing you insofar as to prefer you alive to dead.
Raechel: I could be wrong, but it seemed to me like they wanted to portray me as having no intention to pay back, because I missed a payment. They even said in text messages that they know they won’t get their money, so it’s no loss to them. It’s like, “When did I say that?”
Brandon: Right. Even with these events, we do want to be fair to Standard Backing: Prior to these events, you did have a positive relationship with that company?
Raechel: Definitely. They were great to work with. Even earlier in the year I’d go to them and say, “I know I didn’t schedule this tournament, but I want to play it,” and they were hella chill.
They were really chill.
And, I know they posted something about my RoI, but they were right. Even the worst poker players could perform better than I was playing.
Brandon: Oh, really? I took that as an unnecessary shot totally irrelevant to The Venetian and Wynn cashes. But, for them to say, “Prior to these events, Raechel Whetstone was negative RoI,” that’s not an unfair characterization?
Raechel: I definitely was not performing well, but they obviously saw potential or wanted to continue working with me for some reason.
Brandon: Right, because you’re going to want to cut bait if you see no potential at all, right?
Raechel: Yeah. That’s probably another reason why—I didn’t want to play a lot of bigger buy-in tournaments. There are a lot of poker players who suck and say, “Oh, it’s variance. I’m just running bad.”, and I think some of it can be attributed to that, but some of it is also not always playing my best and being relatively new to tournaments.
When you’re learning new information, or trying to apply it, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way too, but obviously, I did have some good scores at the end of last year. But, anyone can have a short stint of run good.
I’m not dead money.
Raechel: But, I’m obviously not the best. I did feel like I’d been getting better.
Brandon: Yeah. And they say, “Negative RoI,” but you’re not Phil Hellmuth, right? If you were Phil Hellmuth, then you would not need them to back you anymore.
Raechel: Right. That’s a good point, too. I would say that there are some really solid players who sell action, or get backing because tournament variance can be so high.
It’s not necessarily indicative of you being a bad player. It’s also like, I did have some good scores at the end of last year, but now I need backing? I’m surprised they’re not thinking, “What’s up here?”
Brandon: Yeah, and there were some allegations on Twitter, I think it was, to the effect that a similar ordeal happened with another backing company. Is there any truth to that?
Raechel: To another backing company? Definitely not. Do I have other debts related to poker? I do, but it’s nothing where I’m on bad terms with anybody, but I do need to make right.
Brandon: Yeah. And, if we have to have a solid number and anything by way of penalties needs to be some solid amount—not just that we double what you owe.
We need to come up with a number. Especially in light of the circumstances and admitting you have a gambling problem, the number need not be double what they originally had coming to them. That’s already substantially more than they’re actually out.
Raechel: Yeah. And, if there’s someone like me who has a gambling addiction and thinks that $7,000 is a lot, then 14.9…or whatever the hell the number is…it’s nobody’s fault but my own, but my terrible thinking can continue and be, “I don’t have fourteen thousand and the only way I can get it is to gamble.”
I don’t want to think like that. I just want to go back to some regular payment and be done.
TEMPORARILY DOWN AND OUT
Brandon: Thank you for taking the time to speak to me. Is there anything you want to cover or any closing words?
Raechel: I think we’ve covered everything as far as my intent goes. I do want to make it clear that I understand actions speak louder than words, but I can’t recover overnight. I need some time. All of this pressure from other people like, “You need to pay what you owe,” I mean, what do you want me to do?
Brandon: Clearly, the answer is to become a contract killer, right?
Raechel: Yeah, right!? It’s not like I owe anyone an explanation, but I felt like it was important to get in front of it and say, “Yeah, I f***ing lied. I’m a degen, and I don’t know why I felt like it was a good idea, but that’s what I did.”
As far as my actions, I don’t need to do them publicly or for anyone else except myself, the people I need to make right, and Standard Backing.
As long as I have people in my life holding me accountable, and helping me get there, then that’s all that matters.
Brandon: It is what it is. If we’re at nothing, then we can only go up from here.
Raechel: Yeah, and if I don’t have $50, then that’s rock bottom. Imagine what I'm going through. Is it my own doing? Sure. But, if you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it.
Brandon: Yeah, what can you do? Like, if your friend, and I hope to God it never happens, but if she kicked you out, then you’re at Three Square tomorrow, right?
How don’t I have $50? “Well, because I have a number that is between zero and $49.99, that’s how I don’t have $50.”
Raechel: (Laughs) There are priorities and eating is one of them. Contributing to someone who is helping me is one of them. I just have to get a job and go from there.
Brandon: What advice would you give to someone reading this—whether they’re a poker player, advantage player or a sports bettor that does that profitably—is there anything you’ve learned from your experience with the slots…what would you go back and tell Raechel Whetstone the first time she donked it all off on slots–is there anything you could have said to yourself that would have caused you to never do that again?
Raechel: That’s a good question. I think it really comes down to being honest with yourself and knowing that sports betting, or slot machines–because I do view poker differently–but knowing they are there for you to lose and just bet on yourself instead.
If I had done that, I might never have needed a backer.
Brandon: All I can do is wish you all the best and hope that, whether it be in the poker community or general gambling community, that there’s nobody out there that has any animosity for you whatsoever.
You’re stepping up, taking responsibility and admitting you’re wrongdoings. I don’t care what a person does, short of obvious things like murder, but this is just money—who gives a shit?
I just think people should see your honesty and taking responsibility as admirable. In terms of moral integrity, you should have a good name. I hope people who have read this come away thinking the same.
As we can see, everything was great with Standard Backing—until it wasn’t.
As Raechel stated, they’d been great to work for until these events, but as soon as she indicated that she’d be late with the fifth $50 payment, Standard Backing (according to Raechel) informed her that the penalty was 100% and that any missed payment would result in them making this a public issue on social media.
I don’t know when Raechel will be able to make good on her debt, but I do believe that she fully intends to pay it when she can. It sounds like they aren’t at the top of the priority list, and given their treatment of her after the first missed payment, I completely understand why not.
For my part, I find Raechel to be a charming and intelligent person. I also believe that she will make things right with Standard Backing one day.
The lesson to be learned is that, in gambling, something like this can happen to anyone.
However—there’s a more important lesson to take away from this. In the position that Standard Backing was in, I’d see this as sometimes the cost of doing business. However, because of their actions, (and not immediately disclosing their claimed amount included a ridiculous 100% fee) they also come out of this not looking so hot—despite the fact that Raechel maintains, prior to these events, they were great to work with.
People ARE NOT the worst thing that they have ever done. People do not always act according to what their intentions are. We all mess up (though to what extent can vary) from time to time and are all imperfect; the only thing we can try to do is to do better next time.
In Raechel’s case, we peeled back the curtain and found the root cause despite being a solid, AT WORST, poker player is a self-destructive slot machine addiction. There’s really no reason for Standard Backing not to have suspected the same.
In different ways and to varying degrees, we sometimes wrong people who we do not mean to wrong and are wronged in ways that the people who wronged us did not intend. The best way to address being wronged, until there is absolutely no other option, is with mercy and grace.
And, poker, QUIT KILLING YOURSELF! Keep the drama behind the scenes.
I again thank Raechel for taking the time to have our conversation. The two of us have actually developed something of a rapport over the course of this interviews and related discussions.
With that, I hope you have enjoyed hearing from her as you will get to do more of it. It is my plan that Raechel and I will co-write a monthly article in which we will review various poker videos (such as hand compilations) on Youtube!
The first of the articles co-written by Raechel and myself will be out in late-November or early-December. It turns out that Raechel and I started out on opposite sides of the Robbi Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein hand (with Raechel thinking it most likely Robbi had cheated), so we will be watching that back and discussing our opinions relative to the investigation having not taken place yet.