Before Mike “Timex” McDonald was 18 years-old he was already a force in poker. He had a stable of backed players when was 16, a network of peers that would become the next great generation in poker, and then he won $1.3 million as the youngest EPT winner ever.
Then in 2014 he turned the game on its head with his “Bank of Timex” idea – he looked to book action against players he felt were charging an excessive markup. He offered shares of players at lower markups, and it worked like the stock market in general terms.
“The initial support of the Bank of Timex was pretty impressive, but I quickly realized that betting on tournaments wasn’t as simple as just playing a poker tournament regarding legality,” McDonald said.
The Bank closed after a couple of weeks for a number or reasons and the overwhelming response led backers to re-think some investments across the game. McDonald moved on from the idea to focus on deep stacked play.
“I reached out to Veron Lammers for coaching, we began talking more and became quite close friends,” McDonald said. “Early (in) 2015 he asked why I had abandoned my Bank of Timex idea. It just seemed like a logistical nightmare to try turning this into a fully functional licensed business.”
“He asked if I’d want to be business partners where he is much more involved in the company’s setup and organization and I am more in charge of promotion and pricing,” McDonald continued. “This seemed like a pretty good arrangement to me and we began planning for making PokerShares a reality.”
Earlier this week, McDonald launched PokerShares.com accompanied by YouTube video explaining the business.
PokerShares has open action and lines on most of the major 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas events, the Sunday Majors on PokerStars, Cate Hall vs Mike Dentale heads-up match and even the Brains vs AI match that’s set to run.
Currently, American aren’t allowed to bet on the site but can hold accounts in outside markets similar to online poker accounts. They are quite clear that player account funds are segregated from company operating accounts.
On McDonald’s side, the bets are part of a larger bankroll. “Generally on small bets Veron and I split the action, for medium sized bets I take the remainder of the action beyond his risk-tolerance threshold,” he said. “For large bets, some others take the remainder of the action beyond both of our risk-tolerance thresholds.”
“The betting limits will depend on a large variety of factors, but they’ll be much larger than they are now,” said McDonald. “We plan on allowing exposures into the low seven figures fairly often, but larger will require very specific circumstances – (the) WSOP Main Event and other events like that.”
McDonald’s vision for his future is inspired by another poker prodigy from a different era. “I love poker and will always continue to play it. But I do think it’d be amazing if I could follow a Bobby Baldwin-esque path where I go from poker shark, to businessman, to recreational player competing with the new wave of poker sharks.”