What to do with an unexpected bonus?

After UB & Absolute Poker players finally get their money back after six years, what is the best use for money you never expected to see again?

Absolute Poker
Absolute Poker

Last week former UB and Absolute Poker players started to receive their money back, six years after it was seemingly lost forever. The UB/AP situation in particular looked hopeless, after Black Friday all the talk was on Full Tilt, because there had been so many scandals previously linked with the two Cereus sites, I doubt many players gave it a second thought and just wrote their money off as gone.

But the great news was that, six years on, the money has started landing in players’ bank accounts. Which leads me to wonder what the best use of that money would be, from a poker player perspective? After six years none of those players will be the same players they were. Some will be much better, some will be worse, some will have given up the game entirely (perhaps as a result of it).

Simply adding it to their existing bankroll without any extra thought would seem odd, so what’s the best thing to do with newly found money?

Lottery mentality?

Lottery Fever

In a strange way, I think that if you didn’t have a plan, something similar to the lottery effect would occur for many players. People who win the lottery often end up in the same position, or worse, after winning because they have not developed the parallel skills of earning the money, so they don’t learn how to respect it. This is clearly not the case here, because that money was earned initially, but after six years it landing unexpectedly might lead some not to take it as seriously.

The standard inclination would perhaps be to gamble with it, because it was so unexpected and after six years no longer felt like something to ‘lose’. It probably rightly feels like a freeroll, but I’d suggest sticking it all on red would just cultivate that lottery mentality, and even if you won, you’d lose it eventually.

Take a risk you wouldn't normally

John Hesp poker
Take that once-in-a-lifetime shot you wouldn't otherwise take

But that element of feeling like a freeroll is a useful tool that shouldn’t be wasted. Most people become more conservative as they get older, so after six years most of us are less keen to take risks. Having a safe way to take a risk is a rare opportunity, so while I would strongly advise not gambling with it, if there ever is a time to take a shot at a bigger game, or a live event, this is the time.

This year whenever I find myself with an unexpected windfall, whether it is a large amount or just £10 cashback from a purchase, I put that money into Bitcoin or Ethereum. I currently don’t know anywhere near enough to consider myself a wise Crypto investor and I would never just put a big chunk of my net worth into it, but because it is all money I never expected to have anyway it has allowed me to overrule my naturally nitty tendencies. If the value goes up I’m over the moon, if Bitcoin plummets and never recovers, it was found money anyway.

If you are ever in doubt with how to invest money, I think the best advice in poker and life is to invest it in yourself. Investing $1,000 in shares will bring uncertain returns, but spending that $1,000 to learn a new skill, get it better shape, experience the world or get a qualification will stick with you forever. You can lose money in a bad investment instantly, so putting it into something that will enable you to earn more in the future strikes me as sound advice for poker or any other venture.

The dullest thing you could do with newly found money is to just spend it as normal or play your regular poker games with it. Ultimately I think the best use of an unexpected windfall is to do something you previously would not have done because it was too much of a risk or too lavish to justify.

What would you do if you got an unexpected boost to your bankroll? Let us know in the comments:

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Comments (4)

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  • elvinkoh1


    Barry great article! INVESTING IN OURSELVES is the best choice everyone should have. Gambling is an addiction, so we should be careful! Thx mate!
  • anduke


    Great article indeed, knowledge is power!
  • tonypmm


    I wouldn't move up automatically, and I wouldn't play live because it's slow, but I'd indeed hire an MTT coach and start taking shots at the softest of the midstake online events.
  • tonypmm


    That said, I'd do it with the money earned on my own too (through a Spin & Go bink or long heater - skill and winnings are not correlated in spins as much as in cash games, and everything can happen). I don't find it dull to do the same thing with a windfall. Money is money.