Cliff Josephy poker

The Cliff Josephy Poker Phenomenon: Player, Coach, and Staker

The Cliff Josephy poker phenomenon includes having made quite a name for himself—and a nifty living to boot—playing both live and online poker, producing poker training videos, and staking a “stable” of up-and-coming players.

Cliff Josephy hails from Syosset, New York. The 44-year-old poker pro has been a fixture in both live and online poker since 2005.

Cliff Josephy’s poker tournament success

Josephy has had impressive success at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). At the 2005 WSOP, he won a bracelet in the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event for a hefty $192,150. What made this win even more impressive was that this was his first ever seven-card stud tournament. 

Then, in 2013, Josephy won his second WSOP bracelet and $300,000 in the $3,000 NLHE Shootout. His biggest cash was at the 2016 WSOP Main Event where he placed third, earning a truly staggering $3.45 million cash prize.

Cliff Josephy poker

As for World Poker Tour (WPT) success, in May 2012, Josephy won the WPT $5,180 NLHE World Championship in Las Vegas and a $165,240 payout. Josephy’s most recent live tournament win was in the January 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City where he won a second WPT title and nearly $36,000.

Altogether, Josephy’s total live tournament winnings are in excess of $7.1 million, and he is currently ranked 67th on the U.S. All Time Money List.

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Cliff Josephy’s online poker winnings 

The Cliff Josephy poker phenomenon isn’t limited to live tournaments. He is a very adept and successful online tournament player as well.

Josephy’s online moniker is JohnnyBax, and, over the course of his career, he has been ranked the top online poker tournament player multiple times by PocketFives.

After storming onto the online scene in 2005, Josephy achieved the number-one poker ranking in the world in April 2005 thanks to his impressive dominance in high-stakes tournaments. In fact, he holds the record for longest amount of time—during 2005 and 2006—in the number-one spot worldwide. Josephy is also a multiple PocketFives Triple Crown champ for winning three different tournaments on three different poker networks within seven days. 

Among his impressive online wins include:

  • PokerStars $1,000 Super Tuesday tournament for $85,000 
  • Full Tilt Poker Sunday Brawl for $78,300
  • Full Tilt $1,000 Monday event for $38,500
  • Second place in the PokerStars $100 Sunday rebuy for $64,500

Overall, Josephy has won slightly more than $4 million in online poker cash prizes. 

How do you like your stake?

When most poker players hear “Sheets and Bax”—referring to Eric “Sheets” Haber and Josephy—the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that these two gentlemen are among the biggest stakers in the game of poker. In fact, they practically invented the staking practice during the poker boom that occurred during 2003 and 2006.

It was during this time that poker—especially Texas Hold’Em—achieved immense popularity across the globe. Despite being successful poker players themselves, Haber and Josephy saw the tremendous potential in staking, and they worked diligently to create a highly successful stable of horses.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! They noticed that the newer generation of poker players were more skilled than the older grinders who had dominated the field for several years. Specifically, the two men saw the potential in the rising talent dominating the online poker world. They correctly assumed that these same players could very well dominate in a live poker setting. These players’ biggest obstacle was lack of money, especially the higher buy-ins for many of the prestigious tournaments as well as travel expenses. 

Amidst increasing and enormous cash prizes, Sheets and Bax virtually revolutionized the staking game and became synonymous with the process.

Notable horses

Perhaps Josephy’s and Haber’s most famous horse was then-21-year-old Joe Cada in the 2009 WSOP Main Event. In 2008, they staked Ylon Schwartz who made the Main Event final table; however, Cada actually won the world championship, making him the youngest Main Event winner in history. (Cada also recently finished 5th in the 2018 Main Event.)

Joe Cada Cliff Josephy horse

Joe Cada after his historic WSOP Main Event win

After Cada’s win, nobody would dispute that Haber’s and Josephy’s poker backing business model was a success. From that day on, staking evolved from a friendly way that players would help fellow players during a bad run into a legitimate and profitable business.

This new business model also took the former 50-50 split between backers and players and skewed payouts heavily toward the backers since they were the ones taking the actual financial risk. Haber and Josephy also introduced the now-common concepts of “stakeback” and “makeup” that are quite prevalent in poker staking today.

There is widespread speculation about Josephy’s and Haber’s horses over the years, as well as the likely ridiculous amount of money the two men made over the years. At one time, many estimated that they had over 100 horses in their stable, but the exact figure remains elusive, and Josephy and Haber aren’t talking.

A final word

There is little doubt that the Cliff Josephy poker world is rather vast. From live and online tournament success to lucrative player staking to a prosperous poker training video company, he has, indeed, made quite a name for himself.

What are your thoughts on the staking business? Please comment below.

Until next time.

Note: “Our preflop charts are the most efficient and absolute quickest way to improve your poker game. Download them and use them… they work!” – Doug Polk
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Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer and blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.

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