There was a time that I harboured dreams of becoming a professional poker player, either sitting behind my computer screen playing online poker or travelling around the UK and maybe the world playing in poker tournaments.
I soon realised – I say soon but it took three or four years – that this was never going to be the case. Why? One reason was that I was not dedicated enough to putting in the hours away from the table to study the game. Another was my inability to log a significant number of tournaments or cash game hands to make some semi-serious money.
Missing the boat
My chance to realise the dream probably came around 10-years ago when I split with my then girlfriend and moved into the pub my mate was running. We struck a deal where I would work a few shifts behind the bar when I finished my day job in exchange for renting the room. This meant my outgoings were very low (I wasn’t earning much but the ratio of income to outgoings was decent) and I saw my little lad on Saturdays so I had plenty of spare time.
Instead of knuckling down and putting in the hours, I kind of went off the rails a little bit and spent most of my spare time chasing birds, getting pissed up and taking various substances, as you do when you’re a bit of a dickhead.
Another opportunity reared its head around 2012 when I had got my act together and had fallen back in love with the game. I was working in the poker industry by now, although not to the extent of the present, and enjoyed some decent results.
I was writing some articles for Betfair, including an ongoing series called Pud’s Poker Progress where I’d document my progress, or lack of it, in the online poker world. Betfair agreed to stake me in their GSOP series if I wrote a daily recap of what had gone on during the previous day.
A handful of min-cashes by yours truly were followed up by some decent scores, even better that I hadn’t had to buy into any of the tournaments. I finished 50/600 in a $108 buy-in rebuy for a then career-best $520.82; the best was yet to come.
One of the latter events of the series was a $22 buy-in Deepstack with $30,000 guaranteed. Cutting a long story short, I took down the tournament for $4,844.32 in cash and a $525 seat to the mini-Grand Slam, or Main Event as most people would call it these days. That is still my largest-ever online score.
Great start to the year
A couple of months later, I finished 3/2994 players in the PokerStars $3.30 rebuy for $2,483.37. I used to love that tournament and the 2R1A events. On Jan. 1, 2014, I finished 4th in a $5.50 2R1A for $980.92 then towards the end of the month I finished sixth in the $3r for $821.38 and five days later finished fourth in it for $1,459.38.
Despite this impressive start, I hardly played again that year, opting to try grind the 180-man games.
I recently fired up my old PocketFives account and added my screen names into my profile so any poker I played would be tracked. Sadly, my Betfair Poker scores from the Ongame days (remember those) are missing.
Three years since my last tournament
One thing that struck me was my last tournament cash was in Oct. 2015, three fucking years ago! Well, that’s not entirely true because I cashed in a couple of small POWERFEST events at partypoker this Sept. because I won some free tickets in a promotion. But still, three years I’ve not played poker tournament for.
Something else that stood out was my profile is showing a mere 264 cashes, going to show how little I used to play even when I was in love with online poker.
Working away in the PokerNews Live Reporting team didn’t help as I was away for days at a time, weeks when it came to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Neither did getting the roles I have now where I spend half my life writing about poker and people winning ludicrous sums of money, meaning I don’t have the motivation to play online poker when I throw in the towel for the day. Yet I am being drawn back to the game.
It was probably the handful of tournaments I played with my free tickets from partypoker. I only managed to scrape a couple of min-cashes and one or two bounties while playing on my phone, in the pub where the Mrs works, while I was waiting for her to finish.
But I really enjoyed playing. The buzz of being all-in. The excitement of reading your opponent and being able to bluff them off a pot. It all came flooding back and I liked what I felt.
Where to play online poker?
I’m still not going to be able to log a lot of volume if I am honest because of work and family commitments, although I am determined to get involved in some online poker tournaments in the next week or so, money permitting as I haven’t had a bankroll for three years!
PokerStars isn’t an option for me as I am banned from playing there. I’ve not done anything dodgy, but The Stars Group owns a majority shareholding in iBus Media, which is the parent company of PokerNews, which in turn loosely makes me an employee of Stars and therefore not allowed to play at their online poker site.
This means I will likely play at partypoker because I like the direction they are going in with the continual improvements to their software, promotions and games offered, plus the iPoker Network and 888 put me on life tilt.
The Monster Series is coming up at partypoker from Oct. 28, a series of 144 tournaments with buy-ins of between $2.20 and $33 yet with combined guaranteed prize pools of $3.4 million. Perhaps this could be the perfect time to jump back on the horse, brush off the rust and see if I can still remember what hand beats what or if I am an even bigger fish as I was back in 2015.