Hey folks, it has certainly been a little while since I have written a blog post, and it seems pretty incongruous that I haven’t written much about poker on here, even though it has taken up such a big (but less lately) part of my life. That was somewhat deliberate, as I didn’t want my blog to just become a poker strategy blog or something like that; I wanted it to be a personal blog about things that are important to me. But poker most certainly fits into that category for me. I decided to split this over a few posts, because I like writing and once I start it usually turns into quite long posts, so I will first talk about how I started in poker, then go the point where I started really learning about the game, and then onto what I am doing now and my goals for the future.
The first exposure I had to poker was via a British show called Late Night Poker, which was on SBS at the time. This was in around 2002 I think, so I was in year 12. My brother Matthew and I pretty much instantly became hooked – being extremely competitive with each other, poker certainly fitted into that, so we started playing quite a lot, and I really haven’t stopped since.
We started playing with a packet of old Queens Slipper paper cards and matchsticks (lol), but pretty quickly Googled online poker room and found a site called pokerroom.com, which is closed now but I know lots of people from my era that have fond memories of that site. After playing play money for a little while, I loaded up $50 and started playing $5 SNGS, and ran it up a bit, but then went busto. After going back to play money for a little while longer, I eventually loaded up another $50, and believe it or not this $100 constitutes the only money I have ever deposited in poker, which I think is pretty cool. Probably pretty lucky in the beginning, but something I am now proud of.
Over the next year or two, I just played a couple of times a week of whatever, just donking around, but I generally did ok. I kinda wish that I put more time in back then, I can just imagine going back in time with what I know now, but obviously every poker thinks that. Over that period of time I cashed out maybe a few hundred, so I didn’t do too badly for not playing that much and not having any idea what I was doing.
My passion for the game probably started in earnest in mid 2007, when NPL started up in South Australia. Matthew and I felt really excited by this, and thought it would be a good challenge for us. My first ever game was at the Old Spot Hotel in Gawler, and I remember being quite nervous when we first started. My first ever game I finished 15th, and I was really proud of that. It soon became obvious that even with our limited online experience, Matthew and I were up near the top of the wide range of players that were attending NPL at the time. It sounds silly and obvious now, I mean everybody knows that pub poker is horrendously bad in general, but it was cool to be right in the thick of it from season 1. In the very first season I managed to win the venue and the state finals were massive back then – they created a huge buzz and EVERYONE wanted to qualify. These first few years were my favourite in pub poker, because everyone was enthusiastic and at each state final there was a sizeable chunk of people that were experiencing it for the first time, so there was always a huge buzz.
Around this time there was also a local forum, NPLSA, that was set up as a community for the players. It was started by David Murrin who was passionate about the game, but also had the necessary IT skills to implement it. The NPL management really supported this too, and I think the direct link to the TD’s and even upper management was what made the forum thrive. We felt like we had a direct link to the league, and therefore took ownership of it. This community was one of the main reasons why pub poker thrived in SA. Over time I managed to become friends with a lot of other players and staff from the forum, and some of them are my closest friends to this day. And then there are idiots like Daryl who I can’t get away from. Haha. Seriously though I have extremely fond memories of the forum and I like how it brought the community together.
My fondest memory from this time is pretty obvious, I managed to win the Jun 2009 NPL State finals, which was worth $10k at the time, and was still my biggest score until October last year, but that story will come later. Throughout the whole tournament I managed to get extremely lucky – the average stack was less than 10bb from before we made the cash right on down to the end, and it just seemed that I would always win the big pots and whenever I was beat I managed to lose a small pot. The best hands were when we were around 5 handed, where I had maybe 5bb as a short stack and I shoved the button with pocket twos and got called in two spots, and managed to spike a 1 outer deuce on the turn for the triple up. I then went on to win the tournament first hand of heads up when I was dealt aces!
At the time I thought I was pretty good, and it is laughable how little I actually knew about poker back then. I really was a pub donk who thought they were awesome, and it took me quite a long time to see that this held me back for quite a while as I didn’t keep learning with the game. I also became a bit of a dickhead on the forums, and ended up in quite a few arguments because I thought my shit didn’t stink. Even though I contributed a ton of time and energy into the forum I think I was actually one of the main reasons it shut down, because it stopped being a welcoming environment for new players. That is why I try extremely hard to do the opposite in other forums I am a part of now, mostly the Tournament Poker Edge forum, which I will also talk about later.
During this whole time, there was a name change and NPL became 888pl and started an online series as well. This was the time where I really started to play online seriously. First in the private league games, and then more generally onto the regular tournament schedule, and I built my bankroll from maybe $200 to maybe $1000, and that really game me the kickstart I need to really start building my roll and more importantly join a training site, TPE.
I think that’s enough for this part. If anyone is actually reading this, thankyou! Maybe you can write in the comments below and tell me how you got your start in poker. Doesn’t have to be as long winded as mine though haha.