I read recently on LegalPokerSites, Player to Player transfers will not be allowed according to the State of Nevada’s Minimum Internal Control Standards. I cannot blame them, player to player transfers are an open door the wrong people to abuse.
Player to player transfers opened up around 2004 (I am guessing here). I remember playing on Pacfic and PokerRoom in 2000-2003 and then Paradise and Party from 2003-2005 but I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) there were not any player to player transfers. I’m not sure who was first to implement them and I did not think too much about it at the time as I assumed it would be well regulated by the poker sites.
Then around 2008, especially on Full Tilt and PokerStars, player to player transfers were very very common. Which leads me to a personal story on how crazy the whole online poker boom of the mid-2000s really was.
After watching some football at my brothers house, my wife was driving my family home when my phone rang. It was the high-stake player, FoxwoodsFiend, who is a friend and a DeucesCracked coach. The conversation goes something like this:
FWF: Hey Joe, what are you doing?
me: Driving home after a family party, you?
FWF: Not much, you want to play some poker tonight?
me: Ummm, sure, what states?
FWF: $1000/$2000 HORSE…
me: ……………..ummmmm, what?
FWF: $1k/$2k HORSE on Full Tilt, the game is heads up right now, Eli Elezra and this crazy NL player, ASHMAN.
(At the time, ASHMAN was known to really gamble it up, this was one of Ash’s first meteoric rises to high stakes. Since then, I’ve befriended Ashton and have actually coached him in mix-games.)
me: Give me one second.
At this time, I pulled the phone down and asked my wife it was OK she watched our then-year-old daughter and explained what was about to happen.
me: Yes, I’ll play. I’ll need a transfer obviously.
FWF: How much do you need?
me: Well, I have to sit with at least 25 big bets ($50,000) and would like a little back up if it starts out slow.
FWF: OK, no problem, I’ll get you more than enough by the time you are home.
We then figured out our deal and I was set to play.
So, there I was heading home to play some of the highest stake poker that was ever played online. I had about $12,000 in my Full Tilt account at the time as I played mid-stakes online.
I got a glass of water, went to the bathroom, and sat in front of my computer. I opened up Full Tilt to find $102,000 in my account. I thought, wow, what a moment, what a unique and amazing moment.
What would my grandfather think?
What my grandfather, who lived through the great depression, grinded out nealy 40 years of hard work, scrapping and saving everything for his family, barely getting by at times, think of this?
I got in there and got some good cards early, getting maximum from a few hands right away.
We played three handed for about 15 minutes which I was a bit surprised but soon after that the game quickly filled.
As sure enough, I eventually ended up in a tough spot against one of the better players. I did have the best seat on Eli and Ashton, which did me well for the session, but it was only a matter of time before I played a tough hand vs one of the other players. That is when I got tangled up with John D’Agostino, a very solid, east-coast player with a lot of stud-game experience.
Eli Elezra: xx xx 9____Eli Elezra brings in for $300____Eli Elezra folds
theASHMAN103: xx xx 6____theASHMAN103 folds
Hero: 9 2 5___Hero completes___Hero calls
John DAgostino: xx xx 4____John DAgostino raises
4th Street: (5.1 SB) (2 players)
Hero: 9 2 5 8___Hero bets
John DAgostino: xx xx 4 K____John DAgostino calls
5th Street: (3.55 BB) (2 players)
John DAgostino: xx xx 4 K 5____John DAgostino bets
Hero: 9 2 5 8 8___Hero calls
6th Street: (5.55 BB) (2 players)
John DAgostino: xx xx 4 K 5 7____John DAgostino bets
Hero: 9 2 5 8 8 6 Hero has 15 seconds left to act___Hero calls
7th Street: (7.55 BB) (2 players)
John DAgostino: xx xx 4 K 5 7 xx____John DAgostino bets
Hero: 9 2 5 8 8 6 T___Hero calls
Final Pot: 9.55 BB
John DAgostino shows 7 5 4 K 5 7 A (K,7,5,4,A)
Hero shows 9 2 5 8 8 6 T (9,8,6,5,2)
Hero wins $19,098.
I posted the hand on the PokerRoad forums at the time (click here), and Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu, Daniel Alaei, and Isaac Haxton gave their thoughts on the hand. The hand was also heavily debated on the twoplustwo stud forum as well: Razz vs Dags.
This was one of those moments in online poker that will likely never happen again. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and had put in the work to be prepared to play.
I can only dream of being in this situation again. Crazy right?
This is the sixth post a multi-post series of my story how I became a poker pro.
Late October 2004
There I was. Three months without a job. Three months living without a care in the world. Three months following a team on the most epic rush to a championship in history. It was over. The Red Sox had won.
And I had no idea what the fuck I was going to do with my life.
It was time I got to doing something to pay the bills. So I sat down to re-new my resume.
And then I tried to do it again.
And again, you get the pattern here
And each time I hated the fact that I was about to write a bunch of elaborated bull shit about my work experiences so I could foster myself into some cube, in some office, in some building, on some street, in some city. Only to walk past the same people doing the same thing, making the same wage, in the same life.
I could not do it.
And each time I would find myself posting on twoplustwo, talking poker, and playing poker online instead of writing the resume. I was starting to make friends that played. I was making plans to meet those friends and they liked talking poker like I did. They were as passionate about poker as I was and I realized I like it. I liked it a lot.
So a poker pro I was.
I bought more books. I posted on twoplustwo dozens of times a day. (I have over 12,000 posts there now.) I starting building contacts and building my identity online. I was playing 5/10 to 15/30 Limit Holdem (biggest game online at the time) and winning. I would play two tables, no software, no heads-up display, nothing. (Well, there wasn’t any software! I believe Poker Office and PokerTracker came out early 2005, will try to get clarification.)
I played whenever I wanted to. I scouted games and picked good seats. It was approaching Thanksgiving and that meant one thing:
Time to tell my parents.
So I immediately called my brother and flew out to California. Spending Thanksgiving in the desert of Ocotillo Wells, California. (Sorry mom, I was scared!)
I had a blast riding quads in desert. We fried a turkey and had a huge meal on Thanksgiving.
One of the nights we were out there a wicked sand storm kicked up. I spent the evening in the RV watching a movie as others bared the winds and sand. I had some time to reflect on things and that is when I decided I was doing the right thing as I was very happy, the happiest I’ve been in my life.
Back home and off to tell the folks why I’ve had “so much time off” as my mother asked. We’ve all had those moments where we feared telling someone something. And just like those moments always are, it was a great relief when I did.
I told them what I had been doing and that I had no plan on getting a ‘job.’
My mom asked, “Are you happy?”, I replied, “Never been happier in my life.” She then said, “Are you healthy?”, I said, “Oh yes quite so.” Then she asked, “Are you self sustaining?”
I said firmly, “More then ever.”
Next time: I run bad. I get a coach. I fly out to meet Tommy.
“It’s the easiest thing in the world, to become a professional poker player. All you have to do is quit your job.” – Tommy Angelo
So after I dealt with work, talked to my friends there, and told them I was not coming in, I really did not know what I was going to do. My initial plan was to take two weeks to myself and then sit down and make a plan. During those two weeks I was at Fenway Park nearly every night as the Red Sox won 21 games out of 28 that month. This was all after the shocking move of trading long time short-stop Nomar Garciaparra. I was on the high of highs, running good like the Red Sox. I was really enjoying the freedom.
So August slipped by and we were onto September. I kept telling myself I would get my resume together. I kept playing on Pacific Poker and Party Poker and making trips down to Foxwoods to play the $20/$40 LHE game when the Red Sox were on the road. And when I wasn’t playing online, I ended up in Fenway park as the sox made their run to the playoffs. I was even at the 1st game of the 2004 playoffs versus the Anaheim Angels.
ALDS Game 3: David Ortiz’s two-run homer in the 10th off Jarrod Washburn completes an 8-6 win and the Sox’ sweep of the Angels.
It was magic. Leaving Fenway that night you could feel something special was about to happen. Ortiz was crushing the ball with very timely hits and it was amazing to watch. I get chills just thinking about it.
And we all know how this story goes. After the Sox sweep the Angels, they go to play the dreaded New York Yankees. There is a ESPN 30 for 30 film coming out called, “Four Days in October”, the trailer gives me chills:
I didn’t get to any of the ALCS games versus the Yankees. The ticket prices were exceedingly high after Game 4. I did have my season tickets for the World Series and I went to Game 2.
Game 2 of the World Series in Fenway was one of the most amazing things I will ever witness in my life. The ticket taker made sure he said, “Welcome to Game Two of the World Series” to EVERYONE who walked, and I just got the chills while typing. I walked in the back gate, under the bleachers, there was electricity in the air, this glow, this energy, everyone just smiling as they got their peanuts and beer. A four piece jazz band was playing under the bleechers and the sound was bouncing off the walls and it felt like you just entered a time warp, back to 1918, when the Red Sox last one the World Series. Settled into my seats just as James Taylor started the National Anthem. This was going to be a special event for sure.
The Sox won game one of the World Series and our hero Curt Schilling was back on the mound for what would be known as Bloody Sox II. (The Sock is now in the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY.)
Schilling pitched (and won) Game 2 of the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox against the St. Louis Cardinals. In both series, he had to have the tendon in his right ankle stabilized repeatedly, in what has become known as the Schilling Tendon Procedure, after the tendon sheath was torn during his Game 1 ALDS appearance against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. As in Game 6 of the ALCS, Schilling’s sock was soaked with blood from the sutures used in this medical procedure, but he still managed to pitch seven strong innings, giving up one run on four hits, and striking out four. This second bloody sock was placed in the Baseball Hall of Fame after Boston’s victory over St. Louis in the World Series.
I was there.
It was amazing.
I have never been higher on life than ever before.
Wait, this blog is about my poker story right?
Oh yeah, poker.
During August, September and October 2004, I had spent a good chunk of my savings, barely played any poker, turned 32 years old, the Red Sox won the world series for the first time in 86 years, and I do not think I had a sober night.
Suddenly after all the rush was over with, I sobered up.
Oh yeah, poker.
Why don’t I just play poker? I love poker. It allowed me to enjoy these three months so why not stick with poker?
Coming soon: November 2004
Yup Poker it is. I sober up. I tell my parents. I run bad.
Before I get to the first stage as a Poker Pro, I would like to tell two more critical bankroll building moments leading up to leaving my job.
When I was building a bankroll, posting online, and learning poker, a challenge arose on the forums. Open Internet Challenge (OIC) was created by poster Mike Haven. It was created to help a player move up in limits, parlay the winnings through the levels, and move up quickly. Here was the format:
Open Internet Challenge
1. Start in the 50c/$1 with a “separate” bankroll of $40 as soon as you have made $40
2. Move up to the $1/$2 games when your bankroll reaches $80
3. Move up to the $2/$4 games when your bankroll reaches $160
4. Move up to the $3/$6 games when your bankroll reaches $240
5. Move up to the $5/$10 games when your bankroll reaches $400
6. Move up to the $10/$20 games when your bankroll reaches $800
7. Move up to the $15/$30 games when your bankroll reaches $1200
8. Move up to the $20/$40 games when your bankroll reaches $1600
You have completed the challenge when your bankroll reaches $2000.
Any time you lose more than the amount made at the previous level you can choose whether or not to drop back to that level to rebuild your bankroll or to keep playing at that level. If you lose your entire bankroll you must start again with a new $40 at 50c/$1.
In November of 2003, I started the OIC with a bunch of players on the forum. We had an early snow storm in New England, and I was inside for the entire weekend. I led the challenge after a few days at $750. I was limited in playing time after leading the OIC. When the time frame for the OIC expired I did not complete the challenge. But the OIC forced me play the most hands I’ve ever played in a short period of time. This set the pace for building a bankroll online.
The next critical moment was the formation of a Heads Up Limit Association (HULA). HULA was created by poster gonores. Gonores real name is Doug; he is a good friend and a great poker player and person.
Teams were created for HULA, and a draft ensued. We played a series of heads-up matches on the internet. This was my first time playing heads-up poker. I learned so much from playing the great players of twoplustwo in this series of events. I continued to play in HULA II, as a team captain. I know neither of my teams won the league but we faired better than average. HULA got me ready for the wild swings in poker. There is a lot of variance in HU poker and playing tough opponents in HULA, I was albe to get myself prepared for high aggression and high variance. I still play some mix-games HU today, and likely would never if it wasn’t for HULA.
Before I go one with My Poker Story, I figured I’d tell the story of the day I left the ‘working’ world, as it’s so called. (Even though I work harder now than I did then, but it’s a different ‘work’ when you are doing it for yourself.)
I worked nearly four years for the Guilford Rail System, now known as Pan Am Railways. I can actually say, I liked working there. I liked the people, the railroad, and the job I did. It was a great job, honestly.
I rode the same 400 mile route in those exact Pullman Cars. The dining and passenger car was built with cherry wood interior, amazing piece of history. I wrote the story of that ride in a 2p2 post where I played poker on that exact table in the video, see 2p2 archives: CLICK HERE.
You can see a full-version of the system map: CLICK HERE
Enough with the backstory, as you can see you see, I did enjoy working there.
The time was right for me to go.
For many years, with the jobs I’ve had, I always had a haunting feeling in the back of my mind. Everyday I would walk into an office that I worked in, I would see walking ghosts. I would picture myself 30 years from that day, sitting in some office, and putting on a mediocre smile to the new guy who just walked in.
I just could not let myself be that way. Do not get me wrong, there are plenty who I met at the railroad and other jobs who do just fine in life. This life style just was not for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aire to a great American family fortune either, so I grinded out my time until the opportunity arose. Poker allowed me to break out of this system.
The day before I left work, my boss, who was about my age gave his resignation. I enjoyed working under him as he filtered a lot of the flack that came down from upper management. (Thus one of the reasons he resigned.) There was a lot of talk in the office on who was to replace him and how things would go forward. I did not want his job. I liked my position at the time and was not completely qualified for his position either. On the drive home that day I found myself quite reflective on life. I took the long route home, winding my way though the back roads. I guess I made a decision on that drive but honestly nothing definitive.
So the next day I was back at work, 7AM as usual and I was feeling sad for some reason. I knew my days were likely numbered which was true for sometime as I really did not have anything personal in my office. In fact I only had one picture on the wall, a black and white of the Splendid Splinter. That day we had some meetings and a memo went out about how the responsibilities my boss had would be distributed. I could see that my job was going to change quickly and I was not receiving compensation for some of the new responsibilities. The mood around the office was poor to say the least.
Sometime just before lunch, my boss came in and let me know there were headed to our special Friday lunch spot, where we often would relax and have a beer or two and kill off the afternoon. I told him I would see him there. I heard the others leave to meet for lunch and I was one of the last ones out. I had just stepped out of my cube area when I quickly turned around and grabbed the picture off the wall. I really did not know what I was going to do and had full intentions of going to lunch and coming back to work.
I set off for the lunch spot and sadness overwhelmed me. A change was coming in my life, the job was changing, so I figured I just make the big change. At nearly the last second before I went to the lunch spot, I took a abrupt turn onto the highway and went home!
Click to enlarge:
So there I was home in the middle of the afternoon. Not knowing what I was going to do, not really caring at the moment either. My roommate worked evenings and he was quite surprised to see me. I just told him, “I’m home”, with a firm tone and he asked, “ahhhh, for good?” and I said, “Yep. Want to get a beer?” and we walked to a local pub and were pretty drunk by the time the Red Sox game came on that evening.
Obvious I did not go to work the next day. My phone did not ring until late that morning. I did not answer it. I had several friends at the railroad and they all called me as well. I did not answer any calls that day. I believe it rained that day as I remember not going outside and playing online poker all day long until the wee hours of the night, going to bed around 3AM.
The next day my roommate woke me up about 10AM. “Hey Joe, the Police are here and are asking for you.” I walk to the door of our apartment to find two disgruntled police officers. “Are you Joe?” I replied, “Yes officer.” As I stood their in sweat pants and a t-shirt rubbing my eyes and scratching my head. “The Joe who works for Guilford Rail System?” “Yes officer.” The officer then said, “Call your fucking HR department, you were reported as a missing person.” and they walked away.
I called them right away. They had not called my parents yet so I was quite relieved. They put me through to my boss who said. “So you are done, huh?” and I replied, “Yes, I guess so.”
In order to re-vitalize my blog I am going to re-tell my poker story with some new additions and finally end up where I am now. Going to be a long ride but here was the old Part I, which was my first blog post ever:
I spent my pre-school and elementary school summers on Cape Cod, as my grand parents had a summer residence there, and my mother worked in the school system. My grand parents and parents were big card players. My grand parents would regularly go to Bridge and Pinochle tournaments. When my mom would go places, my grand parents would baby sit my brother, my cousins, and I. At night, the game playing began to keep us entertained. I was always up a little later where my grandmother and grandfather would play card games together. I would beg to play with them, and it wasn’t long after five years of age, that I played my first hand of five card draw for bingo chips.
My fascination with games continued, and I would routinely try to stay up late the nights my father would host his home game. He has been rotating in the same home game from Sept-May on the first Friday of every month for over 30 years. One night, when I was seven, I couldn’t sleep as the camaraderie in the kitchen was too loud. This is where, upon my father’s lap, I played my first hand of seven card stud.
My first job, at ten years old, was in the local paper office. I stuffed ads in the papers before my 60 house route. I would get to the office about 20 minutes before the paper truck showed up. There was always a deck of cards around, and six of us everyday playing all sorts of poker games: seven card stud, five card draw, scat 31, follow the queen, shared board games like criss-cross, etc. We played for nickels, dimes, and occasionally quarters.
This carried right on through high school, college, where the quarters eventually became dollars. We played nearly weekly when everyone was on college breaks and daily over winter breaks. We didn’t learn Holdem until the mid-90s and for the first few years we played with just a heavy ante. I wasn’t until the late 90s where we discovered the blind-structure. We always had a rotating deal so no button was needed. All games were no-limit pretty much but it was a gentlemen’s game until the night was late, we were drunk and the game would end with $5 ante NL 5-card draw, “Old West” as we called it.
If I get back east, I play with this guys when I can, over 30 years after the first time we played.
In September of 2001, I started a new job. I was invited to a home game of some of my co-workers and was introduced to limit hold’em. I was fascinated by the structure, and I headed to the book store to look for more information. I bought “Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky and “Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players” by Sklansky and Malmouth. I kept reading and rereading the material and continued to play limit hold’em. I started do web searches for more information about Texas Hold’em where I found a site by ‘Dick in Phoenix’. Dick was an avid player of the game; I’m sure he has no idea how his site changed my entire life. Dick’s site was very helpful, and I found the nickname, ‘Dick in Phoenix’ was Dick’s username on the twoplustwo forums.
I started reading the twoplustwo forums in the fall of 2002. I was amazed that such depth poker discussion took place. Every single bet, call, raise, or fold was routinely debated for days. I was intimidated by such poker prowess and lurked the boards for months. I discovered online poker from the forum, and started to play low limit hold’em on Paradise Poker. It wasn’t until spring of 2003 that I mustered up the confidence to post my first hand on twoplustwo. That was the beginning of where I am today.