Crazy poker prop bets are all the rage among the brash young players of the online world but this one is gruelling
With 2009 shaping up to be the year of the poker challenge, a relative unknown by the name of Nick Rainey (aka Stinko_Mikko on Full Tilt Poker) has entered the fray. He vowed to play more sit-and-gos in one month than anyone else in online history. Rainey, who had a brief career as a professional tennis player and is no stranger to seemingly ridiculous prop bets, found the existing record to be around 10,500 – though, Rainey says, it was reached by a bot. He wanted to bet that he could play 15,000 sit-and-gos in 31 days. ‘People on the 2+2 forums said 15,000 was too easy,’ remembers Rainey. ‘People on 2+2 are idiots.’
Nevertheless, Rainey compromised. He raised the number to 16,000 and agreed to avoid super turbos for the first and last five days of the challenge. Just to make sure he wasn’t flubbing them off, Rainey said he would reach his goal and win $10,000 in the process, playing for buy-ins ranging from $6 to $75. All he needed was a bit of financial encouragement. It came in the form of $60,000 worth of bets.
Josh Arieh agreed to hold the money in escrow, and at 12.30pm on March 18, Rainey opened up his first set of tables. To ease concerns that he might not be playing all the hands himself, Rainey had a webcam installed and he chatted away online. At nearly any hour, you could go to a website, see how he was doing and razz him about it. Egged on by railbirds, he threw out prop bets and kept the action going.
On day three Rainey blogged about how he was too tired to go on. He was bluffing, and additional bets poured in. ‘The first ten days I won every day,’ says Rainey, who played 16 tables at a time. ‘Day 11 was my first loser. On the 12th day I lost my internet connection and I couldn’t play at all.’
Suddenly, it seemed as if things weren’t going to go the way Rainey had planned. ‘A tennis friend of mine saw the wheels coming off and he bet me on the 12th day,’ says Rainey. ‘He didn’t realise that missing one day of playing was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I had a chance for an extended period of sleep. I’d play 40 hours straight, sleep for four hours, and get right back to the games. It was not at all healthy.’
For the most part, things went pretty much as Rainey had predicted. Still, situations arose where the grind got tedious. So he did what the rest of us do when complacency creeps in: he began playing higher than he should have. ‘I did it three times, and every time I got really unlucky and lost money,’ says Rainey. ‘Under those circumstances, you can quickly find yourself down $1,500 when you’re trying to make $300 per day. Those losses resulted in monster sessions where I just played and played and played in order to outrun variance. People would have showered six times, slept three times, commuted back and forth from work six times, and there I was, still playing.’
After 472,000 hands, completed over the course of 28 days, Rainey closed the challenge and won his bets three days early. There was a bounty discrepancy that resulted in a bit of controversy (he thought he had won $11,000, but it turned out to be only $10,089). Though a couple of the smaller stakes players balked, almost everybody conceded that Rainey had accomplished his goal.
Critical for Rainey – who had been a long-term losing player, buying into games that were too big and playing without discipline – is that he proved something to himself. ‘This confirmed that I am a winning player,’ says Rainey, who first got exposed to high stakes poker by working as a personal assistant for Andrew Robl and Patrik Antonius. ‘The money’s in the bank, and now I’m hoping to get a Full Tilt red account [extended to select pros and resulting in 100% rakeback]. Other pros have them, but they don’t play the way I play. I play like crazy. I could make $50,000 a month in rakeback alone.’
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