UK poker pro Alex Martin explains what it takes to make the grade on a poker staking site: “Disaster struck just before week four, when the girlfriend reminded me of our little trip to Greece!”

Alex Martin tells us about his attempt to get on board with Blackbeltpoker and explains why he hates nits more than ever

Early in the year I received a phone call from Mr Neil Channing. He asked me to attend a meeting in a London bar to mark the launch of his and Nik Persaud’s brainchild Blackbeltpoker. Well, the promise of a free bar duly guaranteed my presence and I was lucky enough to be selected for the first grading process.

The idea of Blackbeltpoker is an attempt to establish the first UK community that is aimed at high-level discussion and debate, some training, social networking and live tournament staking. The basic framework revolves around a multifaceted rakeback model, whereby several different activities (mentoring lower belts, making videos, having good results and of course rake) are used to maintain your upkeep on your current belt and possibly advance up to a higher belt. The belts start at white, then yellow, green, blue, brown and black.

Working Conditions

The lower belts receive little benefit at first but once green is achieved they receive some small interim backing to live events, in addition to some mentoring. Blue belts receive $1,500 a month in live tournament entries and high-level mentoring, brown belts $4k a month live tournament entries and other benefits and the pinnacle black belts get a share in the company and $10k a month for live sponsorship. The first grading had the added benefit that out of the 50 candidates, eight would get an additional $20k sponsorship package to Vegas this summer, competing in a slew of events including the Big One.

Upon being selected I looked at the requirements. Four weeks, six hours a day grinding specific limits: two weeks of 50 no-limit hold’em, one of 100 no-limit hold’em and finally 200 no-limit hold’em. You would be allowed to play cash, sit&go’s, heads-up or Omaha/Omaha 8/b.  We also had to attend four workshops and do our best to try to promote the site in as many ways ?as possible.

The Nitty Gritty

The first two weeks saw me lose 40 buy-ins at 50NL. I haven’t played that low in a long time and can honestly say I found it incredibly tough. The rake is far higher, the games are incredibly nitty all the time and the money feels kind of meaningless. I managed to lose focus completely and play like a moron and I learned to always remember the art of not paying off nits. However, I kept my head and I got out of it by week three and back in the black. Lots of people had dropped out by now and I was thinking my chances were reasonable of that elusive brown.

Disaster struck just before week four, when the girlfriend reminded me of our little trip to Greece! I decided to grind while over there but ultimately though I think it might have cost me the belt.
The results were put out on I listened intently but my heart wasn’t really in it and I knew in my gut I wasn’t going to get one. The selected eight are a fantastic group, these guys worked exceptionally hard to achieve this deserved $70k-a-year sponsorship package and I wish them all every success.

Later on that night I got the phone call from Neil, I was the bubble boy. Marvellous.

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