Online high stakes player Scott Augustine answers our questions: ‘It was at that point, watching everyone losing online at the lowest stakes that I realised how terrible we all were!’

Scott ‘iRockhoes’ Augustine made his name on Full Tilt while still at university and now plays in some of the biggest games online

Despite still being in his early 20s Scott Augustine is something of a veteran of the high-stakes game. The man known online as iRockhoes started playing poker regularly in his freshman year of high school but it was at the University of Notre Dame, while majoring in finance, that he really began to excel. He quickly progressed through the online ranks, becoming a regular feature of the high-stakes games on Full Tilt. Since graduating and moving to Chicago he has become a new instructor on CardRunners and remains an active presence on the $ 10/$ 20 tables on Full Tilt and PokerStars.

His years of online experience and aggressive style makes him a feared opponent while his financial background should ensure his bankroll remains liquid. He tells us how his high-stakes success has affected his life, why CardRunners remains the industry leader and why the nosebleed stakes are crazy.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m 24 and currently live in Chicago. I was born in New York but grew up in Pittsburgh and remain a huge Steelers/Penguins fan. I majored in finance at Notre Dame University and graduated in 2007. I have been playing online cash games as my only source of income since sophomore year of college.

What’s the story behind the iRockhoes handle?

Back when PartyPoker was around, you could change your name every few months. I went through a bunch of name changes and once when I was changing my name Nas’ song Ether was playing. He has a line along the lines of ‘I rock hoes, ya’ll rock fellas’ and I just rolled with it.

When/how did you start playing poker?

I started playing freshman year of high school. Outside of sports, when you’re a freshman in high school you have a lot of down time. You aren’t old enough to drive, girls are interested in older guys, and it’s up to you and your friends to pass the time. Poker is a natural fit. This was before no-limit hold’em was the craze, so we played a lot of pass-the-dealer type games (guts, baseball, acey-deucey). We had no idea what we were doing and if you won $ 5 it was a big night.

Can you give us a brief rundown of your online poker career and rise up the ranks? 

During the haze that is freshman year of college, some my friends decided to put money on PartyPoker. PartyPoker money became more valuable than real dollars. It was at that point, watching everyone losing online at the lowest stakes that I realised how terrible we all were. Since our collective bankroll was constantly diminishing due to the artificial rake that online poker became, anytime someone owed me money from our dorm game I would prefer it online. The phrase ‘50 me’ became commonplace because the lowest transfers allowed on Party were blocks of $ 50. I went broke on those $ 50 transfers a few times, but eventually I ran one up and that ended up being the last ‘deposit’ I ever had to make.

Is this when your game started making serious strides?

A few weeks later, during the study days of finals, I took $ 30 of my then $ 400 bankroll and entered a $ 30+3 turbo tournament on Party. I finished third for around $ 3,000 and never looked back. I had to tell my parents that I won money online when they questioned how I was getting by without a job or any apparent income. Online poker was one of the safer choices of the things I’m sure they suspected. After that I started moving up. I remember the first day I played $ 1/$ 2 no-limit with about a $ 3,000 bankroll. I decided I was ready for $ 2/$ 4 at 5k and $ 5/$ 10 came shortly after.

The first time I played $ 5/$ 10, I probably saw 100 hands on one table and played exactly one holding: A-A. Anything else was folded right away. Eventually I became much more confident in my game, possibly to a fault, and I was playing $ 10/$ 20-$ 25/$ 50 within a few months. 

What’s your life like now in terms of your day-to-day schedule? 

These days I mostly play $ 10/$ 20 on Full Tilt and PokerStars as it’s the highest game that regularly runs. When $ 25/$ 50 or $ 50/$ 100 run it usually is revolving around someone and it’s hard to get in the game, but if you are in the right spot at the right time those games are good too. Heads-up action for me is very limited because even though I enjoy it the most, the only action I get is from really good players which means the edge is very slight, if at all.

Can you give us any idea of what you’ve made from poker and what you’ve done with it?

I could give you a figure of what I’ve made from poker, but it’s completely exaggerating both how much money it really results in and over-represents the lifestyle I live. Taxes in the US are just brutal for self-employed people in general. I don’t know how some of these small businesses do it. The first year I made a lot of money I wasn’t paying quarterly taxes, so I remember writing a check to the government for more money than my entire education cost.

That day was a huge mixture of pride for making a lot of money and depression of giving away so much of that profit. Paying off my college loans before I was 23 was one of the accomplishments that I am most proud of – particularly considering how ridiculously expensive Notre Dame University is.

How did you get involved with CardRunners and how is video making going so far? Did you worry about having your game ‘out there’ for people to analyse?

I’ve known Brian Townsend for a very long time in online poker years and then he started working with CardRunners and became part owner. I was never interested in coaching or doing videos, but Taylor (Caby) got my contact info from Brian and we went from there. I am not too worried about giving away a lot of information. I play a pretty small pool of players day in and day out. For the most part they already know how I think, it is just a question of who is one step ahead of the other person.

What do you think makes the site stand out?

At first, it was definitely Taylor’s videos. At the outset of CR, he was one of the best heads-up no-limit players I had ever played. Though he doesn’t play nearly as much as we all did a few years back, talking to him about hands around the office you can clearly see why he is such a tough opponent. Brian’s videos are obviously good, as when he joined CR he was probably the most successful online player at the time.

Today CR has evolved probably beyond Taylor or Andrew’s (Wiggins, CR co-founder) wildest expectations. There are videos by countless pros with views on several forms of poker. Any niche you are looking for, CR has it covered. The thing that makes CR the industry leader is that they are more versatile than any other training site, while still maintaining the quality that members have come to expect.

You seem to have been around internet poker for a relatively long time compared to some of the other current high stakes players. How have the high-stakes no-limit games changed in that time and how have you adapted? 

I don’t even know where to begin. When $ 25/$ 50 first started running, I remember it was only running full ring and half the table was ‘red pros’. It wasn’t until a few players challenged the notion that red pro meant you were good at no-limit cash games that everyone realised most of them were weaker. Also the games were just relatively simplistic compared to today’s standards. Three-betting anything less than Q-Q was unheard of and bet-sizing was just mashing the pot button constantly until it said ‘all-in’. In those days, check-raising meant you had a hand. Check/raising the river as a bluff or four-bet bluffing were foreign concepts that hadn’t evolved yet.

What’s your opinion on the existence of current nosebleed stakes like $ 500/$ 1k and their effect on the poker economy? Do you intend to take some shots anytime soon?

I don’t know how long those games can last. They used to be perpetuated by the ‘smaller’ high-stakes no-limit games like $ 50/$ 100. Those games don’t run very often anymore, so if you shot-take at $ 500/$ 1k and lose, you have to drop to 1/20 of the stakes to make it back.

This long-term downside is definitely a negative to taking a shot. Until I am more financially set, I don’t envision taking a shot without selling off a lot of action, which is something I don’t like to do very often. Of course, by that time they will probably be playing $ 2k/$ 4k because they are crazy!

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