We speak to Haseeb Qureshi about his career so far, his winnings and the state of the poker economoy

At just nineteen years old Haseeb Qureshi is one of the biggest winners at high-stakes heads-up cash games online

At just 19, Haseeb Qureshi is young for a high-stakes player, even by online poker standards. The Texan, who plays under the moniker ‘Internet Pokers’ began playing poker at the tender age of 16 when attending high school. Qureshi was always a precocious talent, and began attending the University of Texas at Austin aged just 17. And it was a similar story with poker, where after starting with just $50 in his brother’s name in February 2006, he finished the year with a $70,000 bankroll.

By 2008, he was playing high-stakes heads-up hold’em and pot-limit Omaha games and has made nearly $2 million from poker. He is currently on a short hiatus from school to concentrate on poker, although he plans to return to his studies to finish his degree. InsidePoker sat down with Qureshi to find out the true story of his amazingly speedy rise to the top.

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

When I started in February 2006 I was playing with $50 from a free no-deposit bonus on PartyPoker. I donked around and managed to run it up to $200, at which point I moved to PokerStars and began my real journey as a poker player, starting out at $0.05/$0.10 and moving my way up slowly with strict bankroll management standards, slowly learning through osmosis and basic trial and error. By summer, I was playing $0.50/$1 no-limit with over $2,000 in my account, and by the beginning of spring I had begun to play $2/$4 with more than $14k to my name.

Were you not tempted to cash out any of that money?

I was a student being supported by my parents, neither of whom knew that I was playing poker, so I couldn’t really cash out any of my money or use it on anything. I was fortunate enough to be able to reinvest all of my winnings into my bankroll. Around that time I started to study the game more seriously and began to delve into some of the material that was available through 2+2 and CardRunners. By the end of the year, I was the biggest winner at $3/$6 six-max on PokerStars, and I had finished the year with more than a $70k bankroll.

Were there any times where you found it tough going or was it all smooth sailing?

In 2007, I had a lot of trouble at first moving up to $5/$10 six-max, and probably had two of the toughest months of my poker career trying to make the transition. By summer, I had my foot firmly planted in the high-stakes world, and by the end of the year I was a regular in the $10/$20 six-max games as well, and taking the occasional $25/$50 shot. In early 2008, I made a big change after playing a tough heads-up regular when a six-handed game broke. I had a lot of trouble holding my own against him. After discussing it with my friend Ben Straate, he suggested that I try a month of playing only heads-up in order to make myself a better all-round player. I decided it was worth a try, and ended up improving drastically, dominating my opposition, and making almost $70,000 in my first month. I really enjoyed it and I decided to stick with heads-up for longer and also picked up heads-up PLO.

I ended up making an absurd amount of money over 2008, eventually moving to $25/$50, $50/$100, $100/$200, and even taking some shots at $500/$1,000 games. I started out this year in a bit of a rut due to a pretty nasty run, but I’m turning it around now and so hopefully I’ll continue to do well this year.

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

I believe I’ve made over $1.7m from poker. As far as what I’ve done with it, I’ve purchased several houses including the one I’m living in now. I invested a lot of it in real estate and mutual funds. I have a big TV and decent furniture and own my own house, but other than that I don’t have a lot of need for much else. I guess I’m just waiting for that special Nigerian prince to spend it all on.

You make videos for CardRunners. Do you worry about having your game ‘out there’ for people to analyse?

I know a lot of people are hesitant to make videos because of this idea and even those of us who are on the inside of the industry are wary about it. I am aware that it’s in my interest to protect some information, and although I’m probably a little bit dumb about it sometimes, there is always some information I’m not divulging. But a lot of it is in the video selection itself. There are some videos I record that I would never release to the public, either because I don’t want my opponent knowing how I play against him, or because I don’t want other people knowing how to play against that opponent. You’ll never see that in the actual content though – if I’m doing a video, I’ll say whatever comes into my head. I’m not a very guarded person.

You’ve recently started a blog on CardRunners and made some posts that have gained a lot of attention – how is blogging working for you overall?

My blog has gotten a surprising amount of feedback but unfortunately I’m kind of lazy, so I don’t update it nearly as often as I should. But I want to run it not so much as a traditional blog but more as a journal in which to write down whatever meditations occur to me. It’s less the chronicles of a young poker player than it is the musings of a young poker player, which probably turns off a certain crowd, but I find it more satisfying and a good outlet for some of my stray thoughts.

Do you think the high-stakes no-limit online economy is still healthy in 2009 or are the games drying up slowly?

Well, if you restrict the scope of the high-stakes economy to only PokerStars and Full Tilt, it’s definitely drying up. Pretty soon there’s not going to be a lot of room left for what we know as heads-up bumhunters (people who wait around and hunt for fish) due to over-saturation. So for games to keep running there will have to be a gravitation back toward six-max games. However, the nosebleed economy is different. The $500/$1,000 level will be healthy for a while to come since it has an exclusive pool of players who aren’t dropping out any time soon, but between $25/$50 and $100/$200 it will be pretty desolate.

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