PKR Sponsored Pro Dan O’Callaghan on his ‘Badge of Honour’

As his time on Team PKR Pro comes to an end, Dan ‘danshreddies’ O’Callaghan celebrates the good times and looks forward to an even brighter future

Warning! Clear the immediate vicinity of anything fragile, expensive or endangered. Fasten all small children securely and set your excitement receptors to ‘stun’ because you and I are about to make history… Or at least I think we are. I know, it’s super-exciting right?! ‘But how? How?!’ I hear you cry. Well, in a feat sure to eclipse the taming of re and dwarf NASA’s ‘water on Mars’ melodrama, we’re about to be the rst people in known history (probably) to nd philosophical genius in Simon Cowell’s infamous singing competition, The X-Factor. Seriously, someone call Guinness (the brewery not the world record regulators, let’s celebrate!).

Of course, the X-Factor isn’t usually praised for its philosophical grandeur, but I swear, with my right hand on Super System, and Pokerstove as my witness, the X-Factor is actually responsible for one of the breakthrough moments of my psychological makeup. a bold statement I know, especially since it seemed to go relatively unnoticed at the time, but it happened during Chico’s elimination interview a few seasons ago.

‘I don’t get sad when things are over,’ he said, ‘just thankful they happened.’ Or something along those lines (I don’t recall the exact quote because his english was a little broken, and my gast was still completely abbered from his preceding, straight- legged running man. my god he had mad dance skills. So good in fact, that nobody seemed to care that he was crushing the finals of Britain’s most prestigious singing competition, despite being as tone deaf as my mum after a few Tramadol.).

Anyway, take a second to think about the context of what Chico said. Of course, the quote is a bastardised version of Dr Seuss’ ‘Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened,’ but I found Chico’s rendition so signi cant because even though it came from a man whose dreams were torn to pieces only moments before, it was so, so unbelievably clear that he meant every word. It was liberating. Not only because it showed me that positivity was a frame of mind, but also because it bought me to the realisation that people’s sense of perspective is often spoiled by greed. He’d lived the dream and he appreciated it.

He realised people would kill for his experience and he rejoiced not only at his opportunity, but also about his ability to share his dream with his audience.

Play with the Pros

So, keen to divert attention from the fact that I still watch the X-Factor, let’s get to the real meat of this article. Right now I nd myself in the same spot as Chico. after a short spell as an ambassador for PKR, innovation behind the scenes has led to them deciding to terminate the idea of team PKR Pro as a whole, and release the entire roster. this marks the end of a dream of mine and, just like Chico, I’m not bitter. I rejoice because it happened. I want to use this article to share my experiences with you because I remember how I was before I was signed.

I always wondered what it was like to be a sponsored pro. I was a real fanboy. I saw how cool the Full Tilt adverts made it look, and I watched in awe. I wondered how cool it must be to be in their shoes. They had it all: the girls, the cars, the clothes, the money, and most importantly, the skill. They had made it; I wanted to make it, but in the same way a kid dreams about playing football professionally, I considered it an impossible pipe-dream. Fortunately I was wrong.

I had a slightly different outlook on things before I was signed by PKR. Being an ambassador wasn’t about money or glory, it was about a sense of achievement and pride. Recognition for the hours I’d spent writing articles, streaming, reading textbooks and studying hand histories. It was as attering as it was exciting.

When the contract hit the table my attitude evolved again. I saw this as an opportunity to increase the longevity of poker and I promoted the game positively in an attempt to bring new players to the tables. I believed that the contract made me not just a representative of PKR, but also an ambassador of the game, and I tried to conduct myself appropriately, supporting anyone in whatever I could.

This means hard (and usually quite pleasurable) work because, with the contract, came lots of hand history ridden messages. I was constantly asked to review hands and give my take on certain spots and I did so to the best of my ability, as often as I could. Of course I probably forgot the odd one here and there, and if I missed one of yours, sorry!

X marks the spot

Things also changed for me at the tables. PKR had a built-in feature that turned the lobby blue and added a pro logo to my avatar at the table. This put a target on my head. I became the spotty camp geek from an American teen movie and players went out of their way to land that poker-wedgie. I became the Shermanator, and everyone wanted to terminate me. In fact they went out of their way to do so. And I get it! I used to do the same when new to the game. I wanted to show a ridiculous bluff, I wanted to be Matt Damon making ‘a move on Chan’, but most of all, I wanted to tell my friends I’d bluffed a pro.

As well as the ability to write this column, this need to crush me was actually one of the surprise bene ts of the badge. Generally speaking, if someone is trying to hard to beat you, they make big mistakes. I guess it’s a form of tilting, emotional ego killing your A-game, but one thing’s for sure though, I was regularly donated a bunch of stacks in spots that I can only attribute to the PRO title. I saw the same live too, though to a lesser extent. Being a live chat box ninja is too impolite in person.

It might have been brief, but at least I can say I lived the dream. I relished the interviews and opportunity, I got to play the Main Event (brie y) and I can honestly say I was overcome with a sense of pride whenever I donned the patch. It was attering and in all honestly I never once took it for granted. I knew I was lucky to have been signed. I know there’s better players out there than me and I strived to repay my sponsors by doing what I could to make the most of every moment I could. So, what now? Well who knows what the future holds? I’m currently grinding some cash games in Vegas for the second time this year and I’ll probably switch my focus to some Twitching when I get back. I’m optimistic. As Alexander Graham Bell famously said, ‘When one door closes another one opens,’ so maybe another ambassadorial role is around the corner.

Dan ‘danshreddies’ O’Callaghan was a proud member of Team PKR Pro. Follow him on Twitter @dan_ocallaghan and PP

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