Ryan Spittles: £27 to £8,000

I left my last blog at the time that I discovered SkyPoker.com. Back in the day it was a small brand new site and unlike most poker sites who join a network, Sky had gone for totally different approach and started their own standalone product.

My health still wasn’t the best and I was in between some pretty intense operations. My bankroll was still small and poker was something to take my mind off things. I was building slowly – both knowledge and ££ – and I was withdrawing small amounts of profit out here and there which was a big help.  

The NHS did an incredible job with my operations, and soon I was on the road to recovery and life was getting back to normal. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel! Poker had taken a bit of a back seat as, rather than being on my computer, my confidence had grown and I was socialising a lot more. My bankroll was going down to fund it all but I didn’t care one bit as life was good. Applying for jobs and starting to think about my future career was now a reality. I was sending out CVs and putting a huge amount of time into finding something I could do.

Flipping the bankroll

One night I felt like playing some cards and I logged in to find that I had the grand total of £27 online (and no more in my bank account either!) I must have thought that as getting a job was my priority, there was no real need to grind it out anymore. I promptly hit the £30NL table with less than a full buy-in and soon got it in as a flip, which I won 🙂 I played for a bit longer and stood with £90.

The £90 was then reinvested in two £50NL tables and I ran really, really well! Within an hour or so I had a total of £600 across the two tables. It was now 5AM and the games were dying so I stood and sat on one £100NL table and by the time that most people were getting up for work I had another £400 to my name.

There was now over £1000 in my account and I went to sleep full of adrenaline. It actually it took me ages to sleep as I was thinking about what to do. That money could easily fund a well deserved holiday, or maybe some new clothes for interviews.

I went for neither though and decided to use it as a bankroll for £20NL. Since that day I have never applied for a job or bothered to reply to the offers of interviews that I received. Crucially I’ve also never gone broke!

Team Sky Poker

Things started going really well for me. From memory I was withdrawing £500 a week whilst building my bankroll too, playing six tables of £20/30NL and adding in some MTTs.

SkyPoker then did a promotion called ‘Team Sky Poker’.  It was a shot at a live sponsorship deal and it had three different leagues for cash game, sit-and-go and MTT players. Over the course of three months you would earn leaderboard points and the top 30 of each league would go into a final. Depending on where you finished in the league you would get a bigger starting stack. The winner of each of the three finals would get a ‘TSP’ package, which consisted of a £1,070 GUKPT seat, double rakeback, free Sky Poker Tour seats and a few other benefits.

I thought long and hard about the best way to approach Team Sky Poker qualification and decided that the MTT section would be the easiest. So that was all I played for three months, registering myself for pretty much every tournament I could!  The top spot in the MTT leaderboard was mine and I started the final with 10,000 in chips, compared with 9,000 for second and so on. Most players started with 2,000/3,000, so clearly I had a huge advantage.

I don’t think I let my chip lead go once in the entire tournament and managed to take it down, with full coverage taking place on the Sky Poker TV channel which was a nice bonus. First thing Monday morning I received a phone call from Tony ‘Tikay’ Kendall, the ‘Team Manager’. He explained everything to me and that I had been registered for the next GUKPT in Walsall later that month.

Hitting the circuit

I couldn’t wait. It was my first big live MTT and although I’d played plenty of live cash and some local MTTs, this felt so much different. The day came and Sky Poker had around 10 players there in total with updates on their forum.

Day 1 went well. I got it in with AQ vs. AK fairly early on for quite a lot of chips and hit the Queen to survive. I think I ended the day on 60,000 or so, coming back at 500/1,000. Day 2 went even better and I started accumulating a stack. Then as the money was approaching I started to lock up. I wanted the min cash so badly and the more experienced players were taking advantage of this – Praz Banzi especially.

I managed to hang in there though, despite having to shove once or twice on the bubble with some marginal hands and the min cash of £2,000 was locked up! There was still work to do with 20 players left and somehow I made it to the final table. I’d come back to day 3 playing for £50,000!

I couldn’t sleep at all that night and the morning soon arrived. I didn’t know at the time but it was actually a pretty decent final table, with professionals Simon Deadman, Ben Jenkins and Nick Hicks, plus well known circuit regular Danny Toffel. I ran well with the table draw having position on Jenkins and Deadman. Then it all went wrong…

There were six players left and I raised the cutoff with 7-9. The big blind called and the flop was K-4-2 and my opponent check called. The turn was an Ace and he check called again. The river paired the board with another Four and the pot was already huge by this point. I was fairly sure what he had and didn’t think he could call so made a pot size jam. We both had around the same stack and my heart was pounding. I was just focusing on the flop  and trying not to give anything away but he was tanking and tanking and it felt like 10 minutes had passed before he finally made the call! He had what I thought he did, which was a weak King.

Everything was a daze after that. A few friends had stayed to rail, plus so many people on the Sky Poker forum were watching the live stream and I’d felt like I let them down. Tikay was still there, as was the head of poker, and I remember just apologising for ages!

It took me a while to get over it. By that time I was playing £50nl and £100nl, and while my cash of £8,000 was a nice addition to the bankroll, it was nothing compared to the potential £50k up top!

That was the first £1,100 event I had played and there’s another coming up that could be yours. Satellites to the UKPC are in full swing on Sky Poker and it should be a great event! Hopefully I’ll see you there.

Ryan Spittles is a professional poker player and an analyst on Sky Poker TV channel 861.

Photo courtesy of Christian Zetzsche

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