Ryan Spittles: My story

So many poker players were introduced to this amazing game through TV and I am no different. My first real insight into poker was the film Rounders which I watched on Channel 4 one night at 1am. I loved the film and found it fascinating, mainly as the characters and environments of the film were much what I expected poker to be like.

I remember googling how to play the game and couldn’t quite grasp it and kinda forgot about it for a while. This was until I saw a repeat of Late Night Poker and once again it had me entranced into this strange little world. Back then Late Night Poker wasn’t the slick productions that we see on TV now, it had the feeling that it was filmed in someones house! Everyone at the table was so different and their life stories would have been something that I would have gladly read about. Nowadays I would imagine that most of the top professionals have very much the same story. 

Running it up

My first deposit came the next day, $50 on PartyPoker and I got $25 instantly free! Another quirk of those days was that the lobby took you straight to Limit Hold’Em rather than No Limit! I played for a while and won $50 so my balance was up to $125 and I remember feeling that this was so so easy.

Of course it wasn’t at all like that and for quite a while I was a depositing, and losing player. Looking back now it makes me despair, as the games of 2005-2007 were so so juicy and I was the kind of player that contributed to that!

Poker sites were still giving away money then for new sign ups (very, very rare now) so I had no bankroll management (BRM). Whenever I wanted to play I’d google and choose a site with free money offers. I still loved LHE and had yet to go into NLHE, which was probably a good thing as my money would have only gone down the drain faster!

I distinctly remember having a solid BRM strategy where once I’d doubled up I’d instantly leave and go to the next game higher in stakes and during an afternoon of some serious luckboxing I turned $50 into $8000 on Everest Poker! I withdrew this amount (it took me ages as they kept asking for documents) and spent most of it on real life stuff. Of course some of it went back into the game, but in similar small deposits, trying to run it up to something substantial again. 

‘Operation’ learn the game!

Life got in the way of poker for a while. I was very ill and had to have a double hip replacement at 21/22, so I really wasn’t in the mood for anything. I still played here and there but I had virtually no money so it was freerolls and the odd small deposit. It was obviously a really tough time but actually while I didn’t play that much I did start to read up on the game and for the first time I felt like I was understanding things.  

Of course in reality I still had no clue at all but rather than having a BRM strategy of 1 buy-in, I started using something like a 10-20 buy-in rule for small stakes cash games. In the grand scheme of things it was nothing much at all but I actually stopped depositing and started withdrawing money on a fairly regular basis. It was a huge feeling for me at the time as it kept me focusing on something other than how much pain I was in.

The pain wasn’t just physical though, it was emotional too. Being young and not being able to do the normal stuff that others took for granted started to take its toll. I don’t think I ever had ‘depression’, but I definitely felt very down some days. 

During a hospital visit I got some bad news about my second operation date and I just snapped. As soon as I got home I started playing and just lost control. In the space of a few hours my entire net worth had vanished and unlike previous occasions, poker wasn’t the only game that I lost on. The money wasn’t a huge sum, maybe a couple of grand at most, but it represented months of hard work.

So there I was back to square one. Again I didn’t play for a while but I kept reading about the game. Then I found the site that changed it all around, SkyPoker.com.

Back then you didn’t get free money for signing up as a new player (which you do now!), but you did get ‘poker points’ which entiltled you to enter some freeroll tournaments. I’ll continue my story next month…

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

You can get a free subscription to PokerPlayer magazine when you sign up to Sky Poker and deposit £10. Click here for more info! If you’re already a member you can simply get the latest issue on iTunes here.

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