Published on 2007-08-01 08:49:24

It seems as though a couple of new high limit cash game "superstars" pop up every month. Full Tilt Poker is the room of choice for these players, as Full Tilt Poker offers up some of the highest limit games on the Internet. For most players that appear in these games, it is more about the rush of playing players such as Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen, and less about actually making money.

Invariably, this is how the story goes. Young online player makes a run, and crushes progressively higher games. He runs his $10k bankroll into something like $200k. One night he sees a full table going of $200/$400 No Limit, and decides to jump into the game. He figures he's up $160k playing lower limits just this month, so what's $80k? He promises to sit out and quit if he loses anything more than two buy-ins.

Well he just happens to go on a major rush. David Benyamine is tilting and pushes his $26k stack into the young hotshot's big blind, and suddenly the youngest is sitting on $66k. He just increased his bankroll by over 10% in one hand!

Over the course of one night, he increases his bankroll to over $500k through a combination of hot cards and bad plays by his opponents. He laughs at how bad some of the other "pros" are playing; pros that have been down on their luck lately, and seem to be in the last stages of a prolonged tilt session. These pros will soon be busted and playing at lower stakes under a staking arrangement. Never me, the online hotshot thinks to himself. I'm just too good.

The buzz increases when the hotshot wakes up the next morning and sees a number of his hands profiled on HighstakesDb. Everyone is talking about him on Pocketfives and Twoplustwo. "I just played with him at $5/$10 a few months ago," someone says.

A month or two goes by. This hotshot has undergone some fairly substantial swings, but now sits with a bankroll of over $1 million dollars. He goes out and buys himself a brand new car, a ballin' new watch and takes his new girlfriend on a lavish trip to Hawaii. Life is good, and poker is financing it all. He's thinking of expanding his game to include Pot Limit Omaha. Watch out world, here he comes.

The end begins one night after an especially nice date with his girlfriend. He got home and was tired, and had maybe a few too many drinks. He was thinking of hitting bed, but thought to himself that there was nothing wrong with making $50k before bed. So he logged on and saw a top pro sitting with a huge stack at $300/$600 on Full Tilt Poker. So he sat down and started to play.

The session started out well. He won $30k when his opponent flopped two pair and called down the hotshots flopped set. Then came the next hand. The hotshot was dealt pocket tens and raised, and was called by the pro. The flop came 10 J 3, with two clubs. His opponent pushed his entire stack into the middle after the flop. Paydirt! The online hotshot snap called his flopped set and was up against an open ended straight draw that got there. $90k was sent to his opponent. The bankroll now sat at $940k. Drunk and tired, the online hotshot was determined to get his money back. He liked being at an even one million dollars. So he reloaded. And reloaded. And reloaded. His opponent was red hot, and the hotshot was icecold. Within an hour, $300k had been shipped to his opponent. Then another $50k. With $350k of the hotshot's money, the pro sat out and quit the game. The hotshot was in a frenzy, but decided to quit, as he couldn't keep his eyes open. No worries, he thought. I'll destroy the games tomorrow.

The hotshot started the next day fixated on getting back to his million dollar "comfort zone." Instead of playing one table, he decided to sit at both of the $300/$600 games that were going. He was up, he was down. He made $100k one day, and lost $125k the next day. Over the next month or two, it was the same thing. A stretch of a few good days, and then he would lose back the money that he had made.

He has a big breakthrough and skyrockets up to $1.5 million dollars over the next few months. All of a sudden poker is easy again. He decides to play in a live tournament and people actually recognize him from pictures that have been posted online. Big name pros walk up and shake his hand. Life is good again.

The problem is that he's addicted to the high limit games now. He just can't play anything lower than $300/$600. It's "beneath" him. Instead of absolutely cracking heads at $25/$50, he would rather go through the high-pressure, high stakes match-ups provided at the $300/$600 level. The fact is, $1.5 million dollars seems like a lot of money, but it's actually not that much for $300/$600 No Limit Hold'em.

So now, poker is treating him well again, and he is always on the tables on Full Tilt. About six months have gone by since he was at $10k. He is planning for life as a professional poker player. He's going to move to Vegas, buy a nice house, and play in the high limit games at the Bellagio.

He starts playing regularly with a few new names that he doesn't recognize. He hears through the grapevine that they are like himself; young and probably underbankrolled for the game. That doesn't stop them from jumping in and quickly taking $400k of the hotshot's money. Then $100k. Then Ivey takes $350k in a prolonged heads-up battle one night. The hotshot is now well under one million again. He starts playing fast and making bad moves, hoping to double up. Pushing all-in preflop with AK against an UTG raiser, hoping to double up, but realizing with horror that his opponent has AA (a hand that is chronicled on Highstakesdb).

Days and weeks of poor play roll by. He refuses to drop down in stakes. People are starting to comment on his poor play. "Busto?" they say. Not yet, but it's getting close. The hotshot is down to 5 buy-ins, but still refuses to drop down. He could crush lower limit games, but won't. He's addicted to the high stakes action. So he keeps playing. And keeps losing. His girlfriend wonders why he isn't taking her on trips anymore. He starts thinking about selling the Bentley in his garage. The plans for Vegas have been put on hold.

And then one night, in one frenzied tilt session, he loses it all. $1.5 million to bust. His head was aching during that session; he knew that he should have quit. His skin felt like it was on fire. He snapped at his girlfriend to leave him alone. He threw stuff across the room. Boom, headshot. With that, his online roll was busted. He still had the car, the bling, and some cash in the bank. He wired $120k into his Full Tilt Poker account and immediately lost that within 2 days. Still playing the same old $300/$600 sessions on Full Tilt Poker.

He was completely addicted, but didn't want to wire in the last $70k he had in his bank account. He literally had no back-up plan if that money disappeared. So he agreed to a staking deal with his friend who was also an online professional poker player. His friend transferred him $20k, telling him that the hotshot would play $5/$10 No Limit Hold'em. Each month the hotshot would transfer half of his winnings to his friend, and keep the other half. It was hard to drop down in levels, but necessary. He just knew that he would be back at that $300/$600 game one day, and he would dominate this time. In fact, he left the $300/$600 game open on his desktop while he played $5/$10.

The sad thing is that this is a true story. Through a friend of a friend, the story was recounted to me. The hotshot still toils at $5/$10 No Limit, dreaming of taking higher shots. Sometimes he moves up with the money that he has won with the staking arrangement, playing a ridiculously underbankrolled game at $25/$50 before busting his "earned money" and going back to the staking arrangement at $5/$10.

The other sad thing is that this story repeats itself over and over and over again, and there is a graveyard of young online hotshots who refuse to stick to good bankroll management. They are lured in by the chance of beating the Phil Ivey's and Gus Hansen's of the world, and inevitably get smacked down by variance and greed. I would go through a list of players that were on top of the world and then busted, but I don't have the time. I need to leave here in three hours.


Filed Under: Cash Game Results

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