We continue our series of interviews with founders and today we've got a real star for you.
iJustGamble is one more former $1,000 HU HT player in our team, a unique individual who just hated to be told what to do. A 7-digit winner who used the money to create the most precious things in the world: memorable experiences.
His life is something almost every rookie poker player dreams about. Read about expensive apartments, fast cars and amazing world travels.
Three consecutive SuperNova Elites. High stakes heads-up player for years, loves battling regs.
dolareq: Hey, iJustGamble! Great to talk to you, you are obviously one of those who achieved the poker players' dreams and reached the million of dollars in profit, however we need some question to start with and because some people may not recognize you, could you please tell us how did your poker life begin?
iJustGamble: Hello, nice to talk to you! My first steps were similar to those of a lot of poker players. Well, maybe not exactly...
They say that they got their first free $50 and never looked back, but in my case, it was quite different. After passing the extremely difficult poker quiz, I got all the articles on how to be a nit at NL2, I got my starting capital… Aaand it’s gone. I ignored all rules and sat down at the NL50 table. It didn’t go well.
I lost the money, but at the same time, I received something more valuable - the feeling that this game can be highly profitable. I started to believe that.
So, I picked up a second starting capital (still ignoring any BRM) and never looked back :)
dolareq: What really brought you to poker?
iJustGamble: Freedom and… money. With the help of the latter, I can say loud fuck you to the world and its expectations towards me. This way of living seduced me in my youth. They tell you one pattern which you “should” follow throughout your life: finish your degree, go to work, get a big loan to buy apartment and pay it off for the next 50 years, at the same time working your ass off, so your only chance to see what world has to offer is buying some cheap holidays in Egypt. It just didn’t work for me, that’s why I decided to put everything on one card… well, two, to be precise.
Since I remember, I did not have any issues with learning. I was more annoyed by the yoke and stupid orders from the top. That’s why I try to avoid such situations. Even you irritated me a little, reminding me every day about this interview :D
dolareq: My pleasure. But I heard about this attitude so many times and a lot of those people just didn’t make it. Why is that? What did you do differently that you are here with your seven digit plus results and rest of them failed?
iJustGamble: Because I am a dreamer and a really stubborn son of a bitch at the same time. I don’t enjoy writing down my goals, I’d rather be more creative about them and just make them happen.
I’ve got this one dollar bill. I liked to add one more zero to it from time to time. When I wanted to earn my first $100,000, I wrote it down on this bill. When I made it, I added one more zero. It’s my talisman, it reminds me to chase my dreams, reach for the highest goals and never slow down.
Poker is really easy if you are motivated enough and this motivation will be different to every people. One may want something physical - a house, car, loads of money… Other may do it to beat some records. The third one may play to earn some respect and be at the top.
In my opinion, it’s the best to combine all three.
dolareq: With that attitude you were able get to $500’s and you got acquainted with FCD, right?
iJustGamble: It was a time when I was already experienced and courageous reg at $500’s, FCD was climbing up the stakes and I also needed to make one step forward. It was a small rivalry with him in my head, a healthy one and based on common gain. When we didn’t party hard, we spent countless hours talking about the game theory.
We were working in the oldschool fashion, three guys sitting in the living room, a row of monitors turned on 24/7 and a lot of grinding. Almost always there was someone in that room working his ass off. Work hard, play hard, party hard. We pushed it to the limit.
dolareq: So, how did you make that last step and started your life as a one of the members of $1,000 HU HT group?
iJustGamble: Imagine a rebellion move. Revolt, riot. Army comes out on the streets.
One group decides to overthrow people in power. Marshals do not want to let it happen and choose the most trusty and the most skilled colonels to help them repel the attack. Power and going up in ranks would be their rewards.
In this history, I was a colonel, a solid $500’s reg, sometimes bumhunting $1000’s. My reputation was spotless, I’ve never declined any action, my golden rule was to never click that button. I just couldn’t let go, even when I was really tired.
dolareq: We speak so much about winning and moving up the stakes… But this rule seems like a 'losing money' attitude.
iJustGamble: I can't tell how much I lost doing that, but I would argue about it being loosing attitude to be honest. That’s how I builded my reputation and the ground to, in the future, join the guys at the $1,000’s.
It was also useful when new players were attacking my lobby. Why would they sit down someone who never declines any action? They preferred to battle my colleagues and I had a lot of time to earn money on recreational players. So, taking that into account, you may say that I did not lose this money… because I got much more back later.
dolareq: Okay, you are a colonel, there is a rebellion… what next?
iJustGamble: The group of rebelliants originated from a well-known Bali Household, five regulars at $300’s who decided to skip $500’s and attack the marshals directly at $1,000’s.
I decided to help the players at $1,000’s and there were a couple of reasons to my decision. First of all, the group attack was breaking the rules of the high stakes games and secondly, I could see some benefits for myself there.
Also, I was always a team player, but there was no place in sports for the guy of my slim and frail posture. Heads-up poker is the game for individuals, so when I heard that there is a possibility to work in group, I took up the gauntlet.
Marshals promised me to have a place in their group, only if I help them defend themselves. At this time, when I was furiously fighting with the attackers and trying to gain my spot at the higher stakes, I was living with FCD. His analytical mind and everyday support had definitely helped me to finish my quest. With some very good results :)
dolareq: It’s a really interesting story. Did you know those guys from $300’s? Did they really have a chance to defeat regs at $1,000’s? How long did it last, can you reveal some details?
iJustGamble: They were some mid stakes regs (up to $300) who decided to join forces, as well as bankrolls, to jump directly at the highest stakes and challenge the top HU HT players. A really brave idea, when you think a little deeper about their abilities. They were not reg-wars’ veterans, that’s for sure. They tried it for about a year.
I am not playing there anymore, because in the meantime Smart Spin needed more and more attention and all founders stopped playing including myself. But I heard that three of them finally got what they wanted - the invitations to the elite $1000’s HU HT group.
dolareq: You’ve got to tell me because I can’t experience it… What is the feeling of buying in for $1,000 to a single match? How did you manage to play for such a huge amount of money, wasn’t it hard at the beginning?
iJustGamble: It was exciting, definitely. Swings were huge, thousands of dollars up and down within hour of playing. But after all it was still the same - opponents, humans making mistakes. And that’s what the game is about on highest possible level - competion of who will make less mistakes.
But I like to take this opportunity to compare poker to car racing. You start it with tractor engine’s and grandpa’s barrow combined, not really a technological masterpiece. But later, with enough dedication and a lot of sacrifice, you’ve got a team of top engineers to work on the best car you can drive.
When you race in the first league, every mistake costs you much more than in the past. Every slide, every wrongly approached corner will add up to your final time. Do professional drivers get nervous at the track? There is a reason why they are called “professionals”. They love it and do it with one thing in mind - to win.
dolareq: What does a $1,000 reg do with his life and all this money that he collected?
iJustGamble: I am not really an assertive person, I don’t like to say “no” to anyone, especially to myself :D I like many things and I am not a nit when it comes to money…
I travelled a lot and fulfilled a lot of dreams. Thanks to poker, I was able to sail through Mediterranean Sea, I was water diving in Thailand, I was racing on one of the F1 tracks, I partied on Mexican beaches, gambled in many casinos of Las Vegas... I love and appreciate everything I was able to experience thanks to poker. I think that some pro players forget why they are really doing what they do. They just make money and they do not spend it on the most precious things - on life experiences.
I enjoy spending money, I do not save on cars nor places to live in. I am a simple guy and I like nice things :) A few years back, I thought that this is something I am trying to reach…
But the truth is quite different. I was always chasing the win, being able to be called the best at something And I still do.
dolareq: You are living a great life and I am wondering - which of those moments was the most wonderful one?
iJustGamble: It’s difficult to pick the one, some of the memories are very clear; getting first Supernova Elite, first evening with people I was moving up the stakes with, the feeling when you get that perfect flow and show the full domination over your opponent, he starts to sweat and get nervous and at the same time, it builds up your confidence and makes you play a level higher… This is one of the best feelings in this game, I’ve always enjoyed it. Add to it my first trip abroad to PCA and the view from The Cove to Caribbean Islands.
All my trips, everything I experienced, people I met - it adds up to my treasure chests with memories. I just can’t open it and find only one, most precious moment.
However, I always appreciated all people who helped me improve, make me a better version of myself. I cherish every memory I have with them and I am happy that now I can build Smart Spin community with them.
dolareq: It’s good that you mentioned Smart Spin because I’d like to know what this project means to you. As I heard, you were the one who got the crew together after you and FCD heard that PokerStars introduces Spin & Go's. What were your thoughts back then? Did you think that you will start building the biggest Spin & Go community in the world?
iJustGamble: FCD is the originator of this idea, he was just sitting in the living room one day and shared the perspective of creating Spin & Go’s school with me. I instantly got hooked on and we started to work on the details.
From the start we knew that it’s going to be too difficult to manage it with only two people. I called killuifuplay who didn’t need a lot of convincing; he took his friend bakudranski on board since they worked together for a long period of time. I didn’t know baku at that time, but I was familiar with his online reputation and we just couldn’t say no to such an aid.
Not much later, we were joined by mine and killu’s friend Banis who eventually was designated to be the CEO and with his vision, dedication and full bag of ideas, he started to perfectly manage our team.
It’s already been two years (two years soon!) as we work together. During this time a small, under ten player team, has grown to over 500 member community. We got to know ourselves better and I believe that every one of us changed for the better, both as a human and as a player, and that happened because we always helped each other. For me, it’s one of the biggest values of being in this team, working with these guys. Their dedication and commitment to this project is unbelievable. As strange as it may seem, even when we don’t work, we actually think about work; what we can change, improve and add.
We meet every week on Monday morning, no exceptions, and we discuss our ideas about Smart Spin. I love it, even though we meet early and I hate waking up to the clock alarms :D
dolareq: Working in team is for sure beneficial to all of us, but please tell our readers - what do you do in our community?
iJustGamble: It’s always easier to tell what I don’t do :) I take care on Smart Spin’s image in the social media, I build our community on Twitch, together with killuifuplay we manage our coaching team, I take care of mindset section, I create content on smartspin.tv, I connect to other parties in the industry, I make million other small things like helping with Take and Share and hosting private coachings. In our team, I and Banis are a part of the special task force team. When the task is impossible, our duo enters and does it.
dolareq: What can you tell us about the future of Smart Spin Team? Is there any big announcement coming?
iJustGamble: One of the many projects we work on at this moment is Smart Backing.
From the beginning of Smart Spin, we met a lot of great people who have created this wonderful community. Now, we want to make it bigger and more accessible to the poker players who want to develop their skills in other formats.
With help of top coaches for cash games, MTTs and PLO, we will deliver the highest quality content for our community.
This project is huge and it will take a lot of time, but soon you may hear a little more about it!
dolareq: Oh, don’t be shy, tell us something more! I know that Smart Backing has already secured the top dog for cash games community...
iJustGamble: It’s not me being shy, it’s just me keeping everything secret :) But since you started the subject, I can officially announce the head coach for cash games in Smart Backing. He is one of the top players in the world right now. There is a big chance that while you are reading this interview, he smashes his head against the biggest names in the poker industry, fighting them on PokerStars… or he just sits alone in the lobby, waiting for the action :)
I am talking about the one and only ‘limitless’ - by the way how epic that screename is?!
dolareq: What will happen with you and other founders? Will you move somewhere or stay here, where you started - in Spin & Go team?
iJustGamble: Don’t worry, founders are not going anywhere. We will still keep building our community and actively help those who seek the poker knowledge.
Many projects we currently work on and those which are yet to come up this year will require us to… just sleep less :)