We'd like to offer a warm welcome to adamc1988 who will be producing videos for Smart Spin members in November!
If you are not familiar with the HU HT community, you may have missed this nickname in your newsfeed. We do not blame you, although if you read the interviews with our founders, you have probably already heard about him.
Do you remember the great fight between a small group of $300 HU HT players against $1,000 regs which helped iJustGamble get into the elite $1,000 cartel? adamc1988 was one of the few who dared to invade the highest HU HT stakes which created a lot of commotion in the community.
That was one of the biggest events of the heads-up world. adamc1988 and his crew with no regards to standard rules of going up the stakes decided to jump right to the top. It took a great deal of courage and skill. The battle went on for over a dozen hours a day, every day for a couple of months, and neither side could take a break.
How did it end and what will adamc1988 do in Smart Spin? Read more in our interview with him!
Dolar: Hello, adamc1988! I am thrilled to have you here and there are many reasons for that. You are a terrific poker player, a former $1,000 HU HT regular who’s made millions in poker, so you definitely have a lot of life stories to talk about. But what struck me the most is how your life is about “change”. Started as a regular guy with loans in the US, you became one of the most successful guys in the heads-up community and in life as well. I’d like to talk a little about that. How do you remember yourself from a few years back? Can you talk us through your decision of leaving everything behind and starting your life as a poker player?
adamc1988: Hey Dolar, thanks for the kind introduction! Prior to going into poker in 2011, I had just graduated from University with a BSc honours in Sports Science. From what I remember of that time, I was very unsure of what I wanted to do next. All the post-graduate jobs were very competitive to get at the time so I was doing some part-time work in my hometown whilst I figured out what I was going to do with my life. I had no plan and wanted to just party with my friends and do fun stuff.
The decision to leave everything behind and start playing poker came about very randomly. One day I got a call from my friend John (the 1rake1) who had been browsing the internet and stumbled across a website called Sharkscope that tracked poker winnings. He told me that people were making a lot of money playing online poker and that we should give it a go. He then dropped in that we should do it in Thailand so that we could give it our full attention and not get distracted. Even though I thought that this was a crazy idea, it sounded like fun so I agreed to go. At this time, I had next to no poker experience other than games with my friends and watching it on TV. On top of that, I was completely broke with only $200 in my bank account and I had maxed out my $5,000 overdraft which needed to be repaid asap. I had no idea how I was going to get the money so I put the idea to the back of my head. A few months later I got a frantic call from John (the 1rake1) telling me I needed to send him $1,000 for the villa rental in Thailand and that it was due today. I didn’t have the money so I spent the day visiting every single bank in my home city asking for an overdraft or loan until one eventually gave me $1,000. That was the rent taken care of, now I had saved so I could afford to live in Thailand on top of having a roll to play the games. When it was time to go, I had to book a one-way flight to Thailand as I couldn’t afford the return, this left me with a $600 roll/spending money. It is as far from a well-planned out start to poker!
Dolar: How did your start of playing poker in Thailand look like? What was your goal back then? You probably struggled a lot with money?
adamc1988: Starting out I was living with my friends John (the 1rake1) and Mike (
Dolar: Nearly? What did it look like? 10 buy-ins left and hoping for some miracle comeback? How scary was that for you, were you thinking about going back to the US in the case of being
adamc1988: On one occasion we were down to under $2000 between us whilst playing $60 HUSNG turbos, so pretty low. We had spent new year in Singapore and had massively overspent. Our rent was also due to run out and we had to make something like $6000 over the next 30 days to secure our extension. It was tough times but I didn’t panic, I just did what I had to do and put in as many grinding hours as possible. I’m always thinking about the variables I control and what I can do to improve my situation. Some things are out of your control and you just have to accept the situation for what it is and get on with it. At this stage in my life, I was used to having no money so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. It’s only looking back that I can see how close we came to busting out and having to move back home.
You are always going to face obstacles on the way to your goals. You need to be resilient and keep putting in the work when times get tough. Don’t let the situation get the better of you, always be taking action on a daily basis to improve your situation. That is in your control, complaining about it and feeling sorry for yourself does not help you. When the rough times come, face them head on and get to work. The ability to take action on a consistent basis is the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t.
Dolar: Thankfully, you managed to hold ton o your dream. Can you tell us what did your road to $300 look like? And how did you end up in the cartel at those stakes?
adamc1988: I spent my first 8 months playing turbos and then transitioned to hypers as that’s where the action was. I jumped straight in at $60s (i had been playing mainly $100 turbos) and went on a big heater so jumped up to $100 after 3 weeks. This was in 2012 when there was no
Dolar: This is where I’d like to talk about your “change”. When and how did you decide that you need to keep yourself more healthy to achieve better results at the tables? How did that process occur?
adamc1988: The first 2-3 years of playing poker were very intensive and although I had climbed up the ranks, my health had suffered and I wasn’t playing good poker. I rarely exercised and my diet was not good. The realisation that something needed to change came around 2013 when I was started battling rams85 and I felt completely outmatched. I couldn’t focus as well as I wanted to and there was a clear skill gap that I needed to bridge. I decided to take a more professional approach to my life away from the tables, I started going to the gym regularly and eating a healthy diet. The initial benefits of my focus were noticeable so I started to build more and more good lifestyle habits in order to get the most out of myself at the tables. Over time this became a major strength and I was able to stay focused longer than almost anyone.
Dolar: What else was there beside gym and healthy food? I imagine that you made small steps adding more and more good habits to your lifestyle, right?
adamc1988: I started with the three habits that I believe have the biggest compounding effect on everything else; good quality sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise. This was not done in one go, it takes a lot of time perfecting each and I’m still making improvements now. At the moment I get 8 hours quality sleep, eat at least 90% whole foods and work out 4 or 5 times per week. I keep up to date on all the latest research in the health and fitness world. Another habit I developed was regular meditation, which I do for 15 minutes each morning before I do anything else. This clears my head and allows me to start my day in a productive manner. I also keep a gratitude journal in which I write down 3 things I’m grateful for each day and end the day by writing down 3 things that made today great. I set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals to help keep me motivated and to make sure my actions are correlating with the outcomes I want. I have lots of smaller habits I do daily but those are some of the bigger ones.
Dolar: One of the most famous moments of your life was when with your friends, you decided to take on the guys at the $1,000 Hypers. You really made a lot of commotion in the HU world. You were playing a lot lower stakes at that moment, so… why did you think that it would be a good idea to take on the top guys? From an outside perspective, it looked like playing with fire, teasing a bull, putting your hand on “Untouchables”!
adamc1988: Haha good question! There had been quite a lot of battling going on at $300's in the 6 months prior to us shooting and a moderate amount of battling at $500. Our reg battling games had improved a lot during this time and since there had been no battling at $1,000 for over 12 months, we suspected that the guys at the top would either not be as good as they were made out to be or they wouldn’t have the motivation for a long battle. mrGR33N13 was mainly playing live,
Dolar: What did the beginnings of that look like? Did you just start sitting in the $1,000 lobby and fight them? And why did they ask for help from $500 players, Smart Spin’s founder iJustGamble included? What did it look like from your perspective?
adamc1988: The first month went perfectly to plan, our intuition was right and the $1,000 regs didn’t want to battle. We began sitting lobbies and only a handful of regs were willing to battle us. Then something that we didn’t predict happened, $500's and $1,000's merged together to fight against us! On top of that, they started recruiting all the good regs from $300's and giving them $1,000 spots if they would play us. It soon became 20+ vs 5 and they were getting all the lobbies. Our plan had backfired big time! We decided to stick it out and thought that when the dust settles, only the strongest players would remain. Rakeback was high back then so myself and ‘the 1rake1’ were making money playing the regs which fuelled us with enough motivation to keep going.
Dolar: How long was that going on? What did you feel during that time? Were there moments when you wanted to quit?
adamc1988: The battle went on for 8 relentless months in which myself, ‘the 1rake1’ and ‘mavrickkk’ barely took a day off. It was prolonged by the fact we were running over $300,000 under EV vs the regs and there were rumours going around that we were close to busting out. Although this was the most difficult period of my poker career, it was also the most important as I learnt so much about myself and how to keep going day after day. I learnt how to stay motivated during the bad times, how to be resilient and to put in the work to get the outcome I wanted. During this time I really focused on all areas of my health, mind and body so that I could put in long sessions at peak performance. Quitting was not an option for me, I knew that if I kept on getting good results they would finally have to let me in. I disconnected myself from the uphill task we faced and just put every ounce of my focus into beating whoever I played each day.
Dolar: $300,000 under EV is a lot of money! It’s hard to keep yourself motivated when you are running so bad and think that the whole world is against you (which wasn’t that far from the truth in your case). You said that quitting was not an option; I am curious how someone can find so much confidence in his actions and no matter what happens, he is not going to leave.
adamc1988: Yes, it was a lot of money and certainly prolonged the battle by at least a few months. The reason that quitting was not an option is because I knew that I had what it took to be in $1,000's and if I continued beating the regs then they would have to let me in eventually. My confidence in my ability was high, I felt like I had an edge on a lot of the players and I wasn't scared to play anyone. In fact, I actually enjoyed playing tough opponents and pushing myself to the limit. Nobody in $1,000's was making money during this battle so there had to be a resolution at some stage. I decided to just put my head down and focus on getting the best results possible and let the politics take care of themselves. Fortunately, I was able to keep getting good results and they were forced to let me in.
Dolar: The overall picture is quite amazing, but I’d also like to ask you about the details, small victories. What situation do you remember the most from that time?
adamc1988: I remember long battles with OLD TIME GIN which lasted for months on end, one day we played on 3 tables for 15 hours straight with no break. He was also playing ‘the 1rake1’ at the same time so it felt like a super profitable spot to keep playing. I had to quit in the end as I was starting to misread boards due to extreme fatigue….when I checked my graph at the end of the session I had won 15 BI chip EV which was a huge win at the time. On the flip side, I remember dropping $70,000 to VbV1990 over the course of 2 or 3 days which was particularly extreme at the time. The whole 8 months were very up and down, you had to try to gain confidence from the small daily wins and then try not to get disheartened by the daily losses. Over time you become very resilient and detached from the results.
Dolar: And what is the end to that story?
adamc1988: After 8 hard fought months, myself and the 1rake1 were finally accepted into $1,000's. We had proven ourselves worthy of our spots and it was costing all involved too much time, money and energy to prolong the battle any longer.
Dolar: People, me included, have a lot of admiration for those individuals who put everything on one card and succeeded. Well, it’s most likely because not many of us have enough courage to put ourselves in the high-risk high-reward situations. I am interested to know how do you feel about it now. Is it the only way to reach our dreams? It’s not only about getting out of our comfort zone. Do we need to sacrifice everything, ourselves included, to become the best?
adamc1988: Although it may not appear this way from the outside, I rarely put myself in high-risk situations. It’s very glamorous and movie worthy to put everything on the line on one card or with one roll of a dice, but it’s also very reckless and will often end in failure. Survival bias will have us celebrating those who are victorious and forgetting about all those who failed with such an approach. I much prefer to make calculated risks that have potential huge upsides and limited downsides. For example, when we decided to shoot $1,000's, we knew the potential upside, if we were successful, would be very big. On the flip side, we knew that if we had misjudged the situation and had to abandon our plan, we could go back to playing $300's and if would only have cost us a few months of our time and the opportunity costs of playing during those months. We were effectively wagering tens of thousands to potentially make hundreds of thousands on something we thought we would have a high success rate on. As high-risk as it may have appeared from the outside, to me it was a calculated risk worth taking.
So to answer your question 'do we need to sacrifice everything to become the best?' - the answer is no. We have to force ourselves to keep growing and to get out of our comfort zones. But this doesn’t have to be a reckless ‘all or nothing’ approach. It’s about taking calculated risks after weighing up what it’ll cost you if you are wrong. Then it’s about taking action and being resilient in the face of adversity, knowing that this is an inevitable phase you have to get through when you try to push yourself to new levels. If you learn to enjoy the process of bettering yourself each day, then the outcome you are after with
Dolar: You are now joining Smart Spin to share your experience with our members. What will you prepare for us in the first month?
adamc1988: I will be sharing my experiences and lessons learnt through my 6 years of battling from $15 through to $1,000 HUSNGs in order to motivate the Smart Spin team to achieve more. I truly believe that anyone can achieve their goals with the right strategy and enough hard work. I want to spend time showing your members that I was once in their shoes, I wasn’t born with any special talents and every skill I now possess was learnt. My day is built around a set of habits and routines that allow me to be my most productive self. I want to share those with the Smart Spin team and help them to start making small changes in their own lives that will make a big difference to the quality of their lives! I have faced all the problems that your members will be facing; lacking motivation, low in self-confidence, worrying about money and thinking you are not good enough. No matter where you are in life right now, you can take control of your situation and start to make positive changes. The road to success is long, but it doesn’t have to be complicated and it is not as difficult as people fear. The first steps are often the hardest to take.
Dolar: Can you tell us in short what those first crucial steps are?
adamc1988: I’ve been working with a number of players over recent months and there are a few common problems I’m seeing time and again. They include players not following a schedule, having all sorts of problems with sleep; from not being able to fall asleep, to laying in bed until mid-afternoon. Then you have procrastination, problems with focusing at the tables and generally unhealthy living. Although these may all seem like big unrelated problems, they all come down to one main issue: poker players lack
Dolar: Looking from the perspective of someone who talked to many successful and unsuccessful poker players, I found out that people want to change, but this is a difficult process which needs action. That may be the most challenging thing which needs a lot of motivation and the strong will to keep going and improving every day. How will you encourage our members to take action?
adamc1988: This is a great question - and one that I lie in bed thinking over the answer! What separates those that take action from those that have good intentions but don’t follow through? What spark or change needs to occur in your mind to get you to take action? Is motivation enough or does it take more? Can you develop the habit of taking action? I believe you can! I want to not only be that spark of motivation that shows them more is possible, but I want to instil in them a belief that small changes in their life can make a big difference. I want to show them that their actions matter, success does not come about in one monumental moment, it is the compounding effect of all the small decisions they make day to day. Once they understand that and see how much control they have over the outcome of their life, it then becomes a case of making it easy to get started. How can I get each and every member of Smart Spin to take the first positive action in their life? That’s the challenge!…and one that I’m excited to take on!
Dolar: We hope it will be a beneficial journey for both you and our team. We can't wait for your first video!