Full-Ring Friends Series: UPay4College

Tell me a bit about your poker story, how you came to be involved in online poker and what made you choose full-ring no limit games.
Well, I’ve been playing for almost 4 years now. I like many got into poker right after the initial “Moneymaker” poker boom. My friends and I during my senior year of high school used to drink beers and just screw around and play small home games. Which were really poorly structured, we used to use a dealer ante only type structure. We would take turns dealing, and instead of blinds the dealer ante’d $1 and had the button. The games usually started as most people buying in for $20ish, however, we usually just hung out and played all night, so it was not unusual for the stacks to sometimes get pretty deep if we had been playing a while and people were constantly rebuying. Its funny though, looking back, most people always bought in for $20 no matter how many times they rebought or how big of stacks there where on the table. I guess you could say, I had a lot of practice playing vs. shortstackers back in the day haha. Obviously, all it took was a few winning sessions and I was hooked.

Eventually, I started playing poker throughout my last year of high school in just a bunch of random homegames with lots of kids from my school and other schools in the area. Some of them were better structured and higher stakes then others. I made a bunch of friends through these games and met a lot of accquaintences of friends as well. A few kids I met through poker at my friends home game, eventually introduced me to online poker.

These kids were making a lot of money at online poker, but not by playing cards. They were making money by affiliate work. Basically, they would go around to all of thier friends and thier friends freinds and even family and convince them to sign up on Partypoker and use thier referal code. You would get like a free $25 to the account that just signed up, and once that person cleared X ammount of rake, the account that refered them would get $50. This seemed easy enough and I knew tons of kids who would deposit and play poker online. I burned through my family, friends, people I barley knew, basically everyone around. I was machine. When I graduated high school, I had over $7,000 in a partypoker account, and I had never even played a hand of online poker.

The college I went too had a casino w/ a poker room about 5 minutes outside of campus. I continued my affiliate business stuff in my freshman year of college and things were going well. I was learning poker via these forums and 2p2 books I bought and was playing live LHE at the nearby casino almost 40 hours a week. My freshman year of college was a blur of partying and gambling way to much.

I started to dabble in online poker near the end of my freshman year of college, the affilliate stuff had dried up, I had moved my money from partypoker to absolute poker and pokerstars. I was starting to multitable 2/4 and 3/6 LHE. Live poker was also going well and I had a bankroll to play our casinos 10/20LHE game and I was beating that game whenever it ran (our casino used to close at 2am, only spread LHE 3/6-10/20, and 10/20 used to only run basically friday-monday). Also, during freshman year, I got involved in online casino “bonus whoring.” I ran white lighting hot while clearing and doing casino bonuses (these were a ****ing gold mine back in the day). Again, when I say I ran hot, I mean scolding hot, online slot progressive slot jackpot, SHIP IT ($39,000) and running hot at BJ and video poker. Things were good!

Sophmore year, I was routinely 12 tabling SSNL cash games on Pokerstars while 4 tabling 3/6 and 5/10 LHE games on absolute and other sites. Live games were good and I was travelling a lot and playing in a lot of poker rooms throughout country, I mean I was all over the place. Commerce, Vegas, Canterbury. I dabbled in my first ever black chip game as well this trip, was a bad experience, lets leave it at that. When I wasn’t playing poker, I was having fun being a college kid, unfortunatly minus the class. So just like freshman year, sophmore year was a blur of too much partying and too much poker. Oh, and obviously the neteller fiasco and party shutting down somewhere around that time period sucked as well.

Next year, I stopped playing live aside from a few poker trips that year. The casino by campus stopped any LHE higher then 3/6, and the 1/2NL w/ a $150max and $12/hour time charge was highway robbery so I had no desire to play live anymore. I got me some Absolute poker BBJ love sometime in there as well and continued to grind hands online. In this period I was playing around 150k-200k hands a month online.

So fastforward a year and I’m now a a SSNL rakeback pro who plays around 2million hands a year, living in a different college town with his best friends and partying every day. Not exactly, the lofty poker goals I had originally in my sights, but I’m not complaining. I’ll be a homeowner within the next month, am involved in a few small business ventures with some of my buddies, and I actually truly enjoy grinding out hands 24 tabling SSNL. Living the dream.

To answer the other question about why I chose full ring SSNL cash games. It started even way back when I was first into online poker, FR games are just stupid easy to multitable, and that is why I play them.

UPay4College is a pretty classic screen name and has spawned a few knock offs on Stars, how did it come about? What do you say to the people that have copied it? What happens when you finish college?
I made it to induce action. I think it does a good job, especially considering I play in the fishpong that is SSNL. There are just so many new and fresh players every day that are unknowns to me, but, more importantly I am unknown to them and all they have to intially go on is my screen name and avatar.

You are rarely spotted beyond $100nl full-ring, but are widely regarded to have the skills to beat the bigger games. Why do you rarely play higher?
A lot of people are in similar boats and when they are asked this question they always sight thier hourly and start changing the subject to $$ and then often times segwaying into stress management of some BS. This is all a crock.

You can make more money playing higher stakes and anyone that makes excuses about why they don’t play higher are just dancing around the issue, that I have come to terms with long ago. We are just not that good at poker. The cakewalk is over, and its going to take lots of hard work to move up and succed in todays games. A lot of people aren’t cut out for it.

Before people blast me with stones, I’m sure there are tons of exceptions and blah blah blah, and if you are one of those exceptions, I’m not talking about you.

Me personally, I’m not that good at poker, and I’ve grown lazy and complacent. My game has suffered and has dropped off dramatically. Hopefully, I will right the ship and get my ass in gear and move up through the ranks during 2009.

Thankfully, I enjoy what I do.

What are some of the interests you have outside of poker?
I really enjoy spending time with my friends, whether, it be traveling, partying, or just hanging out. My friends are the most important thing in the world to me.

I also enjoy basketball, and playing chess. And I’m a bit of a film nerd.

What were some of the major breakthroughs and leaks that you have plugged in order to get the point of playing solid winning poker?
The biggest breakthrough for me was learning that there was more to poker then just playing well fundamentally and to not be afraid to be different.

A lot of players and people pass through these forums and other forums and stuff and they learn a basic outline of winning poker play and they build a stable foundation. In today’s games all you really need is this foundation and you are able to beat the SSNL games and in years past much higher games.

However, what this has done is cause people to become complacent and marginal winners in these games and since these games are the most popular there are obviously tons of these marginal players about.

So what this leads to is massive groupthink in forums like these, and what this has done is hinder the progress of so many good poker minds, because they get caught up in a bunch of marginal poker players crosshairs and are forcefed by these players their stable but very primitive poker foundations as if it was the gospel and end all be all of poker knowledge. We have grown to embrace conformity in these forums, and its wrong.

Wow, that probably sounded really bleak and backhanded to a lot of my peers. I’m sorry. It’s not meant to be.

So I guess to summarize that above rant…My major breakthrough with poker (at least breakthrough thus far) was to realize that there is more to poker then what you hear from people. You need to learn to think through everything and question everything, take posts you read on forums and stuff in strat threads and break down peoples logic and thoughts, don’t shape your game after everything you read on the forums, take that foundation and build on it yourself.

Another quick little thing that really improved my game was learning how important peoples perception of you is at the tables and how it effects thier perception on your range (if they think that deep) or how it might effect thier range based on what they think of you (even the dumbest players always take thier perception of a player and rationalize thier fishy plays based on that, learn to exploit that, get inside thier heads).

Outline your poker education, what resources have you used to develop your game, who has influenced your game and have you had any coaching?

Luckily when I was learning poker I was able to be around really good poker players very often and was able to constantly be talking poker w/ people. I also, obviously used to be very involved in the forums and what not. I also have spent a fair amount of time working in my own databases and stuff. Tools like PT, HEM, Pokerstove, can do wonders for your game, learn to use them and constantly be using them to help your game. Also, there are tons of quality material on various video training sites. For a measly few buy-ins, it’s definitely worth it for any up and coming player to invest in these sites.

I’ve never gotten coaching officially, however, I have gotten a few freebie sessions via a few connections (not so subtle brag)

What are the best and worst aspects of being a poker player?
The best aspect is obviously the $$$. Being your own boss is also an obvious perk.

The only con, is that is tough to let our work related stress to your friends and family. As they simply won’t understand and your situation is unique and not like most of thier peers. I’m sure they might find it hard to connect with us about thier problems too. So I think thats my biggest problem.

What do your family (both immediate and extended) think of your poker playing?
Thankfully they are supportive.

What kind of reactions do you get from people outside of poker when you tell them that you play? What are some of the funniest, ill-conceived, tilt inducing and fishiest responses that you get?
I have the same standard stories as so many others. However, my biggest gripe or tilt inducing is a general scenario that I’m sure resonates with everyone reading…

People when they find out you play poker, feel like its ok to ask questions about how much you make and just they feel like its acceptable to pry into your finances. Its not socially acceptable to ask people thier salaries in most fields, however, you can hammer away and grill the poker player about his $$$, F that. Then people act like we have to almost answer thier questions to prove the validity of our jobs. Its especially bad w/ kids in my age group.

As a PokerStars Supernova VIP what changes do you think could be made to the VIP program to improve it?
Simply put, give back more to the players. Pokerstars bends us over all day and sodomizes us with thier rakestick. Show us a little more love, they can afford it.

How do you view the future of online poker? Will it be legalised in the US sometime soon and if it is what sites and networks do you think stand to benefit?
I’m not really educated on the issue as much as I should be. I’ve read the legislation forum on 2p2 regularly and do what people tell you to do there (calling representatives, emailing, etc). However, people myself included really need to become more active.

With that said, I don’t know enough about things to even hazzard an educated guess about online pokers future in the USA and even globally.

I can only hope things will take a turn for the better.

Quick Quiz – Of All 2+2 SS Full Ring and PokerStars $100nl-$400nl full-ring regulars.

To be honest, I browse 2p2 w/ avatars turned off and in our forums I really only post and read the LC threads. Most of time on 2p2, is spent lurking the MSNL and HSNL threads, as well as reading the legislation and a few of the Off topic forums. I tend to shy away from the BBV and OOT related stuff though as well. I’m pretty vanilla 2p2 user. Sorry I don’t got more to say.

I look forward to meeting a bunch of you throughout this year though and hopefully everyone in Vegas over the summer.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • QFT on why people don’t play higher, well said, nice

  • Great interview I really enjoyed this. I see UPayForCollege at some of my 100nl tables, its good to know there’s an actual person behind the avatar at the tables.

Leave a comment

I Play At PokerStars

Click below to sign-up!