PokerStars Class of 2001: SFCellman
While PokerStars celebrates its fifth anniversary, it is also celebrating the Class of 2001, the people who have been around since the very beginning and have stuck around to make PokerStars the biggest and best online poker site on the planet. I've tracked down a few of the old-timers. Over the next few days, I'll be bringing you some of their stories.
Q. How did you start playing at PokerStars
A. I had been playing online for over a year before PokerStars opened. However, once I gave PokerStars a try, the software and customer service impressed me a great deal. As the site's popularity grew, I shifted the majority of my play to PokerStars. It's been easy to stay loyal thanks to PokerStars superior format and service, as well as incredible game selection.
I've spent the past 3 or 4 years as a professional poker player, but I really only consider that time spent as an apprenticeship--learning the game, learning bankroll management, learning tourney play. I once heard Howard Lederer say that it really took him seven years to become a professional poker player, so I guess I'm getting close. I've got about $65,000 in lifetime cashes in MTT's on PokerStars, my biggest being a win in a $33 No-Limit Hold'em tourney with around 600 players for close to a $4,800 payday. I look to make a few more moves in some bigger buy-in events in the next couple years.
Q. What do you do in your offline life?
A. I'm in my mid-twenties and have lived most of my life in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In college I studied Mathematics, with plans of becoming a high-school teacher until I discovered poker my freshman year. A little over two years ago, I married my beautiful wife, Erika...who was my high school sweetheart. We have a dog named Todd, and have plans of expanding our family in the next couple of years. I love sports, and play as much slowpitch softball as I can in the spring and summer. I enjoy backgammon, chess, Madden football and GoldenTee, as well as taking several trips throughout the year to some of the major poker tournaments.
Q. Has your game at PokerStars translated to any success in the live poker rooms?
A. Absoulutely...without a doubt. Ask any live poker pro, and I think they'll tell you that poker is about the math, and reading and knowing your oppenents tendancies. Well, when I sit down at a live game, and look around the table at many of the recreational players...I smile to myself, because I realize that I've played more hands of poker in one month on PokerStars, than they have probably played their whole lives in a casino. Since I've played so many hands, the math and situations are now just instincts at a live table, so I can spend much of my focus on reading my opponents. While they're busy trying to figure out how many outs they have, I'm planning my options on the next betting rounds...much like chess...looking two and three moves in advance. Had I not played so many hands online, I don't think I would be able to focus as much of my attention on my opponents tells and maximizing my decisions. I honestly can't recall the last live poker session that I didn't book a win...now if I could only figure out a way to multi-table at a cardroom?!?!? :)
Q. How has PokerStars helped you improve your game?
A. The beautiful thing about playing on PokerStars is that you can accumulate an enormous amount of data and information about your game, in such a compact amount of time...something that playing in a live casino would take you months, or even years to learn. PokerStars offers such a variety of game selection, that you can become so well rounded in so many different types of poker. Playing on PokerStars has improved my game tremendously over the past 5 years. I think the biggest advance in my game has been when games get shorthanded in a live game. A lot of my opponents don't adjust to the shorthanded style, and for me...having logged so many hands of 6-max has helped my confidence and results at shorthanded live games.
Q. Anything else you'd like to tell us?
A. Let me just take a moment and pump up the egos of Lee Jones and his outstanding crew. I have played on many other online poker sites, and the Customer Service people on PokerStars are simply top-notch. Their speedy replies and knowledge of the rules and the game of poker are a rarity among the other sites. It's also very obvious, that the management has put the right people in place in the marketing departments as well, because the players just keep coming and coming to the site. The VIP program is making great strides and I can't wait to see what they have in store for 2007. Bravo PokerStars, I look forward to another great year on the best site online!