I’d been playing online poker for over a year before I made a deposit on PokerStars. When I finally did, it was like a breath of fresh air. The client was sleek and fast. There were good games going all the time. Best of all, the customer service team was quick, responsive, and actually read the e-mails that I sent them!
Cautious person that I am, I was barely dipping my toe in the waters of online poker at the time. I’d had some modest success in both single-table and multi-table tournaments, but I was still reluctant to move up in stakes or keep much money online. The sites I’d been playing on felt more like get-rich-quick schemes than legitimate businesses, so I kept my exposure to a minimum.
PokerStars was the first place that seemed to be in it for the long term. They had clearly invested in their product and their personnel. As a result, it seemed to be where all the best players were playing, both those I recognized from TV and the legends of the online poker forums.
I remember sweating Jason “Strassa2” Strasser in the main event of the 2005 World Championship of Online Poker. Playing in a $2500 buy-in tournaments myself was the furthest thing from my mind. Little did I know that within a few years I’d be buying in direct to an online tournament with a buy-in four times as large!
I also never imagined that I’d play in the World Series of Poker, but PokerStars made that happen too. Within a year of creating my PokerStars account, I’d had enough success to set aside $3000 for main event satellites. I ended up winning a seat in the second satellite I entered, a $33 rebuy tournament, and before I knew it I was representing PokerStars at the biggest tournament in the world!
By a strange coincidence (or maybe not so strange, since he final tables everything), Shane “shaniac” Schleger was also at that final table. He was another one of my heroes from the poker forums, and now all these years later he and I are teammates on Team Online.
It used to be a big deal to have 100,000 people on the site at one time, and now PokerStars can get twice that many people into a single tournament. As much as I liked PokerStars from the moment I joined up, I still never imagined that it would grow in the way that it has, or that I would grow with it in the way that I have. I can’t wait to see where we are going next!