Ten years have passed since I registered my account on PokerStars. I remember surfing the internet, and reading about this new poker site. PokerStars immediately appealed to me, and I could already see myself playing for hours every day. I decided to take some time to choose my screen name carefully. My criteria were something short, striking, international and neutral. Looking around my living room for ideas, my eyes finally stopped at my top bookshelf, which by the way looks the same today.
“Donald” was the obvious choice, so I hurried to register before anyone else took my new name. Then I found this nice picture of Donald Duck that became my avatar for the first 8 years.
I remember playing some freerolls in the beginning, with hundreds of players and $50 in prize money. Not being very patient, I deposited $200, and started playing cash games, mostly $2/$4 limit holdem, with the occational shot at $10/$20 limit, the biggest game on offer on PokerStars the first year.
In March 2002, after numerous deposits and no cashouts, I entered a 3000 FPP satellite where the winner got a WSOP-package. This was the first ever WSOP-satellite on PokerStars, and it attracted 343 players. I remember shaking uncontrollably when I had aces in the final hand, and my single opponent went allin. I still regard this as my most important tournament win. In addition to being a huge confidence booster, I was immediately forced to take my game more seriously, and also learn how to play live.
I lasted for almost a day in the WSOP main event that year, sharing a table with Doyle Brunson and Antonio Esfandiari. But I beat the $3/$6 limit holdem cash games, and had a most memorable week. Going home, I thought of this as a once in a life time experience.
But I had learned a lot, and results were starting to improve. In January 2003, I won the weekly $215 Sunday tournament. It had 194 players back then. The next three weeks I spent at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles grinding tournaments and cash games all day and most nights.
We all know what happened next. Chris Moneymaker came along and won the 2003 WSOP main event, and accelerated the poker boom. The next three years were the golden years of online poker. Making money became too easy. I had $30/$60 limit holdem as my regular game. But I have more fond memories of the $30/$60 and $75/$150 Omaha High-Low games, where several of the other regulars have become good friends.
But success doesn’t come without a price. There have been many ups and downs, frustrations, bad choices, megatilts, and broken laptops. On bad days, when I finally turn off the computer, I try to remind myself of how much poker has given me, and asked for so little in return. Then I cool down, until I again feel the love for the game, and make sure that is my only motivation to play.
Congratulations to PokerStars with 10 years of success, and thanks to everyone who have played at my tables over those years.