I was busy planning my new poker book when I remember reading about the challenge that the ex-World Poker Champion and 2000 WSOP Main Event winner Chris “Jesus” Ferguson did when he was a pro at Full Tilt Poker.
He set out to turn $0 into $10,000. That’s right…..NOTHING….into $10,000!!!
I was excited by it and when I read that he had achieved it then I wanted to do something similar. It took him 18 months in total but he had to play freerolls for nine months to try to win some money to get away from zero dollars.
He eventually won $50 in a freeroll and then switched to cash games with very careful money management. A further nine months of play saw him reach $10k.
I was covering the high-stakes online poker games for PokerNews when I thought to myself….there is no way that I could hack it for nine months playing freerolls and it’s a damn sight easier when you are being paid to play by the site or I am assuming that Ferguson was paid.
Me on the other hand would be wasting a lot of time in the process and that time would be unpaid time. I have always loved challenges and so decided to do one of my own.
Hitting the Ground Running
I also decided to start with $100 and not $0 as this would allow me to play cash games straight away. I also thought that I would make it something grand like $100,000 but I also wanted to promote my activities as well.
So my work with Poker Pro Europe and Online Poker Pro magazines gave me the perfect opportunity to allow thousands of readers to follow my progress.
Actually there is a very sad ending to this because last year I was very saddened to hear of the end of Poker Pro Europe and Poker Pro Media.
I inadvertently found out through a writing friend of mine Lee Davy who is a poker writer that I admire.
I had a lot of fond memories of writing for these magazines and the loss of advertising revenue hit all poker magazines very hard.
Time to Toughen Up
Anyway enough of that and commencing this challenge in 2010 was one of the biggest and most exciting challenges that I ever set myself in poker.
It took me a painful first month to double my $100 as I was playing in very lowly $2 and $4 cash games but double it I did. I had to prove to myself that I could keep the discipline and if my style was making money against poor players at micro-stakes.
I wanted to reach $10k by the year end and achieved it on the 30th December 2010. The following year saw me play a ton of $50 and $100 cash games but the toll of playing so many hours really started to hit me. It all became so tedious and by October 2011 I had gone through the $40k mark.
I should have been much further ahead than this but a combination of not playing higher than $100 cash games, a bad run of breaking even for an entire month and not putting enough hours in saw me start to mentally tread water.
I decided to halt the challenge at the back end of 2011 on $47,211 and work on my poker systems and coaching.
I wanted to start playing live poker again but I also wanted to play live for other reasons. I had to get out of the house more and away from my damn computer screen but I also wanted to take the challenge on from $47k to $100k in live cash games.
I had never set myself a rule of only playing online even though I had been playing on 888poker and reporting my progress to the 888 community on their PokerWorld blog.
So I switched to playing live games to freshen my poker up and have never really looked back since. I was now playing in £’s and not US Dollars and so that would speed up my assault on $100k and I made sure to use the same money for my bankroll.
Once again I started small and only playing in small ring games at my local casinos. However I was making around £500 per week (around $750) at the time and by the time another 18 months had passed,
I stood at $99,814 when I went to play in Leeds at the G-Casino in November 2013.
I knew that ANY sort of win would give me the $100k and was ahead by around £100 ($150) when the following hand came up.
This is it
The UTG raised to £8 and an avalanche of callers started and I was on the button with 8c-8d (suits may have been different).
The blinds all called and we had a seven way pot. The flop came K-J-8 and the initial raiser goes all-in. Everybody folds to me and I call my stack which covers the all-in player. The small blind also instantly calls and now I am fearing being behind K-K or J-J……or both.
The turn card is a 5 and so is the river card giving me a full house. I could tell by the less than excited look on the other two players faces that the pot was mine.
The UTG raiser held A-A and the small blind had K-J. I forget what the exact pot was but I knew it took me comfortably over the $100k.
So there we had it….my $100 to $100k journey was complete and although it had taken me far longer than I had planned…..the key thing was that I actually did it.
When I ceased the challenge on $47k, I was no longer writing on PokerWorld as 888poker discontinued the site. Poker Pro Media was struggling and so I kind of felt that I didn’t have a big enough audience to report to which didn’t help.
A few weeks went past when I kind of said to myself……”Carl, don’t stop now…this is a test of your mental strength……keep going”.
The other part of me was saying “where is the challenge when all I have to do is play and use careful money management to reach $100K”
I kind of got the feeling that the REAL challenge was what Chris Ferguson did and getting to $10k from NOTHING was the REAL DEAL because earning money repetitively when you know you can earn it is no challenge at all.
However this challenge gave birth to a new poker player and a new way forward and a little six letter word was starting to form in my poker vocabulary……SNIPER…..it was SNIPER that had won the last $10k of the challenge and it would be SNIPER from here on.
Carl Sampson is a poker professional, coach, writer and staker and can be found on Poker News Daily