In the golden days of poker, PokerStars and Full Tilt featured a variety of games and formats that are now largely forgotten. One of the most striking examples is heads-up SNGs with no blind increase or NBI (No Blind Increase) for short.

There were two varieties – regular with a starting stack of 1,500 and "eternal" level 15/30 and "deep" with a stack of 2,000 and 5/10 blinds. It was possible to play both Hold'em and Omaha, buy-ins ranged from $5 to $200.

With such a deep structure, matches could go on for hours. Tournaments had their own regulars, who learned how to exploit the system and made good money on it. Most often, players who got into such tournaments by mistake suffered from their actions, they were sure that they were registering in regular SNGs.

The most famous representative of dishonorable regulars was "Cowboymarco". His Sharkscope stats are closed, but the archives reveal that he played about 20,000 of these ABI $16 tournaments between 2008 and 2010 with a respectable ROI of 27%, earning him $86,000. This is without taking into account the rakeback, which at that time was quite generous at PokerStars.

PokerStars starting out holding online poker games back in 2001 and now the company is worth over 6 billion dollars. They sponsor a slew of tournaments like the European Poker Tour, UK and Ireland Poker Tour, plus a handful of others. Over the years, PokerStars has remained on top of the online poker industry. They’ve expanded to offer fantastic online casino games and sports betting.

How did the players manage to show stable results in such a dispersive discipline? At the table, they followed the same and very dubious tactics. They played very tight and spent the maximum possible time on each move, which is why each hand stretched for several minutes. As a result of such actions, opponents quickly lost patience and started to push everything in a row, but this did not always help.

From the Gipsyteam Forum – I am sure that not everyone will beat these events for $6. The essence of their game is to take a time-pot every hand, or go into a disconnect if these are deep tables. And then come and get it from sitout. At least I've played these tours a few times with top regs like cowboymarco or phoenix and they've played that way. They have 20-30% ROI at medium stakes, huge profits, but no fun to play, and no growth in skill. Dumb monotonous work.

– In these tournaments, you play either with full fish or with people who usually play turbos and registered by chance, another 2+2 regular explained the essence of SNG. – Playing with 200bb deep fish is quite profitable. To earn, you need a large sample, but the skill is not required at all. For regs, the activity is pretty pointless, unless you're a fan of matches for 2 hours or more.

The players bombarded the Stars support service with letters, but they stubbornly pretended not to notice the problem. Every time the topic was once again raised by 2 + 2, the regulars of ordinary SNGs started a crusade against the offenders and agreed to create a semblance of a cartel. However, the fuse quickly faded away, there were no people who wanted to constantly play many hours of marathons.

In one of these topics, the author demanded an explanation from the community:

– Playing a $11.25 tournament against CowboyMarco. He almost never plays hands, and with every action he completely spends the time bank. If this continues, our match will go on forever. At the same time, he takes 1st place in the sharkscope rating. I do not understand what is going on? Has anyone played with him? I'm waiting for an explanation.

Cowboymarco himself first appeared in the topic and even entered into a discussion:

– I think I have proved enough with my game not to listen to your stupid comments. What explanation do you need? I just play better. When any of you have 28% over 19k tournaments, then we'll talk.

– But can you at least admit that you disconnect on purpose to make your opponents tilt? – Readers tried to knock out a confession.

– I don’t care what you think about my timeouts… You still need to be able to play, and my main goal is to win money. Besides:

1. Some opponents never tilt.

2. I won $12k in regular tournaments.

These answers did not convince opponents, and Cowboymarco became a hero of folklore.

His colleague "callurdawae" was not distracted by other formats at all, he played exclusively NBI and achieved even more impressive results.

In 2008, he became a member of the 16-hour match, which was closely followed by 2 + 2.

– I was looking through the lobby of the stars and noticed that one SNG for $22 has been going on for 3 hours, lol, – the author of the topic was impressed. – One guy went disconnected, he has 1,310 chips, each action takes 15 seconds. The opponent took 150 chips from him in 20 minutes. I think this is the most boring way to make 20 bucks.

After a while, the second player also went to sitout.

“Ha ha, they have been playing for 8 hours,” the audience continued to have fun.

When 11 hours have passed since the beginning of the match, the first player returned to the table.

“Hi everyone, this is Sampson028 from Pokerstars lol,” he posted on the forum. – That's how it was. At the beginning of the match, "callurdawae" was in terrible shape. He seems to be a good player, but this day obviously did not work out for him. He had 500 chips left when my internet went down. I was very angry because I just won that $20 in a similar tournament. But he could not fix the Internet, so he resigned himself and went to bed. What was my surprise when, after 10 hours, I woke up, launched the client, and saw that the match was going on, and the opponent was disconnected, lol. I wanted to start other tournaments and wait until he came back, but I saw that he stole almost 2,000 chips from me overnight. The internet broke down when I had 3,500 chips and now I have 1,200. Did he spend hours stealing blinds and then just quit? Some nonsense. But I decided that after this I simply have to beat him, lol. I will also steal the blinds until he returns.

In 1.5 hours, Sampson028 leveled the stacks, but at that moment "callurdawae" returned, and after another 2 hours the match still ended.

The example turned out to be contagious.

“I'm leaving for a party,” said a well-known regular to "spacegravy." – Before leaving, I will launch a couple of such tournaments in order to laugh at my opponents in the morning.

He returned after five hours:

– I lost one match, and in the second the opponent went into a sitout, so I can finish him quickly. By the way, I suspected that this would happen quite often, but still it's not worth my time, haha.

Many years later, "spacegravy" would be banned from PokerStars for using hacks.

“I also registered for one of these tournaments,” another user supported the experiment. – If you go into disconnect, then 15 seconds will be spent before each fold, and in the sitout, cards are thrown out instantly. Then I left to play on the console, returned about an hour later, during which time the opponent managed to get only a twofold advantage. I played two hands, doubled up, and went disconnected again. He obviously tilted and started shoving every hand. Here is our chat when I quit playing for the second time.

allykats72: NNNNOOOOOOOOOO)!@!!!!!!!@!!!!!!!!
allykats72: you're kidding
allykats72: CMON dude

For obvious reasons – more fish and action, a high probability that the opponent will simply quit a prolonged match – the problem was most acute at medium stakes. But sometimes those who played expensive SNGs also fell into the trap.

“I play the longest HUSNG in my life,” one of the regulars complained. – Instead of the usual turbo for $115, I registered with the NBI for $111 ( ed. – lowered rake is another feature of these tournaments ). At first I did not attach any importance, I thought we would play a little longer than usual. But the opponent played like *** nit. He didn't raise or even limp at all, and there were no bluffs post-flop either. His stats are 5/1/0.1 and he used up his entire time bank before every turn.

I asked to flip a few times, but he did not answer. The funny thing is that I watched his sharkscope, he just rips these tournaments. I think he always sticks to this tactic. I decided to beat him out of principle. But in the 6th hour, he limp-raised, I shoved jacks, and he had aces.

Despite constant appeals to the support with requests to solve the problem of disconnections, the tournaments remained unchanged in the lobby for several more years. The era ended suddenly and abruptly in 2014, when Amaya took over.

After another complaint in the topic of HUSNG regulars at 2+2, an official representative of PokerStars appeared:

“We are aware of the unfortunate fact that some players are using these tournaments to gain some form of unfair advantage. These tournaments were less than 1% of all HUSNG action, so we see no point in reforming them in any way. At the end of next week, we will remove them completely from the lobby."