– (Joe Ingram) To me, one of the best is someone who is regularly competing at the $25/$50 plus games on PokerStars and this guy right here fits the bill. He’s not one of those guys that came up overnight – this young gentleman has been grinding a little bit longer and he hails from Belarus, right?
– (borntotilt) Yeah yeah, Belarus, that’s right.
– He has one of the greatest screen names of all time; Born2Tilt. You’d think a guy that’s “born to tilt” wouldn’t make it to the high stakes anymore, but apparently, you still can, even though you’re born to tilt. I actually don’t know – what’s your real first name?
– My name is Stas, [that’s] the short one. The full name is Stanislav, and you know, I think the Western version of my name is Stan.
– What is your main game that you’re playing right now?
– I think $25/$50 is my main game right now. I rarely play lower but I think my most action is from NL5k now.
– Is there enough action to consistently play a bunch at those stakes?
– I think there are a lot of NL5ks on. You know, action has been dropping since April. The whole winter action was pretty good.
– How old are you?
– I’m 28, but in 2 months, I will turn 29. I’ve been playing poker for 10 years (since around 2009). I think I’m old school right now.
– You’ve lived in Belarus your entire life?
– Yes, mostly, I mean, I did travel a lot. I did spend time in Thailand, and Bali, etcetera etcetera. But I live in my hometown, the capital of Belarus (Minsk).
– So you started playing when you were 19, and at what age did you become a professional?
– It happened 10 years ago. I actually remember the day I started playing professionally. I hung out with a friend that day and I did this motivational speech. I said, “Man, we need to make it, we need to go through it, we need to make money, we are grown.” etcetera, etcetera. I remember that day, that moment I was speaking to him and I was thinking, “Dam, I’ll be a professional from this moment.”
– What limit are you playing at that point in time?
– NL25-NL50, something like this. I actually forgot what room it was or what network. I think NL25, but you know, I knew about poker much earlier than ten years ago. When we were kids, there were these kids playing video games as professionals. So we had a team and we played Warcraft, it’s like real-time strategy. I was like 15 I think and you know, poker started popping off at this time. There were banners like, you can take $50 and make it. We were like, “Man, it’s a fraud, it's B.S. No one can take money for free and make millions.”
I wasn’t deep about games of poker but a guy from my team – actually, shoutout to my friend Patrick. He won $2,000 and he came to me and said, “Staz, this is real. You can make money in poker.”
I just went from my university, made this motivational speech to my friend, and we were deep into it.
– When you were 15, you were playing a lot of video games and seeing advertisements for poker?
– We were playing exactly one game, so we were professionals man, haha.
At this point in my life, I recognized myself as a player, really, and you know when I'm speaking about my career.
You know in general I really mentioned this time we were playing video games because you know you can really see a guy who is a player and who's not you know. I can talk to guys who play poker you know for 15 minutes you know and something like this and I can recognize a player in him or he just you know, he’s not a player. When we started playing poker we had this you know gamer attitude and gamer attitude in poker is just a f***ing curse. I mean you know everywhere competition players like, “C’mon you know, heads up come on. You know I will beat your ass man and we were like that.
For me, it was really hard to start playing poker and card games. It was kind of hard to explain to parents why I left university, and what I was going to do. My parents were above me in the hierarchy level, so I was now that guy who was afraid to explain to my parents what I was going to do.
I decided to convince my grandma that I was going to be good.
– Smart strategy. I wouldn't consider that you might – to get your parents to feel better about poker – you'd actually go to your grandma.
– It was a real smart move, a checkmate move. I love it.
– What was that first part of your poker career like?
– I don't don't brag a lot you know in real life. They know I'm there you know. I do my grind. They just call it a job, you know?
At some point, I was shy to say to people that I’m a professional poker player and you just started lying to people you know I'm an IT guy. I programmed programs you know. A small lie gets you into a bigger lie.
– Do you tell them how much you lost (in poker)?
– No, I discuss money issues with a small circle of friends.
– What is the average rent or salary in Belaruse’s capital?
– In the capital, the highest in the country, I think, is $500-$600, in other cities, it can be much lower. But to understand what is happening here, you need to be born here, everything is too complicated.
– What is the nicest thing you gave your grandmother?
– She doesn’t like presents. She always said, “Staz, don’t buy me things!” She really enjoys flowers, so I always buy her flowers.
– Where did your motivation come from to get to the higher stakes?
– We started with a gamer’s attitude and a gamer's attitude is to compete with people.
When we started, it was really about competitions. You have to play the best players to get better, you have to overplay everybody. I really wanted to be that kickass player who can kick everyone’s ass to the table.
I still try to overcome this gamer attitude.
I beat NL25 and NL50 and NL100 and in like in three years, I know playing NL400. It was like a chapter (in a book). Make all your money at the lower stakes and lose it all at the higher stakes.
I quickly beat NL25-100, 3 years later I was playing NL400 and started making shots at NL1,000, but kept losing. I played on the Ongame network, they had some crazy games at the time. We even had a Skype group. The group wasn’t about poker really, we just laughed and trolled each other. After 3 years, I could really make a lot of money there, but was too stupid, played for fun, offered heads-ups, and so on.
After Ongame, I broke even for three years, it was a really hard three years.
Then I turned the paper to a different chapter. On the eve of the New Year, a friend sent me an article about rationality, how to manage your time, the correct sleep schedule, and so on. I read it and it was like my eyes were opened. I realized how far I was from a professional, and from that moment I completely changed my approach to life.
– What is that moment like?
– At this point, I was five years in the game and I started I mentioning myself like a professional. I imagined myself like a professional and five years you know hitting money and all the things but you know five years passed and I was like f*** man. I was looking in the mirror and you know the expectations and the reality – it was so different.
– When did you start winning regularly at NL1k and start thinking about higher limits?
– I don’t remember any specific moment, I just kept playing, one day everything started to work out, and I started to rise quickly.
– What exactly did you start doing differently?
– When I try to explain my thoughts about poker, I really go so... metaphorical. I cannot advise anything or explain what exactly I did. I was at the point where I should start thinking differently. For some reasons, I’ve been scared to play differently. If I spew my hand, the hand will pop off in some forum and some people will put shame on my game. My brain was in chains you know – leashed – but I just unleashed it. I wasn’t really a GTO player for most of my career, Jinmay taught me almost everything.
– Do you have a daily routine you’ve been following?
– Yes, I live in the same routine for a lot of time. At this point, its really a problem for me not to play poker. I was up, brush my teeth, and in one flash, you are sitting in the lobby. Sometimes, I want to just make a day off and it’s really hard to make a day off. You’re so deep in your routine that you don’t mention how it works for you.
– Do you play every day? I think that’s how you get great at poker, or anything you want to be the best at.
– Yes, that’s all true.
– Most players don’t realize this, and it will be very difficult for them to reach the top.
– I’ve always had this idea of living balanced and I really try my best to live balanced. The poker grind can lead you to, kind of, the wrong direction.
– I want to ask you – are you a bot?
– Haha, no. I have a real love-and-hate relationship with bots and also Stambolov.
– Yes, I heard.
– I’ve been grinding with this guy from NL400 or NL600, for ages, really for ages. This guy beat the shit out of me – always. I always had respect for this guy and I thought, man, this Bulgarian guy is really good. It happened to us both, getting higher limits at the same time. Then one day, he was banned and people are saying he’s a bot.
Just like that, one day everyone’s saying he’s a bot.
– He doesn’t play anymore?
– He was banned about a year ago, they say he’s a bot. There are no other explanations, maybe they will appear in the future.
– Does playing against bots or RTA worry you?
– Obviously, I am really worried, but there’s nothing you can do. You just face it every day and you’re thinking, “Is this guy a bot?” and how to not lose a lot here.
– The most important question from the chat is: What are your power rankings of the strongest players?
– In my opinion, rankings are boring. Objectively Linus and Katya_18 share first place. They can kick my ass at any moment, I can't beat them. I always watch them and try to copy them, but they are three heads above me.
I would mention king10clubs again, he blew my mind many years ago and still grinds, wins big money, clearly a smart guy, and commands nothing but respect. I can remember the guys who have shown great progress recently – Munez and tuff_shark.
– Tuff_shark? It seems that even I played with him in 2010 for $10/$20.
– MMAsherdog, Bit2Easy, makeboifin will also be on my list. The game is very dynamic, the ratings are constantly changing, so I named the players who have grown noticeably recently.
– What about the legendary OtB_RedBaron?
– He’s hardly been playing lately, and I just forgot about him. Naturally, he is very good and much stronger than me.
– They’re asking in the chat if you’re going to the World Series this year.
– No, I have never been to the USA. Every year the same story repeats itself – I think about going, but in the end I choose a different direction. I think it's worth a try. It’s also strange for me that I play hold’em, but have never been to the mecca of poker – Las Vegas.
– Linus came to Montenegro and even played cash games there. Maybe you will also go to some similar series?
“This will also be a new chapter in my career.” I'm just at the point where I need to decide what to do next – offline play, tournaments or maybe live tournaments. I don’t know what to do, but I still have time to think, I don’t want to regret it later.
– Where can you make a mistake?
– I have always had a fear that online players will be an open book offline, and all opponents will be able to read me. I've played live 4-5 times, it's still new to me. I’m considering the option of going to Macau, maybe I’ll start there, but I haven’t decided yet. It also scares me that the offline routine is even more stressful than online. Adequate sleep is very important to me, so I worry most about my mental health. When you play for two days in a row, all your knowledge and skill may be useless.
– You said that you don’t know Limitless, but he has successfully switched to offline and even plays tournaments; he can probably tell you something useful. There are Truteller and Makita, who broke online, and now constantly play offline.
– What did you call him, Makita?
– This is a Belarusian spelling, pronounced Nikita. He's a real legend here.
– In the chat, they ask what you think about GGPoker, there was some kind of scandal there recently. And why do you play under the nickname Yurasov1990?
– I give credit to Dmitry Yurasov, haha. Playing on GG gives me a lot of pleasure, it's a lot of fun, and there are emojis. On the other hand, there is a huge rake, there are some dubious stories. I have ambivalent feelings, but I continue to play, I like it there.
– What kind of scandal was there?
– A lot of winning players were banned there, that’s probably what they mean.
– What advice would you give on working on the game?
– Perhaps my answer will be too abstract, but you need to devote a lot of time to poker. I've noticed that people who don't give their all don't achieve much. 10 hours a day, theory, practice, and so on. But from my own experience, I will say that you cannot live only on poker, go for walks, or do something else so that you have the opportunity to look at what is happening from the outside. All this is difficult, but my personal growth and progress in the game happened in parallel. You need to work not only on the game but also on yourself.
– They ask how many high-stakes hands you play in a year.
– I have problems with numerals in English, I’m afraid of making a mistake.
– 20 million?
– Ha ha, less.
– Don’t you admire your schedule every day?
– This year I started playing without any programs at all, I don’t use statistics, only notes. I think in the future they will all be banned, so I try to notice a lot of small details myself while playing. When you play with the same opponents for years, programs become less important. They are still useful, but not as useful as the Zoom500. Times were very different before Pio, I remember solving problems in that era. I figured it all out on my own, my brain worked every day. Playing poker is like morning exercise. The brain needs a warm-up, after which you can start the day.
– In the chat, they thank you for coming and praise your English. I agree, I understand you perfectly, perhaps it will be difficult for some because of the accent, but, in my opinion, your English is perfect. Many people underestimate how difficult it is to learn a foreign language, especially at such a level as to discuss some complex topics live.
– It could have been better. For me, the coolest thing about learning a language is the opportunity to watch TV shows and movies. You start to understand jokes, and it brings twice as much entertainment. This is why I started learning the language – to understand music and films. I read and listen much better; I don't have much practice in speaking. You are the first native speaker with whom I have been communicating with for so long. Maybe someday I will move to another country, and this will significantly help in my studies.
– What are your plans for the near future?
– I’ll be grinding a lot until the end of May, at the beginning of June we’ll go to the Nürburgring, there will be a big rock festival there. This is the fourth time we’ll go with friends, we’ll drink beer, listen to music and shake our heads. I hope to be able to take a few days off later, as I already said, this is a problem for me. And in August, my girlfriend and a couple of friends will go to the Spanish city of Benicàssim, where there will be one of the largest reggae festivals.