The world loves a good comeback. Be it Rocky’s post-defeat poultry chasing or the Bride from Kill Bill learning to use her feet – and then her sword arm – again after taking a bullet to the head.
Alloin’s story doesn’t involve quite as much bloodshed as either of those stories but it does involve a nasty knock and an inspiring rebuild of himself to an international poker pro and coaching for profits champion.
But before we get to that we need to join Alloin in his schoolyard days in Latvia. He was one of the few people out there who watched the movie 21 (2008) and liked it. The critically-ignored adaptation of Ben Mezrich’s Bringing Down the House followed the MIT card-counting team as they won hundreds of thousands of dollars grinding out a 1-3% edge at the blackjack table.
Teenaged Alloin liked those odds and hopped on the internet, only to find himself sidetracked onto the then trending PKR site. He soon found himself on a 20 hour rush in a freeroll. Coming out with his first gambling win ever.
It was about 15 cents.
Running on freebies from PokerStrategy he took his knocks and learned the basics: preflop ranges, when to c-bet, how pot odds work.
But he never really turned a profit and as school came to an end he put aside childish things… like gambling. They say money won is twice as sweet as money earned, and it seemed that Alloin didn’t have much of a sweet tooth to start out. He writes in his blog how: “after a year I started to play again, this time I was more serious: deposited 50$ in 4 months made about $1500, decided that I can’t waste my time on poker at the time … what a fish… probably my biggest -EV decision ever… Because uni was more important […] plain and simple I just wasn’t brave enough to leave uni and play poker full time at that point.”
Then in 2012 came his crunch-point. Almost literally. In what he described as a “nightclub incident” he suffered a crushed skull and haematoma that left him utterly debilitated by headaches that would lay him out if he did anything strenuous enough to raise his heart rate. “No sports, no stress,” he wrote about the experience, “and you can’t study anything, or read for more than 10 minutes, or do anything else which involves concentrating.”
Ask Not What Can Poker Do For You…
“My first day without headache was about ten months later, so there it was the happiest day of my life. In two months after that day I was already doing sports and reading without any headache ….belief is THE word… After two weeks spent at the hospital, I came out with an idea of being best me that I can be. So I decided to live healthily, I stopped smoking and drinking.”
There he was with BSc in Electronic Engineering, a new hunger for life and a desire to get out there and make a start on his new fate.
Fate had other plans – a job in telesales. It took less than a month for him to see that this wasn’t what he wanted to do now that he had got crossed back from the land of the sick. He booted up his laptop and made a small donation to the poker gods. He started out in 2NL 6-max in October 2013 and by January 2014 was making more than his salary grinding 5NL. He had hope again, and a new purpose: learning to crush.
For a year he ground the 10NL games without moving up and without making the huge profits he was hoping for. So he looked around for a coach.
Which is where Best Poker Coaching came in.
…But What You Can Do For Poker.
With a decent bankroll behind him – and the motivation to take what he could from life while he still could –he signed up for the coaching for profits. He had to prove his willingness to work for it and was set the challenge of playing 100k hands in 21 days. For someone with his motivation, it was hardly an inconvenience and after hammering out the 100k hands he was accepted onto the Coaching for Profits Heads-Up programme on the 15th January 2015.
He rocketed up through the stakes from NL4 up to NL 25 in the first few weeks on the programme. Losing the ability to do almost anything had given him the hunger he had lacked in his uni days. After all that he’d been through he had acquired that sweet tooth.
An example schedule from those early weeks looked like this: “These first few days has been very productive: I have reviewed at least 102 hands, I posted 15 hands myself, played 31 hours and studied 12 hours.”
In that first full month at CFP made just €524. Not a bad haul by any means but by comparison, in the last month before he completed his contract – once BPC was done shaping him into a real poker player – he made over €8,000.
The Road Less Travelled
Along the way, he had his ups and downs: “at tables it didn’t go too well, the main cause is that I get tilted, but will be more chill every day, since I new to this format I shouldn’t expect crazy results at first days – its just another part of the journey, I mean, you don’t go to the gym for the first time and bench press 200kg do you ?”
By April 2015, he was beginning to find his rhythm. He still had days where he went into “donkey mode”. After his worst day that month he wrote: “went on tilt and completely ignored standard plays.” But no setback was without insight. He followed that line with the canny observation that “this means I haven’t still learned them [the standard lines] to unconscious competence, actually after a session I was close to puking, just of the fact of how retarded my plays were.”
His conclusions were to put in a full 35 hour week at the tables and up his time studying. You get out of coaching what you put into it, and Alloin was committed to giving it his absolute all.
By mid-June 2015 his standard week involved racking up over 50 hours of time at the table, aiming for goals like 300 hours in a month, and setting hand targets that were in the hundreds of thousands rather than the tens.
Frankly, Rocky was a wimp by comparison.
The Croatia Effect
At this point, just half a year into his contract and putting in huge pushes every week. Doing 70 hours in 6 days at one point, and putting even his physical health at risk to make the goals he set himself. For Alloin there seemed to be two modes “poker” and “miscellaneous” – exercise and sleep are for the weak, food is a necessary evil, poker is life.
Oh, and he was doing all this having just broken into 200NL HU.
Around this time BPC put on one of our annual conferences in Croatia where Alloin was able to meet with similarly talented and motivated players. He also got to meet his coaches in all three of their dimensions and hang out in the Mediterranean air.
The air clearly did him some good since after falling in with a number of other players who lived just across the border in Slovenia he headed home from Croatia and within a few days posted this to his blog:
“Made myself a goal to play 300hours in August, as well on 3rd August I’m moving to Slovenia, to live in a grindhouse with other poker players from coaching for profits!”
He was officially becoming part of BPC’s Maribor Mafia. There must be something in the water out there. Or possibly in the euro-per-litre beer.
A Change In Climate
From the Baltic to the Med, Alloin kept going at poker like a shark after Roy Scheider, moving up from NL200 to NL600 in a matter of months and hauling in his cash hand over fist. There wasn’t an opponent at his level that he wouldn’t go after and if he lost that just meant more hands to study.
His updates drop off during this period on the blog even going so far as having to be prompted. Even that he turned into a self-teachable moment: “today I was told that I have to make updates, to be honest, I wasn’t happy about it and I made a drama about it, which is weird since I never liked those kinds a people… it’s a good topic to think about”
That gap in his updates marked the closing of the gap in his contract and by the time he was regularly posting again in February 2016 he was well over €50,000 and closing in on his magic €60k.
From under the Slovenian sun, he finally completed his contract, celebrated, sobered up and put out a Youtube video.
He was done with his BPC contract, but a player’s never done learning and we’ve enjoyed following his progress after his success with us.
Sharks can never stop swimming, and after the programme, he moved on to Thailand to live in a new grindhouse complete with an infinity pool. We doubt he’s gone for a swim in it yet though, not while there are players out there with money still in their pockets.