Case Study: From a Losing Heads-Up Player to €11,467 Per Month

This is Ivan, a professional poker player originally from Bulgaria. He’s also a coach here at BPC, who not only teaches strategies to crush today’s games but also the mental game as well in the BPC Outstanding Mind Academy.

Throughout the poker community, Ivan is known as “m1ndcrtl”, which reflects what he believes deep down, and that is “if you can control your mind, you can achieve everything you want”.

Ivan joined Coaching for Profits (CFP) as a losing NL Heads Up cash game player. But after just 3 months in the program, he won €9k in a single month, and later went on to have €10k and €11k months before finishing his €60k CFP contract. This is his story.


Ivan, now 33 years old, first discovered poker all the way back in 2003. “It was nothing serious,” he said. “I just played a little bit of live poker and dabbled around here and there. Then I stopped playing, studied, met my wife, and got involved in a startup.”

Ten long years went by and in 2013, he had some free time and decided to start playing again. “I mostly played tournaments, grinded the EPTs, and also started playing online,” Ivan said. “I played the 180-man SNGs until I had the bankroll for the bigger MTTs.”

He always ran into trouble when playing deep however and thought that playing and learning some cash game strategy would help him out in that regards. This is because cash games are typically played with much deeper effective stacks versus most tournament structures.


So Ivan started playing cash games and eventually decided to make the switch to NL heads up. The problem was he ran into trouble there too, as shown by his graph below at NL50 heads up BEFORE joining CFP. He wasn’t winning and sought help in the form of coaching and this is when he discovered BPC.

M1ndCrtl’s graph at NL50 heads up BEFORE joining Coaching for Profits

Ivan liked the “spirit and attitude” of BPC instantly and applied for the NL Heads Up Coaching for Profits program but unfortunately did not get in.

“I received a very soft rejection, from which I understood there were no more places left in the program at that time,” Ivan wrote on his blog on the BPC website, titled There’s Always a Way If Your Are Committed.

“To be honest though, if I was one of the coaches reading my application, I’d probably reject me too,” he added.

“There was just nothing special about me, no heartbreaking or inspiring story, no big breakthrough, no nothing. I was just a regular MTT player who suddenly decided he wanted to play heads up cash games. I just didn’t look reliable.”

But Ivan would not take no for an answer and made a plan to get himself into the program.

“I don’t believe in failure, I believe in changing your approach” Ivan wrote. “For 30 years I have been walking on this earth and I’ve failed hundreds of time. But the thing is I didn’t quit. I simply changed my approach again and again until I get what I want.”

So Ivan sat down and decided to write an email to Gordon that was pretty straightforward and even slightly aggressive. His goal was just to establish a foundation of his (hopefully) future relationship with Gordon and BPC.

“My follow through plan was to write one email every single day until I got in,” Ivan said. “I emailed them every day. They didn’t ask for it. I just kept spamming them.”

In his daily email to Gordon, he would include his graph from the previous day, usually pointing out 3-4 spots where he thought he made a mistake.


He was also posting hands in the BPC forum and doing “homework” from the Heads Up Mastermind course as if he was already a CFP student. And of course he made sure to point that out as well.

And persistence pays off…

Not long after, Gordon finally asked him to make a blog instead of spamming his inbox. And then about a month later, a spot opened up in the NL Heads Up program.

“I was playing the [2015] PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in the Bahamas and busted out in level 7,” Ivan said. “Unhappy, I went back to my room, opened my laptop and read a message from BPC saying ‘You’re accepted into the program.’ My bad mood was gone instantly and I was happy and looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

M1ndCrtl looks out from his hotel balcony after busting out of the PCA Bahamas.

He wanted to come home with one of those shiny trophies but it wasn’t to be. Thankfully he received some good news to turn the day into a positive. After the tournament, Ivan spent a week in the Bahamas with his wife before returning to his home, then in Vienna, Austria.

“Maybe it’s because I didn’t win anything [at the PCA], but I can’t wait to get home,” Ivan said. “I traveled a lot for live tournaments in 2014 and of course most of the time I didn’t win anything but enjoyed myself anyway.”

He planned on playing again as soon as he returned home and get the CFP program under way. “I’ll start grinding the day I return, and then 10 days later I am moving with my wife and son to Malta,” said Ivan. “It will be pretty intense, because I have to move out and grind at the same time, but it’s going to be a lot of fun for sure.”


On January 22, 2015, Ivan officially joined the NL Heads Up Coaching for Profits program signing a €60k contract, as shown on his blog on 2+2 forums using the alias “ArkastiK”. You can check it out here or by clicking the screenshot below.

M1ndCrtl’s blog on the 2+2 forums

He had already been working with the Heads Up Mastermind course at BPC, but was excited to get into the actual CFP program where things are much more systematic and structured, not to mention the actual coaching he was about to receive from some of the best heads up players in the world.

On his YouTube channel, Ivan made an intro video to explain his mindset going in and his approach going forward. He actually made quite a few weekly and monthly update videos, so be sure to check them out for an inside look at the NL Heads Up CFP program.

Ivan went full steam ahead and got to work. Sometimes his results were great, sometimes not so great. But that’s poker.

But at the end of his first month in CFP, he had finished with a profit of €3k. And since he was a losing cash game player prior to joining, this was a very big deal. Of course he won his fair share in tournaments though but he still felt the need to celebrate… in his own unique way.

“With €3k in profits this month, it’s time to give something back,” Ivan wrote on his blog. “The past 2 years as a poker player, most of the months I had profit, me and my wife would chose a charity organization or just random act of kindness and donate 10% of the monthly profit. Help others to achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”

This must have been some good karma, if you believe in that sort of thing. Because just 2 months later, Ivan won €9k in a single month and later went on to have €10k and €11k months before finishing his €60k CFP contract.

You saw his graph BEFORE coaching for profits in the beginning of this article, now check out the AFTER! As a CFP student, he won around €45k on PokerStars and another €15k on untracked sites and rakeback.

Ivan’s graph on PokerStars as a CFP student (left) and celebrating with Gordon (right)


After finishing CFP, Ivan became the head coach of the NL Heads Up CFP program in November 2015.

“Long story short, I became more involved and got to know the guys behind the scenes better,” Ivan said. “Things went really fast. If you have ambitions, you can move up inside of BPC very fast as well. I worked as a coach and since the 1st of November, I am the Head Coach of the Heads Up program”.

Gordon had asked him if he could see himself taking on more responsibility, and he was happy to. “Hard work and staying strong in the tough times does pay off,” said Ivan. “It did feel unreal considering I had gotten ‘rejected’ less than 10 months before from even entering the program as a student… but it comes natural to me and I get paid to do what I love.”

Recently, Ivan has since stepped down as top dog of the Heads Up program. He’s still a coach in CFP though and also offers mental game coaching in the BPC Outstanding Mindset Academy.


Gordon likes to say he’s the only mindset coach that makes money playing poker.

That’s not to say the mental game isn’t important. Far from it actually. It’s just that a lot of mental game coaches today seem to be selling snake oil and can’t even beat the games themselves.

When asked about what he likes most about coaching, he said, “I love helping people and seeing them succeed. Even when I was a student inside the program, I helped a lot of my peers and they came to me for advice.”

He also said, “being a coach for me is a way of giving back and I wouldn’t lie, I also do it for selfish reasons – it gives me a whole new level of satisfaction as a person.”

m1ndCrtl explains to everyone at the table how things are done


In this 45-minute mindset webinar, Ivan provides a ton of insight into the psychology of poker and how important it is for long term poker success. He breaks things down into a few core concepts that are simple to understand and easy to follow.

He kicks things off with some basic goal setting and life planning, asking you to state your ultimate vision and purpose, how you will achieve your goals and much more. He goes into so much detail with each step but by the end of the webinar you will have a completely new outlook on poker and anything else you do in life.

But again, it’s all explained in a very simple and straightforward manner where Ivan’s coaching approach really shines.

“In order for you to make a lot of money, you don’t need to be a genius. You could be the dumbest mother fucker in the world and still do it. As long as you have a very strong mindset, you can see the big picture, have a vision and know WHY you want to do it, you will have success.”


In November 2015, Ivan interviewed with the popular poker website PocketFives. He had recently finished CFP and became the head coach in the NL Heads Up program, as well as playing poker professionally.

He was asked about how he got started with poker, his transition from tournaments to NL heads up, and his experience in the Coaching for Profits program.

PocketFives interviewer Dan Cypra also asked about what it takes to make it as a student in CFP, to which Ivan replied, “Many people believe that you cannot be a tough person and at the same time have a heart. That’s wrong.”

Ivan continued, “Yes, at BPC we push people to become the best version of themselves and that does not always involve nice words. We fight hard at the tables, but at the same time are extremely helpful and do whatever it takes to bring our students to the next level. I’ve been that student myself. I know what it takes and know everybody who puts their mind to it can achieve it.”


Ivan was also asked about certain rituals or routines that he would suggest to others, which he had a more lengthy reply.

“Believe in yourself, control your mind and never give up,” Ivan told PocketFives. “It’s hard to put this in a short sentence, but I know that many players don’t reach their full potential for so many dumb reasons, and often it has nothing to do with not knowing what the right line is. I spend a lot of time talking with my students. I listen and help them.”

“Generally speaking, I believe a lot in giving back,” he added. “A part of my winnings goes to less fortunate people, children, or lately to a dog shelter here in Malta. I usually prefer to give the gifts myself in person so that I can be involved in the process. It is part of my philosophy about living life.”

“Another thing I like to do is when I’m up $2k for the day, I close down my computer, take my wife to a nice restaurant, take the dogs for a walk, and celebrate. I work very hard, but that’s my type of balance.”

You can read the entire interview on PocketFives.com

Ivan with his wife after a successful day at the tables


Aside from coaching at BPC, Ivan has been trying to master poker tournaments again and he’s added more MTTs to his schedule in 2017 and beyond. “After that, we will see,” he said. “There are a lot of very tempting opportunities in regards to poker right now.”

He’s also launched his own website at m1ndcrtl.com, which is going to focus on mindset for poker players and eliminating all their individual mental game leaks. You can keep up with Ivan on his website or follow him on Instagram.

Outside of poker, his wife gave birth to their second son in the summer of 2016, so “one more reason to push myself even more”, Ivan said in an interview with BPC.

His family had been living in Malta for around 2 years and they loved it but he and his wife believe life is too short to stay in one place for too long. So they decided to take on the next family adventure and in early 2017 they moved to beautiful Costa Rica. Pura Vida!


When asked what his big secret to success was, Ivan replied, “the best thing was the support of my wife. It brings your game and focus to a totally different level when you know that somebody has your back. Without her, I don’t think I could have made so much progress so fast.”

And if could give just one piece of advice, it would be to “stay focused on your dreams and don’t let fears hold you back… oh and of course never give up and never surrender!”

Ivan with his wife and two sons, enjoying life and living the dream!


Share This Post

More To Explore

Poker Videos

When Does Your Kicker Matter?

Small Kicker Strategy by Alan Jackson World renowned poker database analyst Alan Jackson presents his findings after analyzing millions of hands. 16 Strategy Lessons that