It isn't just about the bracelet winners and the regulars in the nosebleed games that have stories worth telling; sometimes the real grinders of the game can be even more fascinating. Last month, Blackpool online pro Adam 'Clarkatroid' Clark celebrated a fantastic milestone, having recorded 1 million hands in his poker tracker database and maintaining a 4.6 PTBB/100 win rate throughout, with winnings of over $300,000.
Pokernews: Sick graph. For those that don't know you, how did you get started in poker?
Adam Clark: I started playing on Pokerstars when online poker was just beginning. I played mainly SNGs for the first three years in my spare time while I was working as the general manager of a bar. I played a few tournaments and had a few big wins, including the $50,000 guaranteed on iPoker and I chopped the Sunday Warm Up on Pokerstars.
That was 3 years ago and I moved onto cash games after that. I don't like tournaments, they are too fickle to make a living from, you can run really hot and really cold, go a long time without a result. Also I hate that you have to play for 12-14 hours straight, you can't even go to the toilet. Cash is much more convenient, more lucrative and steadier than tournaments.
PN: Maintaining over 4 PTBB/100 over 1 million hands is incredibly impressive, how tough was it?
Adam Clark: Winrates are very deceptive, on the way to a million hands I started off very well, at maybe 6 PTBB/100 to start with then I went on a big downswing. Right now I am probably playing around 3PTBB/100 but if you want to print that I'm crushing the game at 5PTBB/100 then that's fine with me lol.
PN: Did you spend a lot of time away from the tables working on your game to maintain this earn rate?
Adam Clark: I used to do a lot of studying, every day I would watch one or two training videos to see what people were up to, read some strategy posts on forums etc. I don't do that much these days, a lot of the same theory keeps coming up and after a while with experience you don't need to as much.
PN: You must spend a lot of time at the tables to get through 1 million hands?
Adam Clark: I don't, I really don't. I play for 3, maybe 4 hours a day maximum; I play 12 tables, 1000 hands an hour, maybe 20 hours a week in total with the aim to play 80,000 hands a month. I am in the pub right now while I am talking to you (Tuesday afternoon) - that shows how often I play.
PN: It must be hard work playing 12 tables at a time?
Adam Clark: It's just a case of experience, its fine after a while. Playing more tables definitely lowers your win rate, I am probably optimal at 8 tables but I am too lazy, I want to get more hands in sooner, I want to get 3000 a day as soon as possible so I can stop playing.
PN: It sounds like you don't enjoy playing all that much?
Adam Clark: I don't like it, I hate playing poker, but it's still better than a real job. Try playing 12 tables at a time for 3 hours a day and tell me that you still enjoy playing. Playing 12 tables at a time is nonstop – decision decision decision decision!
PN: So we won't see you going for a bracelet or looking for a sponsor any time soon?
Adam Clark: no, i dont care about bracelets or fame. I love going to vegas though, its an amazing place, so i like to take a few shots at some satellites to get over there. Ive just played the world series main event and we had a ball. I might play 1 or 2 tournaments a year but that's for just a chance at a big prize. I'm 38, give me the money, that's what I am interested in.
PN: You have been very honest on your blog and said you forsee a time quite soon when the online games are too tough to beat at the mid-high stakes. Could you go back to grinding low stakes?
Adam Clark: The games are already too tough now. People have had it too good for too long, you didn't even need to be that good at the game to win money, you just needed your eyes open and half a brain. I could play much lower, no problem, if you are a high volume player and you can just break even you can still make more than someone in a normal job. I make about $5000 a month in rakeback alone, that's about £3000 tax free, I used to make £40,000 a year managing Brannigans, taking home just over £2000 after tax, I know which I'd prefer. Most players would throw up at the thought playing just to break even but I don't care.
PN: So what is the hardest thing about being a online pro?
Adam Clark: Downswings are the hardest thing to deal with, I am on one right now, I hate them. Most people know how to play, but it's the battle against yourself that is the hardest thing. Knowing when you are about to go on tilt, acknowledging when it is happening. Poker is very delusional; everyone thinks they are better than they actually are, not spewing all your money when you are on a downswing is probably the hardest part about playing professionally.
Homepage picture courtesy of AWorldofPoker