BTS Academy

My Poker journey (From the student to the master) - bbissick Blog

bbissick Jan 01, 2021

Before I get into the 2020 recap, I thought I'd recap my career for the casual reader; I was also feeling nostalgic as I just had my 5 year anniversary of pursuing poker full time.

So let's go back to....


It was May of 2015, I had just graduated from Salisbury University and was looking forward to moving on with my life. The one issue was...I really had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with my life. I went to school and majored in media productions but my passion for that really eroded around halfway through college.

Coming out of college I didn't have a job set up. I was nervous/anxious regarding this so I scooped up one of the first offers I got. I was tasked to work as a sales recruiter for a small company. Day to day tasks mostly led to tiresome cold calls and a lot of faux excitement.

I hated it. Getting up, going to work, coming back home miserable. It was just not a positive environment for me. So, where does poker come into this?

My last semester of college I picked it up (I had a very light schedule). And very soon, I got completely obsessed w the game. I remember fondly bringing my laptop to my geography lecture and 4 tabling 10NL while I half-heartedly took notes. Besides that, I would watch countless youtube clips, PAD, WSOP main event episodes...the list goes on.

Through all burgeoning love for the game, I really didn't consider poker as a profession at first. Poker Professional seems like such an exotic job I really didn't consider it until those 8 hour days working a job I hated really began to drag me down.

My days turned from working 8 hours a day; to immediately playing 4 hours of poker until bed.

That's when the idea of going professional really dawned on me. I was 23. What the hell do I have to lose? I told my parents of my choice. I got complete support from them and my closest friends, although I ofc got some skeptics.

I quit my job late December of 2015 with a $8,000 bankroll ready to make my dream a reality.

2016: Year 1

Transitioning from a 9-5 job to a do it yourself poker pro was a big adjustment. I went from being told what to do to having complete say and ownership to what I could do.

Naturally, I handled it horribly.

Growing up, procrastination and laziness were things I drastically struggled with and it continued my inaugural year of poker.

Instead of studying, I watched Youtube. Instead of grinding an extra hour of poker, I socialized too much. I did not have the discipline (yet) to have success with the game.

At the end of 2016, I had profited a little over 10k for the year (not really liveable in my state) and had gone into some credit card debt (18k) as my roll now diminished to about $6,800.

Despite being fairly broke, (I mean I legitimately had a negative net worth!) I was ready to leave my parents and start my own life.

I moved out, moved in with one of my best friends to Hoboken,NJ. A fun, social hub for a single guy like me; however, also a fairly expensive city as now I had a $1,250 rent per month with a roll of $6,800.

There are very few decisions in my life that really stick with me. But the one I made at the end of 2016 was the biggest of my poker career. With a pressure cooker of financial trouble staring me down, I had to ask myself, "Am I good enough to make poker work?"

2017: Year 2

I wasn't. And it's probably the best answer I gave myself. One of the beautiful things about this game is you can't lie to poker, the results told the story.

Throughout it all, I knew I had the capability to be a great player I just needed guidance. So, in 2017, I applied and was accepted as a student for BTS. The deal was for a year and 50% of my income.

I think a lot of people would of balked at the 50% in my shoes; especially with my precarious financial position. But as always, I bet on myself; I knew if I had guidance into improvement I had the natural skill to be a dominant player.

As a result of the 50% cut, I humbled myself and began dog walking to pick up some extra $. Through it all, I wasn't really worried about going broke; I was worried about not being able to play poker as my profession.

Thankfully, the coaching worked out great. I worked with MMA for the majority of the year (and got great advice from Svansva as well) that my technical game improved a lot.

Socially, I was a young guy really focused on poker not really looking forward to anything serious. So naturally, I ended up meeting my wife, Victoria, 2 weeks into moving to Hoboken.

By the end of 2017, I had gotten a loving girlfriend and had my first tangible success as a professional.

*2017 graph

2018: Year 3

I came into 2018 brimming with confidence. I had ended my contract with BTS and even got offered to start coaching with them, I developed a really strong friendship w MMA and began networking well within the poker world.

So yeah 2018 wasn't a great year. My worst qualities as a person (laziness/procrastination) took over and led to a very disappointing year. I did improve my game, but poor game selection/ game quality hurt me.

*2018 graph

2019: Year 4

2019 felt like a complete redemption tour. I really focused heavily on improving my overall process when it came to poker and reprogram my bad habits. There was plenty of failures; but I kept at it and kept plugging away.

I got engaged and felt on top of the world; especially as my poker results jumped to another level. I continued to improve and lessen my shortcomings; it was a tedious process but I really began to make slow baby steps of progress.

I made meditation a process; I really improved my studying efficiency and I played decent volume.

I ended up having my first six figure year in 2019 and even bought a house. Life was (and still is!) really coming together for me.

But with anything, adversity will hit. My fiancee had to go through open heart surgery and we found out she wasn't able to carry her children on her own. We decided on surrogacy, but with the average $ of that process being 100-150k I was again facing a bit of a financial crunch.

Which, finally brings us to 2020.

*2019 tracked results

2020: Year 5


Despite a successful 2019, after putting 20% on my house down I only had $32,000 in my poker accounts. Not bad at all especially with money outside of it, but with last minute wedding costs and surrogacy in the future there was some pressure.

The pressure didn't last long. I ran well to begin the year, but I came in thinking my skill set was well above my roll. I won, and won, and kept on winning. In early January, I was still mixing in 200NL. By April, I was shot taking a rare 10k game.

By mid spring, I had fully broken through into highstakes. Most importantly, my game has completely exploded. I've always been fairly self aware that I have issues with my game (as does everyone tbh). But this year was the first time, I could be honest with myself and say, "Hey, there's still a lot to improve on, but if you're locked in you're one of the best players in the country."

Around late June, I suffered my worst day of my career losing 60k in a HU battle vs a reg. In honesty, it was probably naive to play a format I hadn't put in work in despite being proficient in 6 max.

I then decided I wanted to hold the lobbies going forward, and I had to get better. So I messaged a former PGC'er that can help me.

I'm very much looking forward to working with him going into 2021.

As far as results, I play about half my volume untracked. I was one of the bigger winners in the country and my NLH game is quickly progressing to a top level. I'm very much looking forward to pushing myself further in 2021.

*2020 tracked

Going forward

The development of my game the last 8 months has been huge; but I know I can still improve a lot more. I still feel really passionate about the game and best of all I've put me and my family in a solid financial position going forward.

I hope everyone has a great 2021. I had a great 2020, but I know it's been tough on a ton of people so sending thoughts out to everyone.

As always, good luck on the felt.