Poker provides many things.
Money. Happiness. Intellectual challenge.
But when you get right down to brass tacks, professional poker players don’t play for any of those reasons. They play because it gives them freedom.
When PokerStars created Spin & Go games, professionals thought that freedom was waning.
Well, not all of them.
Let me introduce you to Kyle “Squire1888” Maguire. The 30-year old hails from Glasgow, Scotland, so he knows a thing or two about the importance of freedom.
A Journey Begins
There was a time when the 9 to 5 had Maguire chained to its post. He was a shop fitter and worked all over the UK.
In the evenings he and his workmates would pass the time playing poker before setting that dreaded alarm clock for another grind in somebody else's shop.
Maguire loved the game, but thought of it as nothing more than that until one day he met a guy named Derek Leach who told him that he played online poker professionally.
“I was astounded,” said Maguire. And so a journey to find freedom began.
"I was a huge donator in the beginning. I was terrible and would play 180-mans and $2 HUSNGS. Then one day I bought into the Sunday Million.
"It was one of those anniversary specials and they were giving a Lamborghini to the winner. I finished 45th out of something like 66,000 runners for an $8.8k score, and that was my first bankroll."
It was hardly a Lambo but enough to give Maguire the head start he needed in the world of professional poker; a journey that saw him gain some success in MTTs before joining the masses who complained about the arrival of Spin & Go games.
He doesn’t complain anymore.
Up-and-Comer with an Equity Goal
"I bad mouthed spins in the beginning," said Maguire, "I was under the impression that with 5-6% rake, hyperstructure, 2x multipliers, etc. made them unbeatable and a 'rake trap' so to speak.
"A lot of people still think that. Then an HUSNG hyper legend called bighustla did this challenge where he played 5k of them in a month and beat them for a silly amount.”
Maguire moved over to the Spin & Go section to take a closer look, and he wasn’t alone.
"I played around 500 of them. I found a stable and it took off from there," said Maguire. "I play for the ‘651' stable run by an HUSNG boss known as Jackstack99 who plays $100-$1Ks.
"We have some of the best $100s Spin regs in the business. There is also a lot of new talent up-and-coming from $15s-$60s knocking at the door of the $100s."
The stable consists of 25-30 players spinning their way to glory from stakes ranging from $7-$100. Maguire is one of those up-and-comers trying to reach the equity goals placed on him so he can become a reg in the $100 Spin & Go games.
“$60 spins represent 99% of my grind,” said Maguire.
"I Believe in Playing When You're at Your Best"
He plays seven hours a day with some time off to review hands with the stable's coaches, but he doesn't stick to a ritual schedule because his freedom is important.
Maguire has a six-year-old son and a five-year-old stepdaughter and is fine with being one of the lower-volume spinners in the stable.
"I believe in playing when you are at your best and can focus, otherwise you're just setting money on fire," he says. I ask him to describe his schedule.
"I play two tables max as I have an EV requirement over 'x' amount of games to move to the $100s," Maguire tells me. "I think any more than two tables and it becomes super easy to miss spots.
"I know of some insane volume grinders who have just ridiculous stats, a guy spin4play and luiscoppel play like 10k Spins in a month and have 3-4% evROI which is just unreal.
“I play roughly 1,500 per month, which is low. My evROI at the $60 stakes on Stars is 2.8% over 5,000 games. I got pillaged when I first moved up, $15s to $30s was the toughest jump, but am improving all the time.
"I'm within a few hundred games of the 'move up' target evROI of 4% over 2k games. So hopefully I get there and stay there for the foreseeable."
The biggest single win Maguire has had was a $6k jackpot. Hardly Solid Penis territory, but not bad for 3-5 minutes work. He has played on the same type of games on other sites to ‘test the waters’ but always returns to PokerStars.
"They have the best software and games run 24/7. Even though they're changing a lot of stuff that's terrible for 'regs' it's still the best site I'm afraid," said Maguire.
So how do you become a consistent winner in the Spin & Go games? Here are five tips from the former shop fitter.
Tip #1: Study Heads-Up Play
“I would study as much heads-up play as possible as it’s a winner-take-all format. The higher your win rate, heads up, the more money you will make long term.”
"There's a site called husng.com run by some great people. They have a lot of free content and video packs you can buy and I recommend checking them out."
Tip #2: Schedule Sessions Wisely
"Instead of playing 7-hour sessions like you would with MTTs, I play 1.5 hours then have a break and then 1.5 hours then have a break.
"Then I rinse repeat until I have reached my volume target for the day. If I start playing bad, I stop. The games will always be there."
Tip #3: Focus
"Spins are taxing on the mind and you need to focus because you are in almost every hand. You need to be on point throughout and playing 3- and 4-hour sessions you start to make mistakes, and mistakes cost money.
"Limit the number of tables you play and shut off all other forms of external stimuli like social media, Skype, mobile phone, etc."
Tip #4: Befriend Other Spinners
"Try and make some friends in poker who play at a higher level and study with them or talk spots with them as much as possible.
"Everyone thinks they are better than they are at poker and in reality they're not (me included). These days the games are so tough with all the coaching, informative sites and stuff that everyone is getting a lot better.
"So to keep making money consistently you need to stay ahead of the curve and talking hands with someone better than you is a great way to do this."
Tip #5: Don’t Fold The Button
"So limp a hand before you think about mucking it; then you can counter that if people start isolating your limps by limping/raising a stronger range."
And there you have it. One man’s journey from the 9 to 5 grind of the shop-fitting business to the ultimate freedom of playing Spin & Go games, whenever the mood suits.