Hastings Finds New Home for High Stakes in Vancouver

Brian Hastings in Vancouver 1
It appears Vancouver is appealing to poker pros by naming streets after them.

With online poker alive and well in the rest of the world post-Black Friday, the only thing standing in the way of American online grinders is their IP address.

Caught between the difficulty of making a living playing live poker and limited job opportunities in other industries, many players have realized it’s actually easier to switch countries than to make it work without online poker.

Young, single and financially independent pros have embraced the situation. Some even see it as a unique opportunity to use the online poker lockout as a way not only to see new places but to live and work at the same time.

Stinger88 in Vancouver and Back in Action

Brian Hastings recently joined a growing group of well-known players who have chosen Vancouver, Canada as their new office.

Known online as Stinger88, Hastings has plenty of reasons to get back online as soon as possible.

Just consider that he once earned over $4 million in a single 24-hour period playing heads-up against Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, and that he was sitting in the comfort of his own home at his computer when he did it.

I met up with Brian Hastings in Vancouver a few days ago - a meeting that took some time to coordinate since he’s been busy re-establishing himself as a force in the high-stakes games on PokerStars.

“Playing some great games, if they break I’ll get in touch,” he texted on Wednesday.

“Sorry, games were amazing today. Will try to make it work tomorrow,” on Thursday.

Brian Hastings in Vancouver 2

Moving In, Logging On

Having moved to Vancouver just a week before I interviewed him, Hastings had been busy.

He got into town the previous Thursday and thanks to opening a bank account on Friday and getting his apartment lease, a utility bill and his new home phone number to PokerStars he was up and running by the end of the weekend.

“It honestly wasn’t that bad,” Hastings said Friday evening, sitting on a patio in Gassy Jack Square in the center of Vancouver’s Gastown.

“I got here on Thursday night and didn’t do anything that evening, then got a bank account on Friday and had my Stars account up and running by Sunday to lose $10k,” he said, referring to the buy-in he dusted off in the WCOOP High Roller event Sunday morning.

Since then he’s been playing over 2,000 hands a day against opponents like Ilari Sahamies, Ronnie Kaiser and Rafi Amit, much of it at $100/$200 PLO six-max tables.

Hastings has earned over $120,000 in those games in the last seven days, which is precisely why he was willing to go to such lengths to get back online.

“I knew I wanted to play online from somewhere just because it’s so much more profitable than playing live.

“I do like live poker but the games are kind of sporadic, even in Las Vegas. So with the options online you’re able to set your own hours and play when you want to.”

The Exodus

Hastings isn’t the only American pro to make it to Vancouver in time for the World Championship of Online Poker.

Tom “kingsofcards” Marchese, who won the CardPlayer Player of the Year title in 2010, also had his PokerStars account reinstated in Vancouver in time for the WCOOP High Roller event. He finished ninth for $40,000.

The list goes on, with roommate combo Maria Ho and Christina Lindley also making the move.

Ho was a contestant on The Amazing Race and most recently finished second in the $5k No-Limit Hold’em event at the World Series of Poker for over $540k - the biggest score by a woman in the history of the WSOP.

vancouver
It's not hard to see why Vancouver is top of the list for online poker pros.

Lindley has already made good use of her time here in Vancouver, cashing three times in the WCOOP so far including a seventh-place finish worth $34,380.

Phil Galfond, Adam “Roothlus” Levy, Chris “Genius28” Lee, Randy “nanonoko” Lew, William Reynolds, David Sands, Erika Moutinho and Shane Schleger have also all moved to Vancouver to play online poker and it looks like they’re paving the way for more to come.

Proximity to Las Vegas and LA and a relatively affordable cost of living appear to be the biggest lure. And although we’re only hearing about the big-name players showing up in Vancouver, many mid-level grinders are following suit.

While Hastings has little trouble paying $3,000 per month for his own apartment, he says moving to Vancouver to play is possible on a budget as well.

“A lot of the guys I’ve met are pretty regular tournament grinders and I think if you do it properly and split a place with a bunch of people, not trying to go for the super high end, it is possible,” said Hastings.

Looking Forward

As the United Stated continues to force its online poker pros to choose between their home and their livelihood, the disconnect between the government’s actions and its reputation continues to grow.

“The US bills itself as the land of the free and prides itself on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and they’re certainly not letting online poker players do that right now,” commented Hastings.

Although few people doubt that online poker will eventually be regulated and available to Americans, if US grinders want to play in the meantime they’ll have to travel to a new country to do it.

 “I have a buddy who’s moving to Panama to play which sounds amazing,” he said. “I’m thinking somewhere like that for the winter.”

Brian "Stinger88" Hastings full interview transcript 

PokerListings.com: So, why Vancouver?

Brian Hastings: Well, I’m from the East Coast so it wasn’t exactly close for me, but the proximity to Vegas and LA are good things. I can see myself heading down there a lot to play poker or just hang out with friends.

I knew I wanted to live somewhere that was fairly normal to me, something similar to the US. I lived in Rome for the spring and I wasn’t trying to do somewhere that has a foreign language again.

I was seriously thinking about Montreal even though it is bilingual. It sounded really cool but Vancouver just seemed more like a city I’d want to live in. It has the reputation of being really laid back, with lots of outdoor stuff to do. I’ve always heard that the people here are really nice.

PL: You’ve only been here a week but how is it meeting those expectations so far?

BH: I like it a lot. My place is really nice and it’s in walking distance from everything downtown which is amazing. A few days ago I walked to Stanley Park in about 25 minutes. All the main areas for going out are walkable. I’m just a few blocks from the harbor and I went for a run there the other day.

Brian Hastings in Vancouver 1

PL: How smooth was the set-up as far as getting up here and getting your online poker accounts up and running?

BH: PokerStars wanted a landline phone number, a non-US bank account statement, a copy of the apartment lease and a utility bill.

It honestly wasn’t that bad. I got here on Thursday night and didn’t do anything that evening, then got a bank account on Friday and had my Stars account up and running by Sunday to lose $10k (in the WCOOP high roller event). (laughs)

PL: Is there something special going on right now that got you to make the move up here or were you planning it for a while?

BH: I knew I wanted to play online from somewhere just because it’s so much more profitable than playing live. Online you get so many hands in and there are games to play. Since I’ve been here I’ve been playing over 2,000 hands a day which would be impossible live.

I do like live poker but the games are kind of sporadic, even in Las Vegas. So with the options online you’re able to set your own hours and play when you want to.

PL: You have history online with Viktor “Isildur1” Blom and he’s been playing a lot on Stars. Was that part of the reason to get back in the games right now?

BH: Yeah I’ve played with him a little bit since I’ve been here but it doesn’t seem like he has all that much money on Stars. He seems to be taking shots in games and I actually saw him in a $3/$6 PLO game trying to run it up.

When he does have money though he’s super fun to play with and he brings a lot of action to the games.

BH: Are the games changing with people like you starting to relocate?

PL: I think the games are getting tougher as more players relocate but they will be running more which is good. The higher games are fun to play in but it’s definitely a challenge.

BH: Do you feel like it’s kind of backward that you’ve had to leave the United States in order to pursue your chosen profession?

PL: Yeah, I mean, the US bills itself as the land of the free and prides itself on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and they’re certainly not letting online poker players do that right now.

Phil Galfond

BH: What’s your line on when that’s going to change?

PL: I don’t have any inside information on the situation or anything but I would take the under on two and a half years for some sort of bill to be passed that regulates online poker.

I don’t know if that means online poker will be available immediately at that point but I definitely see this as a short term thing. It’s a billion dollar industry and with all the budget problems the government is facing I can’t see them ignoring this for very long.

BH: You mentioned a Facebook page for uprooted poker pros here in Vancouver so tell us a bit about who you’ve been hanging out with since you got here.

PL: I’m good friends with Phil Galfond and I met up with him and his roommate Mikey Stotz and went out for dinner and some drinks on Saturday.

I’ve been chatting with Phil pretty regularly. We play in the same games so it’s great to have someone here to talk to and bounce ideas off.

Yesterday it was NFL opening day and I went out with a group of mostly poker refugees.

BH: Do you think this sort of relocation is viable for a lot of poker players or is it only an option for high-stakes players that can afford all the expenses?

PL: A lot of the guys I’ve met are pretty regular tournament grinders and I think if you do it properly and split a place with a bunch of people, not trying to go for the super high end, it is possible.

I feel like the rents aren’t terrible in Vancouver. I’m paying $3k a month for mine but if I had the same place in New York it would be double or more.

PL: If the lockout continues in the US do you see yourself moving somewhere else, and using online poker as a way of living and working all over the world?

BH: Yeah that’s exactly what I’m leaning towards now, moving around and living in a lot of different places. I like it here now but that might change when winter really gets going.

I have a buddy who’s moving to Panama to play which sounds amazing. Costa Rica is pretty popular. I’m thinking somewhere like that for the winter.

Related Reading:

Please fill the required fields correctly!

Error saving comment!

You need to wait 3 minutes before posting another comment.

Rami 2012-10-23 11:12:29

If you are considering to move to Vancovuer to play poker we would be happy to help!

We are the leading company on Vancouver for luxury furnished suites and host many poker players and would be happy to host you as well.

This is our portfolio - www.vancouverdreamrentals.com and you can contact us to get the best quote for you.

Rami

roy jones jr jr 2011-09-17 17:24:28

it's not that good.

acesacesaces 2011-09-16 19:30:02

sshhh, stop telling people how good Vancouver is ...

Best Poker Sites - Editor`s Pick
Free Money Poker
Bonus details: $1,000 Make your first deposit at Free Money Poker and they will automatically match your initial deposit with a 0% bonus up to $1,000
Review Play now
See more Reviews

 

×

Sorry, this room is not available in your country.

Please try the best alternative which is available for your location:

Close and visit page