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Online Poker and Erik Sagström

Let us start from the beginning. I've been around the online poker since the very first start, more or less. First I played at an IRC-site without any graphics, and the cards were shown as letters. No money was involved, instead one collected points, quite similar to the todays playmoney. But the game was completely different, due to a lot of serious players, among them Chris Ferguson, who used the site to practice and develop their poker. At the beginnin I didn´t know much about Texas hold'em, but I liked it a lot. I have always been dedicated to things I have done, and noticed that I had som talent for the game. Later on I played on a gamesite called Poker Spots, which eventually went bankrupt. They obviously had a brilliant idea of business, but was just too early.

I wanted to keep on playing and, and in those days there were mainly two sites; Planet poker and Paradise, that held games. I chose Paradise out of two reasons, their better graphics and the possiblity to play on two tables, which was unique in the early days of online poker. Some reminder nowdays, when there are several people that grind on 12-14 tables or even more.

This was around the fall of 2000. I wanted to registrate Erik as my nick, but neither that or Erik1 was possible, so it turned out to be Erik123. Quite undramatic, but still funny, since it came to be one of most famous nicks in the online poker. Today one can see a lot of players using 123 in their nick. When I started out I had no plans to become either the best or famous. My driving force was just the love of the game. First I invested $50, that I eventually lost. But I was hooked, and deposited a further $50 and have never looked back since. I started to play a tight game and my bankroll grew at a steady pace. I was very inspired, and it felt like a little bit of heaven, even though I thought that the pots on the $20/40 tables(the highest limit in those days) was intimidating. So far the online poker was fairly unknown and the only game of choice, was limit hold'em. No limit games merely existed in tournments, and scarcely not in cash-games. Poker had been declining, and was not among the most popular games in the casinos.

My career starts out
The lowest limit online was $0.5/1 and I sat down grinding most of my awake time, meanwhile I read the books of David Sklansky and Doyle Brunson. Paradise only offered full tables, and the game was quite slow and I became impatient and started to play loose, at the same time the amount of participaters in the pot made outdrawns very common, which was frustrating. Therefore, I sat down on empty tables and waited to play heads-up and short-handed. And when the table got more full, I started the proceedure over again. I used the theories how to play on full tables from the books and adapted it to fewer players. Now I discovered the power of straight forward poker. Accordingly; to play strong holdings fast, and my draws passive, which was in contradiction to the current style, I established the fact, that almost all players played limit poker in a wrong way. They bluffed and slowplayed all too much, which is disastrous in limi tpoker, since the thing is to get the most out of your strong hands. And, of course, lose less with your weak holdings.
For example, if I held 66 and the flop gave K 9 6, and I raised on the flop, nobody could believe that I had hit the set. They interperated my raise as a flush- or a straight draw. Just because they always played like that, they couldn´t get into their minds that anyone would play in another way, since some of the, as they considered, “truths of poker” were carved in stone. I was often named crazy or fish, even though I won most money of all. Because not many used, or understood this new style, I could easily make four extra bets with strong holdings. Meanwhile, I saved money when my opponent had a better hand, depending on if he raised on the flop on a draw, or on turn with a lock. This made my opponent easy to read, because almost all played in a similar way.

I improved my heads-up play on $3/6 limit, in order to take next step to $10/20. I never bothered to play on $5/10, as the rake was absurdly high. Finally, I reached the top tables and still there were rather few that had adopted the new techniques, so I made some easy bucks and simultaneously refined my game.

Reaching the peak
Around 2002, the market started to attract more gaming companies. I moved on to Ultimate Bet and Ladbrokes, since they offered higher limits. On Ladbrokes, the game was franticly profitable. The high limits were mostly contested of old sport betters that had no idea on how to play modern poker, even though a lot of money where involved. Indeed it was a piece of cake. At the same time I progressed at UB, where the competition was harder and demanded more out of my poker skills. But I stayed focused and soon I conquered all. And besides some live-players, that eventually joined the game, I was among the very best in the world at that time. Maybe even THE best player. That was a powerful knowledge, since I didn't have to fear anyone and I could easily control the game in the way I liked.

Later the inception of WPT-televised events and the WSOP-win of the online qualifier Chris Moneymaker, gave online poker a remarkable rise. The game attracted a load of players and as time went on, more really top class player joined the highest limits. They had studied our style of play, and sometimes even refined the game even more.

Today the quality of poker is brilliant among the top players and the competition is sharp as a razor's edge. The money has increased, but the marginals and edge of the better players have decreased a lot. Therefore, a poker player of today must consider a lot of elements if they want deliver on a top level. It is more important than ever to, besides polish their techniques, they have to stay in physical shape, develop the reading skills of the opponent, understand the inherent psychology of hold'em, and see to stay 100% focused on the game while playing.