Just under 5 years ago, CardRunners, the progenitor of online poker coaching sites, closed its doors. Here is the story of the rise and fall.
Poker schools – and more generally coaching sites – are now on the one hand an important point of reference for many players, on the other hand criticized by many other players, who dispute their detrimental role within the ecosystem. . But has it always been that way? To understand it better, let’s tell the story of the first coaching site ever, still one of the most famous today despite closing its doors in 2017: CardRunners.
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Taylor Caby and the birth of CardRunners
It’s 2004 and Taylor Caby is a 21-year-old from Chicago studying finance at the University of Illinois, but with “a fire inside that animates him”: poker. The script is that of thousands of other guys: the movie Rounders as the first vehicle of interest, the victory of Chris Moneymaker the spring to try. However, Taylor is really good and manages to turn the $ 35 he had deposited on Ultimate Bet into $ 50,000 in a few months and then gradually to six zeros.
Green Plastic (this is its nickname) becomes one of the first “young guns”, the kids who play on the internet can understand how to make poker a source of income. Starting with Sit’n’Go and then switching to cash games, Caby became a celebrity – in the still young undergrowth of American online poker – when he managed to defeat the then superstar Prahlad “Spirit Rock” Friedman in a series of heads up challenges .
The intuition of video sessions: here’s CardRunners
But the real turning point for him came in 2005, when he sensed that it would change his life and the history of online poker. with its “thinking processes” to understand the strategic and mathematical aspects of its choices. This is how CardRunners was born, which will become the world’s first online poker coaching site, as well as a model that launches a series of (never-ending) attempts at imitation or emulation.
The formula is to charge a monthly fee to become a member and have access to a strategic video library that is becoming more complete and articulated, along with the forum where various technical topics are commented on and discussed. CardRunners is thus becoming very popular with fans, surpassing in 2008 the share of 10,000 subscribers, with receipts (also derived from affiliations with poker rooms) over 5 million dollars.
A great team and the deal with Full Tilt
The success is also due to the fierce team that CardRunners puts on. In addition to Caby and Wiggins, David “Raptor” Benefield, Brian “sbrugby” Townsend, Brian “stinger88” Hastings and Cole “cts687” South are also members. They are all extremely smart guys who have destroyed the levels in the online cash game, reaching the coveted high stakes. At the time, the so-called “nosebleeds” were monopolized by Full Tilt Poker, which in fact sniffed out and signed an exclusive partnership with CardRunners, which became its reference school.
The problems and the Isildur case1
The apex is reached, although the dark sides are not missing. The darkest of all is the famous “ambush” of Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, the victim of a real team game: Townsend, Hastings and South share tens of thousands of hands played by Isildur, even buying a package of his hand histories. This is strictly forbidden by the policy of Full Tilt, which in fact deprives Brian Townsend of Red Pro status for some time. But the damage is done, the three are thoroughly studying the game of the Swede and Blom loses millions of dollars.
Decline and closure
Then come other moves, such as the merger with Stoxpoker and its subsequent absorption by CR, but the decline is just around the corner and is officially sanctioned by Black Friday. Since then, nothing will be the same, especially for CardRunners. The end of Full Tilt’s dominance, the growing competition from a mature and saturated market, and the personal vicissitudes of some of the team’s top players like Brian Townsend, all contribute to the brand’s slow but relentless decline. CardRunners officially closes in May 2017.
Was it CardRunners’ fault? Listen to Caby in 2008
In today’s poker, poker schools are often accused of being responsible for the tightening of the field. This is certainly true, because the coaching sites have allowed a lot of mediocre players – or who could barely match – to become professionals or still earn great numbers from the game and on a regular basis. However, finding the only or main cause of online poker problems on coaching sites would be completely wrong. After all, Taylor Caby himself, in a 2008 interview, talked about those criticisms that did exist 14 years ago.
“People say poker has become harder to beat since CardRunners existed? I take it as a nice compliment! Of course it’s something I’ve heard too, and several have told me directly, in person or on the forums. But the truth is slightly different: to my knowledge, most if not all of the complainants are members or former members of CardRunners. So they complain that the games are tougher than they were in 2005 but they themselves have benefited from a ton of value and earnings, thanks to CardRunners. I have received and receive messages from hundreds, even thousands of children, thanking us, and my feeling is that it has had a positive impact on so many, so many lives. It’s the thing that makes me most proud. ”