Brian Hastings Quits Poker

4 years ago
Hastings Quits Poker
28 Nov


One of the most controversial and brilliant players of the modern poker era – Brian Hastings – has claimed he is giving up the game and going into business with his partner selling tea, claiming of poker “while I love the game itself, I loathe the politics and a number of industry players”.

Hastings was the young man responsible for wiping out the even-younger Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom’s bankroll in one single session back in December of 2009 – taking the Swede for $4.2million in a match-up which would later rebound horribly on Hastings after he admitted to receiving help to defeat Blom.

Yesterday Hastings wrote of the fallout from this (in) famous poker session, claiming, ”It was about 7 years ago that I first experienced the dark side of poker in a meaningful way”, and then goes on to state that it was mostly a misunderstanding.

“I did an interview with Gary Wise for ESPN,” he says – strangely lapsing in and out of the 1st person narrative.

"21-year-old Brian was humble by nature and felt kind of awkward doing an interview touting me, so I went into it thinking that I wanted to credit my friends for their help in preparation. Somehow that lead to socially awkward 21-year-old Brian uttering the phrase 'conglomerated hand history databases' on tape in the interview (For the record – I don’t even know if that’s an actual thing that can be done. Mania and anxiety phrased that sentence for me.) I explained to Gary post-interview that the words were inaccurate and taken out of context. He replied that I said them on tape, so of course they were true. That was when I first learned that poker media probably doesn’t have my best interests at heart.”

True or not – and there are plenty who will (and already have) decried it as self-serving bullshit, despite Full Tilt clearing Hastings of any wrongdoing -it sets the tone for the rest of Hastings soliloquy in which he also explains the reason behind one of his other huge ‘scandals’, when he admitted to playing from someone else’s account in order to play anonymously from the USA – illegal at that point in time.

"I befriended a poker pro who lived nearby," says Hastings "We bonded over common interests and talked poker a bunch. At one point, he said he could set me up with a PokerStars account that I could play on from Florida with no trace. I was depressed again and missing online poker dearly and feeling out of good options, so I took him up on it. It was the wrong thing to do, but I justified it by how wronged I felt by the entire industry. Mental health played a big role in my decision. When the sky fell, I quickly found out that this 'friend' didn’t have my back at all (in fact, he would go on to double cross me in ways too repulsive to even post on a public blog). Nor did quite a few others whom I expected to. I didn’t respond to the attacks well, and lashed out back some. When the dust settled, I realized I had effectively turned into the person that I resent (if only for a short period of time).”

His decision, he says, came about recently while returning from Montreal’s WPT event:

"I loved getting to explore an amazing new city, especially since my favorite person was able to make it for two nights to explore with me. It did dawn on me that the highlights of my trip had nothing to do with poker itself (nor would they have even if I made a deep-but-not-first-place run). In that moment, I decided I was ready.”

Ready, it would seem, to “shift my focus to my new company – UniTea. I feel reborn and I can’t wait for this new journey. If you didn’t notice, UniTea is a pun on unity, something we are in dire need of these days,” he says, having finally found the self-confidence to move away from his love-hate relationship with the game of poker, claiming:

"I can remember seeing therapists four and five years ago taking career inventory tests and talking about how I needed to move on from poker to be happy.”
"Unfortunately, I didn’t have the self-confidence to do it until now,” he continues adding that his girlfriend Sonya, “has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s been a long, sometimes painful journey, but with her help I have realized that yes, I am brilliant, and yes, I am capable of great things bigger than mastering a game and winning other people’s money. And while I love the game itself, I loathe the politics and a number of industry players.”

Whether Hastings’ somewhat self-indulgent pronouncement means we will never see him at a poker table again remains to be seen – but there are many who will be happy to see the back of him, Viktor Blom probably top of the list!

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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