Lee Davy talks to Patrick Leonard about his plans to transform bitB Staking into a global ‘Super Stable.’
Alcoholism and Stoic Philosophy.
It’s not exactly bacon and eggs, but that’s what I ate for breakfast this morning. I was interviewing Scott Perry, the Stoic Creative, and our focus was on the people who fall into the cracks of addiction and struggle to climb back out.
“It’s all in the relationships,” said Perry.
I happen to agree.
We live in a time where the human race has never been more connected. We are like a giant kebab, all scrunched up next to each other, and despite the hyper connectivity people have never been more alone.
So, move like a wraith, and do something about it.
The cure for loneliness is ‘connection’. But who do you want to be connected to? I guess that depends on your values, beliefs and what type of large wooden cross you carry on your back.
Take poker, for example, it’s an individual sport, but if you decide to take the Grizzly Adams route, you won’t get very far. You don’t need to be a poker oracle to understand that strength of ‘community’ is vital for a Northwards Sharkscope graph.
In the Ryan Holiday classic, Ego is the Enemy; the Marcus Aurelius lover shares some advice from the legendary Mixed Martial Artist (MMA), Frank Shamrock, called Plus-Minus-Equal.
The MMA star believes that root success comes from your relationships. Plus = surround yourself with the jawbones of people who are superior to you in the art of whatever it is you wish to accomplish. Minus = make sure you have people within your sphere of influence who are not as experienced as you. There is no more significant way to etch your learning into your neural pathways than to teach others. Equals = make sure you surround yourself with peers of equal stature, so you can never rest on your laurels.
If anyone in the poker world understands the Plus-Minus-Equals concept, it’s Patrick Leonard. The partypoker ambassador is the co-founder of the largest poker stable in the world: bitB, and it’s about to get even bigger.
“When I was coming up the ranks there was always an “empire,” said Leonard. “We had Doug Polk’s “Evil Empire,” in the UK there was a “Golden Empire”, and a few other operations used that word too. In reality, they weren’t empires. When I Google ‘empire’ I get this definition: ‘an extensive group of states or countries ruled over by a single monarch, an oligarchy, or a sovereign state.”
Is Leonard going all ‘Star Wars’ on us?
“They were more specific to one game type or one group of people, i.e. HU regs or UK MTT reg,” Leonard clarifies. “I think there are lots of OK staking groups in every single part of poker. There are dozens of Brazilian stables, hundreds of MTT, cash game, spin n go, sng stables, but there isn’t any real true market leader. I think over the last three years bitB has become the number one stable for MTT’s. There were a lot of secrets behind the success, but the number one secret is we made lots of bad decisions but learned from them. In new game types or regions we have the prior experience and knowledge of what works and doesn’t work and together combining all of our information, best practices and intuitions we believe we can be the first ever “Super Stable, ” i.e. our brand branching out or franchising out into every area of poker possible.”
I guess he is.
World domination, poker style.
In an announcement made on 2+2, Leonard explains how bitB plans to grow into a global phenomenon. One of the problems Leonard needs to deal with is the multi-lingual nature of his business. bitB attracts people from all over the world, and they all speak in different tongues.
With this in mind, Leonard and his team plan to grow, and they’re not talking about a tomato tree in a dusty backyard in a Californian dustbowl. Leonard is talking about Stranger Things 2 ‘Dart’ growth.
From that 2+2 post.
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bitB Online Cash
bitB Live Cash
bitB Live MTT’s
But why is now the right time to expand?
“We have been in the industry for a long time now,” said Leonard. “We have learned from our mistakes and putting everything into it. I have lived/breathed/slept bitB and MTT staking for the last three years and that’s allowed me to fuck up royally, made me have the most absurd plans, thoughts, ideas that haven’t worked. But I can guarantee that almost any plan a “new” stable can come up with we have worked on a model around it, studied it, thoughts about it in detail and realised it if made sense or not. My goal initially was to take bitB MTT’s from 70 people to 200 people. I don’t want to do that anymore; I want high quality people as part of our main stable, give them as much attention as they need and keep this amazing community of people together. When you introduce ten new people every month the whole thing becomes a lot less personal and that’s why we don’t accept anybody but the very best applicants in the stable.”
Leonard is trying to avoid the problems that Tony Hsieh suffered in the years leading up to the creation of Zappos. Starting out, Hsieh created a company based on personal values and beliefs. Nobody was a stranger. Plus, minuses, equals – they all had a name, a birthday, and a distinguishable feature. And then success brought a faceless movement that led Hsieh to sell because he had lost that personal connection.
Leonard doesn’t want that to happen to bitB.
Leonard knows the strength of bitB is that connection.
“Having a lot of “franchises” of bitB allows us to send borderline applicants to more regional stables where they will get coached similar content. If they can prove hard work and desire there will be a route for them into the “main” stable.”
How will these changes affect the poker community?
What happens when we have a Herring-like school of blue washing over the green baize of every felt in the world?
“I believe that there will be two types of people in poker. People in bitB and people not,” says Leonard. “We will create a massive influx of information from all sides. Let’s say there is a new three handed tournament every day and our tournament guys want to play it? How am I going to coach them this tournament? How is Dietrich Fast? We are not the guys for this; some guys have played three-handed spin n gos every single day for the last two years. We can use the information from those guys to help. Let’s say the whole stable goes to Barcelona for the partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final. Is it better ‘European’ does a session on live poker, or is it better than bitB Live comes in and does a specialised session? Information will flow between all the stables, and together we hope that we will stay ahead of all competition and we will find out things and have a-ha moments at a quicker speed than those we play against.”
And who is bitB for?
“bitB is for everybody,” says Leonard. “We will have stables for all forms of poker. Previously we have just had elite and development stables, but we’re in discussions about potentially creating bitB Academies, where we have mass-market education for literally thousands of people from a very low level, most people will not be successful, but there will be some gems that rise to the top, and we hope to create some of the best players of all time. It sounds bold, but I used to be education manager at PokerStrategy.com, one day we gave $50 to a few German guys and gave them some introductory strategy content, they played more and more, turned the $50 into $100 and $200 and then eventually they unlocked more strategy content and rose their bankrolls to the point they were playing $250k tournaments against each other in Germany.”
Ah, the Germans.
But they have a different type of DNA that makes them a Plus in everything they do. What about the Minuses and the Equals – why should they care about bitB going global?
“They will care because we care,” says Leonard. “Money doesn’t matter to us, success and community and personal feelings do. I recently had one of my most likeable guys, Lucas, win the Tournament of Champions at partypoker to be an online pro for the next six months. He was playing lower stakes, and his $10k win + his follow up win were significant scores, I do not care at all about my return on that $10k from an emotional point of view. All of my happiness comes from seeing somebody being successful.”
What does Leonard believe potential bitB members want?
“They want to receive the best possible content to allow them to maximise their potential,” says Leonard. “They want to surround themselves with players with similar ambitions and drives. When I was 18, I had so much potential, but it wasn’t until I was 21-22 that I became a winning player. I didn’t have the support group around me and didn’t have the information I needed; we ensure both.”
Like Perry says, “It’s all in the relationships,” and if you want to excel in the art of playing poker then I suggest you figure out if you are a Plus, Minus or Equal, and let Patrick Leonard know why your answer should be important to him.