So I have myself a brand new Pokerstars account, empty of course except for 1000 play money chips. But I also have the internet so I start googling Poker Strategy and read. And read. I memorise the hand rankings. I read again and again not to Play Too Many Hands or be passive and Call, Call, Call. I am told I must only play THESE starting hands. No, no, says another article on another website, play THESE starting hands. I read and digest. After a few hours I can wait no longer and armed with my brand new off-the-shelf playing strategy I fire up the Pokerstars software.

I dive into the shallow waters of 10/20 chip Play Money Limit Holden ring games. And find that nobody is playing anything like the way I have been advised to. There are bets flying everywhere and the play is bewilderingly fast to my untutored eyes. But apparently by following my by-the-book strategy I can make a profit here, and rather to my surprise that is what happens. I hit a premium hand and bet it hard and win the pot. Then sit watching the mayhem for a while before playing another hand. My little stack of chips dwindles with the blinds, but often enough one of my hands comes good and sure enough there is always someone there to call, call, call all the way to the river to pay it off.

I keep up my reading and learning away from the tables and play a few hours every day. People come in and throw their chips around as if they are worthless. Which of course they are. To them. But not to me as this is my first proving ground, and as my confidence grows and I call their mad all-in bets and add more chips to my stack it feels good. I move on to pot limit then no limit games. The lows are horrible (being beaten by a flush that I hadnt even seen the possibility of, that was one of the worst), but the highs are exhilarating.

By the end of the first week my precarious 1000 chipstack has grown to 45,000 and I am on my way.