Although Brian Hastings just turned 21 and has only been allowed to legally step foot inside a U.S. casino for less than a year, that didn't stop him from winning $4 million playing heads-up online poker against the mysterious Swede "Isildur1."
This session is another one of the monstrous swings that Isildur1 has fueled in the last month, and, to date, it produced the largest recorded online poker win.
We caught up with Brian to discuss the win, how he balances poker and school, and more.
Congratulations Brian on having the biggest online winning session in history. What are your thoughts and feelings right now after winning $4 million against "Isildur1" last week?
It's really surreal; I can't say I ever saw this happening. I just feel very fortunate to be where I am. Even though I played very well, luck was a major factor, as well.
You said some players had bought a piece of you. Any chance of telling us who or how much of a percent you gave up?
Ha, no chance, sorry.
We figured as much. Do you think Isildur1 will be back soon enough or do you think he is completely bust? Surely he would like some revenge.
Well I don't know his financial situation, but he's a very talented player. He's young and could use some work on his steam control and bankroll management, which I can relate to since I made some similar mistakes in the past, but he's a very tough player and I suspect he'll be back sometime in the near future.
Tell us if we're wrong, but didn't you have finals the next day? I assume winning $4 million may be more satisfying than studying for finals. How do you make time for poker and school?
I did not have a final the day after the match but I did have one this morning [two days after winning session], it went fine although I did a lax job of studying. Balancing poker and school isn't as bad as one would think, I've only been playing about 10 hours a week or so this year, and I'm taking 12 credits so I'm not swamped with schoolwork either. I still even have plenty of free time to hang out with my friends, play video games, watch TV, normal college kid stuff too.
What do your friends think about all of this, but even more importantly your parents?
My friends think it's awesome and couldn't be happier for me. I've been flooded with text messages and Facebook wall posts since the session, and I'm glad everyone is so happy for me. My parents think the same thing, although they are probably kind of shocked a bit since I don't really discuss short-term results with them, normally.
Is there anyone you credit for helping you or mentoring you to become one of the best online poker players in the world?
There are a few people - first I thank my high school math teacher who introduced me to poker, at least playing seriously and not just in $5 home games with friends. I also have to thank Taylor Caby, who was an inspiration to watch in my early days playing, helped my learning curve a lot with his early CardRunners videos, and has been a great friend and a role model of sorts for several years. I'd also like to thank Brian Townsend and Cole South, who are two great players and invaluable resources for discussing strategy and improving my game. Same goes to everyone else whom I have discussed strategy with in the past, there are too many to name but you know who you are.
Did you go to Charles Schwab or Best Buy after winning the $4 million?
Charles Schwab (figuratively) for now, for the most part, I've made a few charitable donations as well, but otherwise I'm not sure what a 21-year-old college kid in Ithaca, N.Y. should be spending a bunch of money on. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!
Obviously your finals are almost done and you have made a ton of money, you definitely deserve a break. What tropical destination will you be flying yourself and all the CardRunners guys too?
I still have one more final on Monday, so it's not quite time to celebrate yet. I'm heading to Chicago next weekend for a Bulls game and the annual CardRunners Christmas Party, and maybe later this break I'll take a warm weather trip with some of the guys to celebrate. We shall see.
Thanks Brian we wish you the best of luck, although it seems you don't need it and congrats again on the amazing day!