Introduce yourself, tell us about yourself and what you did before poker.
Ramūnas: My name is Ramūnas, I’m 31 years old. After finishing school, I went to study, but after a year and a half, I couldn’t imagine myself working in a job related to my field of study, so I decided to go abroad to work. I went to the UK and that’s where I discovered poker. After learning the rules, I started going to casinos and playing cash games. As a player who didn’t study but just grinded, I was doing quite well. After six years abroad, I returned to Lithuania. Three years ago, I discovered SM Staking after watching Paulius’ stream on Twitch. Ever since I learned the rules of poker, I dreamed of being a poker professional, and it seemed like a dream job to me. I thought I didn’t need to do anything else but play and make a living out of it. When I was in England, I was a gambler. I profited in the casinos, but online it didn’t go so well. At that time, it seemed impossible to win online unless you got lucky.
Which games have you tried in online poker?
Ramūnas: All of them. I started playing MTTs and when I got tired or stuck, I switched to cash games.
You found SM Staking and signed a contract. What did you expect when becoming a member of the school? How did it go in the beginning?
Ramūnas: I expected to learn how to play spins and make a living out of it. Of course, I expected everything to happen much faster. I thought I would become a poker professional right away. But reality was somewhat different. I started from the 2s stakes. I needed to study, but I enjoyed playing more. But I realized that I wouldn’t move up and achieve my dream without studying. In the beginning, things were going quite well, and I immediately increased my volume. I quickly moved up to the 10s stakes. There I had to play longer and I played about 13,000 games before moving up to the 25s. The 25s stakes were the toughest, and I had to spend the most time there.
When did you have the biggest breakthrough, when you improved your game or felt you had progressed?
Ramūnas: It was during the quarantine. The field got easier, and I had a good month at the 25s stakes, and the coaches allowed me to move up to the 50s.
If you could start your poker career again, would you change anything?
Ramūnas: I would probably study more. I wouldn’t grind as much, but I would definitely dedicate more time to studying. The money is made at higher stakes, not at the 2s or 5s.
Do you have any advice for beginners who are just starting their poker career?
Ramūnas: In the beginning, allocate at least 40% of your time to learning. Establish a strict routine. You don’t have to be fixated on minutes, but you need to know when to grind and when to rest. It really benefits a poker player.
You are now a true veteran of the SM Staking, entering your third contract. Why did you decide to spend so much time with the school?
Ramūnas: I wanted to play high stakes, but I didn’t have the bankroll for it. I also lacked some skills. It’s always good to receive lessons when you’re in a slump. The school also has the PureGTO program, which allows you to learn on your own and you get it for free as a student. I will finish my current contract, and most likely, I will stay with the school.
How has the school changed since you joined?
Ramūnas: They greatly improved the Stable system because when I joined, everything was just on Skype chats. They created a good internal system, a video database where you can filter everything. It’s easy to resolve monthly financial matters. They also created Road groups, where you can learn with players at your limits. You always know the lesson schedule as well..
What helps you deal with downswings and burnouts?
Ramūnas: I only had one downswing in my career when I moved up to the 100s stakes. It was a 300 buy-in downswing. I had to move down in stakes. What helped was that I didn’t stop playing, I grinded a lot of rakeback. I didn’t lose motivation because I love poker too much as a game. There were a couple of times when I took a break, and after a few days, I didn’t feel like playing anymore, just stayed at home. But after some time, I would try again and get back into it. It’s even better when you take a break, and that fire comes back, and you see poker in a completely different way. When you play with enthusiasm, the results are completely different from when you just sit down and click buttons.
After all this time, do you still feel tilt while playing?
Ramūnas: There is still some tilt, maybe not to the extent of smashing mice, but it still comes out when there’s a bad run. It just manifests in different ways. In the beginning, it really tilted me with bad beats. Later on, it sometimes emerged even though I reduced my tilt. Stanislovas’ lessons helped, I filled in variance sheets. Now tilt manifests as me becoming more of a hero and playing more aggressively.
Many poker players deal with poor emotions by using various practices such as yoga, meditation, or Wim Hof. Have you tried any of them, or do you practice any of them daily?
Ramūnas: I believe that everything you do brings some benefits. I can’t imagine my mornings without cold showers and Wim Hof breathing exercises. I’ve been practicing them every morning for three months now. I feel the benefits for sure because when you wake up groggy, you breathe, take a shower, and feel like a new person. Your thoughts become much clearer, and you can start working right away. I also try to meditate, but I’m still a beginner in that area, so I haven’t felt significant benefits yet. But after meditation, I feel calmer and more focused for the game. I always meditate before a session.
Do you have a set schedule or game routine?
Ramūnas: I don’t have a strict schedule, but I start playing around the same time. I wake up depending on when I go to bed. If there’s a better field, I want to play longer. So, if the session prolongs, I wake up later. After waking up, I spend a couple of hours on my routine: preparing food and such, and then I go to the office to work. It creates a better atmosphere for work.
What does your workspace look like, and how much have you invested in it?
Ramūnas: I invested around 1,500 euros: I bought a laptop, chair, and monitor. I am alone in the office.
On average, how many games do you play per month? How much time do you dedicate to playing and studying?
Ramūnas: In 2020, I played 40,000 games, which is about 3,500 per month. I dedicate around 30 hours to studying, about an hour per day. And I spend 160-200 hours playing. I play almost every day and take 2-3 days off per month. When I feel that the spark is missing, I take a one-day break and then continue grinding the next day. Taking a day to recharge is enough for me.
Do you listen to music while playing? Or do you prefer to play in silence?
Ramūnas: I listen to music, although I have tried playing without it. I used to be accustomed to playing in silence, but now I need music again, as it prevents boredom. I have discovered calming guitar music that is almost unnoticeable, playing softly in the background works best for me.
What do you think is the current obstacle for you to reach the highest stakes?
Ramūnas: I think I need to study more. Grinding also requires a lot of time, but considering the amount I already play, I should allocate more time to studying in order to reach the 250s stakes.
Do you have any specific goals?
Ramūnas: I set goals every month, such as the number of games played, achieving a certain SpinEV amount, or the number of lessons taken per month.
What is the most games you have played in a month?
Ramūnas: Around 4,700 games. I set a monthly goal to earn 5,000 euros from rakeback, so I had to play more.
I think many people are interested in hearing about your Jackpot win. What were your initial thoughts when you saw the huge amount on the screen?
Ramūnas: My heart started pounding, my hands were shaking, and I could barely control the mouse. Initially, I didn’t expect it. I only saw a yellow table and the amount of 500,000 euros.
How did you manage the excitement?
Ramūnas: It helped that I immediately took the lead in chips. I had a passive recreational player to my right, so it was easy to play against them. On the left side, there was also a non-aggressive player who folded many hands, so it wasn’t very challenging. I received decent cards and didn’t experience any bad beats, so everything went well.
After the tournament, did you still review hands with your coaches? Were there any spots where you might play differently now?
Ramūnas: There were a few spots where I could have played more aggressively, but I chose more passive lines. However, considering the opponents’ cards, those more aggressive plays would have been negative.
What were your biggest spin successes before this Jackpot?
Ramūnas: In 2020, the Winamax room spoiled me with spins. When I moved up from 25s to 50s, I had two x1000 spins within three weeks, but I finished third in both. The year ended with the Jackpot victory. In lower stakes, my biggest spin was x100.
Even after winning the Jackpot, you took a short break and continued playing after an hour. Wasn’t there a temptation to take a rest or go on vacation? Where did you find the motivation to continue playing?
Ramūnas: As you know, there is currently a quarantine, and I play during the night when everyone is asleep. There wasn’t much else to do alone or to celebrate with someone. Adrenaline was pumping, and I didn’t want to waste time, so I continued playing. The game volume still needs to be maintained.
Do you have any desired purchases or dreams that the winnings will help fulfill?
Ramūnas: I wanted to live in my own house, so now I can afford to buy one.
Thank you for sharing your story, thanks to everyone who watched, and thank you for the conversation. Goodbye!
About the number of tables played:
Ramūnas: When I dropped from the 100s stakes, I played two tables. Chip EV started to increase, so I started playing three tables. When you play three tables, it’s easier to stay focused because if you play with only two tables for a long time, you have too much time and you start drifting somewhere, getting bored or playing aggressively. When you have more tables, you don’t have as much time, and it works better. Three tables are like a sweet spot for me. If there are many “fish” in the games, I can even play four tables.
Regarding your status in the Winamax room:
Ramūnas: I have about 12,000 miles left until Red Diamond. I will have grinded 2,500,000 miles.
When you told your close ones that you won, how did they react?
Ramūnas: They congratulated me. I had been telling everyone for a long time that I would hit the Jackpot, but no one believed me. But no one believed me when I said I would become a poker player either.
Having won the Jackpot, what is the next step for you?
Ramūnas: It would be great to reach the 500s stakes.