PokerStars signed two new members to Team Online this month. The first was Ben Spraggy and the other was Irishman Fintan Hand.
Both are accomplished poker players, and accomplished Twitch presenters, and appear in a podcast together, which you can check out here.
We spoke to both of them as they signed on the dotted line to find out more about their poker journeys, and on joining Team Online.
You can read our interview with interview with Ben “Spraggy” Spragg here. Meanwhile read on to hear from Fintan Hand.
What was your background before becoming a poker player?
My last job before I decided to play full time was poker dealer. I went to Dublin City University doing business and computers, passed all my exams in first year somehow, even though all I did was play poker in the computer lab. After deciding I would ‘defer’ for a year, I worked in a casino named ‘The Fitz’ in Dublin, never to make it back to college. I played poker before and after every shift and when I began to make more per hour playing poker than working, I decided to give it a go full time and here we are five years later.
How did you become interested in playing poker?
I’ve always been into cards, ever since my Mum taught me to play five card draw at the age of four. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I discovered Texas hold ’em, however. There was a group of guys that would play every lunch time in school, and having been the kid who would bring his toastie maker into school to sell toasties to other kids, or bring in sweets and sell that at 100% mark up during study, I was instantly fascinated by the thought of a game you could make money from.
After playing the game for weeks on end, never having won it was driving me insane. Being extremely competitive I just hated losing (it turned out they rigged the game and I had no chance) I started to read every poker book I could get my hands on. Playing with my friends at lunch time, evolved into pub games where I’d meet Kevin Killeen and that friendship led to us learning together/living together. It was at Kevin’s EPT London FT where I first donned my shamrock suit and was his ‘financial adviser’. First moment somewhat in the limelight before twitch was a thing.
What do you consider some of your poker career highlights so far?
Even though I messed up on the Final Table, making the final of the Irish Open in my home town a few months ago was an amazing experience. Couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
What does being a member of Team Pokerstars Online Pro mean to you?
It was the dream when I first start playing poker, albeit a very unlikely one. Unless you were at the pinnacle of the game it was almost impossible. Now we’re in a different time, and when I saw Jaime Staples get signed I felt it was possible. In fact, if Stars had not emailed me around the time when Kevin Martin got signed – saying that I fit the profile but hadn’t quite made it, I’m not sure I would have gone back to streaming after I had been on a little hiatus.
There’s no question, Stars is the pinnacle. It’s what I’ve been working towards, and even now it hasn’t hit me. Of course you win money in poker, but I feel however long I’m a Team Online Pro when I look back on it in years to come, it’s something tangible and it’s going to be something to be proud of you. I feel like it’s going to have made the grind worth it.
What do you hope to achieve as a member of Team PokerStars Online?
I feel twitch and other streaming platforms are replacing the television. I honestly think there’s the potential for the top poker streamers to easily have 50k+ viewers in years to come. I want to help come up with the ideas that make streaming poker more fun, more interactive. I’d love to help remove the stigma attached to poker, see it’s a fun game played by normal people like myself and Benj.
What do you consider your best stream moments?
It’s obviously not the biggest win I’ve had, nor the most viewers, but after been through a little rough patch online, winning the Hot $7.50 a few weeks ago felt incredible. Of course people flock in when you’re running well each night and making deep runs. But there was a solid base of people who showed up every single night even when I was losing, sometimes not streaming as long as I promised, and the joy they all had for me and the relief I had was just awesome.
Do you expect being a PokerStars Team Online pro will affect your audience and content?
I honestly don’t think it will affect my content at all. I believe the reason I’ve been successful streaming is due to the fact I’m very genuine, and I don’t intend to change. Only streaming PokerStars will be a plus to be honest, it doesn’t really matter the size of the tournament viewers will flock to deep runs. But in the past when it’s been on other sites they just don’t come in the rail the same way.