Brian ‘Stinger88’ Hastings Moving on From Pro Poker Career

Brian Hastings is going from poker pro to entrepreneur (SHRPO photo)

Once one of the most feared nosebleed stakes online cash game players in the world, Brian Hastings says he is “moving on from poker as a full-time job.”

Hastings made the announcement in a wide-ranging blog post on his website on Sunday. The three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner touched on his battles with depression, post-Black Friday life and some of his brushes with controversy.

“… four months after I graduated, I was visiting my parents in PA. I tried to log into online poker sites, and got the DOJ screen of death. I saw everyone around me panicking, but I knew that would do no good. I tried to take a deep breath and calmly assess the situation. It wasn’t pretty”

Hastings wrote that he went from playing online to live as his primary focus before deciding to make the move that so many online poker pros were forced to do in the aftermath of April 15, 2011. After looking through his options, Hastings chose Vancouver, Canada.

“From a poker standpoint, Vancouver was great. I left for 3 weeks mid-trip to play EPT London and WSOP Europe in Cannes, but when I was in Vancouver playing online, I crushed it. 50/100 PLO games were great; I focused on those and banked $350k or so online during my 3 month stay. Something else was happening though. I felt really far away from home,” Hastings wrote. “I missed my friends and family (not hating on the good friends I made in Vancouver, much love). It started to be cold and rainy every day in November, and going outside was no longer fun. I was seeing a girl casually, and one day I called her and told her I had to stop, not because of her but because my depression made leaving my apartment unbearable.”

From there Hastings went back to his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, before moving on to South Florida.

“I found fun, big live cash games to play in (games which I mostly get shut out of today). I played some live tournaments from $1k to $10k buyin and found out that they were actually pretty fun,” wrote Hastings. ” I met some people I liked, one of whom was a local realtor I met playing a $1k at Hard Rock. I decided that buying a $790k beachfront condo and putting 30% down due to the nature of my profession was expensive but justified because I wouldn’t go back to hopeless depression.”

It took less than two years for the depression to return according to Hastings. Hastings then had a brief stint in Chicago, where he was getting “hands-on” with daily fantasy sports operator DraftDay, a company he had invested in. Not long after that, while back in Florida, Hastings says he met another poker player, who had a way for him to get back to playing online without leaving the United States.

“At one point, he said he could set me up with a PokerStars account that I could play on from Florida with no trace. I was depressed again and missing online poker dearly and feeling out of good options, so I took him up on it. It was the wrong thing to do, but I justified it by how wronged I felt by the entire industry. Mental health played a big role in my decision,” Hastings wrote.

It was during the 2015 WSOP, where Hastings won two bracelets and cleaned up on prop bets,where his allegations of playing on PokerStars from the United States under another player’s screenname first came to light. While being thrust into the media spotlight for his WSOP success, Hastings refused to talk about the then unproven allegations.

“I didn’t respond to the attacks well, and lashed out back some. When the dust settled, I realized I had effectively turned into the person that I resent (if only for a short period of time),” Hastings wrote. He also tackled the subject of his first bit of media attention, which came much earlier in his career, after he beat Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom for over $4 million in $500/$1,000 heads up Pot Limit Omaha. During an interview with former ESPN poker writer Gary Wise, Hastings shared that he had worked with fellow CardRunners instructors Cole South and Brian Townsend before the session.

“21-year-old Brian was humble by nature and felt kind of awkward doing an interview touting me, so I went into it thinking that I wanted to credit my friends for their help in preparation. Somehow that lead to socially awkward 21-year-old Brian uttering the phrase “conglomerated hand history databases” on tape in the interview (For the record – I don’t even know if that’s an actual thing that can be done. Mania and anxiety phrased that sentence for me.). I explained to Gary post-interview that the words were inaccurate and taken out of context. He replied that I said them on tape, so of course they were true.”

Hastings, Townsend and South were all eventually cleared of any wrongdoing except, according to Hastings, in the eyes of the public.

(Editors note: The ESPN story Hastings referred to does not quote Hastings as using the term “conglomerated hand history databases”. Wise used the term himself in a preface to a quote from Hastings which detailed the group’s studying of Blom’s habits and tendencies. That story is here.)

Hastings now plans to take a turn as an entrepreneur, with plans to open a tea shop in Florida.

“The time is now for me to shift my focus to my new company – UniTea (@uniteafl on Twitter and Instagram). More details on that in a blog to come. I feel reborn and I can’t wait for this new journey.”

Hastings later clarified on Twitter that he doesn’t intend to stop playing entirely, and will probably play a schedule similar to what he played in college, 10-20 hours per week.


    • didnt read the article but just hate this guy. for the whole isldur thing just seems shady and a piss off that he cld not learn on his own while playing. Just my opinion im sure there are others but this is mine and I think hes a tool and i disslike him.

    • Suffered such “depression”……making all that FUCKIN’ dough. Omg, it’s such a lonely, horrible, life. What a hard, tough, life…..BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!!!!!

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