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  1. In poker, there’s no easy path to success. While few may stumble into fortune, for most the winning hand is made with hard work and the right guidance. "'If others can do it, I can do it too.' That’s exactly what I thought," said poker pro Andreas Ponath. "But it turned out to be way harder than I expected." Six years after rediscovering the game of poker, Hamburg, Germany’s Andreas 'derbegott' Ponath is seeing the results of putting in the work. Currently a full-time online grinder, Ponath has been enjoying some of the biggest cashes of his young pro career, including deep runs at some of his highest buy-ins during the 2020 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker. "SCOOP was really exciting for me since I played my highest [average buy-in] so far and wanted to see how competitive I am while battling the best in the world," Ponath said. "Despite not getting a top-five finish and a lot of very brutal bustouts, I am still happy with my performance." Ponath has every reason to be proud. He racked up 20 total cashes during SCOOP including a seventh-place finish in Event #79 Low ($109 Mini Super Tuesday) for $10,187 and another final table appearance in Event #120 Medium (Sunday Warm-Up SE) for $5,976. But making final tables in one of the most challenging online poker series of the year didn’t come from just picking the game back up from where he left off - it took time and dedication. Like many fans of the game, Ponath first discovered poker during the Moneymaker-inspired boom era. Watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN may have led to home games with friends but no initial dreams of taking the game seriously. Years later, during his first-semester break while at university for an engineering degree, Ponath happened upon a Twitch stream. Someone was grinding poker and, basically, it looked like fun. "I watched him for a bit and decided to download a poker client and play for a bit of fun," he recalls. "After playing for around two years recreationally I thought about how nice it would be to actually make some money on the side playing poker instead of doing some other job." But there was a hard truth to overcome. Today’s game is drastically different from the game he discovered on TV in his youth. He was "losing or breakeven at best" in the low stakes games and knew in order to make that change, he had to change. "I realized that I re-discovered poker when it was on a pretty advanced level already and if I wanna win, I actually have to take it way more seriously and put in a ton of work since everyone was playing for so many years already and is way ahead of me." Luckily for Ponath, studying was (and is) not an issue for him. He started watching videos, lots and lots of videos. He was consuming content from training sites across the board. At the same time that he was learning poker, he zeroed in on his engineering degree and finished up his studies. "After I finished my studies, I decided to give poker a shot, do it full time and try to make a living off of it," he said. "I was thinking about ways to improve my game as quickly as possible. I felt that training courses could not help me anymore really, so looking for a private coach who could screen my game for leaks and bring my game to the next level seemed like the logical next step to me." That’s when Ponath crossed paths with BBZ Poker. Helmed by lead coach Jordan Drummond, BBZ is known for excelling in bringing out the best in their students and stables through private coaching and daily seminars. "The daily BBZ seminars have massive value," Ponath said. "Top coaches like BBZ himself [Drummond] and 'apestyles' [Jonathan Van Fleet] teach every aspect of the game such as preflop, postflop, and ICM adjusted play. I especially like that everything we do has a very scientific approach and is mostly supported by solvers and databases." For Ponath, studying with BBZ has become quite enjoyable. He spends about 30% of his poker time studying and 70% putting in volume on the tables. Even during larger series when he needs to cut back on studying hours, Ponath makes it a point to attending the daily seminars. "Fortunately, I do enjoy studying poker a lot," he said. "The most challenging part about studying for me is figuring out what to actually focus on. You can very easily waste a lot of time studying something that will not actually have any meaningful impact on your game at all." That’s just one of the ways in which BBZ and their Coaching For Profit program have been a benefit to Ponath. For Ponath it was the "perfect fit" as it allowed him to get top-tier coaching without an initial investment. Not only is he seeing results in his game but he’s seeing his studying time become even more efficient. "The first one-on-one session with Jordan was mind-blowing to me," Ponath recalled. "I’d done some work in PT4 and PIO solver before, but watching Jordan work with all these tools is just insane. Analyzing my database it took him like five minutes to identify at least 10 aspects of my game which I have to improve on." "To anyone pretty much who wants to improve their game, book a session with Jordan or one of the BBZ coaches. It is clearly the fastest and most effective way to identify leaks in your game that you maybe never would find on your own." Ponath is now reaping the benefits of his time with BBZ. His average buy-in has gone from $25 last year to battling in the $109s, $215s, and selected $530s. He’s putting in a full-time MTT grind but is still able to step back when he needs to so he doesn’t burn out. "[BBZ] has a way bigger impact on my game than any course or masterclass could possibly have," he said. "What I learned so far boosted my confidence immensely and now there’s barely a spot where I feel completely lost. At the same time, every day I realize how much I still do not know and how much I still have to learn." Ponath has been with BBZ for eight months and his recent success has propelled him into the top-5 rankings in all of Germany. He’s a favorite to surpass $500,000 in total recorded lifetime earnings this year. As for what’s next for him, clearly there’s going to be a lot of studying, playing, and enjoying the ups and downs of poker. "I don’t really have any specific goals like winning a certain event or something…although hitting a six-figure score would be very sweet. I just wanna be able to do what I love for a living. Also, I would love to become a coach myself one day and help other people to become successful players."
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