While poker is a pleasant pastime for many of us, it’s probably safe to say we’d all love to reach the high stakes one day. The dream is to leave the Big $11 behind and become a regular battler in the $530s and $1Ks alongside the likes of Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet, Lex Veldhuis, and Jargo “bungakat” Alaväli.
At least that was the dream for BBZ student Michael “Phanteidos1” Ender, a 36-year-old event promoter from Antwerp, Belgium. Before Covid hit in early 2020, Ender was busy planning a big festival before everything went into lockdown. With time on his hands, he switched his focus to poker.
“I was a good exploitative poker player who could crush low stakes and mid stakes, but If I wanted to have a shot at high stakes, I knew I needed to go deeper and learn from the best in the world. I saw a five-minute video of Jordan and I thought, this is the man I need,” he tells us.
Ender began working with Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond, a.k.a. BBZ (“I took about 10-15 sessions 1-on-1 with Jordan and also got the Apestyles Bundle, Complete Charts Package, and the ICM Masterclass,” he says) and his game entered a new level.
Last month (June 2021) Ender was quite simply on fire. Check out these consistent results he posted in the BBZ Brags section of Discord:
1st – Hotter $215 June 7th – $3,677 + $4,086
4th – $215 Bounty Builder, June 13th: $4,706 + $1,773
3rd – $162 Bounty Builder, June 16th: $1,923 + $529
3rd – Hot $82, June 15th: $693 + $717
3rd – $109 Daily Kickoff, June 16th: $1,113
6th – High Roller Club $530 Bounty Builder HR, June 16th: $1,972 + $718
3rd – $54.50 Half Price Sunday Kickoff, June 20th: $7,160
3rd – High Roller Club $530 Bounty Builder HR, June 21st: $4,177 + $1,824
1st – $109 Daily Kickoff, June 24th: $2,774
1st – $109 Bounty Builder, June 24th: $5,310 + $5,372
1st – High Roller Club $530 Bounty Builder HR, June 29th: $2,218 + $3,625
We sat down for a chat with Ender to find out more about his incredible month, the preparation that went into it, and how you too could transform your game and reach the high stakes.
BBZ Blog: Hi Michael, congratulations on an insane month!
Michael “Phanteidos1” Ender: Thanks! I think it’s down to a combination of luck, hard work, experience, perseverance, working on myself and working on my game. Sometimes it takes a bit of time for all these things to work in harmony but when it does, you are in the zone.
What does a month like this do for your confidence moving forward?
It just confirms that I should keep doing what I am doing. And to reflect on it. We often start reflecting when things are going bad (‘Why did it go this way?’) but I try to reflect when things are going good. To understand why it is going well and what I should continue doing.
Let’s go back to the start. How did you first discover poker?
I think it was the movie Rounders which first got me intrigued about the game. The way the main character could guess what his opponents had was mesmerising to me.
I started playing home games with friends in 2005 when I was about 20, but we had no idea what we were doing. I moved to Hong Kong to study the next year and poker was booming in Macau so I began playing cash games there, although I still didn’t know what I was doing and lost to the regulars.
It was around that time I also discovered online poker and I was able to crush low stakes sit & go’s pretty fast. I had a $4K score in a $3 rebuy on PokerStars, caught the poker bug, then lost it all. It was then I really had the urge to get better, although I continued bad bankroll management for many years. I had the passion but I also had a job so it wasn’t my main focus, but making money from poker was always in the back of my mind.
How did you turn it around?
In 2017, after seven years of working in the diamond industry, I decided to quit. It was a family business and I was making good money but I was burned out and at the same time my girlfriend and I broke up so it was a major change in my life.
The Micromillions was running at that time and I ended up winning a $3 hyper 3-Max with 13,000 players for around $5K. I really gave it my all and I was so happy about this win. I realised I had a raw talent for the game but I needed help if I wanted to take it more seriously and make some money out of it.
I took some coaching and it opened my eyes and took my game to another level. In 2018 and 2019 I continued playing recreationally and had some very nice results, finishing third in the Warm-Up for $16K, sixth in the Sunday Million for $18K, third in the $530 Bounty Builder for $35k, and I won the Thursday Thrill for $20K.
But I still knew I needed to improve my GTO play. This is when I found Jordan and BBZ Poker.
How did BBZ help you get better?
The 1-on-1s with Jordan have been the most helpful to me. It’s sometimes subtle things but Jordan is close to a human solver so being able to analyse a tourney I played with him is worth gold. I just have epiphany after epiphany!
Just one session and one aha moment can increase your game dramatically. I think Jordan is someone that genuinely likes to teach and help people get better and you feel it in the whole BBZ culture. I never really had a poker community before so to now connect with like-minded people who are working hard to improve is very helpful.
TIP: If you’re seeking a poker community to support you and help you improve, join the BBZ Discord today.
What would you say to anyone considering studying with BBZ?
I think if you want to take your game to the next level and you are serious about it, then BBZ is the best school available.
What’s next for you?
I’m still a recreational player but I’m slowly transitioning into becoming a professional, so it might be time to leave Belgium for a more ‘suitable’ country.
I’m considering going to Las Vegas for the WSOP. A little bracelet never hurt anyone! I enjoy live poker as it’s nice to change it up from online. But I’m saying this with full confidence: a WCOOP title is waiting for me in 2021!