Abarone68: I am 6-figures under EV in Spins and people owe me another $90k

He is the best AND the most disappointing Member of the Year we ever had talking with the best AND the most disappointing Scarmaker we ever had. The seemingly anticipated Awkward Banter episode four with Aaron "Abarone68" Barone is here!


Lemme just get my notepad with all the questions. Came up with them while wasted on wheat beer, so this should be fun.

Wheat beer is my favorite beer.

In that case you surely do know Hoegaarden. It’s my absolute favorite.

I do. It's not my favorite, but it'll do. My friend kinda ruined it for me when he said it tastes like dirty dishwater.

Well, in that case I am probably gonna do dishes more often from this point on.

It kinda does, actually, but I'll still drink it.

Sooooooooooooooooo... Aaron!

SUP!  (that is the best one I came up with, it's only gonna go downhill from here)

So, how does this work? Do we Skype or just type?

Ah, you haven’t even been briefed.

I'm 100% noob.

I should fire my assistant.

Oh, I already did.

That is why you haven’t been briefed I suppose.

Yeah, just plain ol' typin. I was thinking about starting an actual podcast, but I am not THAT confident about my English skills. Plus, we have a lot of members on TB who aren’t experts either and I am not sure if they would understand the contents that well if it was a pod. (Would you guys?)

I think an actual podcast would be great tbh. Brand yourself + Tiltbook.

You only say that cause you wanted to have an excuse to wear your apron again.

Like I need an excuse...


So! What have you been up to lately? The glory days of SNE are long gone.

Fair chunk of my work-year has been spent creating, running and (hopefully) optimizing my MTT stable.  Even though I have a stable manager and a few coaches, it takes up a lot more time than I thought it would.  Still grinding as well ($60s/$100s Spins), albeit not at the same high volume rates I was achieving previously.

Right. Let's talk grind first and we will get back to stable later on. I am assuming you moved to Spins after the whole VIP rewards cut down mess (and the subsequent decrease in your 9m hypers traffic) by Amaya, right?

I was already SNE at the beginning of 2015 (from 9m Hypers, 9m turbos, and 18m).  Started dabbling in Spins in March of last year and by August or so they became my main game.  The decrease in SNG traffic was a big part of why I moved, but also I felt my earning potential in Spins was higher.  And it allowed me to have shorter sessions, more freedom, etc.

There was a big disappointment in the community (to say it lightly) when Spins were originally rolled out. The variance, the rake, everyone thought it would be awfully tough to beat them in all practical senses. Were you one of those people when Stars announced Spins? And if yes, what changed your mind?

My main gripe was out of selfishness.  I didn't even stop to think about the high rake and potential variance of the game, I was more upset that it directed recreational players away from my games and subsequently killed my volume. Once I started trying Spins, a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a 'variance calculator' and I shrugged it off, thinking that while there could be some massive swings, I probably wouldn't be in the bottom percentile.  Whoops.

Heh, does your "Whoops" suggest that you actually are? I have no clue about your Spins results.

I am really happy with the EV results, but in terms of variance, I definitely had one of the worst runs.  Close to 6 figures or so under EV lifetime.

That really sucks, especially since you haven’t been playing Spins for THAT long. Prosvk wanted to know if you even still beat 100s Spins. I assume they got way tougher in the recent months?

I think he's asking because he had to switch games.  My cEV is actually higher this year than it was last year, so while the games might have became more difficult I've been able to stay ahead of the curve.

Yeah, he switched from hunting jackpots to shipping WCOOPs. EZ. Congratz once again to prosvk! We might do a little something something together as well...

Everything changes so fast tho. The VIP programmes, the traffic, whatever is considered the optimal strategy. And Spins are still are rather new format. Do you think about what Spins are going to look like in like a year or so? 

Reggier for sure, probably fewer players from so called 'first world' countries and more from those where the cost of living is super low. There's still a decent percentage of the reg pool who has 45% rakeback (myself included) and that'll drop to 30% next year at best and based on the e-mail that Stars sent out recently I'd actually expect that number to be smaller.

Oh yeah. How can we not mention the epic SNE theft. I mean, even Our Majesty DNegs admitted that Amaya screwed SNEs big time and that is saying a lot. I am not sure how active you were in the boycotts and all that stuff, but... how does it feel, being still out there raking a shitton for a site that screwed you over so badly?

I think my stance on Amaya's decision/DN's statement was pretty well documented, but in regards to how I feel about the whole situation now, the short answer is "Not great."  I'm disappointed that effectively nothing happened, that the complaints fell on deaf ears, that the thoughts/opinions of several well respected poker players were completely disregarded, and that a company which I once championed is now one that I'd be ashamed to represent. 

Thing that bothers me more though is that some people will see the failure to make a change as a reason to not speak out against future injustices.  At the end of the day I'm still glad that I participated in the boycotts and at least tried to make a difference.

Can you imagine yourself quitting Stars at some point in the near future?

Sure. With the elimination of the VIP program (don't kid yourselves, the program that exists at the moment isn't for VIPs), I'm no longer tied to them.  Several other sites have came out with Spin-like variants which appear to be softer. Stars is still the largest site out there so I highly doubt I'd quit it entirely, but I wouldn't be surprised if most of my volume in 2017 is played on sites not under the Amaya umbrella.

Yeah, I guess now that rakeback is about to be all but gone, you can even play like multiple sites at once. Is that the idea? There probably isn't that much Spin traffic on non-Amaya sites.

There's actually a fair amount of options for Spin grinders.  Even if Spins dried up entirely, I'd have faith that collectively that group would be well suited in other formats.

Such as?

MTTs would be a soft landing spot, for example. It wouldn't be unheard of for a breakeven $100s Spins grinder to ship a COOP.


We kind of drifted from the „getting screwed by Amaya“ and I want to get a bit back to getting screwed over, cause two months ago you admitted a rather terrifying thing - that you are being owed about $70,000 by... god knows who. Would you be willing to tell us a bit more about that?

I am quoting your post that included the mention of a guy who owes you 4,5k and recently sent your a 5$ payment... which might be the single best act of trolling I have ever seen in the poker world.

Yeah, the number is actually now at about $90k.

So sick. How does that even happen? I am so mad right now that bigstealer could take lessons.

Looking through the list of guys, there are quite a few in the sub $5k range - players who borrowed a small amount and haven't been able (or haven't made it a priority) to pay back. Sad part is acknowledging of the amount that's owed, I'm never getting back 100%.  Maybe 70% if I'm lucky, meaning $30k is just gone.  Some of it can be considered a bad investment, but another part is chalked up to 'because I was nice and tried to help someone out.'

It is a very sad world we are living in, where good will is getting nothing but abused :/ I bet those guys don’t even like snooker.

I'm not even sure what the difference between snooker and 8-ball is. I've always just called it 'pool'.

Maybe it's an American thing... or an ignorant thing... or both.

8-ball is one of the pool games (played on a pool table), while snooker is a whole different type of billiards played on a much bigger table and with smaller balls and cues.

And which one do you like better?

Snooker is just plain beautiful and much more captivating, but it is just SO MUCH tougher, you can’t even imagine. Like, I am a pretty good pool player and when I manage, in snooker, to pot like 4 balls in a row, that is a pretty sweet run, lol.

Odd, I figured you'd be more into the game with longer cues and bigger balls.



Anyway, we talked about some of the ups and downs of your career. You are the first ever (and still reigning) TiltBook's Member of the Year. Where does that rank? Did it have ANY significance whatsoever?  You pretty much gave up on us right after you won it, you bastard.

Had to retire on top!

While I was happy to be named 'Member of the Year,' I found it to be something that was hard to brag about.  My GF asked me, what is a Tiltbook?  So you definitely need to make this place more well-known, get those T-shirts out, and possibly even start a podcast.  I'm sure people would enjoy something like that.

I can’t even get my own hands on one of those T-shirts, let alone a podcast.

Among questions people posted there was one where nutbreaker (hai!) asked how come you have the time to play full time, study, post a crazy amounts of replies on the forums and still work out... which tilted me, cause, apparently, you have time to post on the forums, but I hardly ever see anything from you on TiltBook nowadays.

I'm not great at making short posts/statuses.  Much more comfortable with long-winded tl;dr stuff and 2+2/my own blog are better suited for those.  I'm still rather active in terms of liking other posts/commenting/etc.

Yeah, I guess you're at least lurking around. We have hundreds of people lurking around tho. We need posters!

Feels like I'm super busy these days though, more than ever.  Partly because I'm running a stable, but also because I live with my GF so any 'downtime' is often 'couple time.' My volume has fell off a cliff the past 1.5 months and when that happens, my posting on TB, 2+2, etc drops as well.

Yeah, I know how that goes. I mean the not-posting-when-not-playing, not having a couple time.

Also, and this is something I've learned as I've become more immersed in the poker community - It used to be that something funny/odd/noteworthy would happen and I'd just post about it, but now I've got to consider that the other person in the story (often the one I'd be making fun of) is going to read what I write. Have to censor myself at times, I guess.

There is a lot of talk recently about TiltBook going to shitz and/or people complaining that everyone is just being mean and trolls too much, making posting a not-so-much worthwhile thing. Where do you stand on all of this? Do we need to do something make TiltBook great again?

I'm all for trolling if it's funny. Unfunny trolling is just being a dick tho. Based on the few situations I can recall, seems like a few people overreacted to (rightly deserved) criticism. Internet is full of solid content, horrible advice, and trolling, I'm not sure why Tiltbook should be expected to be any different.

I guess so. By the way, did you find some time to read any of the previous Awkward Banters?

Read all of them, I was the only one in the world who liked the PlayerSVK story.

Haha, yeah. It did not deserve a post on its own, I’ll admit that.

Story deserved its own post more than every bad beat I've ever read.


So, apart from all the stuff that you do, including not posting on TB.... there is Psyduck staking. Is it still Psyduck staking?

It is, there hasn't been an official name change altho I'm still in the process of finding one.  Perhaps my concerns are overblown, but probably best to have a company that doesn't infringe on registered trademarks.

Haha. Yeah. Rename it to Pikachu Holdings or smth.

Made the mistake of telling my parents about it, and they were eager to provide me with some terrible suggestions.





Things of that nature


Well, they are only trying to help, are they not. I like Psyduck staking tho, I will be sad to see it get renamed.

Agreed. Btw, I do want to point out that representatives from every stable I've spoken to have been extremely helpful.  I thought there might be some fierce competition among the groups, but instead there appears to be a strong sense of community and I really like that.

Yeah. It seems to be like there are dozens of staking groups out there nowadays, if not more.

How about Spinswarrior Staking? Or Snapcall Staking! Let’s bring out the legends!

Definitely some bad apples in the bunch.

Bad Apples Staking

Goal is to avoid the bad apples, not invite them to your goup.

Bad Apples Avoidance Staking


We got it. I take 5% of whatever.

Your username would be perfect. Scarmaker Stakers. Alliterative, rhymes...

What exactly is supposed to rhyme in "Scarmaker Stakers" ? If I were to run a stable, it would be obviously called Stakemakers.

Maker and Staker

Boy you suck at this.

Bro you might speak more languages than I do, but my English is on point. I know rhymes, homie!

I will sell you Stakemakers for $500.

I'll buy it if we can chalk to the $500 to a loan that I'll never pay you, similar to the $90k I've got out now.

We got a deal.

How is the stable going tho? I haven't seen any posts from Psyduck staking either. Shame.

Ya it was hard enough to post regularly from one Tiltbook account, let alone two.

Psyduck staking? More like Psyduck slacking.

Group is doing really well, I'm very happy with the results we're putting up and excited about the direction going forward. It can get hectic, at times, but I've hired other people to help me out in regards to coaching, accounting, and overseeing day-to-day stuff.  At some point I could sit back and let everyone else run things, but honestly I enjoy interacting with my players and being hands-off would take out much of why I like this side of the business.

Have you had your fair share of Spinswarriors?

Haha. Do you mean guys who've rolled, or guys who are general headaches to deal with?

Well, Spins managed to be 1) first and then 2) as well. He was the ultimate stakee.

He definitely checked all the boxes in terms of things you aren't looking for in a horse.  In terms of rollers, I've only had three I think.  Which isn't bad considering the group has been around for 8 months and we currently have 37 players.

Toppokerstaking posted recently that Spinswarrior had actually returned the $100. Seems rather odd.

Happy about that.  Figured the money was long gone.

Well, you cannot know how many of those 37 will turn out to be Warriors eventually.

You'll never know, it is all about relying on the information at your disposal and making the best possible decision.  Almost exactly like poker.

...until Amaya comes in and tears it to pieces.

Already got some issues in regards to legislation. Most recently, Romania got its own client and restricted player-to-player transfers, which made it a lot harder to get reloads to my Romanian horses.

"Reloads to my Romanian Horses"

We got the name of your future autobiography.

As far as titles go, it's much less embarrassing than I thought it would be.

"Life under the apron"

See? That’s how you come up with names!

„Scarmaker Stakers“ ... my god.

It's brilliant, I stand by that.

It is the absolute worst.

Have you seen the names that are out there for staking companies? It's hardly the worst.

You need to rhyme the stressed syllables. If it was something like... Scarmaker's Cardstakers, then it would work!

Thanks, Shakespeare.

Yeah, no worries. Thanks to you for setting aside some of your time the Awkward Banter. Let’s see how will our members react to all this!

We'll see! Thank you for doing this!

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