Meet The Upswing Poker Team
Mike Brady -"mbradycf"
Hey there, Upswing members! (And people Googling my name for whatever reason.)
I'm Mike Brady, Vice President of Upswing Poker, and I'm the guy who manages the day-to-day operations of this incredible company that has helped millions of poker players improve their game. I also host the Level-Up poker strategy podcast with my good friend Gary Blackwood.
I was a full-time player before I moved to the business side of poker, but the way I got my start was unique.
My 12-year-old cousin taught me how to play poker when I was 16, and I was instantly hooked.
After learning the basics -- including the fact that three pair does not beat three-of-a-kind -- I started playing for play money on PartyPoker. Eventually I discovered the existence of real money games and I was itching to get in on the action.
I moved over to PokerStars and built up a solid bankroll of 500,000 play money. I found a website online that bought and sold PokerStars play money, so I sold that 500,000 play money (which took me dozens of hours to win) for $5.
That $5 was my starting bankroll. I grinded micro stakes games until my bankroll crossed the $30 mark. Then I took a shot at a $0.25/$0.50. I had a beautiful $100 chip slide my way that night, but busted my entire bankroll a couple of hours later.
I couldn't go back to play money, but I couldn't deposit either because I was still underage. So, I did something pretty stupid. I went back to that website and purchased 500,000 play money for $16, only to turn around and sell it right back for $5. Not a great financial decision in a vacuum, but it ended up working out because that $5 turned into hundreds after a few months of steady grinding.
A Lucky Break
One day I stayed home from high school and registered a $10 buy-in tournament on PokerStars with a $30,000 guarantee. I had never studied tournaments, but I ran hot enough to get 4th for $1,700.
Then I stayed home from school the week after and registered the same $10 tournament. This time I won it for around $6,000.
I had won over $7,500 (infinite money to a high school kid) in less than a week. I was already borderline obsessed with the game, but that week took it to another level.
I turned 18 a few months later and went to my local Native American casino (Morongo). I was on a $1/$3 No Limit Hold'em list by 12:01AM, literally 1 minute into my 18th birthday.
Black Friday, Mexico, and Heads-Up Sit and Gos
I continued grinding both online and live during my final year of high school and first/only semester of college.
After dropping out to focus on poker, my world was rocked on April 15th, 2011, when the Department of Justice seized the domains of Full Tilt, PokerStars and UltimateBet.
So, I moved to Rosarito, Mexico, with my friend Jake Godshall to continue chasing the poker dream.
I was playing mostly mid-stakes heads-up sit and gos at this point. Life consisted of grinding poker, sleeping, and hanging out with the dozen other poker players who had moved to the area.
It was through a friend in Mexico that I was eventually introduced to Doug Polk during my first trip to Las Vegas. We became fast friends and hung out on occasion after I moved to Vegas myself in 2012.
Doug eventually offered me a coaching + backing deal, which I eagerly accepted. Doug was near the top of the heads-up food chain at this point, so it was an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the best.
My deal with Doug allowed me to play much higher stakes. I went from playing $100 and $200 HUSNGs to $500 and $1,000 HUSNGs. I even got a little $5,000 HUSNG action one night against a very splashy player, and I was lucky enough to dust him in just 4 hands.
— Mike Brady (@mbradycf) September 22, 2012
One of those hashtags is quite ironic given my work ethic in the years to follow.
Switching to Heads-Up Cash and Not Working Hard Enough
Normal HUSNG action was starting to dry up at this time as hyper turbos become more popular. I wasn't keen on the high variance of hyper turbos, so I switched to heads-up cash.
But my work ethic started to deteriorate. I was putting in fewer hands and fewer hours of study every month. I was barely 21 years old and I was already burning out. Or maybe I was just more interested in hanging out with friends and spending time as a young person in Vegas.
Regardless of the reason, my lack of work ethic in those crucial years is not something I look back on fondly. I think I needed at least a semblance of structure, and poker just didn't provide it.
I piddled around for a few years and sustained my bankroll with the occasional live tournament score. I even picked up a trophy in Panama at a small LAPT side event.
Small successes aside, playing 2 tournaments per month didn't turn out to be a lucrative gig.
But then I caught another lucky break in late 2015. My friends were starting a poker training company and wanted me to help get it off the ground.
Building Upswing Poker
I was brought on to manage the Upswing social media pages and website content. I had no real working experience, but I went all-in on this opportunity.
Upswing didn't even have a product yet. We had free preflop charts (an updated version of which we still offer today) and a handful of articles.
As the business ramped up to the launch of the Postflop Game Plan (now the Postflop Playbook) and the Upswing Lab, I learned everything I could from every source I could find about social media and content strategies.
My experience as a poker player proved invaluable in these early years and beyond. Ryan Fee joked that I "had to suffer through full-time poker in order to become the world's best poker blogger." World's best is probably an exaggeration, but the Upswing blog has been read by more than 10 million unique individuals around the world. I highly doubt that would have been possible if I didn't have the unique perspective of a former full-time poker player.
I've continued to take on more responsibilities with Upswing in the years to follow. I work with coaches like Nick Petrangelo to create their advanced courses. I manage our marketing efforts across all platforms. And, most importantly, I make sure our members are getting the value they deserve.
Commentary and the Level-Up Podcast
I was always a behind-the-scenes guy and preferred it that way, but things changed when Doug took on Daniel Negreanu in a 25,000 hand heads-up challenge.
The two poker legends were set to play over 100 hours of online high stakes cash. I wanted to broadcast it for the world to watch (which otherwise wasn't possible on the poker site they were playing). So, I setup a stream.
We needed a commentator, and as someone with solid knowledge of heads-up strategy and Doug's game, I (begrudgingly) took on that role. It turned out to be a great experience, partially because I had a small piece of Doug and he won $1.2 million, but also because I turned out to be pretty solid on the mic.
It was at this time that I met my good friend Gary Blackwood, a poker pro from Scotland. He was my co-commentator for many of those Doug vs Daniel streams and he eventually went on to become one of the most popular coaches in the Upswing Lab training course.
A couple of years later an idea struck me. I had outlined and edited hundreds of pieces of poker strategy content over my years with Upswing. Why not take my content skills and combine them with Gary's knowledge of the game to create a concise poker strategy podcast that will help players get better?
Just a few days after telling Gary about my idea, we recorded the first episode of the Upswing Poker Level-Up podcast, which airs on YouTube and on all podcast platforms. We've been borderline overwhelmed by the positive response to our "wee podcast" (as my Scottish co-host refers to it).
Living the Poker Dream, But Not As Expected
I've had poker ambitions ever since that first $100 chip slid my way on PokerStars. But I never could have predicted what the game would gift to me.
I get to work with the world's best players to create top-notch training content. I discuss strategy with my buddy and thousands of players tune in. I have a piece of a little poker room in Austin that I get to work on every day. And I still play -- just not as often I used to.
Thanks for reading.