min read

Inside the Pokercode - Exciting Times - Pokercode Origins Part 3

Johannes Mansbart
CEO @Pokercode

After telling the story of the absolute beginnings, back in the start of 2019, when Fedor Holz gathered the team around him which he trusted and believed in to create something amazing together, elaborating on how the very early days, as well as early days, played out, today we would like to catch up on the next months, the next steps, how the next phases of the Pokercode would play out. I hope you enjoy the read, this is Pokercode-Johannes, CEO & Co-Founder, for Pokercode’s Blog section.

Missing Clarity

In the beginning, even though nothing was clear, everything was at least still easy. The “course” was written and manufactured by Fedor, Simon, and Matthias. The design would adopt it and take it over, whilst we were producing it professionally in Bochum. At the same time, we built landing pages, grew our mailing list, started working on our social media presence. All this, amidst programming the Netflix-like content platform and founding the company itself. It was one hell of a ride, but also, there was no time to look left or right, being in the middle of Presale, sending out packages to our earliest members from all over the world, trying to take the Team Pokercode family, that was building already back then, on our journey as good as we could.

Triton Super Highroller Series marked another huge milestone, when we elevated our presale, making the Pokercode a little harder to access, announcing that the launch would come closer. Sounds reasonable? Yes, it does, but…

Fedor Holz at the 2019 Triton London

It was August 2019, we had just come back from the WSOP, we were motivated, showing off our orange presale hoodies everywhere, hyped for what was there to come. However, there were quite some loose ends we could not be 100% certain about, after all. We did not announce an exact launch date, simply because we couldn’t. Design was still stuck adapting and animating thousands of graphics, charts, and other stuff for the course to look nice. After Pascal and I had chopped the Pokercode in Hamburg in May 2019, everything still had to be put together. And, keep in mind, the videos were not everything. The platform was, in hindsight, far from ready, some development work was picked up, but not at the pace we had expected and anticipated. We were full of goals and visions, but also full of unclarity and had a lack of professionalism and project management in our rows, probably because of my lack of experience, after all. In the end, it took us another two months after the Triton High Roller Series in London, a point, where we thought, we were a few weeks away from launch. The loose ends were compiling, and it was not getting easier. Even when the “course” was fully chopped, and our design team consisting out of Jan and Giang, were already submitting the first parts of the course, there was a lot to work on still. The thousands of graphics had mistakes, we needed to screen through all of them manually, equity heatmaps, charts, ranges… even after launch, I can spoiler that already, there were over 150 tweaks we had to do upon our users’ feedback, to remove mistakes that had been made. No one is to be blamed here for anything, it was humanly undoable. Even when the course would be finished, we still wanted to upload it to the backend of our Netflix-like content platform, add quizzes, descriptions, notes, tags, and the like. Matthias and I sat down together for days, creating over 100 quiz questions with over 500 answers, accompanied by all the other copy that is to be founded on the Pokercode learning platform nowadays. And all this, alongside neither Fedor, Matthias, Jan nor me being a developer, who could really judge, how long the platform would still take. This was one of the most important learnings from back then: No matter what the tech-team would tell you, count double, triple, or even quadruple the time until things would be ready to be submitted.

Handling the communication

Back then, we already had founded our Team Pokercode Slack, we had already sent out hundreds of presale packages into the world, but still couldn’t answer the question everyone was keen on getting answered: When?


So, despite being in close touch with our members already back then, a connection we hopefully have never lost and will never lose, I was still challenging ourselves: How could we provide value already? Keep in mind everyone was very busy, Matthias and Igor were grinding the super high roller schedule back then, day in day out, and if not, bringing their solvers and servers to their limits. Fedor was still involved in many other projects that he would only let go of some months into the Pokercode, releasing a lot of time out of his tight schedule, so he would start contributing a lot more into the community very soon, but not yet back then so much.

So, in the public, we were just not disclosing any concrete launch date, internally, we were very focused no getting things done: Finalizing graphics, uploading the content, finetuning and programming the platform, all this whilst being super honest and as authentical about the launch progress as we could ever be. At this point, I would like to say THANK YOU to our earliest members, who stayed with us and held tight, despite all the unclarity and vagueness of those very early days.

Fantastic Partners

Those were the times where I started to reach out to industry players and potential partners. Luckily, we had some “right around the corner”, since Felix and Christian, the two CEOs of Primed Mind, were in the same office as us. Also, Fedor has a fantastic connection with Elliot Roe, so it was easy to connect with Elliot and his partner, Ryan. Shoutouts to all these fantastic guys, and I am happily remembering the moment when we could offer a LIFETIME Primed Mind Membership for as low as $59, for any Team Pokercode Member. This deal is still available, and we are truly happy, because we are convinced that Primed Mind is a fantastic tool for anyone’s person to work on the mindset, and especially for poker players, it can and will be a true game-changer. Also, this is an area where the Pokercode itself could just not provide such a substantial value, so this was such a strong synergy, that we are ultimately proud of it up until today. The second big partnership, which also still exists today, was with Helmuth, CEO of Holdemresources. HRC is, similar to ICMizer, a tool that helps you calculate and work on open shoving, re-shoving, as well as open raising ranges in chipev and ICM environments in tournament poker. It had, similar to Primed Mind, proven to be an absolute game-changer for all our head coaches and founders, and we are all so happy that up until today, Team Pokercode Members can get the full HRC tool for a mere $25 for 18 months. An insane steal, given the fact that HRC can be an absurd turnaround for any MTT poker player, who takes it seriously and puts in the work. So, those partnerships were true synergies that hold strong up until today, and our team community was amazed by the deals, which we earn nothing from, but pure win-win-win situations for our community members, our partners, as well as us. We are aware that Pokercode is and will never be absolutely perfect, providing it all for any situation in a poker career, but we are open and happy about partnering with other products and projects we are passionate about and convinced of, that plug our own leaks and provide value to the community. Other partnerships we have had in the past, was with DTO, Elliot Roe, Elliot’s A-Game-Masterclass, and others. We can recommend all of them wholeheartedly. Poker is a team sport, everyone in the industry has strengths and weaknesses, upsides and downsides. By the way, if the guys from “Max Value” read this: contact me at johannes@pokercode.com, please. I haven’t heard back, but we are still interested greatly in a fantastic HUD-deal for our community ;)

Recapping those times

So, to conclude today’s blog post, we were “hanging in the air” a little bit, yet tried to make the best of it. We might have been a little too optimistic about submitting deadlines or announcing launch dates to our community. Looking back, there are two main points where I think we would act differently nowadays, or we could and should have done in another way. Firstly, we should not have announced launching “the best poker course ever”. It is a bold statement to make, and nowadays we just cannot identify with it anymore. Every product in the industry has its strengths and weaknesses, and even though we were so convinced of the content, how enjoyable it was to watch and experience, how great and unique the learning platform was, is, and will be, how insane the knowledge bombs were that Fedor dropped directly out of his, Matthias’ and Igor’s minds… Still, we should refrain from making such absolute statements, and stick to our vision and values of just being humble, patient and hungry, as well as confident and reflected. Injecting pure value and purpose into the poker ecosystem is our goal, which we try to nurture through every single step we take. The second point is, to be super honest with our user base. We did try our best in that regard, but still told things with certainty, which maybe were more in the dark than we let our early members know. Still, this was never out of bad intention, we just didn’t know better… However, still we sometimes just should’ve said “We don’t know” instead of “around two weeks”. We handled that way better already at Rangeviewer launch in August 2020, and it was a fantastic experience for everyone. Still, we were endangered of making the same mistakes again, and are now very sensitive towards the topic of making any announcements, especially when heavy development resources are included.

Looking back at these days, I still have no idea how we managed to make all this happen, from an operational perspective, the hands-on team just existing out of Jan, Wojciech and me, but still we moved mountains and had a fantastic party time for months and months, from starting with an empty GDrive file called “Pokercode” towards taking it so close to launch of our netflix-like learning platform, and releasing “the best poker course ever”. Taking everyone with us on that journey was one hell of a ride.

Thanks for reading, I am curious about your feedback! You can message me anytime at johannes@pokercode.com. See you next week with part #4 of “Inside the Pokercode”, where finally we can discuss LAUNCH TIME.

Let’s fucking go Team Pokercode,

This was Pokercode-Johannes, CEO & Co-Founder of the Pokercode

This was the third part of "Inside the Pokercode", where we try to share insights and provide behind-the-scenes disclosure of how the Pokercode truly is built, and works. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow along as we take you back to our origins and show you behind-the-scenes footage!

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