The Rise and Fall of Dani Stern

Dani Ansky Stern is one of the true legends of online poker. His meteoric rise to stardom during the poker boom saw him recognised as one of the best cash game players on the planet.

By: Mark Patrickson

Like any star’s career there have been good times and bad times. Fortunately for Stern, he has seen far much more of the upside.

The 33-year-old has been one of the most vocal high stakes players over the years, particularly when Amaya took an axe to the PokerStars player’s benefits. But his opinions have always been respected as he became a driving voice in the community.

Let’s take a look over Stern’s career as he built up his reputation as a feared NL Hold’em player on partypoker in the pre-UIGEA era to playing nosebleed PLO games against the best in the world.

Two Months, Two Million

While Stern made his real money during the Moneymaker boom years, and was already known by anyone who matters, he became a poker household name after appearing on the TV show Two Months, Two Million in 2009.

Hooking up with his pals Jay Rosenkrantz, Emil Patel, and Brian Roberts, the quartet were on a mission to win $2 million in two months under the gaze of the TV cameras.

The scene was set in a swish house in Las Vegas with the guys showing the world just what was possible in the poker boom.

Ultimately they were unsuccessful, only accumulating $676,000 with Stern’s share being $100,800.

Even with the mission failure Stern was now firmly on the map as a star.

Pioneer

In the pre-Black Friday poker world Stern was one of the pioneers of new aggressive strategies as players got to grips with a fast-evolving game. His in-depth strategy posts on TwoPlusTwo coupled with videos on the Deucescracked training site made him one of the most sought after coaches in the business.

His playing career back then saw him as one of the regs in the $200/$400 NLHE and PLO games, netting millions of dollars.

When Black Friday hit most players were affected with the shift to much tougher games. It took a while before everyone adjusted to the new reality and Stern’s experience was no different.

Playing from Toronto, Canada, and Mexico, Stern was forced to accept the new paradigm where he was no longer crushing the nosebleed stakes. According to his HSDB bio the games were simply too tough and the variance was just insane.

Like any true professional Stern followed the same advice he would have given many times to his students and dropped down stakes in order to reassess and gain some comfort. He became a super reg in the $5/$10 and $10/$20 PLO games for the next 2-3 years, crushing almost anyone in his path.

At this point it was time to try his hand at the nosebleeds once more.

The graphs for Stern’s PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker account show a combined $1.7 million in losses, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. It isn’t clear exactly what the situation is for any unknown accounts on untracked sites.

Something that was reported extensively was the huge losses to unknown Swedish PLO specialist BERRI SWEET. This no doubt contributes heavily for most of the losses in the following results.

Stern also has a respectable record in the tournament scene. Both live and online. The HendonMob website shows a tidy $3.7 million in live winnings and he has also picked up $2 million online.

Being comfortable in both formats of the game is the mark of a great player.

Activist

Outside of his playing career Stern was very vocal on TwoPlusTwo about changes in the game. The poor timing of the discontinuation of the Supernova Elite VIP scheme on PokerStars led to an almighty uproar about an abuse of market position.

PokerStars pulled the rug out from under many players who had grinded insane volume for 10 months of the year only to find out that they would not receive what they had worked so hard for.

Stars such as Ike Haxton refused to renew their ambassadorship contracts and publicly criticised PokerStars for poor treatment of their customers.

Stern took to TwoPlusTwo to vent his fury and organised a boycott with many professionals refusing to log on for a period of time. He even attended a meeting with PokerStars execs to try and thrash out an agreement not to move forward with the changes, but to no avail.

The following year, clearly no longer a fan of what poker had to offer he decided to step away from the game for good.

No doubt with millions still in the bank and about to turn 33-years-old it was a good time to walk away and seek new challenges.

The poker community is no doubt poorer for Stern’s absence. His strength of character backed up with integrity is sorely missed.

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