For years, the United Kingdom’s Patrick Leonard has been respected as one of the best online tournament players in the world. He has amassed millions in online tournament earnings and has recently made noise in the live arena, where he’s seen success in some big buy-in events across Europe. Leonard is also a Head Coach and one of the founders of bitB Staking, a group that has high expectations heading into 2017 and beyond.

To get to the beyond, you first have to go back to the beginning. Leonard’s poker career began with cash games but then he, as he puts it, “accidentally stumbled across tournaments”, by winning the Sunday Warm Up on PokerStars. What happened next was no accident though. Leonard reached the peak of the online poker world in 2014, claiming the top spot on the PocketFives Online Poker Rankings and holding that standing through the summer and fall.

That wasn’t enough though. Leonard starting staking a few players for low stakes tournaments and after some success, he teamed up with two other online wizards. Together with Samuel ‘€urop€an’ Vousden and Tomi ‘elmerixx’ Brouk, an online poker Big Three was formed and after working with a handful of other top professionals, including Fedor Holz, dozens of players flocked to join the growing team.

Leonard had taken the jump from poker player to investor, bitB Staking was growing at a rapid pace, but it still wasn’t enough.

“At first we did it for the money. It was fun to treat it like a business, learn about processes and how to deal with people,” he said but as time went on, the focus changed.

“The motivation is to build a great product that I can really be proud of. What’s cooler, making $1,000,000 or having a very opinionated and highly competitive industry think your site is the best in the business?” Leonard asked himself earlier this week.

The latter is now bitB Staking’s goal and over the last five years, Leonard has used his networking skills to bring together a coaching roster that he considers “breathtakingly good”.

He’s not wrong. Leonard has been able to fill his roster with the likes of Daniel Dvoress, who already has two six-figure scores from the PokerStars Championship Bahamas series, German Dietrich Fast, who won last year’s WPT LAPC Main Event for $1,000,000 and countryman Ben Heath, who has live and online resumes that could compete with anyone in the world.

Again though, even a roster of some of the best players in the world and one of the most respected staking and coaching projects in the game wasn’t enough. Leonard and bitB Staking are also looking to use their resources to better the poker community.

“We want to help poker progress, whether that’s popularizing poker or if that’s consulting with poker rooms. In the not so distant future, we will hopefully have 150 guys. Instead of just me playing and collecting ideas, I can ask all 150 guys to give their feedback.”

That’s an attractive, mutually beneficial prospect for sites and poker rooms. Leonard has been a partypoker Ambassador since the spring of last year and has worked to improve the site and the technical side game, with an army of grinders behind him. He also realizes that, beyond online poker, the benefits of live play can have an even bigger impact on the game in general.

From being able to meet people, to improving relationships and adding levels of trust, Leonard realizes that these live events help the community grow. The more growth, the more value there is across the board; from High Roller events, all the way down to online $55 freeze-outs.

Those High Roller events are where Leonard has been dedicating himself over the last few months. He is regularly studying players, both live and online, trying to understand their game, who stakes them and how much action they have of themselves in different tournaments. Those might not be the things that most think of when they hear the word “preparation” but Leonard is consumed by it.

“It sounds pretty intense but I love it,” he said, adding, “To be successful in anything, you really have to immerse yourself in it.”

Since accidently stumbling to that Sunday Warm Up win, Leonard has immersed himself in the game. A day after that victory, he made a prop bet with a group of players that he would be the top ranked player in the world on PocketFives. By the end of the year, he was.

“If I hadn’t made that bet, there’s no way I would have been successful there. It helped give me the drive and motivation every day, to wake up and be the best version of myself.” Leonard said, before admitting, “I’ve always set very ambitious goals but fortunately, I’ve been pretty successful in meeting them.”

His goal at the start of the year was ambitious to say the least, Leonard wants bitB Staking to make $5,000,000 in 2017. A world class coaching roster paired with a potentially unmatched team of players should mean Leonard is successful in meeting another one of his ambitious goals. That still won’t likely be enough though, as the only thing more ambitious than Patrick Leonard’s goals, is his motivation.