Rounders: Living the Dream


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I woke up in my sweet at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino after a night of hitting the Strip. By the way, did I mention I live in Las Vegas, well there you go. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit hungover right now, but I was out on the town with my friends and my fiance last night. We recently just celebrated the engagement of one my close friends. Must have dropped nearly $10,000, which is absolutely nothing to me. You might ask what I do for a living then if I can wake up each morning not caring that I spent a $10,000 last night? Well, ever since I graduated college, I made it my life’s goal to one day become one of the greatest poker players on the face of this Earth. Without bragging, I accomplished that goal.

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I currently sit at #4 in the world and #6 on the all-time World Series bracelets list with 7, behind the legends Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Daniel Negreanu. They called my quick rise to fame a miracle, I called it just playing my game. I was 24 when I left my family and  job in New Jersey. I had spent the first two years after college in investment banking, but I had spent my weekends sitting $100/$200 at the casinos in Atlantic City each weekend. After a year and half, I was making more income in poker than I was in investment banking. The day I told my father that I was leaving to go pursue a professional career in Las Vegas was one of the saddest and angriest conversations we ever had. When I paused the argument and showed him the brand new Mercedes I just bought for him, he realized what my true calling was.

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I has spent the first year of my stay in Las Vegas playing the tables everyday with the likes of high-tier professionals like Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Antonio Esfandieri, Phil Laak, and Mike Matusow. I quickly learned that I could hang with these guys. I began my tournament career at the 2016 World Series of Poker Championship, cashing in at my first tournament appearance and coming in 25th place. I knew at that point that I would have a long career playing cards and doing what I love to do. That next year, I toured around the country playing in the WSOP Circuit. I won two bracelets early in that year alone, climbing the leader boards of Player of the Year. I was beginning to be recognized by some of the top professionals of the worlds.

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It all changed though at the 2017 World Series of Poker Championship. At this point, my net worth was $2.7 million with 2 WSOP bracelets and a couple of World Poker tour final table appearances. I was determined to win it all this year. After days and days of grinding it out, I wound up back in the last 25. Making moves and bluff left and right, I found myself in the last ten, only one more gone and I was sitting in the November 9. Waking up with Aces, I immediately moved All-In, and was luckily called by someone with Kings. I had made it, I was a part of the November 9, but only one problem remained, I would have to face the all-time great and my idol Phil Ivey.

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The months leading up to November, I had played and trained everyday. When I sat down at that table, Phil Ivey sat across from me and I starred him down. One by one players fell left and right and I sat with a chip stack of more money than I could ever bare. Eventually, I found myself heads up for the title, but against the Tiger Woods of Poker himself, Phil Ivey. IVEY! IVEY! IVEY! ran through the stands. The clear fan favorite with a 2 to 1 chip advantage. We had played heads up for nearly two hours, stacks going back and forth. It was the ultimate challenge and the hardest game that I ever played. I found myself as the chip leader at one point, up only a million chips, nearly identical stacks. I starred down at my cards and found myself holding Pocket 9’s, or two 9’s, a very strong handle when playing heads up. Ivey opens under the gun with a strong raise, but one that quickly raise back immediately. Ivey easily calls and we go to the flop.

10k Main Event World Championship Final Table

2, 7, 4 rainbow; safe flop for my 9’s. Ivey bets and I raise. The crowd is silent. Staring at me and me staring at him, I hear him utter the words, “I’m all in.” I was stunned, did he have an over pair? Was he slow playing me from the start? I breathed easily and looked over at his face. A simple twitch of the eye on the face that is considered to be the best poker face on the planet. “Call!” I said. Ivey sighs and flips over his Ace King, completely stunned that I caught him on his bluff. With two cards coming and his two over cards, the game wasn’t over. Crowd cheering for Ivey. I wait in fear as my life was about to change by these two cards. I turn around to see my Dad, who I didn’t know was coming, was walking towards me. He put his arm around my shoulder and told me, “Win or lose, you bet the best in the world, and I’m proud of you son.” Turn card, Jack of clubs. Crowd goes crazy and I stand their unable to watch the table. And here’s the river…………

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8 OF CLUBS! I had done it. I immediately hugged and my Dad and walked over to Phil Ivey. “Congrats kid, you were the toughest opponent that I have ever faced. I’ll see you down the road.” I had beaten the best player in the world, my idol, and took home the World Series of Poker title. I had won $9.4 million and my life has never been the same. Since that time, I have won a combined 9 World Series of Poker bracelets and 3 World Poker titles. I had earned the respect of my fellow professionals and became a household name in the poker world. I am truly living the dream and at 32, am on track to become the greatest player that has ever lived. Let’s see what the next 10 years has in store. Later

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6 thoughts on “Rounders: Living the Dream

  1. Live the dream, Jackson. I am a big fan of doing what it is that makes you happy. Everyone can sucks into corporate America because of the benefits that you can reek from it. But in reality, there is no bigger benefit that doing what you want and being happy. Go for it, if this is real a true story

    • I can’t agree more with you Mike and it’s a legitimate dream of mine. I have played in tournaments in the past and done very well. It has brought me a good amount of money in my spare time and it’s something I would love to do professionally. It’s a very high skilled game with very high stakes. It has a lot of risk, but also a lot of reward; like with any job in the financial industry. If it’s possible, I would love to do this for a living for the rest of my life. Plus, living on the West Coast and in Vegas would be the shit.

  2. Rounders was a great movie… Phil Ivey was my favorite poker player too, so I had a great time reading this post. Awesome.

  3. Can you do all the odds of the card permutations in your head?

    How is the poker world similar or different to other athletic/competition industries? Are you an entertainer?

    • I’m pretty good at doing the odds in my head. Math has always come easy to me. With poker, it’s both a competition and entertainment. It’s a skill game that I don’t consider to be gambling. As far as poker on TV, the rise in TV ratings skyrocketed when amateur Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker in 2003. It’s considered to be called “The Poker Boom” and it’s what got me into playing when I was a kid.

  4. “Everyone can sucks into corporate America because of the benefits that you can reek from it.”

    The changed meaning is hilarious. Benefits you can reek from it! 😀 (reap).

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