CC: Your parents must be excited about your career choice.
Jason: Yes, definitely. But at the same time, they were warming up to the idea of playing. I have good parents. At first, they were very apprehensive about me playing poker, the gambling. If you have a kid and you see the kid really, really like something and excel at it, it's really hard to say don't do this. Especially a college kid. They know that I'll do what I want to do, so after awhile they said Jason seems to know what he's doing, and we can't tell him what to do. So I feel like right at the time when I made a decision not to do poker as my job was when they were had warmed the most to the idea. That's the thing that I think I have an advantage going into the finance world. I'm there because I actually want to be there. I had options. Long term, the money you can make in trading dwarfs anything you can make in poker. But I could have a chance at more money in the short term by taking a shot. The way I see it is it's like a game, kind of. You can't deny that, it is a game. There is buying and selling.
CC: Right, just with someone else's bankroll.
Jason: Yeah, definitely. That's true. It's a game where you're dealing with a bunch of smart people, there are more variables involved, and that's appealing. In the same sense, I don't think poker will always be there like it is now, but I feel like I'll still have something to fall back on regardless of what happens in poker. Worst case scenario, I can take a year off and move to Las Vegas and play poker.
CC: You've got the Borgata, you've got Foxwoods.
Jason: Yeah, I just don't know what my life's going to be like in a year, honestly. I just don't know if I can take off to play. Bill Chen has a serious job, and they gave him the summer off to play, but he's Bill Chen.
CC: What you'll transition is way more like all of us. You've got so much knowledge, and so much of what you do now is like muscle memory. It's like playing golf. It will be interesting to see how players like you make that transition from serious player to a career person. I'm assuming there aren't a lot of poker players who have played at high levels and then left to go into the working world.
Jason: You don't hear about them if it happens.
CC: It will be interesting if you can jump back to peak performance on a more casual basis or however that works.
Jason: My guess is no. Even now, people are getting much better around me.
CC: Jeff Williams may be headed down a similar path as you.
Jason: That's right, you interviewed Jeff Williams. I read that. I've played Jeff a few times. He loves to call me down in big spots with nothing. He's a good player.
CC: He's a good guy.
Jason: He's a gambler, let me tell you. I gamble. Jeff Williams is a gambler, and I see him and genius28, they'll flip coins. I don't mean like go in with coin flip hands, I mean they'll go in blind. A lot of gamble in him. Sometimes that doesn't really matter, but sometimes that leads to bad habits.
CC: The hand that I got banned for for three days on 2+2, EmpireMaker was involved. There was a raise to $200, he shoved for $1100, a third guy calls, the original raiser mucked. Flop comes 3-3 something, EmpireMaker has 2-3o and the caller has pocket aces. $3k, 4k pot, which I know is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but for the lay person there are a couple things: he would come over the top with nothing.
Jason: I obviously don't know exactly what happened in the hand, but when you're making a move there, it doesn't matter what you have.
CC: It's such a difficult concept for most of us, not caring about our cards but playing a player.
Jason: It's a function of your read. When I'm playing and I win with an awful hand, you'll have people saying, "What are you doing raising with Q-4o?"
There seems to be some sort of embarrassment factor showing down crappy hands. It doesn't bother me. I'll take it any way it comes. The thing that people don't get is it's really hard to be a loose player and be successful because to be a loose player, you have to do a lot of things right. You have to be able to bluff. Technically, pre-flop you're giving up money. If you just looked at pre-flop isolated, you just ran out five cards, you're putting in money when you shouldn't be. Period.
Sklansky would advocate doing crazy things pre-flop then following a sound fundamental strategy after that. The kind of play I play, I'm making mistakes pre-flop, but they are only mistakes if I can't make up for it later. So I need to win pots that don't go to showdown, when I make hands I need to get more money in than someone else can get in. A lot of things have to be going right, so that's why when a loose player, when I'm slightly off, it's a train wreck. It doesn't work. I'll have days like that, I have days where I just don't have it. It's not where I'm running bad or running good, I have days where I'm up and I think I just don't have it. It's not happening today. This guy's kicking the crap out of me, even though I'm up on him, I feel terrible against him.
I remember I sat down, you know Brad Booth, right? We're on FullTilt, and I had heard things about him. I talk to Danny Alaei a lot. He says, "We all know Brad is an excellent player, but online you don't know sometimes. It's like a video game just gambling sometimes." So he's sitting down at a $100/200 table on FullTilt. I sit down with him, and the very first hand he raises from the button and I call with K-Q. Flop comes K-Q-4, check, he bets, I call. I don't usually do that, but against Brad Booth I wanted to see what would happen. Turn comes a 6, check, he goes all-in. For $17,200 into a pot of something like $3,000, so I call right away. He shows 9-5o, no pair, no draw, so I win this pot. The next hand, three or four hands later, he instantly had reloaded for twenty grand more, I get something like an open ended straight draw, I bet, he raises, I move in, he calls with two pair, and I win. I was up fifty grand in just a few minutes, and then we start playing. As we were playing, even though I was up on this guy, I didn't feel good at all. This guy's crazy, I don't know if this is going to happen. So I quit after awhile. I'm sure it didn't make him that happy.
CC: You're just a ratholer.
Jason: Huge ratholer, obviously. Sometimes I may look like a ratholer, not very often, but when I'm playing for huge stakes, if I'm not comfortable, I'm out. I quit. Brad, even though I was up on him a ton, I didn't want anything to do with him. I've had times like that with Prahlad (Friedman) where, if you find him tilty, he's nuts. One day I was on UB and I was up seven buy-in's in twenty minutes, I won seventy grand against him in no time, then he starts picking it up a little bit, he doubles up once, then he starts making huge moves at pots, so I'm like, I made some hands, I'm out of here. I'm not ashamed to do that. At the same time, I'm losing money, and I'm not ashamed to keep losing money if I feel like I'm in a good spot.
CC: Whose game do you respect the most online?
Jason: I think Prahlad, definitely. He's one of them. I don't know about the last six months, I haven't really played a lot with him, but back in the day, he was playing the biggest games. He was so much better than the people he was playing against, but the thing with him though is that when he was playing his tight good game and making those crazy moves, he was impossible to play with. Sometimes he would play too loose, then you would just never fold against him. It would almost be correct never to fold against him, and that's when he started struggling. When people would have a pair and just say I'm not folding, that's how I beat him. When he's right on his game, he's a man among boys.
Johnny Lodden, who I used to play against, he's absurd. He kind of plays the same way I do but he's just better at it than I am. You would see these hands where his extracted value is absurd. He just never stops betting. It seems like whenever someone plays back at him, he plays back at them or he has the hand, he's a remarkable player.
Durr. Durr, when he's playing twelve tables at once, playing $50/100 or whatever crazy crap he does, he doesn't play as well. I don't think he plays as well. He refuses to believe that, but I think when he plays too many tables, it hurts him, but he still wins. Maybe his win rate is higher overall, I don't know. You get him heads-up, he's crazy, he knows exactly how I play, I know how he plays, he's a good player.
There are really a lot of good players. There is a young crowd of players coming up like EmpireMaker's pretty good, Blood Sweat and Tears, have you heard that name before? He's a PartyPoker player. D'Agostino is the only name you've read on FullTilt that I have a lot of respect that I play with. Everyone else that you've heard about is probably down on that site. I think they're all down: Ivey, Gus Hansen is down gajillions,
CC: Yeah, Matusow.
Jason: Matusow's down gajillions.
CC: All that pot limit Omaha
Jason: Yeah, I don't play it.
CC: Do you watch it?
Jason: Yeah, I watch it. It's crazy.
CC: I've been playing low limit and it's just sick. There's no need to bet because you're just going to lose when you're ahead, you know?
Jason: The thing is it's a European game, and it's the crazy people who love it. You see hands, there was a $250k pot and it went something like this, it was all in before the flop, guy raises, re-raises, Brad Booth cold calls, next guy goes all-in, Brad Booth gets it all in and is basically ahead, and he has something sick like 3-4-7-8 or something like that, everyone has aces.
CC: Yeah, they did the math and he was ahead pre-flop.
Jason: Yeah, well the thing was that the first call was questionable but once all this money got in behind him, it became an obvious call. Two people have aces, one guy has a bunch of Broadway cards, so he's way ahead, and yeah he won. I'm not good at that game. I'll play limit Holdem, and I'm pretty bad. The shorter handed the game, the better I am. Maybe not PLO but LHE. I don't know. I don't think I have the patience to play low limit and grind. That's how I get my gamble out, but I'm not like Jeff chasing crazy coin flips.
CC: Are you going to play in tournaments between now and when you get out of school?
Jason: Yeah, I'll play the PCA for sure (PokerStars Caribbean Adventure). I'm going to try and bring as many friends down as I can. I'll probably be out of money; I told my friends that I'll front the hotel bill if you can handle the airfare. I like having friends with me, I like being able to do that. I consider myself really lucky with the money, I was just like everyone else my freshman year. I had an allowance from my parents, I was struggling for pocket money to spend, then poker blew up, and now ridiculous things happen to me, like the FBI investigates you for Patriot Act Violations, and other things like that.
CC: The FBI?
Jason: Yeah. When I got a Neteller transaction, I got a call from Wachovia saying they locked my account, and it had to do with I might be structuring, because Neteller sends the money in $4k-5k increments, I forget, so it looks very suspicious, it's all from Canada, and they didn't know what it was. So I had to do go to the FBI and had to meet with a detective, they asked me where the money came from, I had to provide proof that I was legitimately gambling.
CC: That had to be a fun experience.
Jason: Yeah, it was fun. Fun and scary, because you don't want bad things to happen and for them to misunderstand you. Yeah.
CC: Any other WPT tournaments or anything?
Jason: Over spring break I might play the Bay 101 tourney, there are some tournaments going on in California. I might play that also. I'll have to look at the schedule closer, but I don't have this great urge to play right now. Sometimes I go through stretches where I want to play a lot of tournaments. I had a great trip to AC six or eight weeks ago to play the WPT event. I busted the first day. I like playing it. Right now I just finished this ridiculous job interview process, you interview non-stop, round after round after round, then you go to this company or that company. Then you fly here or fly there. It's exhausting. Right now I have to focus some on school, make sure I pass anything.
CC: Yeah, you need to graduate to start work, right?
Jason: Actually, I read through and I don't know. I'm pretty sure they want me to graduate, though.
CC: You could just play poker from now until your job stars. In sports, like in football, guys will just quit after the season until they're drafted.
Jason: This is my summer right now, because I really don't have much of a summer. Kind of depressing.
CC: It will be different, as good as you did at the World Series, not to be there.
Jason: Yeah, it will be hard. In a perfect world, I would start my job in late August, but I'll be starting a good job and finishing school with my friends, so I can't complain too much.
Go to Part III