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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Lee Jones

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

From the outside looking in it would appear that Lee Jones is never satisfied.  It’s not that he’s an unhappy person, but that he is always looking for a way to make things better.  When he does make something better, he looks on to his next challenge and how to make that better.  As you will see, Jones has contributed to many well known places in the poker world, always leaving them better than when he arrived.  However, that’s only about half of what Jones is known for.

Jones grew up in California, but despite most of his adult life being spent associated with poker in some way, Jones’s first love of gambling came in the form of blackjack.  Jones knew that with card counting he could make a decent living in the game.  He had the background to succeed in card counting, having earned his B.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina, and his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Duke University. 

However, it wasn’t the difficulty in card counting that drew Jones away from blackjack.  It was the effort he had to put in to find a perfect game, with the right deck size, and the right rules, that was too much for him.  In his mind the effort he was putting in was too much for the reward.  Jones finally came to the conclusion that there was no way he would constantly be able to beat a multi-billion dollar corporation, also known as “The House,” over any sustained period of time.  It was during his trips to casinos seeking out the perfect blackjack game that he found, in his head, what may be the perfect game, poker.

Jones realized that he didn’t have to travel far at all to find the perfect poker game, as he was surrounded by legal poker rooms in his home state of California.  He also knew that it was a beatable game, and that he didn’t have to risk being kicked out of a casino, or worse, for making money at it.  Jones started playing low limit hold’em, as this was the game of choice for many in the 1970’s, years before no limit jumped to the forefront of the poker landscape.  Jones did well in the game, but in his early years still kept a couple of “normal” jobs.  He worked as a Computer Aided Design programmer in Silicon Valley, and also as a certified scuba instructor.  As he said years later in his book, “Winning Low-Limit Hold’em,” the point of scuba diving, like poker, is to find as many fish as possible.  However, 15 years after its publication, many would-be fish are now winning players because of that book.

On the back cover of “Winning Low-Limit Hold’em,” Chris “Jesus” Ferguson is quoted as saying, “Don’t read this book!  If everyone followed the instructions in this book I’d have to find a new line of work.  P.S. If you see a long haired homeless guy sleeping on a park bench, please give him a dollar.”  Luckily for Ferguson, not everyone has read the book, but those who have had undoubtedly become better poker players for it.  This book is the first widely published book solely for beginner players.  It is truly one of the “must reads” for any person interested in playing poker with the intent of seriously trying to make money from it.  Many great players read the book when they were first getting started, including Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, who said he thought the game was all luck before reading this book.  Because the game of poker has changed since 1994, the book is now in its third edition, adding sections on lower stake buy-ins for no limit tournaments, and of course online-poker, which is something Jones knows all-about.

In October of 2003, right in the midst of the greatest boom poker has ever seen, Jones took over as poker room manager for Pokerstars, which became the most popular online card room during his tenure.  Jones’s main job, like any poker room manager, is deciding what new games to add and how to keep the room running smoothly, but with PokerStars he was working with a client base of hundreds of thousands of regulars.  However, that didn’t stop Jones from adding some of the most popular tournaments online.  Jones also had to successfully add high stakes poker games at a time when most rooms weren’t offering them due to security concerns.  This didn’t stop Jones from making the premier site for high stakes games.  Jones also had to make many tough decisions when it came to dishing out punishments for multi-accounters and colluding players.  Jones has documented many of these tough decisions on a number of poker forums. 

While working at PokerStars in 2006, Jones created the “Sit and Go Endgame System (SAGE).”  In short, SAGE is designed for either heads up sit and go’s or a one table tournament.  The system calls for extreme aggression, pushing a wide range of hands from the small blind, and also calling with a wide range of hands.  SAGE has drawn both praise and detractors.  Those who praise it love the aggression factor, while those against it suggest it puts luck too much into play.
In April 2007 Jones stepped down from card room manager of PokerStars, a decision that was criticized by many in the world of online poker, as it was one of the most sought after jobs in the industry, not to mention it paid very well.  Jones said he wanted to try new things, and became a consultant for the European Poker Tour, while staying on with PokerStars as a consultant.  Over the year he worked a number of jobs for the EPT, including putting together tournaments, acting as a host, and even providing television commentary on the final table of the events.  In 2008, Jones stepped down from this job, and became Chief Operations Officer for the poker instructional site, CardRunners.  Jones stayed there for just over a year before resigning, saying the website had too many people in managerial positions, and felt there wasn’t enough money to go around for everyone, so he would step down.  Naturally, it wasn’t long before Jones’ expertise was sought after again, this time in the form of another online poker room.

Just last month, Jones took what might be his toughest job yet as card room manager of Cake Poker.  Over the last few years Cake Poker has shown signs of moving up the ladder in the online poker world, but for the most part hasn’t been able to get that big break.  With Jones at the helm, and seeing his success he had with PokerStars, people at Cake Poker expect big things.  While it’s still too early to tell what the final results will be, Jones has wasted no time introducing new tournaments to the schedule, including a number of World Series of Poker satellites.  To date, Cake Poker has over 75 players scheduled to play in the Main Event through their site.

Author, manager, and consultant Lee Jones has truly done it all in the poker world.  What is true about all his jobs is that it is clear he had the poker player in mind when he took them.  Jones is an example of what’s good for the game.

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