Jason Su: Using Presence to Unlock Your Poker Greatness
Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 064
Jason Su on social media:
Today’s guest is longtime cash game pro, Poker Detox mental game coach, and the author of the greatness bomb dripping book “Poker with Presence”, Jason Su.
It’s always a little tough for me to make these intros with cash game crushers.
Normally I read out my guest’s HendonMob results, wow you with the millions of dollars they’ve cashed for in poker tournaments, list off their highlight reel, and hop into the show.
The irony, of course, is that the Jason Su’s of the world are the folks who I’ve always looked up to the most.
The cash game crushers who genuinely love the game, stay forever curious, show up at their local casino day-in and day-out, and enjoy sustained success over the decades.
In today’s episode you’ll learn:
Why poker has given Jason purpose and happiness.
Why there is no difference between “intuitive” and “analytical” players.
How to work on managing your emotions while navigating the inevitable highs and lows of poker.
And MUCH, much more!
So, without any further ado, I bring to you Jason Su.
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Brad: Welcome my friend to the Chasing Poker Greatness podcast. As always, this is Brad Wilson, the founder of chasingpokergreatness.com. And today’s guest is longtime cash game pro, Poker Detox mental game coach and the author of the greatness bomb dripping book, Poker with Presence, Jason Sue. It’s always a little tough for me to make these intros with cash game crushers. Normally, I read out my guests hinted mob results, wow you with the millions of dollars they’ve cashed for in poker tournaments, list off their highlight reel results and hop into the show. The irony, of course, is that the Jason Sue’s of the world are the folks who I have always looked up to the most. The cash game crushers who genuinely love the game, stay forever curious, show up at their local casino day in and day out, and enjoy sustained success over the decades. In today’s episode, you’re going to learn why poker has given Jason purpose and happiness, why there’s no difference between intuitive and analytical players, how to work on managing your emotions while navigating the inevitable highs and lows of poker, and much, much more. So, without any further ado, I bring to you, longtime cash game crusher and mental game coach extraordinaire, Jason Sue.
Brad: Jason, how you doing, sir?
Jason: Good, man. How are you?
Brad: I’m doing very well. I’m doing very, very well. I want to start out the show by asking you, what’s your story? How did you get involved playing cards?
Jason: Alright, so this story pretty much lines up with a lot of people around my age, probably our age. And
Brad: How old are you?
Jason: I’m 36.
Brad: Okay, you nailed it. We’re on 36.
Jason: Yeah. So yeah, so senior year of high school. I am in the second semester where the grades don’t count. And we’re sitting there in biology class. And at this point, the teacher is just playing a movie on the TV every day, and letting us go do whatever we want for an hour. And so, one of my good friends from the tennis team was like, I got to teach you guys how to play poker. He’s like, dealing out Texas Hold’em seven card stud. And then he invites us to this game in somebody’s garage. And then so once a week for the last few months of high school, the most exciting part of my life was showing up to this guy’s house and playing in this $10 buy in quarter anti home game.
Brad: Why was it so exciting to you? What was the appeal?
Jason: I was finishing up two really major activities in my life, which were playing tennis competitively, and then also debating, competitively in high school. And so, I just needed that fix for competition, for growth, for entering into something new, where I could see how good I could get. Because without that in my life, I don’t really feel purposeful or happy.
Brad: That’s awesome. And poker is a great outlet for that type of thing. And I would venture to say that this is why a lot of folks who end up playing poker come from some competitive background, whether it be gaming, sports, something along those lines leads them to poker at the end of the day.
Jason: So those of us who are not blessed with good enough athleticism to chase our sporting dreams, sitting still and still having a really nice time of it. Yeah.
Brad: Most people are not athletically gifted enough to chase their sporting dreams. Those dreams die out at about the freshman year of college
Brad: For the majority of human beings. So, you’re playing in your small stakes, home game, learning, getting your taste of poker, what next? What was the next transition? What did that look like for you?
Jason: Yeah, so I went to college in Austin at the University of Texas. And by that time, I was completely obsessed with poker. And I remember spending a lot of the first, like three weeks in the dorm trying to get people to watch Rounders with me, which eventually they did and they all liked it. So, so success. But it took a couple of weeks. And yeah, just trying to like find people to play poker with wherever I could at that time, and eventually met some guys who were not in the dorm, but just met him somehow. And they played a little bit bigger and they were playing no limit hold’em. And then there were these clubs starting to open at that time in Austin, which is kind of like what they have now with these kind of legal poker rooms, where they just charge you membership by the hour or something like that. And so, they were trying to do this back then, charging you to play by the hour, and they were claiming it was legal, and they eventually got shut down back then. But for I don’t know, like a year, there were these games just in shopping centers in Austin. And that was my introduction to kind of like, reasonable amounts of money to be gambled for. So, I went from playing, you know, $10, $20 home games to all of a sudden playing 2-5 pot limit hold’em, which was kind of an insane jump, but it was a lot of fun.
Brad: That’s how it went. I went from playing 5-10 limit to 5-10 no limit.
Jason: That’s how it goes. When you’re, when you’re young. And it doesn’t matter if you lose all your money. You just, you just go.
Brad: And most people don’t realize that we’re talking this is fine memory serves me if you’re a freshman in college, probably 2003
Brad: 2003 area, there wasn’t even a ton of no limit that was spread back then.
Brad: Everything was limit. So, nobody really knew, you know, none of the neo fights in the poker world really understood the dramatic difference in stakes that like even 10-20 limit is from 5-10 no limit, which is obviously just this massive, massive difference, but like, this was the way of the poker world. Online sites didn’t even spread no limit games
Brad: Back then. The biggest games were on party poker with 30-60 limit.
Jason: Yep. Yeah. And, and back then it was like we’re playing 2-5 parlimen hold’em, but everybody bought in for 200. So, it was just like, oh, it’s just 200.
Jason: And so that’s how it started.
Brad: Actually, like pot limit. I think pot limit should probably get spread more often.
Jason: Pot limit hold’em is bigger than no limit hold’em by a good amount.
Brad: Because you get called so often, right. Is that the bigger preflop pots?
Jason: I think, I think there’s less fear of people entering pots because they’re not worried about getting squeezed for some absurdly large amount that they can’t continue for. And then also you just have some group of people who just like to say the word pot, whereas if they were a bit playing no limit, they would probably pick like, you know, half pot or two thirds pot or something. But in a pot limit game, there’s like pot, pot.
Jason: And you do that a couple of times, games quite large.
Brad: Yeah, I, just this reminds me of a thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot, haven’t talked about on the pod. But like, basically, in home games, how you get this monkey see, monkey do type of behavior, where your standard opening is 3x. And then you go to a home game, and all of a sudden, it’s 10x, and then an hour and you find yourself opening 10x, but you don’t, you don’t even know strategically why you’re just fitting in with the crowd. Tell me like your book, Poker with Presence. Tell me about this book, because it resonates with me, just so, so very much about how to approach the game. I do have a number of topics here, let’s just jump in with flow state. And, you know, you call it something else. Tell me about the flow state.
Jason: It’s to me, it’s the best part of playing poker or doing anything competitively. It’s those moments where you’re just so engaged in the moment and so engaged with what’s happening that time just kind of flies by and you feel like you could just be doing this thing for the rest of your life. And early on in poker, me playing poker, it was like, this would happen maybe once a year. And I was like, oh, that was so amazing. My reads were spot on. I just like knew I should go for the bluff. And I did it. And it worked. But I knew he didn’t have it. And so, I could call. And adventures like, well, why doesn’t this happen more often, right? And so, the book, primarily is an exploration of like, how can we make this state happen more often inside of us, so that poker is more fun. And we tend to win more when we’re playing from this place.
Brad: It’s easier. We trust ourselves.
Brad: we trust everything. It’s, it’s like, you know, your Neo in the matrix.
Brad: It’s how it feels.
Jason: Yeah, it’s like, one we’re not in that place. We, especially for those of us who have been around for a long time, and we’ve studied so much, we can just talk ourselves in circles, right? So, it’s like, oh, yeah, like this is a good reason to bet, but this is a good reason to check. But this and then but that. But when we’re in that state, it’s just like, I settle in, and I just know that this one’s clearly better and then I just do it without hesitating or trying to talk myself out of it.
Brad: And so, this is the area of poker where like me and Berkey are pretty much in alignment. Nick Howard is the opposite, more super analytical looking at the data. How do we trust this feeling? How do we grow to be comfortable with just acting on our intuition and our subconscious versus questioning it at every turn and demanding proof?
Jason: Well, there’s, that’s where the trap comes in, right. And that’s something I wrote about is that, lots of times we have a voice that tells us like, this is the play. And when we’re in a good place inside of ourselves, and we’re connected, it’s usually at an astonishing frequency, highly successful to listen to that voice. But when that voice, which sounds eerily similar, is saying, this is the right play, but we are in a really bad mood. We’re not, we’re barely paying attention to the game, we don’t even want to be there where we’re just kind of like clocking in and we’re on autopilot. When that voice shows up, and it says like, this is the right play, you should probably just ignore that and do the default of like thinking through your processes very intently. Because you’re not in a state of mind to be able to like trust those reads, those intuitions. And so, for me, the key is not about like, how do we learn to trust our intuition? It’s how do we differentiate the voices that are our actual intuition versus the voices that are like self-sabotage, or projection or coming from a place of fear?
Brad: Risk aversion.
Jason: Very different. Yeah, very different voices. But they sound similar when we’re out there playing.
Brad: Yes. And it’s easy to get tricked. The risk aversion voice is very persuasive.
Jason: It’s so persuasive. But you can feel like, I think that’s part of the problem, when it comes to this ongoing forever debate about analytical players versus intuitive players, is to me, you feel something based on data that you’re internalizing, that you’re not consciously expressing, because when we verbalize things, this is a filter for what our mind is processing. And things inevitably get lost in this filter, even in your inner voice in your head. So, when you get this feeling that something is not right, more often than not, in my experience, I just go with it. Because typically, its, good things have happened. And when I go away from that, bad things have happened. And you know, but it’s this recognition, that it’s a genuine, legitimate feeling, versus the shitty voice in your head that’s having a bad day, or that stuck five buy ins that’s leading you astray. Having awareness to differentiate those two is really at the heart of trusting your intuition.
Jason: Yeah. And that’s, that’s really where the book goes consistently is, how do we get into the place where we’re in the spot where the voice that’s talking to us is the natural, genuine voice that really is drawing from all of our knowledge, all over intuition, so that we can stay away from the place of fear, from the place of adrenaline, from the place of projection, and avoid having to punt as many stacks as you and I probably have, over the years.
Brad: So many. I’ve lit so many stacks on fire. I can’t tell you the number of hands online. I look back at my database, and they just cause me so much shame for how I played them. But on the flip side of that, I’ll say this. There are a lot of hands in my database, that when I played them, I can’t recreate why I did what I did, but I did it and it was the right thing. And so, looking at it, like removed from the situation, it, it’s like I can’t get in that headspace. But I was there. And I do trust that, if that makes any sense.
Jason: Yeah, well, that’s the allure of exploring this path, right, is that you know what you’re capable of. And when you look back at those hands, you know, you weren’t just lucky and you didn’t just have a lucky guess when you found the deviation from whatever the normal play would be. And it was beautiful. And you just knew, right? So that’s, that’s why I want to explore that. Because my, my thinking is that, yeah, this, getting to that place is a thing that can be taught, right? It’s the thing that if we practice certain things to get connected to our body intelligence, to get connected to our emotions, and be really just matched inside and out. Like this is the thing that we can have more of. And to me, that’s the best part about poker. So why would I not want to explore this all the way down.
Brad: Let’s share some of the secret sauce Jason with the audience. How do we go about doing that, practically?
Jason: Yeah. So, the number one thing is that most poker players and most people just in general, they live just straight from here from the head, and they want to just think their way out of everything. And just use logic to get through everything. A lot of the pioneers of the mental game of poker type of work, work from this place, right? They want to instill really strong frameworks and perspectives inside of you, right? Like, just focus on your process, just make sure that you are making the best decisions possible from the information that you have. If you look back, and you say that you did that, then feel good about it and continue. But what those things are not getting exactly, because I think those things are all amazing. I believe in them 100%. I use them all the time. But we as humans have the power to completely ignore all ration. Everything that’s rational, when we are in excited states of emotion or fear, or just not connected to ourselves. And so, the secret sauce is really just to like connect inside of you first, connecting to your whole body of intelligence, not just your brain. So, I focus a lot on encouraging people to stay connected to their breath. To not just sit still in one frozen, rigid posture the whole time. Because if you open up your movements and your body, you will create new pathways of awareness, so that you can actually like get out of the blinders that people get kind of stuck in when they are in not the best mental space.
Brad: I love that you said that. A few episodes ago, I had Adam Creek on. He’s an Olympic gold medalist
Brad: Who knows nothing about poker, and said, effectively the same thing. The body has intelligence that the brain can’t understand. And whether or not you trust, your body’s intelligence is really on you. However, you know, it’s, also Malcolm Gladwell. Now, Malcolm Gladwell book, Blink, that’s discerning large amounts of information, basically based on an impulse, a gut reaction that is hard to articulate why you feel the way that you feel, is a thing that happens, especially when people are experts in their field. And so, I find it a huge disservice for poker players to ignore these gut instincts in favor of trying to be more analytical or logical. And that, you know, like, if you’re making an exploit, and you’re looking at it analytically, you can say I need to be balanced here. Therefore, I need to have some bluffs on the river. However, gut feeling can be, this person is never folding on the river, right?
Jason: Yeah. Exactly.
Brad: Anytime I’ve deviated from my gut feeling just to feel like this inner sense of accomplishment that I do have bluffs in this spot, I get snap called, and I lose money. And I always walk away from the table just like scratching my head, like, why did I do that? Like why, like, what do I need to feel good about the fact that I’m balanced in spots? Or do I just want to make the best play I can make in the moment. And, you know, Adam, he put it amazingly well, when he said that if you have an argument with an analytical person, versus a more intuitive person on the internet, the analytical person is going to beat the shit out of the intuitive person 10 times out of 10. Because the intuitive person can articulate exactly why they’re arriving at the decisions that they’re arriving. However, with that said, if you are a more intuitive person by nature, and you deviate from that style to more analytical, you’re going to get crushed, and you’re not going to understand you’re basically swimming against the current.
Jason: Yeah, I completely agree with all that and actually want to take it one step further. I was having an email exchange with Lucky Chewy about my book, and, and he said something that I completely agreed with, he said, like, there is no difference between intuitive and analytical, at the end of the day, when you are locked in to your intuition in a moment, and you just know, that this guy’s never folding right now on the river, like, sometimes he might, but you just you just know like, from looking at him or from the way the game has been playing or the speed that which he checked, or something he did on the turn. You just know he’s not folding to your bluffs on the river, and you decide not to bluff, not to have any bluffs. It’s, he said, it’s basically just a perfect node lock on what a solver would do when it knows exactly what the response is going to be. So really, like people want to argue about like intuition versus technical, but there’s really no difference when you are really engaged in. You have that information inside you, maybe you can explain how you got it. But you know, you just know you have it. And I think that’s a really powerful thing to comprehend it’s that, it’s kind of all the same. The thing about like, having this full spectrum of body wisdom is really proven just by the fact that we’re still existing as humans. Because if we didn’t have it, we would not have survived the first million years, or however long that we were in existence. So, we had to wire into our consciousness, our DNA, whatever you want to call it in our genes, and passed it down these awareness’s that kept us alive. And so now that we’re not worried about staying alive as much on a minute to minute basis, they kind of come out in competitive environments like poker. So yeah, if you’ve ever just like all of a sudden known that somebody was standing behind you, even though you’ve never heard them approach you or you never felt it, but all of a sudden, usually, oh, somebody’s standing behind me. That’s, that same level of knowing, as you might experience in the hand of poker, when you just feel this intuition about something that’s going to maybe, instead of keeping your regular life alive, keeping your tournament life alive.
Brad: That’s really interesting. I’ve never thought about it that way, and that it’s just manifesting differently than our natural instincts. But I do remember reading on Twitter, somebody said, about panicking. And I think it was related to the Coronavirus and they were like, isn’t panicking by nature dumb? And I remember reading that and thinking, how can a natural feeling that exists in human beings related to our survival be dumb? Like, there are clearly situations where you should panic, right and get yourself out of there, so, because your life depends on it, so like panicking is not dumb. It’s just a feeling, you know, it’s just an emotion.
Brad: And what Lucky Chewy said, hits the nail on the head, in that, the information you’re getting is not mystical or magical or coming from a different source other than you, it’s still coming from your observation, you’re just utilizing it in real time, without being able to fully articulate why you’re implementing that specific strategy.
Jason: Yeah. And it’s important to say that the more you actually know about the technical stuff about poker, the more you have studied solvers, or equilibrium or poker fundamentals, then the more often this gets to happen to you. Because if you don’t know anything about poker, like your intuitions aren’t going to help you in any way whatsoever. They’re just going to be random thoughts that you’re having. But the key idea is that the intuition is rooted in a deep mastery of the fundamentals. So that in the moment, you don’t have to actually work through the 14, 25 combinations of steps that you would otherwise need you to arrive at this same situate, same conclusion that you hit within, you know, a blink of a second. It’s because you’ve studied the game so well, and you’ve internalized these foundations, that when you’re in the heat of the battle, you just know, and you could work it out on pen and paper later and say, okay, yeah, this is why I did all these things. But it’s much cooler when you just hit it in that moment.
Brad: And what’s the point of working it out? Like, it is very inefficient for Chewy to make a play, and then work out exactly, like it’s just a waste of energy, you know. I think it’s, yeah, of course, it’s cognitive muscle memory effectively, and pattern recognition. And when things don’t add up, you just come to some conclusion at the table and make a play. I think about it in terms of like a physical sport, right? Like football. The quarterback takes a snap, he rolls out to the right. Is he doing like advanced math to know how far he needs to throw the ball? How fast the receivers running? Where, you know, like, is he doing an algebraic equation to put the ball in the spot? No, he just does it. And because he’s practiced it so much, he trusts himself. He lets it loose, and it typically works out if you’re, you know, an NFL, that caliber of football player and poker is the same where sometimes you just know, and you act on it, and if you want to take the time to prove it later on, go for it. And I’m a big believer too. And you know, in that, there’s no difference between exploitative poker and GTO. It’s all the same. People try to separate it and say, well, this is exploitative, because yada, yada, yada. But exploitative is just making a good play. No locking more accurately, then the solver is node locking.
Brad: Like that’s all exploited to play is like, you can’t, you can’t tell me that if you put in a solver, you node lock somebody’s range as aces and you have kings preflop that the solver is like yes, it’s optimal to just get it in every time with kings, like no fucking way. You fold.
Brad: If that’s like, if that’s the node lock, then you fold your kings preflop, right? So, it’s all based on just the quality of information and how much you trust it at the end of the day.
Jason: Yeah. Every, every hand is its own situation, right. So, my exploit in this hand right now where I know that you’re never folding, after this hand plays out, maybe you make a slight adjustment to that. And maybe you start having ends that you’re folding in that same spot. And then it’s my job to keep up with you, and then re adjust mine to keep my frequency at the point where I’m going to make the maximum amount of money in the next spot that comes up, right. That’s why poker is so awesome, because we don’t just sit in this static space of like, I’m just going to execute this, and I don’t care what you do. I’m just sitting here, you might as well work in a factory if you’re doing that, right. And so, the beauty of the game is that we’re playing against people. And people change over the course of time, and people adapt, and it’s competitive. And we’re all trying to get a leg up on one another. So, whoever can do that the best is the person who’s going to win. And that’s, that’s what I love about it.
Brad: Yeah, and people are not random, right? Like you said, you’re always playing a game. When people say, like, play this hand in a vacuum, like the vacuum changes based on the specific person you’re playing against all the vacuums are very different. You’re actually, in live poker, you’re playing every hand in a vacuum that is specific to the opponent that you’re playing against. I asked my students, you know, I say, okay, you raise the button, and you get three bet by the big blind, and you fold and then you raise the button again, and you get three bet from the big blind, and you fold. And now this third time you raise the button, and you get three bet from the big blind, is he likely to have a tighter, or looser three betting range in this spot? And what’s funny is human instinct is this guy’s messing with me, I’m going to start four betting that.
Brad: However, what’s really happening is this is the third time in a row. They’re aware of that, right? The big blind knows I’ve, this is the third time in a row. So, they’re much more likely to be tighter than they are looser. So, then you have this like colliding sequence of events, where you have a much tighter range who’s three betting you, you’re getting sick of it, interpreting it as much looser, so then you play back, and then they crush you?
Brad: Because you just decided to attack a super tight range. And I mean, that’s the beauty of the game. And that, strategies change and evolve based on past events and experiences with each player.
Jason: Yeah, and then, and then it just grows, right? Like, if you’re playing Berkey, and he knows that you think this third three bets is going to be tighter, he’s going to have just absolute air the third time, and then the fourth time, and then each time he does it, he’s going to have like, even wider range than the last because, because he knows that each time you think it’s even tighter, so you fold even more. And so that’s why the game is so beautiful. Like, there’s no, there’s no just solved answer. There’s just how quickly can you adapt, and how aware of your surroundings can you be. And then, and then yeah, how much knowledge do you have to be able to make those adjustments when you notice what you’re noticing,
Brad: And about execution, too.
Brad: You have to, you have to notice it and pull the trigger, and not just say, oh, I think this is a good spot to bluff. And then fold. Like, that’s something that I see happening all too often. It’s like, oh, I think this is a good spot to bluff. But I’m going to fold maybe next time. And what’s really happening in my mind is folks are avoiding discomfort, and unfamiliarity. And really, the fact of the matter is, the only way to get comfortable in spots where you’re currently uncomfortable, is to be uncomfortable and get in the reps so that you feel more comfortable navigating, like four bet pots, or whatever. It is that’s, you know, typically a sticking point in your specific game.
Jason: Yeah. I think that getting comfortable in the unknown, is, is my goal, rather than just always being uncomfortable, because I don’t, I don’t like being uncomfortable. Nobody really does. And, but I find that I’m only uncomfortable when I’m in a thing that I’m in a place that I’m not familiar with. And so, a lot of what I do in life is just learning how to get comfortable in the unknown. So even though I’m in a spa, in a hand, or a stage in life that I wasn’t particularly prepared for, I have tools to get connected with myself so that I can access all that hidden, intuitive intelligence, and at least get somewhat comfortable in that space, even though I haven’t had it all worked out before.
Brad: These tools are shared in Poker with Presence, I presume?
Jason: Yes, all of them. Yeah.
Brad: Yeah, this is going to be a must read for the folks who are listening to this podcast if you fall in line with the things that I’ve said over many, many, many episodes when it comes to trusting your gut feeling, intuition, flow states, all of these things, Jason’s book, Poker Presence is just, it’s just a must read, right? It’s I don’t know how much it costs, but it’ll be worth it at the end of the day. I do want to go back though to your story. So, you’re playing, you’re in college. Did you finish college? Where did you,
Brad: You did finish college. How that work out?
Jason: It was not the easiest thing to finish college. I, in the year I turned 21. So, from age 20 to 21, I did really well playing, like 2-5, 5-5 playing around in Austin and making, I think I made like, I don’t know, 50k that year, just playing live games like three to four days a week at night. And then at the end of that year, when school got out, I went and played some tournaments down in New Orleans, and being to 1k for like 150k. And at that point, I still had a year of college left. And it was very hard to, to go to class when I could be making money and playing poker, instead. But I did go because I just wanted to finish. It felt important to finish. And to take the classes that I still thought were interesting. I didn’t work as hard in those classes that I still thought were interesting, but I still showed up. And I did finish. And I’m glad I did.
Brad: Are you genuinely glad you did? Or are you using a bias? Have you used your degree at all? Because I look at it like sunken cost fallacy at that point.
Brad: You know, you’re, you’ve invested so much and you probably are realized that poker is going to be your future, but you still finish it. How happy are you on a scale of 1 to 10 as far as finishing college versus fully invest in yourself in a poker?
Jason: I’d say like an eight.
Jason: Yeah. Like because at that time, I was not planning for poker to be my life. I was still planning to do something that involves working or entrepreneurship in something that was not professional poker, that was not actually my plan at any point, until a year and a half after I graduated in which I had still not seek out employment at that time. And so, like literally up until that moment of like a year and a half after graduating college, I still did not identify myself as like a full-time poker player, or plan to have poker be my primary source of income in any way whatsoever. And so, when I was in that mindset, I was like, yeah, of course, I’m going to finish college. And my studies were, like I never banked on my studies being integral to making lots of money. I majored in humanities and sociology. But the types of traits that those majors kind of encourage you to have, which is just critical thinking, questioning everything as much as you want to question it and looking at things from different angles. Those things all helped me to grow as a poker player and as a person. So yeah, I’d say an eight out of 10 feels pretty good.
Brad: Yeah. They’re definitely good skills at the poker table, looking at things from different angles, thinking about different perspectives. understanding human emotion. Empathy is a big part of being successful in live world. What was the moment when you decided you were okay, I’m a poker player, I guess I give, I give up the dream of having a regular job?
Jason: I don’t know. I just, I just remember that at Sunday, it dawned on me that this is what I was doing. And from then on, I didn’t question it. But before that, up to that point, there was always resistance. Anytime in college people are like, we should be professional poker players. Like that’s stupid. Like, why would anybody want to do that? Or even like the year in between, people would be like, oh, are you just like playing poker right now is like, I mean, like, I’m, look, I’m thinking about what I want to do. And in the meantime, I’m, I’m playing cards with. So, there was always a lot of resistance up until this moment, and just someday clicked in. I was like, oh, I think this is like what I’m doing right now. And I’m enjoying it. So why not?
Brad: And you’ve been doing it ever since.
Jason: Yeah, pretty much. There’s a break for a couple of years. But for the most part, yeah.
Brad: Tell me about the break. What year was that? What brought the break on?
Jason: It was right before Black Friday. And I was strictly a heads up no limit cash player online for many years up to that point.
Brad: I’m sorry. It is a brutal world for the heads up no limit cash players in the online world.
Jason: It is now but back then it was not. And
Brad: Over time, like as more things have happened, it’s gotten
Brad: More and more horrible for those folks.
Jason: Yeah. And, and so I don’t even know if that’s a thing anymore. But back then it was spectacular because you could just grind and play every hand. I hate folding, you never had to fold and you got to bluff a lot. I love the bluff. You got to just do all the fun stuff, and do it in a way that was actually making money. Whereas if you tried to do that stuff in a six max or four ring game, you just get toasted. So, I was grinding, heads up, no limit cash full time, back in those years. And then around 2010, I started feeling this like burnout. And then I started feeling this not getting excited to play poker anymore.
Brad: Can you describe the burnout? Like that feeling?
Jason: It was like Phil Galfond said something about it that I resonated with at that time. He said, like when he won, he was just relieved. And when he lost, he felt like the world was ending or something like that.
Brad: Because identity was winning.
Jason: Yeah. And so, I’ve kind of felt that same emotion. It was like when I won, I was just like, pleased that I didn’t lose. And then when I lost for a few days or a week or a month, I remember I had one of my worst months ever, during that stretch. Certainly, didn’t help. And
Brad: What was that?
Jason: Lost like 60k in like three weeks.
Brad: Oh, wow. What were you playing?
Jason: I was playing 5-10, a little bit of 10-20 but mostly 5-10, and just getting, just getting reamed on every site against every type of player. And it was fast. And you know, it heads up. And so, my head was spinning and yeah, just, I rebounded from that. But even after coming back from that part of me, it just always felt like terrified of having the next one of those stretches happen.
Brad: Yeah, yeah. PTSD.
Brad: Poker PTSD effect.
Jason: For sure, for sure.
Brad: So, you just decided I’m going to take a couple years off, what do you do?
Jason: I, actually again, didn’t like no, I was taking a couple years off when I started. I’m like slow to realize these things.
Brad: You’re like, oh, like at the end of your life. You’re like, oh, I lived my whole life. Okay.
Jason: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. It’s like, oh, yeah, it’s over. Yeah, it’s like, it probably just started out as like, I’m going to take a short break. And then before I knew it, it was like two years. I haven’t played a hand of poker. I did a lot of just inner work around, like, trying to figure out why this activity that had made me so, so happy, and so fulfilled early on, had all of a sudden become associated with something that was stressing me out and not really enjoyable whatsoever. Did some traveling. I ventured into some other business type things that did not go so well. And
Brad: Your poker player expectation.
Jason: Yeah, I just bought some guy’s business like so, yeah, I’ll buy your coffee shop. That didn’t go well. Yeah. Yeah, so yeah, if you’re 25 you should just not buy somebody’s business without consulting with somebody who has done this type of work before.
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Brad: Tell me about the coffee shop because I need to know like, how much did you pay? What was the expectation? And then like, what was the reality of the thing?
Jason: Yeah, I was, like this coffee trailer because like back in 2010, like food trucks were like the rage in Austin, there, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing food trucks. So, this guy I knew had this coffee trailer business and he didn’t want to do it anymore. And I was getting out of poker. I was like, wanting to like branch out from poker. And, and he was like, yeah, I’ll sell it to you for like 25k. And I was, and he said the, you know, the infrastructure like all the equipment itself is worth like 15. So, you know if all goes wrong, when you can at least get that for it. And that was true. I did end up being able to do that. And you know, I was like alright, 25k, like who cares? Like we all complain, online poker players we had, we all had like way more money and then we need to do it at that time. This was like 25k. Yeah, like, and
Brad: It’s a great idea.
Jason: Yeah. So just like cut him a check literally in like, a day. And then and the next thing I know I’m waking up at like five in the morning to go make coffee and like, make sure that everything’s running smoothly. I did have an employee, but I still wanted to be there because I was like, invested and wanted to like, smooth out the operations and work out the logistics and like improve this and improve that because I’m poker player, like, I want to make the system better.
Jason: Yeah, I want to optimize the coffee shop. And I did. I did like some really good stuff. But after like six months, I was like, wait a minute, like, I’m not a morning person. Like my guy just called me at like 6am telling me that we’re out of cups. And that wasn’t fun. And I don’t think I should be doing this. Because, yeah, like I enjoy doing business. I’m doing business now. And I enjoy it. And this is not the right business for me. I’m not passionate about the products I’m selling. I’m selling sugar, which I don’t consume myself. So, it’s just time to like, let this go. So, it was like a short-lived experiment, probably like six months. And yeah, small financial hit, and big life lesson for the first entrepreneurial failure, which is I think, vital to everyone’s success.
Brad: And so, you sell your coffee business, and you still got like a year and a half before you get back into poker. What was the, what do you do in the meantime, when you were not slinging coffee?
Jason: I traveled. I went to Southeast Asia for like seven months after selling all the parts of the coffee shop ice. I tried to sell like all of my possessions. I decided to become like a wandering ascetic renouncing all worldly possessions, which is a lot easier, which is a lot easier to do when you have money. Yeah, so I did that I like sold all my stuff, put, put a small backpack of things together and just took off for seven months. And basically, spent all of that time by myself not really talking to anybody very much. I met some people along the way that I enjoy hanging out with, but the majority of that time was just me in isolation, taking stock of the last, you know, seven, eight years of my adult life since leaving for college, and kind of just getting clear on what type of person I want to be. And, yeah, how I might generate happiness in the rest of my life. And so that was a really good time. Like, if you looked at it just on the surface, I didn’t really like do anything. People would call people. My friends may be like, what are you been doing the last three months in Shanghai? And I’d be like, in the morning, I wake up, and I lay in bed for a couple of hours. And then I go walk around for an hour and find some food. And in the afternoon, it’s too hot. So, I go back and I take a nap. And then when it’s less hot, I wake up from my nap, go walk around outside and find food. And they’re like, what’s wrong with you?
Brad: You just described my ideal day, by the way. That is, this is retirement folks. Like this
Brad: This is what we battle so hard for.
Jason: I was retired without having enough money to fully retire. But I was like, retired for that seven months completely. Yeah.
Brad: So, what brought on the urge to end, you’re wondering and start playing cards more?
Jason: So, I came back. And I had seen this therapist in Austin, who had done training around to these principles of body awareness, and really getting in touch with your emotional literacy and having really good awareness of what you’re feeling when you’re feeling, having really good connection to your whole body rather than just your head.
Brad: One second. Let me ask you this question. When you say emotional literacy,
Brad: Tell me what you mean exactly. Because I’m sure the audience is listening. Like, I’m emotionally literate. I know what my emotions mean.
Jason: Yeah. It’s, it refers to your ability to recognize emotions when you’re having them. And I think most people would say that they probably do a really good job of that, but they’re wrong because even myself in this place of having spent the last like 10 years working on this skill. I still feel like two weeks later, oh, I was mad about that. And I didn’t, I didn’t admit it, I didn’t express it. And so emotional literacy, just a first closing that gap between when that experience is happening inside you and your awareness of it, and your willingness to let that experience happen, right, rather than blocking out the sadness, trying to put up a brave front, for later.
Brad: Stuffing it down.
Jason: Yes. Stuffing it down for later because that never works.
Brad: Of course not, of course not. And we’re all born with emotions. But we’re not born with how to navigate and understand these emotions. We just, you know, I think of it in terms of, if you’re training for an athletic endeavor, and you’re working on like your quick twitch skills, like say football, you run a ladder. You run like a skills ladder to improve your ability to run, which is not something that you actually think about. But the reality is, when you were little, you learn how to walk and how to run in a certain way through trial and error, and it’s not optimized. And you can go back and re learn and optimize how you move and your emotions are very similar in that we have them we, through trial and error, figure out how to navigate them. But that’s not a super intelligent way of gaining emotional literacy.
Jason: Yeah, I think that when we’re a little and when we’re most pliable in terms of like, we’re just taking in so much, and just doing what we see happening around us. So, when little beings who are being brought up in communities or in their families were being connected to your emotions is a really strong focus. I think those kids grow up and have really good abilities throughout their lives, to manage their emotions, to be with them, to recognize when they’re happening. The problem is just that the majority of people now in the world don’t operate in that way. And so, when they have kids, and they raise them, the kids just copy what they see their parents doing. And so, when your parents are not getting in touch or acknowledging their emotions and not letting themselves feel, then that’s how the child is going to learn to operate in the world as well, which is unfortunate.
Brad: Absolutely. Which means if you’re an aspiring poker player, and somebody who thinks they’re going to be a parent one day, really internalize this discussion, because it can have just dramatic impact as to how your child or offspring grows up and interprets the world and just their whole trajectory in life. No pressure.
Jason: No pressure. No, but it is all on you. Just in case you didn’t know.
Brad: Yes, it is all your fault if everything goes to hell in a handbasket. So, you know, get your shit together. So, let’s go back. You’re working through your emotional literacy doing all of this work moving back towards poker.
Jason: Yeah. I, so I was back in Austin after having traveled for the seven months. And I knew I wanted to live somewhere else. But in that time, I was still enjoying kind of just hanging out, saying goodbye to my friends for those last few months, and just living out the last remnants of that decade living in Austin. And I went to this training with a woman named Katie Hendricks of the Hendrix Institute. And she had been the mentor of my therapist in Austin. And so, I went to this training. And this is like a three-day immersion in all about these types of things, about how to get connected to your breath, how to get connected to your full spectrum of body intelligence through movement practices, how to notice when you’re having feelings, and how to be with your feelings. And so, when I went to that, and I saw the kind of work that they were doing, and the types of I guess aliveness is the word that was kind of like stirring up inside me from just being in that space. I knew I wanted to explore that work much deeper. And so, I ended up working directly with Katie for a couple of years in her apprenticeship program, and really dug deep into all of my own stuff, all of the patterns and the ways that I’ve been not feeling my feelings, not been acknowledging what’s true in my life. And from that point, just started to get really clear as a person. But more importantly, probably about three to six months into that exploration, I started to feel this little bit of excitement around well, what if, what if poker wasn’t the problem? What if I was the problem? And the way that I was going about it was the problem. And what if I’m a different person now, and I have these tools and these practices that make me pretty happy wherever I go in life, in my relationships with people and my relationship with myself. So, I thought, well, what if I went back to poker and I created a relationship with poker, using these same ideas to just be happy, again, as a poker player. And so, it just started out as a little seed of an idea. And just kind of went from there.
Brad: How did you go about doing that?
Jason: I played, I think I played once, in a one on one when I was visiting my sister. And then I was like, okay, well, that was okay. But still not sure I want to like, do this regularly again. And then I think it might have been like another good amount of time, maybe like another year or so after I had moved to Boulder, where I live now, and discovered that they had poker and went to the casino, and then went back, and
Brad: How did you approach being a happy poker player with all of your newfound wisdom and knowledge?
Jason: I wanted to approach poker from the standpoint that I had in the very beginning, before I knew all this technical stuff that I eventually grew to know. And in the beginning, I looked back and I said, okay, well, what was I doing that was that made the experience just so fun, right? Like, I could never get enough of poker when I was 19, 20, 21. And what it was, was that I was approaching it from a standpoint of doing the things that I’m naturally good at. And that come to me easily from an action perspective. So, some of the things that I’m really, really good at just naturally, are like distilling information. So, I’m not really great at solving a spot myself. But if somebody solves it, and then tells me what they found, I can take that in, and kind of like tweak it around and learn how to apply it to different circumstances really, really easily. Like, I can just do that naturally. And another thing that I’m really good at naturally, is just competing, and just focusing on doing my best in that moment, and stepping up when the stakes mattered most. And so, I tried to identify the things that I’m naturally good at, and focus on doing those things when I was playing poker, more so than the actual strategic aspect of poker. Because at a certain point, the strategy is good, right? And the only thing that changed from me when I was burned out to me now, is that the way that I approached the game, because I tell myself, okay, when I’m playing now, I’m going to be like actively trying to distill information as it comes to me. I’m going to be actively trying to like synthesize that information in a way that makes sense to me, so that I can like spit it back out in different situations that are similar, but not quite the same. And I’m going to focus on really just competing and having a really good time while doing so. So, when I put myself in that framework, rather than a framework of like, hoping I’m going to win, or analyzing every spot to death, or micromanaging what my hands are doing, or hating the guy across from me because he’s running hot, or getting mad at the floor man, because he did a horrible ruling.
Brad: I got one, I got one. Now, the other one is these days that drive you crazy and take you away from why you love the game. I think that’s always gotten me in trouble is when I start believing that if I just show up, then good results come.
Jason: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Brad: I say, oh, I’m going to start playing, you know, 2000 hands a day versus 1000.
Brad: And then I show up and I start the grind. This always ends catastrophically for me.
Brad: I always lose. And I always get in a bad Mendel’s base, because I’m just showing up thinking that the results are going to come if I put it enough time in, and I’m not fully playing with purpose, right? Like, I think that’s what you’re describing is, playing with purpose with an objective. And fully immersing yourself in the process and not just saying, oh, I’m going to click some buttons.
Brad: And my goal is $1,000 a day and yada, yada, yada.
Jason: Yeah, and that’s, that’s true for people like you and, you and I who are respectful of the intuitive potentials of poker and the creative growth that happens in the game. And the approach you described that doesn’t work for you works for a lot of guys out there who completely don’t care at all about intuition, and they just want their own strategy. And they just want to show up online and grind their 5000 hands of zoom a day, and they’re going to play the same because, yeah, volume can overwhelm those issues. But when you’re a player who plays in flow, and wants to play from that perspective, like you can’t possibly come from a perspective of like, I want to play X amount of hours. It’s about because, because you value quality over quantity,
Brad: Yes, I’ve always been a high intensity player
Brad: Who’s willing to sacrifice volume for a higher win rate. And to put maximum amount of, amount of energy in each hand that I’ve played. I’ve realized over time that when I do put maximum amount of energy into every hand, I can only play a certain number of hands in a day, before my brain is just done. So, I think what happens is, when I try to increase volume, dramatically, I start holding back mental cognition, because I know if I fully apply myself, I’m going to run out
Brad: Which means I’m going to be playing at like 60% capacity for a longer time, which, frankly, let’s be real here. The results suck. But there’s also no pride in how I’m playing the game and how I’m attacking it compared to how I normally would.
Jason: Yeah. And then you’re not excited to play again, right? Because you just did this thing that made you like, not really that happy at all.
Jason: And so why would you be excited to do it again, the next day, whereas when you just go all the way, and you gave everything you had, and you were really like on the right level in every spot, that’s exciting, right? And you, you’re tired, but in like a really good way. Whereas in the first way, you’re tired in the way of a person who works a nine to five, which is like the main reason why none of us do this
Jason: Is because we don’t want that feeling of like clock in, clock out. But if that’s how you approach poker, you will generate that feeling. And you’re not going to want to show up the next day, you’re not going to want to study. But when you are engaged and really interested in every spot, you give it your all. It’s like win or lose. It’s like, yeah, that was awesome. Let’s do this again tomorrow, or like, let’s look at these spots where got really interesting and get even better for tomorrow.
Brad: Yeah, that that excites you
Brad: When you when you play above the rim, and you do things that other people in the population doesn’t do. And you know, you’re capable of doing it, that’s what gives you fire
Brad: That’s when you feed off of it. That’s what I feed off of.
Brad: And this is my own paradigm, you know. This is my own vacuum that I live in, and that it may not work for different personality types and different humans. But at the end of the day, know yourself and know how you respond to these things. And don’t try to fit yourself into a box that doesn’t resonate with you. Because there’s no happiness, there’s no fulfillment, and you’re going to struggle way more than you would otherwise.
Jason: Yeah, and you’re going to have less money to.
Brad: Exactly. So, like, it’s just a lose across the board. Like if you find yourself as a more intuitive type player or a high intensity, low volume player, then just be that person. Don’t try to be a super high-volume player, because you’re going to hate it. And when you start hating it, that’s when you stop playing poker. That’s when you burn out. And that’s when you wander around for two years in the wilderness, as
Jason: So, you end up just wandering around in Laos, doing nothing for weeks at a time.
Brad: Exactly, exactly. So, you got back into poker, you started playing with purpose. You felt good compared to your earlier career. And is this where we catch up with you now? Any bumps along the way?
Jason: Yeah. So that when I started playing in Colorado was 2013. And so, I’ve been playing poker in Colorado since. And from this framework coming at poker from this place. Every time I play poker, I am happier and more excited about it than the last. And so that’s the number one testament I can give to approaching poker in this way, that if you want to be in this game for a while you want longevity, you want to grow, and you don’t want to burn out, come at it from a place of doing the things that you already know that you love to do come at it from that place in that perspective.
Brad: And at the end of the day, I say this all the time on chasing poker greatness, you know that’s, that is a greatness bomb. And the reality is you’re, you’re investing your lifeforce, your energy and your time into this game. So, you may as well enjoy the experience. It’s not just cut and dry about the money. It’s about the experience that you’re having while you’re doing, you’re playing this game. And if you hate every second of it, then either A, analyze what brought you joy to play poker in the first place, like Jason is advocating or B, stop playing poker and find something else or look in yourself and ask these hard questions, why am I doing this? Is it solely about the money? Is this going to make me happy over the long term? And if the answer is, is that it is about the money and it’s not going to make you happy, then why are you spending your time playing this game?
Jason: There are a lot of people who say it’s just about the money, but it’s not true. And I know this because poker players put up with so much stuff to get the money that nobody in other fields have to put up with, or at least not very many. Right? And so
Brad: Define what are some of the things we put up with.
Jason: Running bad for horribly long periods of time. Losing, losing to people, we really don’t like. Losing the people who we judge don’t really deserve it at all.
Brad: Getting cheated.
Jason: Getting cheated. Getting scammed, not getting paid back. Just lots of people doing financially shady things and not getting called out or punished for it in the long run.
Brad: All the operators fucking us at every single turn.
Brad: Turn trying to maximize their money and making life hard on the pros.
Jason: Yeah. The rake going up every year. The people who are so insecure about themselves that they have to talk strategy at the table and lower our win rate, even though we’re not the ones doing it, but we’re getting punished for it. And
Brad: Typically, I don’t care about that, because the people who, I look at that is like disinformation. People that are spreading that are never at a super high level where it’s valuable things for people to know.
Jason: Yeah. Yeah, and then if you play live, you probably end up spending lots of time with people who you would otherwise never want to hang out with. Right? So, but primarily, the running bad, right, is going to be the number one thing that we deal with that people who work nine to five just don’t have to deal with like, people say, oh, like, hey, should I play poker full time? And I say okay, so just imagine that you go to your job, and you did the best work you’ve ever done in your life. And at the end of it, you have $20,000 less. And they’re like, alright, yeah, I’m not going to do that. Right. So just right off the bat, like having to go through those swings is evidence that like, people who play poker are not just in for the money, because if you’re just in it for the money, you can make way more money with the same intellectual skill set that you have, doing just about anything else with a fraction, a tiny fraction of the pain that poker has. So, there really is like something else that everybody wants from the game. And so, to tap into that is where the money’s at.
Brad: That’s where the power is at, the power and the money to go the distance and keep on taking another step. Even after you do the best work of your life and variants says not today. Not today, sir. Man, let’s, let’s move into lightning round. Ask some quick questions here. What’s some common poker advice you hear that you completely disagree with?
Jason: Oh. That playing taking win lots of money.
Brad: Why do you disagree with that?
Jason: Because people like me will destroy you if you do.
Brad: Because there’s nothing more that aggressive, loose players love than picking on a tight player.
Jason: Yeah. Over and over.
Brad: Realizing that their paradigm, what they’re thinking is, oh, you just wait. You just waited to like get a hand and then I’m going to bust you. You’re going to give me all your money. And then when they get ahead, you just snap, fold in their face.
Brad: And yeah, it’s a, it’s much more fun being a lag.
Jason: Oh, yeah.
Brad: Maybe like 30 years ago when nobody was being aggressive. And everybody was playing every hand. You had no choice but to play tight. But what’s the fun in that, right? I don’t know what the fun is and being a net. If you could gift all poker players one book besides Poker with Presence, or including Poker with Presence generous gift, what book would that be?
Jason: I love Elements of Poker. I had no idea until I was writing Poker with Presence how much of my philosophies came from reading that book like 12, 13 years ago. I just thought I had thought of those things on my mind. But it was Tommy. It was Tommy.
Brad: Yeah. Tommy Angelo, former Chasing Poker Greatness guest, Elements of Poker. He’s also in line with the not the lag approach. He is of the tide approach
Jason: He is.
Brad: Which I disagree with.
Jason: I made fun of him for it.
Brad: Did you? Tell me, tell me that story how that happened.
Jason: He, he came on one of my group coaching calls where I was coaching guys in limit hold’em and, and he used to play nothing but limit hold’em for many years. And he came on and he said, you know what I love about limit hold’em is that you get to see so many showdowns. And if you see somebody raising with some trash and like queen 10 suited under the gun, you just know that they’re a fish. And then I was like, Tommy, I just want you to know that we all raise queens.
Brad: You’re in a group with all the fish, Tommy. I think that, again, it’s like a generational thing.
Brad: I think that back then it’s probably really hard. Hard to play more hands, just because you’re getting six and seven and eight, we action every single flop, but like poker evolves, and poker changes. And I do not advocate anybody, anybody being a super nit, and folding a ton, like, I play cards to play in pots, and to get involved and mix it up. That’s what’s fun to me.
Jason: Yeah, it’s always more fun to put chips in than to throw your cards in. And there are ways to make money when you put more chips in. So,
Brad: They materialize, you start figuring it out.\
Jason: Yeah, yeah.
Brad: Like you start, you may not know exactly where the money’s going to come from, as you venture deeper into the decision tree, but you start finding natural exploits, and people’s games that you can take advantage of. And the only way to do that is to, you know, get to the river with some piece of shit hand. You were heavily advised not to, not to be there, and then try to navigate and figure out if you can make it profitable.
Jason: Yeah, and for the people who have like, not shut this thing down by this point. So, the people who are still listening are interested in growing as poker players. And so, the way to do that is not to just fold 90% of hands. The way I do that is to grow by playing hands and learning how to make them profitable, not just avoiding the situation in the first place.
Brad: Yeah, nobody’s turned this off at this point by the way. They, they love this point in the discussion. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about poker, I have to caveat of no legalization in the US, because that’s always the first answer. What would it be and why?
Jason: I would, I would have four people kicking people out a lot sooner for unsportsmanlike, poor, uncalled for behavior. I think that’s just ridiculous.
Brad: I do too. I think it’s the reason why those people don’t get kicked out sooner. And why they don’t get confronted is that they mostly suck at poker.
Brad: That’s what keeps them
Jason: Yeah, or
Brad: In the game
Jason: Or in like certain cases, like, if I was tournament director of the World Series, Phil Hellmuth would have like three bracelets because he would have gotten thrown out of the rest of them.
Brad: On the flip side, though, to play devil’s advocate, he got a lot of attention for that. Right? Like he brought in a lot of people into poker. Like I think about Phil Hellmuth playing the poker boom better than anybody else. Because the character
Jason: Yeah, he’s playing a character
Brad: Yeah. He’s playing a character from you know, he’s been on this show as well. And he was very generous. Nice.
Brad: Everybody that I know in the poker world has had interactions with Phil is like, he’s nothing like what’s shown on TV.
Brad: But yes, it is obviously obnoxious. But polarization brings in the people, man. It’s hard to get people to care about you if you’re not polarizing.
Jason: Well, I didn’t guarantee that the magic wand would make us more money.
Brad: That’s true. Phil, let’s be real. He probably wouldn’t have gotten any bracelets. He would have been disqualified from entering the World Series of Poker long before
Brad: He found success for sure. What’s something people would be surprised to learn you’re horrible at?
Jason: I am probably the slowest runner, like bottom 1% at like sprinting for my demographic of like, 36-year-old male on Earth.
Brad: How do you make tennis work?
Jason: I’m surprisingly quick at like side to side movements. And I was very good at anticipating what my opponents were going to do.
Brad: The mental game.
Jason: Yeah. And I didn’t choke. That’s like, that was it.
Brad: A friend of mine. He weighs probably 350. He was a tennis player, in high school was thinner, but not thin by any stretch of the imagination. And just through understanding game theory, he found success. He told me one time he was in a match. And the guy was faster than him, could hit better shots than him, just better at everything. But he knew that if he gave the guy a low percentage shot, he wouldn’t pull off. He would always go for it. So, he just gave the guy low percentage shots and the guy didn’t realize like, hey, if we just volley all day, I’ll crush him instead. He just kept going. And my friend beat him. But it’s a lot of parallels I think probably
Jason: Tennis is car crazy. Tennis is crazy mental. It’s not surprising that tons of high stakes poker players were very high-level tennis players growing up.
Brad: Yeah, I think Garrett played tennis as well.
Jason: Yeah. Patrick Antonius.
Brad: Yeah, him. Gus, Gus Hansen played tennis as well. So, there you go. That’s a stepping stone. Tennis to poker.
Jason: Yeah, go play tennis.
Brad: So what wisdom, if you could distill it down to a nugget, would you share to listeners of this show who are hell bent on realizing their poker dreams?
Jason: You just got to do the work every day. You got to love it. And then you got to also honor the things about yourself that are going to allow you to be successful. So, you can’t copy somebody else’s path. You got to do the things that you do well, and make sure that you’re highlighting them. And at the same time, you got to do a lot of work off the table to build up that knowledge base.
Brad: Absolutely. And when you said, copying people’s path, it made me think about how folks will see a decision that’s made in a specific vacuum, and then try to copy and emulate that decision and apply it to their own vacuum and just get absolutely smashed. Because when you watch a pro or somebody do something on TV, they’re doing it for very specific reasons that 99.9% of time you’re not privy to.
Brad: So, like that monkey see, monkey do behavior equals you getting smashed. So that’s something that like, like, you’re, you’re wondering, why does this person do it, and it works? And why would I do it is because you’re not applying it correctly, you don’t understand the factors in play. So,
Jason: You don’t have the whole picture, you’re just seeing the hand. You didn’t see the like, three years of battling those two have done before that lead to that and you didn’t hear the conversation that was being talked about. You didn’t see that guy got kind of a little agitated 10 minutes earlier about them. You don’t get to see unless, you just see the hand.
Brad: Yeah. You don’t you don’t feel the impulses, right?
Brad: You don’t, you don’t feel, you know, you don’t have access to tap into the subconscious as to why this person is doing what they are.
Brad: They’re doing it for very specific reasons. And until you are well practiced, and no, it’s almost impossible to reverse engineer those reasons. So always have to put in the work. What’s your current big goal, as related to poker?
Jason: Playing poker is just to keep getting better each day. I’m actually not playing so much these days. I’m so busy with the coaching business and getting people more into their bodies and more present. And so, my goals are more coaching and business related at this stage of my life. And yeah, I’d love to be considered one of the top or if not one, or if not the top mindset and performance coach out there.
Brad: Tommy Angelo, of your generation. So, let’s segue into that project you’re working on that’s near and dear to your heart, could be the coaching business or even something outside of poker.
Jason: Yeah, right now I am making it my main objective to help as many poker players and high performers as possible, to tap into their intuition, to their ability to listen to that voice, when it’s on the right side of things to be fully engaged so that whatever they’re doing, they’re having a really good time. They’re feeling creative, they’re feeling that sense of flow and happiness that comes from doing something that you really love and enjoy, and are excelling at. And so yeah, the Poker with Presence book was step one of that to let people know kind of what I’m all about and the methods that I’m using. And step two is working with more and more people one on one, to help them break down the individual ways that they are not kind of breaking through to their maximum levels of performance. And that’s the stuff that really excites me.
Brad: Yeah, it’s very noble work. It excites me to just hearing your journey and your process and what you’re doing. I think it’s a boon to the poker community as a whole. It’s something that is 100% needed. And where can the Chasing Poker Greatness audience find you, for coaching and your book?
Jason: Yeah, the book, Poker with Presence is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. People are interested in learning more about the coaching you can go to pokerwithpresence.com
Brad: Awesome, man. It’s been a pleasure having you on. Let’s do this again, in the near future. Have a round two. Jason, take care, man.
Jason: Thanks, man. It’s a blast.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Chasing Poker Greatness. If you have yet to subscribe to the show, please take a second to do so on Apple podcasts or wherever your favorite place to listen to podcasts may be. For more content from me, Coach Brad, please visit our YouTube channel at youtube.com/enhanceyouredge and I’ll see you next time.
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