During EPT11 Barcelona I interviewed Team Pokerstars Pro Jake Cody. The youngest Triple Crown winner (EPT title, WPT title, WSOP bracelet) and popular star of the poker world, the 25 year old is a regular on the European Poker Tour.
Will: You developed a passion for poker at college, how did the swing from college to poker come about?
Jake: I guess I’ve always been like really competitive in everything I do, whether it’s board games with the family, sports, even iPhone games with my friends I just have to beat them, I’m just so competitive. I found poker and that brought out my competitive side, and it’s also quite a strategic game, with a lot of maths involved so I was interested in that during school. When I found poker it brought those two sides together, and I put a lot of time and effort into becoming better. Me and one of my friends learnt to play at the same time, so basically we’d just get the chip set and play each other one on one for hours on end, even before I knew that online poker existed. Then I found forums and books and even training sites and I used all these tools that were available to me, and basically dedicated 3-4 years of my life just trying to become better.
W: And then took the plunge?
J: Midway through that I took the plunge. At school I was always intelligent, but I didn’t really try too hard. I was only really interested in something if it interested me. I didn’t like to do things I didn’t want to do, so if there were subjects I was really passionate about or something that I really like to do I would totally go all out, but if it was something I wasn’t really bothered about I wouldn’t do that. The teachers were sometimes frustrated with me when I was at school, because I was too laid back and I wasn’t really trying even though they knew I could do it if I put the effort in.
When I found poker, from day one I loved it and ever since I’ve been obsessed with it. I feel like you need that obsession to take things to such a high level
W: And it’s that obsessive nature and the passion for poker that is the stigma that surrounds it for the older generation?
J: I think my parents, and the generation before that have a certain way that poker is depicted, especially in the media and in films, it’s always criminals playing it in smokey rooms. And there’s always people betting their cars and their houses, and that just doesn’t happen in modern poker. In the real world poker is very mainstream, it’s a lot more about the strategy of the game much like, for example, chess rather than some sort of weird criminal game
W: Coming from college and then going into poker, what are your thoughts about university poker societies?
J: It sounds like a great stepping stone to get people introduced to poker and to introduce the game. It’s not like everyone wants to play poker for a living but people can be interested in poker and want to play it, whether it’s a hobby to play with their friends or that they play online sometimes or if they aspire to play in a big tournament one day. There’s then going to be a whole other level of people who are even more interested who want to do it as a job.
W: There are people I know who do that as a hobby with friends, but then I do know people who are at the weekend are always playing in the casinos. Lots of people start playing it when they’re younger with their family.
J: Poker grabs people at different levels. It’s such a great game Especially in the UK I feel like poker has been booming for the last few years, especially with the amount it’s been on tv. All my friends from back home all play poker, obviously not to a high level, but they play it regardless.
W: What would you say to the older generation of people about poker?
J: I think a lot of people when they hear about poker they put it in the same category as blackjack or roulette, complete non-skill games because of the gambling aspect of the poker, because of the money involved. They’ll just assume that it’s pure gambling and only focus on the stories of people who have lost everything because of gambling. People associate it with that when really it’s not like that at all. It’s a game and money is just a tool to play it. It’s a mental sport.
W: How do you allay fears of people who are interested in poker but are fearful of the potential negative side?
J: I feel like poker brings people together. People don’t play with all their money on the table, you should play at a comfortable limit for the specific person and what you can afford. It’s a great social game, and I know a lot of people who like to go out and play poker socially at the casino, or wherever their local club is.
You can follow Jake Cody on twitter here: @JakeCody, and check out his own website here: http://www.jake-cody.com/