A Poker Life -- Jason Somerville
Somerville Talks About His Freerolling Beginnings, His Meteoric Rise, And The Elusive WSOP Bracelet
Jason “JCarver” Somerville was pretty much missing from the poker trail for the first few months of 2010. Having significantly reduced his poker schedule this year, the 23-year-old from Long Island resurfaced for the larger buy-in tournaments of the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) series in May and the World Series of Poker in June and July.
In those three months alone his tournament winnings were just shy of $1 million. Not bad for a guy who kick-started his poker career with $5 from a freeroll cash.
Somerville was born April 15, 1987 in Long Island, New York, where he has lived ever since. His basic introduction to poker was learning to play five-card draw with a friend while riding the bus to school in 5th or 6th grade.
By the time he reached high school, poker was booming. He started to watch it on TV and casually play with his friends. The more they played, the more interested he became in the game. So he started plugging away online the only way a teenager with no money can: freerolls.
“I asked my parents for money to deposit and they denied me,” he admits. “Which was the responsible thing to do.”
His Cinderella tale began when, at 17-years-old, he won $5 in a freeroll. He took it to nickel-dime limit hold’em tables for some serious grinding. As the months passed, he gradually increased the stakes he was playing and switched to no-limit hold’em. His account grew to $100, then to $1,000, and around 18 months after his fateful freeroll cash he had made $100,000 online.
“Back then the games were so good,” he remembers. “You didn’t have to be so good to crush them.”
Somerville proceeded to college, but after 2 1/2 years he wasn’t happy. He wasn’t being challenged and began spending his free time reading more about poker and developing his game. He switched his major from business to political science and was even more miserable.
“I went from having nothing to do and being bored to having too much busy work. I dropped out, and my mother freaked out. I figured if worst comes to worst, I can just go back, but I’ve done well in poker.”
He predominantly stuck with cash games and dabbled in tournaments on occasion. But after becoming friends with Vivek Rajkumar he says his tournament game soared to new heights.
“Vivek really helped my tournament game and gave me the right mindset.”
Starting With Poker VT
Another player he credits with improving his game is Daniel Negreanu. Somerville first met Negreanu two years ago while playing in a WSOP Europe event. After talking poker for a while, Negreanu asked him if he’d be interested in working for Poker VT.
“He said, ‘I’ll endorse you and we’ll see how it goes.’ His endorsement does a lot. To this day, I’m not really sure what made him do it, but he passed me along to them and they hired me. Now we talk often and definitely hang out a lot more than I expected when I was watching him on TV a few years ago.”
“Those guys helped me make the transition from no-limit cash to tournaments. Having Daniel in your corner in live play is a huge advantage.”
Somerville has been a key contributor to Poker VT ever since. His current project is filming content analyzing the most important hands along the way to his SCOOP win. It’s time consuming, but it allows him to study the game and stay sharp. A quick glance at his results shows that he’s a good student.
Over the last three years, Somerville has been one of the more consistently successful online tournament players. During Card Player’s inaugural Online Player of the Year race in 2007, he finished in 14th place and pocketed $458,360. The next year, he earned a 54th-place standing and an additional $357,573, while playing fewer online tournaments as he branched into the live tournament realm.
Today, he has become even more selective of his events, limiting his online play to only a day or two each week, and only traveling to play in the biggest buy-in live events. But reducing the number of tournaments he plays hasn’t dropped his results. 2010 has been his best year yet.
Chasing WSOP Gold
After finishing 4th in an EPT Caribbean Adventure event in January of this year, Somerville didn’t play much poker for months. He says he was either sick during that time or just occupied with other ventures.
Then in May he entered as many tournaments in the SCOOP series as he could, final-tabling three of them and winning the $2,000 buy-in event for a PokerStars bracelet and $234,000.
A few weeks later he had signed off of the virtual felt and was running deep in some of the largest buy-in events at the WSOP. He finished 3rd in the $10,000 no-limit hold’em heads up championship for $214,289 and 4th in the $25,000 no-limit hold’em six-handed event for $386,125. Add those to his two final table appearances at the 2009 WSOP and there’s just one important number missing from his WSOP results.
“I have a wrap now for the ol’ 2-3-4-5 ball. It’s not what you want people to say, but it’s not bad. I’m just hoping to make the wheel. It’d be nice to win a bracelet. I think I’ve been teased by it enough. I’d like to win one.”
And he’s not picky about what game it comes in. While most of his success has come in no-limit hold’em, he knows that some of the smaller, more manageable fields are in non-hold’em games.
“That’d help me with winning bracelets. Becoming a more all-around player would be a good thing for my poker life span. So I definitely want to improve at PLO and some of the mix games.”
$2.7 million in tournament winnings in his young career, yet he’s still hungry.
“I really enjoy playing poker. The way I approach the game, I don’t ever really feel burned out. It’s never a chore. I always enjoy myself, win or lose. As long as I keep that, I don’t have any desire to find anything new. Why would I?”
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