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Generation Next -- Kyle 'KJulius10' Julius

Julius Explains Why He Hates To Lose

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Kyle JuliusSinking the winning shot at the buzzer as the crowed roared was the dream of Kyle Julius growing up in Chicago. Hometown hero Michael Jordan made it look all too easy, so why couldn’t he do the same. So Julius lived, ate, drank, and slept basketball. By the end of his High School career a number of major universities came knocking to recruit him. But by then the competitive fire in his belly had switched targets and nurtured a new dream, conquering the game of poker.

At the beginning the biggest asset Julius possessed was the skill to learn from his mistakes and put a lid on his ego. He learned poker by playing the game, without assistance from books, training videos, or tips from forum junkies. He observed what worked and what didn’t work, one hand at a time. That simple approach succeeded, beyond his wildest dreams. That laser like discipline, focus, and hard work honed from years of competitive sports paid off within a few short years. He eventually built up a $100,000 bankroll grinding the online cash games.

“I don’t like losing,” says Julius. “I love any form of competition. It motivates me. When you lose you don’t feel good about it. You lose sleep and have a hunger to push yourself to get better. And the more you play, the better you get. I never got good at basketball by watching TV or reading a book about it. I know that the hunger to compete and win is the key to my success in poker.”

As 2010 came to a close, Julius turned what looked like a break-even or possible losing season into a spectacular home stretch. In August he won the $300 no-limit hold’em FTOPS event #22 for $159,243 and a few weeks later took second in the Full Tilt $1,000,000 Guaranteed no-limit hold’em event for $163,222. To top it off he celebrated the New Year by capturing the January 2nd PokerStars Sunday $500 for $95,370. Those combined cashes have soared Julius’s career tournament winnings to over $1,900,000.

Craig Tapscott: I had read that you had no issues when it came to building a big stack in tournaments, but you struggled when it came to closing the deal. How did you overcome that?

Kyle Julius: Yeah, I did. When that happens so much you have to reevaluate what you’re doing. I think I’ve gotten better at mixing my game up and changing speeds, rather than just constantly being the aggressor and putting pressure on. I finally realized that it’s okay to be tight. It’s okay to slow down and relax and wait for a good hand. There are times you definitely have to do that. And that’s been working for me.

Craig: Obviously. You’ve had a tremendously successful final six months of 2010. So I guess you’re living the poker dream now.

KJ: My friends certainly think I’m living the dream life. (Laughs) Sure, I’m traveling and playing a game that I love. But having a poker life is not easy. It’s poker; you’re going to lose more often than you’re going to win. You have to finish top five in events to make any real money, and if you’re just barely cashing poker is not going to work out for you as a living. I’m learning to invest my money. I don’t want to play poker for a living the rest of my life.

CT: What’s the most important lesson you learned during the beginning of your poker career?

KJ: Don’t drink and play.

CT: (Laughs) I’ve seen the bumper sticker. But seriously, that’s good advice. What happened to you?

KJ: When I was 18 in high school I built up a $100,0000 bankroll from cash games. At times I would go online and play $25/$50 NL cash games and do dumb stuff, like playing heads-up matches against people who do that for a living. I threw away my entire bankroll and then struggled to find a backer. I got lucky and eventually did. But it was dumb to do that. I had to go broke and crawl and scratch my way back up the ladder to learn better. I’m happy that it’s really worked out for me, because I can’t imagine having a desk job.

CT: Last question. What’s your best advice for new players to the game?

KJ: Many people blow tournaments trying to be a hero. Big egos get in the way of a lot of players. You can’t win the tournament with one hand or one huge bluff. You have to put your ego aside, fold, and let someone get the best of you at times. You have to let it go, put it behind you, and move on.