Jordan Farmar -- From the NBA to the WSOP
Los Angeles Laker Holds a Healthy Chip Stack Heading into Day 3
Last month, he was playing in the NBA Finals, earning his first championship ring as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. This month, he’s playing in his first World Series of Poker main event, trying to make ESPN in something other than basketball.
Jordan Farmar, the 22-year-old backup point guard for the Lakers, admits that he’s lived a pretty blessed life. After leading UCLA to an appearance in the national championship, the Lakers drafted him with the 26th overall pick in 2006.
After playing minutes in all 82 games for the Lakers in the 2007-08 season, he had to undergo surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee during the middle of last season. But he returned to the team less than five weeks later, and played the rest of the season and the playoffs. During the Lakers’ postseason run to a title, the young pro averaged 13 minutes and five points a game.
Despite playing in just his first poker tournament ever this week, Farmar has made Day 3 of the main event, holding 75,500 in chips. The NBA player sits down with Card Player to talk about his sudden burst onto the poker scene.
Stephen A. Murphy: I notice you’re wearing a PokerStars patch. Do you play online?
Jordan Farmar: I’ve never played online. I played poker one day before I came here — the day before I flew out to Vegas. I went to this casino in L.A. just to see what was going on. I got lucky early, but now I’m starting to get the hang of it.
SM: This was the first time you’ve ever played a poker tournament?
JF: Yeah. I mean, I know poker hands, I know what beats what, but I’ve never sat down and played. I didn’t know what a small blind or a big blind was. I didn’t know any of that.
SM: How do you think you’re doing now?
JF: At first, I was a little hesitant to make bets or to call people. I was afraid to lose money, but I’m here to have a good time. After watching people play and getting the hang of it — how they bet, when they call people, stuff like that — I think I’m pretty good.
SM: Is poker pretty popular amongst NBA players?
JF: We play cards all the time. On the Lakers, we don’t play poker, but I’m sure a lot of teams do. We all spend a lot of time together, traveling on planes, stuff like that. We play a different game called Boo-Ray. It’s like spades a little bit…it’s a lot of fun.
SM: A lot of people dream of playing an NBA Finals game or the main event at the World Series of Poker. You’ve done both in less than a month…
JF: I’m a lucky mother———. Excuse my language. I’m just lucky. They invited me here to have a good time and to be a “celebrity contestant” or whatever. I figured it couldn’t hurt. I had seen it on TV and it looked like fun.
SM: Can you compare the emotions of playing in the NBA and at the World Series?
JF: Well, basketball, I have a love for it, a different kind of love for it. But the feeling of anxiety when you make a big move or big play (in poker), the competitive nature of going one-on-one with somebody…it’s really fun.
SM: The Lakers officially signed Ron Artest on Wednesday, completing a deal made last week. Are you excited to play with Artest next year?
JF: Yeah, I’m really excited. He’s one of my better friends in the NBA. It sucks for Trevor (Ariza, who moved on to the Houston Rockets). Trevor’s my guy, we grew up together in Los Angeles, he played a really big part in our team to help us win a championship.
But it’s a business. Every year, I learn more and more on how much of a business it is. But when you get a guy like Ron Artest for what we got him for — to take a paycut to try to come win a championship — he’s one of the better players in the NBA.
Follow Farmar’s progress along with the rest of the remaining players in the World Series in Card Players’ Live Updates. After an off-day today, Day 3 will begin tomorrow on Friday on July 10.
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