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A Poker Life: Theo Jorgensen

by Logan Hronis |  Published: May 15, 2013

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Theo JorgensenTheo Jorgensen was born in 1972 in Roskilde, Denmark. He grew up a soccer fanatic, living with his parents and sister. Jorgensen was introduced to the game of poker, and ended up turning it into a prominent career, one that took him all over the world.

Jorgensen boasts a number of impressive poker victories in his time as a pro, including a sizeable 2004 victory in seven-card stud, a 2008 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet in pot-limit Omaha for nearly $400,000 and a 2010 World Poker Tour (WPT) title for more than $800,000. All told, he has more than $2.8 million in tournament wins.

In his first exposure to poker, however, Jorgensen was on the other side of the felt. He was a dealer in a Copenhagen casino for a few years, allowing him to get to know the game very well and become interested in the strategy and his exploitation capabilities.

After dealing for a few years, Jorgensen found himself in a higher-level casino business operations position. This solidified his notion of wanting to become a professional, and Jorgensen’s career on the felt began around 2000. Before long, he would become a well-known tournament pro throughout the world.

As his career began, Jorgensen was a dynamic player, his main drive being going for the big bluff and relying on his hand reading ability. Like a good number of poker professionals will admit, Jorgensen has had to change styles since then, but his steamroll tactics worked well for him early on.

“In the early 2000s, I was very aggressive because people would let me,” Jorgensen remembered.

Jorgensen was honing his craft, and before long, he started seeing major dividends for his hard work. He entered WPT, WSOP and WSOP Europe and European Poker Tour (EPT) events, and would go on to achieve substantial cashes in all of the aforementioned circuits.

EPT being his favorite and specialty, Jorgensen praises the format and staff along the tour. He believes that these tournaments are most worthwhile, and that they will be adapted according to what the players want going forward.

“I was there when we started with 10,000 chip starting stacks and pretty much the same blinds, so obviously it has gotten a lot better over the years,” Jorgensen said. “What I really like about the EPT, is that the staff is very open to changes for the better, and do listen a lot to the players.”

So why doesn’t he want to chase a WSOP bracelet these days? Jorgensen admits that the WSOP bracelet he received was a great accomplishment, but he would rather spend his time working toward something a little more practical and profitable. He believes that if he has to beat out such a large field, it’s less profitable in a situation where he has to give a good-sized portion of it away.

“Since I am paying at least 50 percent tax of any winnings outside Europe, I am not really working hard to win many more bracelets,” Jorgensen explained. “Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to throw out the one I got. On the other hand, I would much rather win an EPT than another WSOP bracelet. Taking the tax situation into consideration, I am most likely not playing anything else at the WSOP, other than the main event.”

Jorgensen finished 30th in the 2010 WSOP main event for $255,242. The field was a massive 7,319, as he fell just short of the coveted final table.

Boxing Match With Gus Hansen

Many people may remember the Team PokerStars boxing match between Theo Jorgensen and Gus Hansen. It started off as an afterthought of a squash game, and turned into a fairly big event, with $35,000 on the line.

“Three-quarters of my motivation for taking the bet was the training that would lead up to the fight,” he admitted. “I knew boxing was great training and had gotten tired of being out of shape. The preparation was harder than expected, but only because I was stupid enough to think it wasn’t going to be that bad. There were days where I was so sore I would make up excuses in the car on the way in to training, because I couldn’t see myself getting through the two hours. None of my excuses worked. In the end it was all worth it, even though I lost. The feeling you have in the shower after being completely run down by an old boxing trainer/sadist is pretty good.”

Jorgensen trained seven hard months for the match, but claims that the “feel better, play better” attitude is a definite advantage in poker.

“I am very aware of the fact that staying physically fit helps my poker game,” Jorgensen said. “Especially on the long days, so sports and training are vital to me. So, yes, it does help my game. I can’t recall the last time I’ve been so out of shape as right now, because of the robbery. I can’t recall the last time I’ve made so many vital mistakes as I did in London, especially on later days in the tournament. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

Robbery and Shooting High stakes professional poker players are often high-profile members of the communities in which they reside. Sadly, this translates into them being targeted for crime. In December of 2012, Jorgensen and his family were the victims of a serious home invasion. The incident resulted in multiple gunshot wounds for Jorgensen, a shaken up family and a scary wake-up call for all professional poker players.

Jorgensen kept his thoughts simple and succinct when asked about how he and his family were recovering. “Everyone is fine and I wouldn’t be out playing poker again if we weren’t all fine,” he stated. It’s business as usual for Jorgensen, at least on the felt.

Jorgensen hopes that his home invasion can prove to be a lesson for many other poker players who could find themselves in similar situations, and Jorgensen believes that preparedness is the key to preventing such acts, in the future.

“I think a lot of poker players got a decent wakeup call from this incident,” he explained. “Hopefully it serves as a warning to others, and they take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening to them.”

Moving Forward

The importance of playing the best poker possible is the goal, for many poker players. He does not believe in traditional goals, or specific milestones in a game where variance is such an unpredictable foe.

“Dollar amounts and goals for tournaments just seem stupid to me,” Jorgensen said. “You can be playing your best game ever for a year and not cash a single time, and vice versa. I just want to play the next tournament flawless, which didn’t work out for me in London, recently.” It has worked out plenty of times for him in the past, though.

Jorgensen is a family man, without question. He balances his poker and family life, taking time away when he needs to. Unsure of what the future may bring, Jorgensen simply wants to play his best and keep the poker cashes coming.

“I have two children, four and seven years old, and I love taking time away from poker to be with my family,” Jorgensen explained. “I still love poker and all the complicated setups you have to solve — sometimes better than other times. But one thing is for sure; you could always have done better. So, since I still love the game, it is very difficult for me to imagine myself not playing at all, at some point in the future. I do not know if I will play poker for a living for the rest of my life, or do something else, but right now I would bet on poker!”

Jorgensen is currently a member of the PokerStars team, a professional accomplishment that “delighted” him. Poker fans will likely see him this summer at the WSOP at some point, perhaps making another deep run in poker’s most prestigious tournament. ♠