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Poker Stories Podcast With Justin Young

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Apr 11, 2018


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Age: 38
Hometown: New Bern, North Carolina
Live Tournament Earnings: $4.8 million

Top Five Tournament Scores

Date - Tournament - Place — Winnings

Dec. 2008 — WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic — 2nd — $936,760
April 2016 — Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown — 1st — $669,161
Oct. 2011 — Festa al Lago Classic — 1st — $349,590
May 2011 — WPT Five-Star World Poker Classic — 6th — $225,654
Dec. 2010 — Five-Diamond World Poker Classic Prelim — 1st — $171,836

Justin Young was working as a mechanical engineer on a Marine Corps base before his surging bankroll gave him the confidence to pursue a career in poker. His first major score came when he finished second at the 2008 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, earning $936,700.

He continued to post good results, with many close calls along the way, before he broke through to win his first World Poker Tour title at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in 2016 for $669,161. He now has $4.8 million in live tournament earnings. Most recently, he made a couple of appearances on Poker After Dark, posting big wins in the high-stakes cash game.

Highlights from this interview include painting your own walls, beans in your ears, how the apple can fall far from the tree, checkmate leads to punching, the Varkonyi effect, loose plane bolts, a thorough 30-point check list, a unique nature vs. nurture test, getting shell-shocked by Dan Bilzerian, getting one-upped by Chino Rheem, getting back-roomed at the Wynn, winning at the 7-2 game, a big bet with Devilfish, and the joy of delivering sandwiches.

The Highlights

On getting felted by Dan Bilzerian for half of his bankroll…

“At the end of 2007, I think I had… call it $20,000 left in my bankroll and that was it. And I was still playing $25-$50 live. Actually, Dan Bilzerian busted me for half of my roll. Sent me out the room contemplating things for a few weeks. [Bilzerian] would could come in and play with us, maybe four times a month. The bigger game would always get going with him, and he would buy in for $250,000 in a $25-$50 game. It was an unfortunate [pot] that got me to be more disciplined. I’m not going to bore you with the details [of the hand], but I got in a pot with Bilzerian. He flopped two pair against my aces and it ran out clean for him. Literally, a feeling of numbness washed over me. I couldn’t hear. I know it sounds corny, but it was like you see it in the movies. I remember going to the valet, and I couldn’t hear anything. Just complete numbness, and thinking about what I was going to do with my last $10,000… wondering if I would have to go back and get a real job. But it ultimately made me more disciplined. I grinded at super small stakes and small tournaments and 2008 ended up being the best year I ever had.”

On getting back-roomed at the Wynn…

“I went to the Wynn to close out my box, because I wasn’t playing a whole lot over there. I still had, I don’t know, like $20,000 in there leftover. So I just said, okay, I’m going to play some craps while I’m here. I give them the $5,000 chip, and asked for $4,000 in black. The pit boss calls over someone else, who calls over someone else, who says, ‘Justin, you can’t play craps with us today.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t know why, but I’ll take my chip and get out of here.’ He said, ‘Well, you can’t have the money either, there’s no record of you getting this $5,000 chip.’ I told him I got it from poker, and showed them on my phone the tournament score from a year and a half earlier. But they said, ‘Nobody just puts money in a box and leaves it for a year and a half.’ (laughing) Well, I wasn’t leaving without my chip. They brought security, some goon, and he took me into a back room. He said he could arrest me, he said he knew I was lying and that I had stolen the money. I was literally arguing with the same guy, who was berating me and calling me names, for an hour and a half. Finally the poker room manager gets out of a meeting, and [verifies my story], apologizing profusely for what happened.”

On a terrible bet he made with David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott…

“This was years ago, we were playing PLO and Devilfish Ulliott was going to play in a $10,000 PLO event at Bellagio. The [series] had been getting good numbers, so he asked me to give him odds on winning. At the time, I figured the tournament would probably draw 50 people, so I thought I’d take some money from him and give him 35:1. He said, ‘okay, book it,’ for $2,000. I woke up the next morning and went down, not even planning on playing in the tournament, just wanted to poke my head in to see how many they got. They had six people. So I thought, now I actually have to play this tournament and try to bust Devilfish the whole time. The tournament ended up getting only like 17 or 18 people in it, and he was in the final three with Ben Lamb and Jason Mercier. He ended up taking a bad beat to go out third, but I realized after that just how dumb of a bet I had made.” ♠

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to play on the go from iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring Daniel Negreanu, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Chris Moorman, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Scott Seiver, Greg Raymer, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.