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David Jackson Discusses His Best Year Ever On The Live Tournament Circuit

by Erik Fast |  Published: Apr 08, 2020

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David Jackson had a breakout year on the tournament circuit in 2019. The 32-year-old poker pro based out of Jacksonville, Florida made 12 final tables and won four titles last year, cashing for more than three-quarters of a million dollars along the way. Five of his top ten largest scores have come since the start of 2019, including three of his four biggest paydays.

Jackson’s year was full of deep runs, but two particular victories stand out: Jackson won both the Borgata Spring Poker Open and the Borgata Fall Poker Open last year, earning a combined $516,263 for the pair of titles. As a result of Jackson’s impressive run in 2019 he finished in a tie for 20th place in the Card Player Player of the Year race standings.

While it would be hard to top his 2019 success, Jackson is off to a pretty strong start already in 2020. In the first couple months of the year, he has already secured two deep runs in World Series of Poker Circuit main events, finishing second in the WSOPC Seminole Hard Rock Tampa for $179,833 and 17th in the WSOPC Horseshoe Hammond for another $13,862. Card Player caught up with Jackson recently to discuss how he got his start as a poker pro, his recent hot streak and more.

Card Player: Alright David, before we get into discussing your recent success on the circuit, I was hoping you could tell me about how you got into playing poker?

David Jackson: I found out about it from when I moved to Atlanta and my friends there were playing this game called tunk. We used to always play that, until one day my friend went to his grandparents’ house and played poker with them. He came back and was like, ‘Yo man, I heard about this game called poker. There’s so much more money in it than tunk. You guys need to learn it.’

And so, he was teaching us, but I’m also pretty sure he was cheating us, because he would always change the rules. It was like, ‘You know what, this actually beats that.’ Anyway, it got me interested in the game and then I just started buying training courses and tried to study.

CP: I’ve never heard of tunk.

DJ: It was something they played a lot in Atlanta, almost like pitty-pat, if you’ve heard of that. [Author’s note: the game of tunk is also called tonk, and it plays similar to rummy.]

CP: Do you think you have any particular skills or personality traits that helped you when you became a poker player?

David JacksonDJ: I used to work in sales for AT&T and I do believe some of the skills from that translated. You know, just like intuition with selling, I kind of could feel people and whether they want to go with it or if they are timid.

CP: So, you became interested in the game and started researching strategy and studying. How did you go from that to deciding that you might want to go pro?

DJ: I started taking those courses and when I was just getting started, I got online and bought into like a $3 rebuy tournament. I ended up winning it for like $360 and I was hooked. I was just like, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.’ And then I kind of start studying even more.

CP: And you started feeling out playing the game more seriously while you were still working in sales?

DJ: Yeah, I was still working.

CP: So your wife, Gloria, also plays poker really seriously. How did you guys meet and can you talk a little about what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone who knows what the swings are like in tournament poker?

DJ: It’s really good, she has been a really big source of support. She loves the game. She loves to play, but she has actually been taking this past year off from playing. We met in Jacksonville. We both lived in Atlanta at the time, I was working at sales and she was playing poker already before I met her. And we met at bestbet Jacksonville, there was a $5,000 buy-in main event there. Later we come to find out that we both lived in Atlanta, but now we moved back to Jacksonville together.

CP: So last year was your biggest year ever on the live scene. What do you attribute that success to?

DJ: One huge thing is that my home life has been sound and it’s just helped me focus. I’ve been able to study a lot more and just put a lot more time into poker and I feel like that really helped. I’ve been putting a lot of work in on my game and it has paid off.

CP: When you’re talking about studying, are you doing a lot of the training courses and learning from some of the GTO/solver programs?

DJ: Yeah, I have definitely been working with the solvers and I messed with a whole bunch of different training courses. I love that stuff. It all just really interests me.

CP: How do you work studying and training into your schedule alongside playing and your other responsibilities?

Jackson at bestbet JacksonvilleDJ: I’m at home in order to be with my children a lot, and I’m able to take time out of caring for them to get in a lot of study. I’ll be home for like a week, two weeks. And I mostly, if I’m not spending time with my kids after they go to bed, all my spare time goes to studying.

CP: So last year you got two huge titles at Borgata. Is there anything in particular about that venue that has led to you having so much success there? An unofficial home-court advantage?

DJ: I do go there all the time, and I love Atlantic City. But one thing I would say is that they give you a lot of chips to start with in those events that I won, and people often make big mistakes with deep stacks early on. So, you’re able to accumulate a lot of chips. I think in general, I just feel really comfortable there, and honestly, I’ve run really good there so far. So yeah, I think that’s it.

CP: You ended up inside the top 20 of the Card Player Player of the Year race last year, which is hard to achieve without really playing in the high roller events. What are your thoughts on the stakes you play? That is to say, are you thinking of taking any shots at the high-stakes events, or are you more likely to just work on being a top player in the stakes you currently play?

DJ: Honestly, I’ve just been going with the flow. I enjoy playing the stakes I play. I’m not sure. I would have to have a significant change to my bankroll for me to like feel comfortable taking a shot at a $25,000 buy-in. But I honestly feel very comfortable just playing what I play. So I don’t know. I don’t have any immediate goals to change my approach and play much higher stakes. I’ve been playing a bit more cash games lately, which I hadn’t done a lot before. That’s been interesting.

CP: Do you have any goals in particular, like certain things you want to achieve as a tournament player? Outside of winning the WSOP main event, what kind of achievement would you aspire to?

DJ: I guess, coming off the top of my head, I’d say that I’d want to win two bracelets in one summer. That’d be amazing to me. To win one bracelet would be amazing on its own, but to win two during one series, I feel like that shows that you’re really good.

CP: What are your plans moving forward as a poker pro?

DJ: Keep playing and I’m going to try to play my best. I’ve been playing some more World Poker Tour events, like the $3,500 buy-in tournaments and stuff like that. So I think I’m going to start trying to play more of those. Also, I’ve never really followed the World Series of Poker Circuit in the past, but I think I might try to play more of the main events on that tour.

This year I went to Tampa, I played at that Circut main event. And then I just went to a Hammond and I played that circuit main event.

CP: And you finished second and 17th in those two events, so a pretty good track record so far.

DJ: Yeah, I think I’m going to go try to play some of those circuit main events, more than like the $3,500 buy-in events, but I will also dive into those. I do like playing the WPT events.

CP: Which tournament win in your career meant the most to you?

DJ: For me, if you set aside the money, all the wins are significant. They all mean so much because it’s so hard to finish first. I mean, even when you finish third, you feel a little… you’re happy about the money but you still feel a little disappointed because you wanted to close out. So any win gives you that feeling like I completed something, I accomplished my goal. But, if I’m looking at the money, yeah, definitely the $300,000 that I won for the 2019 Borgata Spring Poker Open was huge. It was surreal.Spade Suit