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Jon Aguiar: 'The Greatest Skill You Can Acquire In Poker Is Being Emotionally Dead At The Time'

Poker Pro Talks About His Career Year On The Felt


Jonathan Aguiar had a career year in 2012. With two six-figure cashes in the past four months, nine total cashes, and almost $600,000 in winnings, he took his game to the next level. Aguiar claims he is less result-oriented these days, but his results in 2012 and $1,446,904 in career tournament cashes are no small feat.

Breaking the top 100 in the 2012 Player of the Year, Aguiar answered some questions about his game. He explains why time is the biggest asset to have in the poker world, why he doesn’t make yearly goals for himself, and what new hobby might be taking over his interest in poker.

Logan Hronis: Tell us a little bit about your poker beginnings. How did you get started playing poker, and what drew you to start playing poker professionally?

Jonathan Aguiar: I got into poker in 2002, about a year before the Moneymaker boom. I owe it all to the 22-year-old Canadian junior hockey age-outs who lived in my freshman dorm and would buy beer and host poker games in the room a few nights a week. One of them introduced me to, I deposited $30 and it took off from there. I made my first $10,000 by the end of my junior year, and set a goal to have a $40,000 roll by the time I graduated, so I wouldn’t have to work and could give full-time poker a shot after college.

LH: 2012 was a big year for you, yielding your most productive live tournament results in your career. Do you attribute that to your two big six-figure cashes in September and December, or do you feel you are just playing better poker?

JA: I’m running better than I have in quite a while, which has given me the confidence to make more correct lay downs. People put too much stock in individual years of tournament performance. It’s just a dumb luck game sometimes!

LH: Talk a little about your win in the WSOP Europe this year. Explain to us the emotion and preparation behind taking down such an event. Was there anything specific in the format of this event, which allowed you an advantage over most other players?

JA: I’m not an emotional player at the tables. I mostly just played really tough and nitted it up approaching the money, knowing I was going to be one of the best heads-up players remaining in the field, I’d probably played more heads-up cash and sit-and-gos than most of the remaining field. I’ve learned a lot about heads-up from friends like Ike Haxton, Scott Seiver, J.C. Alvarado, Tom Dwan and the list goes on. Once I got to the heads-up bracket, I just had to beat four people to get my hands on the bracelet. I took it one match at a time and spent as much time as possible between matches, relaxing.

LH: A lot of guys talk about reading books, studying poker on television, or being taught by their peers and so on, as being the main source of their poker education. Can you tell us what you found most productive in learning the game, and why?

JA: Time. The greatest skill you can acquire in poker is being emotionally dead at the time — something that can only come with time. At some point in the last year, I noticed that the results didn’t seem to affect me anymore. When you stop dedicating mental energy to things you can’t control, it frees you up to apply that part of your brain to do things like process table dynamic and adjusting your game plan.

LH: You are no stranger to the online poker scene either. Would you say you prefer online over live or vice versa? What is your outlook on the future of web poker in the U.S.?

JA: I don’t think we’ll ever see federally legalized online poker, the states rights issue is too big to overlook. I’d expect somewhere between 2014 and 2016 we’ll start seeing intrastate gaming compacts that allow the early adopter states to team up and offer larger poker games just as they do now, with Powerball and Mega Millions. I’m actually quite happy with the “new” online poker world. As a result of Black Friday, I now get to spend time in two of my new favorite cities, Playa del Carmen and Toronto. I also have found a new hobby in daily fantasy sports, which has been taking up more and more of my time lately. I like to keep a balance between live and online over the course of the year. I don’t think I necessarily prefer one over the other.

LH: Given your success, I’m assuming you consider yourself a predominantly no-limit hold’em player. I noticed some limit, mixed games and Omaha events in your results, however. Do you just enjoy mixing it up or do you have advantages in some of the other games as well?

JA: I played stud and Omaha 8 very early on in my career, and actually started out as a limit hold’em player at Foxwoods before uncapped no-limit became popular there. I think I’m a fairly well-rounded player, even though my biggest edges still come in no-limit, by far. It’s just too boring to be a specialist these days. Mixed is just so much fun.

LH: Tell us about your mindset going into 2013. Your confidence has to be pretty high, so do you have any goals that may need to be adjusted for a new plateau, or do you try to keep your mindset rather level? Please Explain.

JA: I don’t really set year-to-year goals anymore. There is so much luck in poker, you can’t set goals of final tabling things or winning “X” amount in a given year. You just play your best and put in the hours and hope it all works out; I guess I’m in the running for the World Poker Tour Player of the Year, so that might get interesting, but for now I’m not going to put too much energy into chasing it.

LH: Off the felt, tell us about what type of person you are. What are some of your hobbies and interests? Do you plan on playing poker forever or do you envision yourself pursuing other stuff?

JA: I’m pretty lazy, to be honest! I’m either traveling to play somewhere or there (playing) nine months a year. So the few months I’m not traveling are usually just rest and relaxation. I’ve got my first two real vacations in a year or so coming up after the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, so I’m looking forward to actually getting away from poker and work for a while. I hadn’t had a true hobby for years, but I’ve been getting into the Daily Fantasy Sports industry in my spare time, both by playing a lot and also consulting a bit for the fastest growing site in the fantasy sports world, It’s been a lot of fun having a new creative outlet both on the playing and business side, I’m hoping it will end up being a lot like the poker boom in a lot of ways. If it gets much bigger over the next year or two, it might steal a lot of my focus from poker.

Tags: Jon Aguiar,   Online Poker,   WSOP