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Jordan Morgan: 'I Try Not To Autopilot' At The Table

Once Full-Time Grinder Also Talks About Black Friday

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Getting his start playing home games in Oklahoma, Jordan Morgan made a swift and successful entry into the poker realm. With impressive live and online results, including more than $1 million in live tournament cashes and four career titles, Morgan has made quite a name for himself throughout the years.

This week we listened to the reserved Morgan talk about his bankroll management strategies, his goals in becoming a poker professional, and strong displeasure for online poker’s illegality.

Logan Hronis: Talk about your early experiences in poker. How were you introduced to the game?

Jordan Morgan: I played poker quite as bit as a kid with friends and family. Rounders introduced us to hold’em and the professional lifestyle, and it was always intriguing to me. I first started playing seriously in college, when I was invited to a $1-$2 no-limit home game — with rake — and found the scene in Norman, Oklahoma. There was a game every night and I was quickly skipping school to play more and more.

LH: Talk a little about your early career and any hardships you encountered. Was it a big jump for you to play for a living rather than just a hobby, or did it seem natural?

JM: It was a very natural progression. I started making money almost immediately. Once I started playing online a bunch and developed a bit of a reputation, I was offered the chance to travel the tournament circuit playing the largest tournaments by a backer. I felt that was too good of an opportunity to pass up. For a time, I’m pretty sure there were a lot of tournaments where I was the only 21-year-old playing. It was a very surreal time in my life being seated with Doyle Brunson and others I had watched on television.

LH: From a tournament standpoint, 2006 was a huge year for you. How did that affect your general outlook and attitudes toward poker? Please explain.

JM: I really only had two goals coming into poker: to support myself financially and to get on television. For some reason, growing up in a small town in Oklahoma I always had a dream of being famous when I grew older.

In hindsight, I don’t think I set my goals high enough, and once I achieved them I lost a lot of my motivation and drive. I guess I was still driven to get a win in a live tournament, but that came not too long after. At that point, I was pretty satisfied and complacent with what I had accomplished, and I pretty much coasted until Black Friday.

Also, interestingly enough, once I had my small brush with fame where I would get recognized going to restaurants and such, I realized I actually had no desire whatsoever to be famous and hated the attention. So at that point, I started to focus more on figuring out the life I did want to lead, and it changed my priorities and life plans quite a lot.

LH: How often do you play cash games now? Do you prefer cash games or tournaments?

JM: I play some cash games but not a lot. Live cash games are not for me at all. I just can’t handle the underlying animosity that always seems to be present and I can’t stand to spend more than a week or so per month in a casino. Online, I probably prefer cash games to tournaments, but since I have to travel out of the country to play for serious money online, I stick to tournaments since they give me the best chance to make a decent amount of money in a small amount of time.

The consistency of money in cash games is probably what appeals to me most, but I still really love the competition aspect of tournaments.

LH: How would you describe your style of play in tournaments? Has your style changed much since the beginning of your career?

JM: I would say my style is very adaptive. I try not to autopilot, and always adjust to the others at my table. My style has changed in that for the first several years of my career, I thought I was better than everyone and my confidence was through the roof. This would lead to me playing a more reckless style. Since I have matured and others have passed me by, I have had to go a more conservative route and learn from others.

LH: What do you think about the online poker controversy surrounding Black Friday and the proposed solutions? Will you life be affected greatly if online poker becomes
available again?

JM: I don’t even know where to begin. I understand why it happened with the way our government works, but it still enrages me. I absolutely abhor the failings of our government and the way policies and laws are made in Washington. Little to no thought is given to what is fair, or right, or good for the whole of the population, and instead all too often what decides the fate of millions of people is how it affects a politician’s bottom line both financially and politically. Too many laws are made or not made based on who owes whom a favor in D.C. instead of on the merit of action itself.

My life would be hugely affected if online poker becomes available again. Right now, I only play part-time, as I refuse to spend my life in a casino or in another country. Unfortunately, it seems like it is a huge underdog for online poker to become available to the whole of the United States again any time soon.

LH: Talk about the differences between online poker and live poker? Do feel you have more of an advantage in one or the other? Please explain.

JM: I definitely have more of an advantage in live poker, but I greatly prefer online poker. I’m an introvert, and have always played computer and video games so online poker is a more natural fit for me to make a living.

The only thing I’d say about my poker game that is world class is my instincts. There are so many times I can just be watching someone and know exactly what they are doing or what they will do. That just isn’t possible online. However, I grow tired of the casino environment and don’t deal well with the animosity in live games. Also, with the decline in large field, big buy-in live tournaments in the U.S., it doesn’t make much sense for me to travel the circuit any more.

LH: How important is bankroll management for a young poker player? Explain any
bankroll management strategies you may use personally.

JM: Bankroll management is very person-dependent, but on the whole, I would say it is the most important part of being a successful poker player. Unless you have a job or a large amount of money already, and are playing small stakes that you can easily replenish your bankroll, it is absolutely essential to manage your bankroll in a way that limits your risk of ever going broke, but allows you to earn and grow your bankroll at the same time.

I think it is too common for a new player that wants to make money to think the only way to do that is to play in a game big enough they can make a significant amount in one session. But really, they should be focusing on playing as small as they are comfortable with and playing as much as possible. Gaining experience and learning goes hand-in-hand with good bankroll management in that a young player should be playing very small games very often.

LH: Tell us about yourself away from the game of poker. Do you have any other
interesting hobbies or interests? If so, can you envision poker taking a back seat to
them at any point?

JM: I am happily married and enjoy spending time with my family. I am pretty introverted, so I tend to live a quiet lifestyle that involves a lot of quality family time, gaming, and relaxation.

There is a very good chance I head back to school to finish a degree in the next year, so yes, it is very likely poker takes a back seat to something else. What that something else is yet to be determined. If I could find a career that would make me as happy as poker did for years, I would jump into it. I still love the game, but as I can only play part time now, it just doesn’t make that much sense to devote my life to it as I did all of my adulthood up until Black Friday. I’m still searching for the right direction to take my life, but for now part-time poker it is.