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Poker Pro-File Q and A: Jake Bazeley

Bazeley Discusses The Ups And Downs Of His Eight-Year Poker Career


Jake BazeleyJake Bazeley has quietly put together a really solid 12 months on the circuit. The 31-year-old tournament grinder made two final tables at the 2013 World Series of Poker and then final tabled the Heartland Poker Tour main event in St. Louis.

He then started off 2014 with two more final tables before earning the biggest score of his career, a $371,931 payday for finishing fourth in the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, the largest WPT event in history with 1,795 entrants.

Card Player spoke with the Cincinnati native to discuss the ups and downs of his eight-year career, his online poker travels and how there seems to be a lack of younger new players in the game today.

Julio Rodriguez: Congratulations on your latest score. Was it bittersweet to finish in fourth?

Jake Bazeley: When I busted, I was fine. Getting fourth in any tournament for that amount of money is so absurd, you just can’t help but be happy. But at the same time, I had a real shot at seven figures and came up short. You really just have to focus on the positives. For this particular tournament, I reminded myself that I’m normally playing in WSOP Circuit or HPT tournaments where the top prize is $100,000 to $150,000, so it’s really like I won three tournaments all in one shot.

JR: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in your eight-year career?

JB: I have lived every possible stage of a poker career by now. I’ve been rich and broke three different times. I’ve been backed, I’ve backed other people. I’ve seen it all and I’ve really learned from my mistakes. I think right now I’m playing my best poker ever and it has started to translate into some success. I think I’m picking my spots better and that gets easier with time and experience.

JR: Like most poker players, you’ve become friends with a solid group of successful players. How hard is it to not be jealous when someone in your circle makes a big score?

JB: When you’re not hitting your scores, you have to be positive and be happy for your friends. It’s kind of sick, because I can almost always tell who is happy for me and who is going through the motions of congratulating me when I do well. There is obviously a lot of jealousy in the game. I’ve always been ready to celebrate and share in the success of my friends, but that’s a skill that comes easier to some people than others. I totally understand it too. This is a tough game and everyone is trying to get their hands on the same chunk of the prizepool. There isn’t always enough to go around.

JR: When someone is suddenly swimming in cash thanks to deep run or big win, how often do you think it affects their future performance?

JB: I see it all the time when someone gets a huge score in a tournament and all of a sudden, they think they’ve got it all figured out. The buy-ins don’t matter to them anymore and they’re on autopilot and half-assing everything for the next six months to a year. Before you know it, they’ve given it all back. You have to be really on top of your game every day to win consistently. Every decision you make has to be your best. The competition is just too good to rely on the cards to get you there.

I definitely had times in the past with online poker where I found myself just clicking buttons for a month straight. Because there was always another tournament starting, I never really gave myself the chance to step back, evaluate and adapt. But with live poker it’s much easier to really think about your game. When you bust a live tournament, you have nothing to do but think about it.

JR: Speaking of online poker, you were one of the top online players before Black Friday. How often do you get to play online these days?

JB: I usually just travel to play online poker for a couple of series’ each year. I have some buddies who live in other countries who are doing it on a more consistent basis than me. If I wasn’t currently in a relationship, I might be more inclined to making the move more often. So far, I’ve traveled to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica to play online. This time I’m going to Amsterdam.

Costa Rica is a beautiful place, but then you go to Rosarito, Mexico and you never want to leave your condo because you’re so uncomfortable outside. Even when I was in Windsor, Canada, it wasn’t the greatest area. It’s unfortunate that U.S. players have to do it, because I’d much rather be playing from home in Cincinnati.

JR: It seems like there aren’t very many young American poker pros these days. Even in some of the states where poker is still booming, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio, it feels like the newer players are more likely to be retirees or successful businessmen.

JB: I agree, there aren’t very many young American players jumping into the game right now. All of the 21-year-old sickos are European online pros that we really don’t get to see until the WSOP rolls around. When I was in my early twenties, there were dozens of American pros that young. Today, in the tournaments that I play in, I never really see that anymore. Obviously, that has a lot to do with the fact that there is no online poker, outside of a few states, to introduce the game to a new players. Even if a young kid wanted to break into the game, he’d have to do it live, which makes it so much tougher. Everyone is on their computer all day, every day, so if we want the game to continue growing, we need online poker to appeal to these new players.