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Jake Schindler: "I Don't Plan On Stopping Anytime Soon"

American Poker Pro Reflects On His Record-Setting Run To The 2018 Card Player Player of the Year Title

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Jake Schindler made a final table roughly every 12 days in 2018, setting the record for the most final-table finishes in a calendar year with 31. That was eight more than the previous record of 23, set by Bryn Kenney in 2017. The 29-year-old poker pro from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania took down six tournament titles and cashed for more than $8.7 million over the course of last year. As a result of his dominant run Schindler secured the 2018 Card Player Player of the Year award. Not long after Schindler had locked up the POY honors, he spoke with Card Player about his incredible year on the live tournament circuit.

Card Player: In 2018 you blew away the record for POY-qualified final-table finishes in a year with 31, demonstrating unmatched consistency. In a previous interview, you had said, “I care more about making the right decisions playing in-game; I don’t care as much about titles.” If that is your mindset, is an award like the Player of the Year somewhat more meaningful than winning a single tournament, given that the POY race strives to quantify performance over an entire year?

Jake Schindler: Winning the Player of the Year awards feels like more of an accomplishment than winning any one specific tournament because it is a year’s worth of tournaments as a sample size, as opposed to just a single tournament. I’m very fortunate that I was on the positive side of things and able to achieve this POY accolade.

2018 POY award winner Jake SchindlerCP: This was the fourth straight year that you finished in the top 20 in our Player of the Year race standings, with an average finish of 7th over that span. To what do you attribute consistently being a top tournament player? Do you think that you’ve worked harder than other players, have more talent or even run better? If it is some blend of those factors, or others, which has had the biggest impact?

JS: It is definitely a combination of those factors. I’ve played a ton of poker and have tried to focus on cultivating my specific strengths.

CP: One of the keys to your beating out some of the other players who also had incredible years in 2018 was that you had two final-table finishes in fields $5,000 events with 500 or more players. Events such as those just award more points to the final-table finishers than super high rollers, which have much fewer entrants. As someone who has been a staple on the high roller scene for several years, do you ever find that it is harder to apply yourself in those events when you quite commonly play for much higher stakes?

JS: I really enjoy poker so it’s usually not difficult to apply myself and focus regardless of the event I’m playing.

CP: Almost exactly five years ago you had your first major live win, taking down the 2014 $25,000 high roller at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for just shy of $1.2 million. Before that you had not had a six-figure cash in a live event, and seemed to play a lot more of the smaller and mid-stakes live tournaments. Can you talk about how you progressed from smaller and mid-stakes live events to the largest tournaments in the world? Was it gradual, or were there some moments where you really pushed the envelope or felt like you’d taken a big step forward?

JS: Running hot and working hard.

CP: The tournament landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, with the focus on main events at the $10,000 price point diminishing. It seems there has been a move to smaller main events and a huge increase in the amount of high roller and super high rollers offered. The high roller players have dominated the Player of the Year race standings over the past few years, making it seem incredibly unlikely for a player who doesn’t play at that level to win the POY award. In your opinion, can someone be considered a top player without proving themselves at that level?

Schindler after winning the €100,000 partypoker Live MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona super high rollerJS: It depends very much on how you characterize a top player. Someone can prove they are sharp, intuitive and an undeniable winner in tournament poker without taking on the high roller tournaments. But if someone isn’t able to hold their own in the tougher fields, however, it isn’t fair to say they’re a top player by the same standards. Being theoretically tougher doesn’t always directly correlate to higher edge in a tournament, it does make it significantly more likely, though.

CP: Looking back on your 2018, what are you most proud of in terms of accomplishments? Was there one particular win? The entire body of work? Or was it more of how you approached working on your game?

JS: I started working on my game a bit in 2018 and the results aligned. Winning the €100,000 in Barcelona definitely felt the sweetest of anything.

CP: What are your goals in poker moving forward? Do you envision being a poker pro until you retire?

JS: My main goal for poker is to be able to compete in the biggest live events indefinitely while maintaining an edge. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.Spade Suit