Q: A good deal in the end because you had the chip lead, you make the deal, still have a chance for the championship and end up in third with a good payday to show for it?
EJ: I think in tournaments, when you get to the very end, and you think you’re of equal skill levels with the players remaining, there isn’t necessarily merit in playing that super high variance poker in the end game. When you have a chance to lock up your equity and then play for the glory, with no extra risk, thats what you want to do all things being equal.
Q: Between the website, live streaming on twitch, writing articles, producing videos, coaching and playing poker, you’ve built quite a brand for yourself. You’re busy?
EJ: Thank-you. I feel like I put ten years of work into it in the span of about four. I put tons of overtime in because I just had so much passion going for me, so much fire going for me, I had to channel that energy somewhere. I really wanted to improve my poker game and I thought to myself, 'What’s the best way to learn something and to make it stick?' I figured that was probably to teach others. I thought why not double down on my poker education, share it with others in the process, which is going to lead to me retaining more, learning more, and at the same time it’ll force me to be accountable, to follow through on the things I’ve always said I wanted to do but just haven’t taken action on. That is how I was able to release 600 or so videos over the span of four or five years, a similar amount of articles and a whole bunch more. It took a toll on me and that's why I had to take almost all of 2016 off. I took some time to myself to recharge, recover and get realigned, so I can continue producing great content and have great energy moving forward.
Q: How important is studying the game away from the table?
EJ: I think it’s absolutely essential. That doesn’t mean you have to be reading books, it doesn’t mean you have to be doing training videos, but you have to be actively working to improve your game. For some people that just means playing a lot. For some people that means watching a lot of TV poker. For some people that means discussing hands with friends. For other people, like me, that means watching presentations and reading books because for me a theoretical understanding is the best way I improve my game. The most important thing though is not just to play but to be actively thinking about the game, to be actively critical in your thought process, looking for ways to improve your game and for ways to eliminate mistakes. I believe if someone is constantly doing that, be it on their own, with a friend or, even better, with a coach, someone who has more experience than them, they’re going to be able to evolve their game pretty quickly. So long as you’re someone who’s working harder on your game than your opponents are on theirs you’re probably going to get results. That’s why I had very good results in the beginning because I was working harder than the people I was playing with. When I found myself in positions where I wash’t working as hard as the people I was playing with I didn’t get the results. The formula is pretty simple, it’s just that when you don’t want it as bad the studying isn’t as fun because you don’t see the extra value that comes from it. A lot of people just want to play, they want to get the rush, the buzz whatever you call it, but, if you’re serious about winning, and your primary goal is winning as often as possible, then the more time you can spend in the books, in the labs, in the classroom, the more often you’re going to be winning wen you hit the felt. Even though it’s delayed gratification, it’s definitely worth it.
Q: Winning on the poker tables is a great time but winning every day in the game of life, that;s where the real fun is. You have that quote on your website. Poker is a lifetstyle to you right?
EJ: Poker really forced me to improve myself in a lot of ways. My motivation for being better as a person was that I wanted to be the best poker player I could be. I had this ridiculous pipe dream goal that i wanted to win the World Series of Poker main event. I wrote down all those qualities a world champion would have, which involves many things; strategy on the table, mental game strategy, stamina, it involved an understanding of reading people, how to manipulate people, how to invest wisely, how to be connected well, and that just motivated me to follow through and take action because that’s where the magic is. Since doing that my life has changed so much from the kid who just sat at home playing video games, trying to make a few buy-ins here or there, to someone who is actively making a positive difference in peoples lives. Almost every where I go and every interaction I have, having gone through so much personal change I can often see where people are at and offer a little something to help them stay on the course, or get back on the course, or maybe just ease some difficulty they’re having at the time. If it hadn't been for me having that huge driver, that platinum carrot dangling in front of me for more than five years, I wouldn’t have had the motivation, desire or will to do those things I needed to do. Now, having done that, I feel I can apply that work ethic, that understanding, and those skills to accomplish anything. It was definitely the drive to want to win a world championship that led me to actually taking action and transforming myself. I’m still transforming today. I’m in my thirties now and I’ve had to learn about nutrition and I've had to learn about slowing down because those are things you need to learn as you get older. I have to continue learning about the rhythms of being a human being, every year as I get older those things have changed, but I enjoy doing all the things necessary to make that possible.
Q: Yoga and fitness, what have they done for your game?
EJ: Yoga has been absolutely life changing. I started yoga back in 2011, I was doing a form of yoga called Yin Yoga, which is mostly stretches and deep long heath poses, stretches for about five minutes and we just breath it out. That’s helped me unwind the tension that wold build as a result of constantly making decision and constantly being under pressure. I was playing eight to twelve tables at a time for what I consider to be pretty reasonable money, $400, $600 and $1,000 buy-ins per table, and I built p a lot of tension and pressure. From the frustration of taking beats here or there, or having unrealistic expectations at times, even though I tried as much as I could to be decencetized to the outcome, in my body I still felt the effects from those unfortunate events. The survival thinks it’s in a fight all the time, so yoga, back work and stretching, has allowed me to unwind that tension to allow my body to go back to equilibrium, so instead of being in a state of pain and frustration all the time, I was able to get back in a place where I was stable, grounded and level. I could then come at things from a strong place. As my practise progressed it;s changed everything. My organs are strong, meditations have made my focus way more sharp. When I get into a meditative state I’m able to see what the next move is, what the best decision s, and tune out all the noise and distraction the world is constantly throwing a you. It allows me to see what the best thing t do for me is and for the greater good. Adding in meditation and getting deeper into it has been a massive game changer. When I’m meditating things are easier, obvious and smooth. I almost feel like I’m a super hero. When the meditation drops off things fall apart, the quality drifts off, that’s when I’m making poor decisions. It’s allowed me to stay in check and perform at my highest. I know a lot of other poker players have had similar experiences, once they learned to unplug from the computer, unplug from the table, turn down the adrenaline, turn down the gambling urges and just sit and be steady, beathe, clear things are out and be at peace. If you see reality for what it is you’re able to see what the next move is, because it’s not always what we think it is.
Q: That healthy lifestyle comes into play with expect to Greg Merson right? You were there with him in 2012 when he won the world title, not just at the time but many months before?
EJ: Meeting Greg Merson was a life chaining experience for me. When we met in the summer of 2011, I was on the fence about poker. I didn't know f I was going to stick with the game for much longer. I was having a bit of a hard time and left to my own devices. I was living on my own. He just experienced ‘Black Friday’ and had no place to play or no real plan. I said, ‘I’ve got an extra room in Toronto, do you want to come and stay with me?’ He said, ‘For sure, let’s do it.’ That’s when I saw what real online professional poker looked like. This kid was on another level. Not only did he show me how to be a better player, he was an absolutely phenomenal talent, but he introduced me to so many of my poker heroes. He introduced me to Tony Gregg, Dan Smith, Andrew ‘Lucky Chewy’ Lichtenberger, and Aaron Jones, among others. Basically, he was connecting with all the people who’s training videos I had watched when I was back in university when I was learning the game. He made it a primary focus of his to meet the right people who could him with his game and as a result he could help them with their game. I was just so grateful for this, so thankful for this, that he upped my level of play so much. I said, ‘What can I do to repay the favour? What do I have to offer to Greg?’ You know, he’s such an incredible player and talent, I wash’t sure what he needed. But, there were a couple of areas that being a little bit older and having to deal with a few difficulties he hadn’t faced yet I saw some spots. One of them had to do with fitness. I was working with a chiropractor who taught me the importance of body work, stretching, exercising, cardio, and I just payed a lot of attention to what he said and then passed it on to Greg. I’m not going to say I taught Greg the importance of fitness because he too had a positive experience with a personal trainer. He said, ‘A couple of years ago I had a trainer, I worked out every day, I was sober and I won all the money. So, you know what I got to do? I get to get sober, I got to work out every day and I’m going to win all the money.’ I said, ‘Cool, I’m with you, and let’s throw a little yoga in there as well so we can get our relax on and we’ll be good. Since he was spending so much time playing poker back then, he puts in crazy hours, I took it on myself to just prep food whenever I could. I was already focussing on eating healthy at the time so all I had to do was make twice as much. The biggest benefit I offered him actually was just that I just supported him and believed in him unconditionally. Every thing he did, I said, ‘You’re doing great. You’re making all the right moves. I’m so impressed by you, so proud of you.' I was saying all the things that would keep him positive and to encourage him to continue on. I saw the potential, he saw it too, but t never hurts to have someone supporting you, someone believing in you, so that when naysayers come around you have that belief, that ‘yes, I am doing the right thing.’ So the biggest thing I offered was just support, unconditional, unwavering faith in him and his abilities and friendship, which we both offered each other. I was just so grateful to have someone teach me how to be a better player and, more importantly, someone who I could just hang out with. Someone I could talk about anything with, hang out in the to tub or pool with, someone to go to the movies with, because it’s really lonely playing online poker all day, every day, and having someone who’s haring that experience with you, who knows what you’re going through and can talk you through the tough times, is a total game changer. While I did do my little bit to help him with his mental game, I think the most important thing we were for each other, truthfully, was just great friends.
Q: You’ve had great success at the World Series of Poker, the main event, in 2008 you finished 165th and then you had four straight cashes, 2012-to-2015, do you have a secret? I mean, you almost tied Ronnie Bardah for the record.
EJ: (Laughs) I know, I was one away, and I was nervous going into last year. The day of the main event the landscapers at our house decide that was the day they wanted to clean up the palm trees and were basically working with chainsaws right outside, early in the morning, the day of the main event. So, it was like a sign, ‘Maybe I’m not going to get the record this year,’ but maybe it’s not about getting the record. So, yes it definitely sits my style because, for the most part, I’m a pretty solid player, a pretty conservative player. I’m capable of making moves when the time arises, when a good opportunity presents itself or when I just get that intuition, that instinct, that it’s time to make a move. But, for the most part I’m a pretty solid player, play a solid game, and because the main event has so many satellite players, so many people playing out of their comfort zone and so many players there for the first time, for the novelty, there’s some weaker competition in the mix and they’ll fall for some tricks. I’ve always been really big on table image and I like to dress the part of drug dealer. It’s like I just had some drug money, had no idea what I was doing, the big shooter type, meanwhile I was playing a super solid type game. Then, I’d mix in a few unorthodox leads that would male them think I was clowning around, ‘He can’t have it,’ and they’d put their chips in and I’d say, ‘Sorry bro, I got it.’ Table image was very helpful. The other thing was the healthy living allowed me to have the stamina to get through those really long days. The days are just insane, 10 hours a day, several days in a row. The time I made Day 5, I was just destroyed by then so I guess I still have some work to do. The stakes go up as the days go on so being sharp later in the day is more important than being sharp early in the day. I’ve learned to pace myself over the years, I’ve learned how much energy to exert in the early going and I’ve learned to use the meditation and the breathing techniques to keep my energy high at the end of the day and really stay charged up. I like to be peaking as the dinner breaks arrive as other players are falling off. The fact it’s a nine-handed tournament plays to my style as well because I’m very patient. I respect the ranges I should play from the various positions while some players just want to get in the mix, show their abilities and really battle it out. In a huge field tournament like that, where there are so many sot spots, I think going to war in the early going isn’t really necessary. For me it’s the softest 10k of the year but at the same time I’m comfortable playing it. I’am able to play my best, be pretty solid, steady, patient and consistent. I also have good support back at the house, really good people in my corner, talking good strategy with me on break, has helped me see what moves I can mix in there. I’ve actually watched three final tables live too. In 2010, my friend Matt Jarvis made the November Nine, this past year my old roommate Griffin Benger made the final table and, of course, Greg in 2012 when he won the whole thing. I would love nothing more than to be a coach for someone who makes the final table of the main event and help them win it again. Being there front and centre, watching Greg when that final card came down, to this day is still the best moment of my life. I remember tearing up and a friend looked at me and said, ‘Wow, you guys must have been through a lot to get here?’ I said, ‘Brother, you have no idea the kind of downs we had to go before we got here. We got ourselves into some shenanigans.’ Watching Greg win the main event was the highlight of my life. It was the most unreal feeling. You can’t even dream it.
Full Audio of this Interview HERE
Q: The Fallsview Classic in Niagara Falls is quickly approaching. Last year, you chopped the main event for more than 162k. Congrats man.
EJ: Thank-you. Yes, I was part of a three-way deal when I had the chip lead. I chopped it up with probably the best the player in Canada, if not the best definitely the top three, Mike Leah. I was just happy to have the opportunity to make the deal because he’s one of the people I definitely wouldn’t want to battle three-handed or heads-up. So, I was happy to take my money and roll.
"He's the Best!"
High stakes cash game pro Dong Kim, who was part of that Brains v AI match with 'Libratus.' Here, he talks about friend and mentor Doug Polk.
Did you know?
Evan Jarvis has a successful youtube channel and live stream on Twitch Poker.
(Below) Did you know Jarvis wrote 'Chapter 1' in Jonathan Little's, another former guest of High Roller Radio, book Excelling at No-Limit Hold'em.
2-to-1 you'll LOVE it!
What's Your Worst Bad Breat?
High Roller Radio speaks with Shimi Weiss, who won a 'Bad Beat' contest at Card Player Lifestyle.
Evan Jarvis Interview
High Roller Radio has interviewed some of the greatest gamblers, casino insiders, sports bettors, authors and poker players. Here is our interview with Evan Jarvis, a Canadian pro, who's found great success in the WSOP main event. He is also a poker coach, youtuber, live streamer on Twitch, and a certified yoga instructror.
High Roller Radio