Jack Salter Interview
Friday, 19 June 2015
Tom Victor catches up with a rising star.
Before 2014, Jack Salter wasn't too well known outside of the UK. The easy-going Londoner was a regular around the live scene in his hometown, as well as notching some impressive results in Europe and online, as well as a handful of World Series of Poker cashes.
However last year saw him explode onto the world scene, with a six-figure start to 2014 with a side event win at the Aussie Millions setting the tone for the following 12 months. His live earnings topped $1.7m last year, with two runner-up finishes cementing his place as one of the most feared players at any tournament he enters.
Of course it's difficult to properly fear someone as likeable as Salter. In an age when younger players can be reluctant to give too much away at the table, he's a breath of fresh air, showing emotion after bad beats and lucky breaks and actively seeking out conversations with table mates.
He takes this enthusiasm and fun-loving persona to properly enjoy his time at the tables, and his public persona reflects that too with a Twitter bio of 'Repeat Silver Medalist' showing that he can laugh at himself.
He didn't win just any two silver medals, but two of the most prestigious going. The EPT Grand Final has seen huge names at its final tables in recent years, with the likes of Steve O'Dwyer, Mohsin Charania and Nicolas Chouity among the last five winners, and Salter almost joined them in 2014. After more than 17 hours, including an epic heads-up battle against Italy's Antonio Buonanno, he had to settle for second place and a career-best score of €765,000.
Then, having liked what he saw in Melbourne during the Aussie Millions, he returned Down Under for the WSOP Asia-Pacific Main Event. He made it to heads-up play but couldn't quite find a way past American pro Scott Davies. Still, his third six-figure cash of the year was no mean feat, and it helped him to a different first place finish as he ended the year on top of the Bluff European Rankings.
Salter has started 2015 strongly, and returns to Monte Carlo with a chance to really take things to the next level.
Bluff Europe (BE): First off, congratulations on topping the Bluff European Rankings. Was there a point last year where it felt like a proper breakout year, or did that not really sink in until later on?
Jack Salter (JS): Thanks! Monaco itself was huge. I was so tired it took a few weeks to sink in how big a deal it was. To be honest I didn't really think about the year as a whole, so I did not view it as a 'breakout year' until I received an award for it [at the European Poker Awards].
BE: Is there anything that you've consciously done differently in 2014 (and the start of 2015) that you think is working especially well for you - either at the poker table or away from it?
JS: Not particularly. I have been playing poker for seven or eight years and have always treated it very seriously. I think my live game has improved a lot since I started playing live poker a few years ago, and that experience combined with luck did the trick! As I am at almost every stop, I have also got to know lots of very good players who I have learnt from.
BE: You got your first super high roller score in LA - did you feel there was a different atmosphere in that tournament with more money being at stake?
JS: In general, the bigger the event, the more tense the atmosphere. However, that particular tournament in LA felt very relaxed. Tom Hall was the host and had brought a few friends with him from Hong Kong who were offering everyone red wine in the first orbit. Things got tense around the exact bubble as it was so huge, but after that everyone relaxed again. For me personally it is not stressful as I always sell a lot of action to bigger events and am therefore never 'scared money'. I really enjoyed it.
BE: It seems the Monaco run is the one that brought the most attention your way. What was the whole experience like for you, and what are you looking to do similarly or differently this time around?
JS: The experience for me was insane. I had played the FPS main event for 4 days and finished 14th then went straight into the main event satellite that night and won a seat at around 5am. After that I went straight into Day 1B of the EPT Main where I played for 6 straight days, ending in a 17hour final table. I was so excited I could not sleep very much - adrenaline was off the charts! I am still a grinder and I love the game, but hopefully I would be sensible enough to skip the Main Event satellite next time in the same situation to avoid burn-out. What I would do the same as last time is do everything I can to be focused when playing (eat well, arrive early etc) and give it all I've got!
BE: Do you still do most of your poker trips along with your brother [Louis Salter is also a strong player, winning a Eureka High Roller event in Prague last December for more than €120,000]? What do you think that dynamic is like, compared to those groups of friends who only know each other through poker?
JS: Louis comes on 90% of trips with me, it's great. We have travelled together before either of us had even played a live tournament. We have both been on so many poker trips we have had the time to meet lots of good people, many of whom I think of as friends.
BE: Which other poker players do you spend a lot of time with? Has anyone been particularly good in terms of giving you advice and helping you improve your game?
JS: I personally feel that EVERY successful poker player has something they are doing better than you that you can learn from. Louis and I stay with Tom Hall (the ginger one, not the Hong Kong one) regularly, both on live trips and to grind online sessions. I am not sure if anyone in particular has helped me the most, but I am lucky to be able to talk hands with some of the best tournament players in the world. I spot characteristics in others I try to emulate. For example, I strive to be as professional as Simon Deadman one day!
BE: You've clearly spent a lot of time travelling over the last 2 years, with cashes in a ton of countries. Have you been putting in the same sort of volume online? What's it been like trying to find that balance?
JS: I would like to play slightly more online than I do, but it's also important to arrive fresh for live trips, which in my case means resting a little. It is very important to play online in order to keep up with the game. I enjoy live poker a lot. If money was the sole aim of playing poker I would spend a much higher percentage of my time online.
BE: What's your plan for after Monaco? Are you planning a full schedule for SCOOP and WSOP? Anything big planned away from poker?
JS: I will be flying to Amsterdam from Monaco and staying with Louis, Tom Hall and Kristaps (Bertulsons on Pokerstars) to play a full SCOOP schedule. Lots of my friends will be there too. WPT Amsterdam is also running for the first time, and I will certainly prioritise the WPT Main Event above a SCOOP event. We will fly straight from Amsterdam to Vegas in time for the first No Limit Hold'em WSOP event and stay until 15th July. Nothing big planned outside poker really, though I'd like to learn how to drive and also buy somewhere to live. If we have a big winning trip in Vegas we will take some time off after and have a big holiday.