Jake Cody: Star Signing

Jake Cody cover

15 February 2013

In June 2011, at the age of 22, Jake Cody became the youngest player to complete poker’s triple crown, winning an EPT title, a WPT tournament and a World Series bracelet in fewer than 500 days.
Bluff Europe sat down with Cody to hear the latest chapter in his sensational short career.

This January, with Jake Cody now 24, PokerStars surprised nobody when they unveiled the Rochdale lad as the latest addition to Team PokerStars Pro, their stable of sponsored players.

Daniel Negreanu stuck the patch to Cody’s chest ahead of the main event of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, in the Bahamas, and true to form Cody marked his debut in the PokerStars livery with a deep run in the $10,000 main event, finishing 47th for $32,000.

Amid a flurry of media interviews, and shortly after his elimination, Bluff Europe sat down with Cody to hear the latest chapter in his sensational short career.

A deep run in the PCA main event – how was that?

Exciting. I was never going to be too disappointed whatever happened in this tournament because I was going to be announced as a Stars pro and I knew that was going to happen before I got here. So, just having a deep run was pretty awesome. At the same time, as I got deep it’s a bit frustrating that I didn’t win it. I was envisaging the final table and I was dreaming about winning it a little bit.

Can you take any consolation from a min-cash?

Yeah, for sure, especially in a $10K. Thirty thousand is still a hell of a lot of money to me. It’s not pocket change.

What’s the prevailing emotion when you bust that deep? Is it frustration?

To be honest, I’m only angry if I felt I’ve played badly. Even if I’ve been bad-beated I don’t really mind because I know I can’t control the cards. I can control how I play, but that’s it. As long as I feel I’ve played well, which I did, then it’s more just disappointment.

At the end of day one, you admitted that you spewed a bunch of chips. Do you ever find yourself regretting plays?

Yeah, it’s not like I’m the perfect player. I definitely make a lot of mistakes. I’m really self-critical, and even if it’s really minor, I’m really harsh. I beat myself up too much.

You were on the feature table for a long time here. How was that?

I’m pretty used to it. I quite like it. Different players react differently to it and you’ve got to weigh people up, especially someone who’s not been there before. They might be playing tighter, or they might be trying to show off for the cameras. So it’s interesting. It does bring a fun dynamic. The only thing is that it’s a little bit slower than the normal tables so that’s a little bit annoying. But I don’t mind it too much.

You were on that secondary feature table, with the new hole card technology. What was that like?

I thought that was really cool. I loved that. This is like a normal table and you’ve got a little box that you slide your cards over. The cards have chips in them and you place them over the thing and they know what you’ve got. It’s covered in felt so it didn’t feel weird at all. That’s the first time I’ve seen that technology.

Were you concerned about the integrity of it?

For a split second I did think of that. But I mean, PokerStars is such a huge company and they’re never going to jeopardise anything so somebody can win one hand. It’s ridiculous. So there’s nothing to worry about really.

How many PCAs have you been to?

I missed last year, but I’ve been to the two previous. This is my third one. But the very first time, my friend won a package and I just came along. It was before I’d won anything, and I was like, ‘Wow, the Bahamas.’ I came along, played a few side events. It was the first time I’d seen, like, Mike Matusow and Ivey and I was, like, wow. It was just before Deauville. It was the first time I’d seen the big American players because I’d not been to Vegas. I was a massive fan boy.

Talk us through the association with Stars. How did that work?

I’d been in minor talks over a few years with Stars, but my age had been a factor. Apparently they can’t use me for advertising until I’m over 25. I’m 25 this year. So a few months ago they came in with an official approach. I hadn’t been expecting it, but in the back of my mind I was kind of hoping it would happen. I feel really privileged that it did. After a little bit of negotiating, it didn’t take long to agree a deal. It’s obviously great for my confidence and it raises my profile quite a bit.

Did you do the deal yourself, or have you got an agent?

I did the Stars deal myself actually, which was quite weird. I’m quite modest and I’m not really very good at bigging myself up and I had to do the phone call where I’m trying to sell myself. So that was difficult. But I had some help from some friends. I had loads of A4 sheets of paper with little scripts on them, what I should say. It actually went a lot better than I imagined and went pretty smoothly.

How about your relationship with JP Kelly? He’s a mate of yours, isn’t he, and you’ve now got the deal he lost.

JP has just moved to the city I live in as well, so we’re really close. I do feel a little bit bad. I’ve taken his deal in a way, but he’s really happy for me. For sure, he doesn’t have any grudge. We’re so competitive, and we’re friends, so we’ll compete in whatever we do. But at the same time, when one of us is doing well, we’re all happy for each another. We all care about each another.

Do you get intensive training as a Team Pro? What happened before you were unveiled?

I was kind of just thrown in there. I think they just expected me to be able to handle it and I’m hoping I’ve done it so far. The whole time I was, like, “I’m not nervous. I don’t get nervous.” And then just as Daniel is there with the microphone, I’m like, “Oh…”

How important are sponsorship deals even to big players?

Well, they’re not handed out like they used to be so it’s definitely a prestigious thing. It’s so much more difficult to get a deal. So I do feel blessed and privileged that Stars have decided to take me on. It definitely relieves a lot of pressure with regards to expenses and sorting out buy-ins. It gives you a lot of confidence that they’ve got confidence in you.

Do you have a certain goal in your head now of what you must achieve?

I don’t feel pressure to win a tournament or anything like that, but I would love to be able to do really well for them now.

The pressure gets taken off with expenses, but does it get put on with expectations?

I’m not feeling it right now and hopefully it doesn’t happen, so I’m going to say no right now.

What do people keep asking you in this wave of publicity?

How do you feel? There have been a couple of curveballs, but I like all the attention. I feel like it’s just enough attention that it’s not overwhelming. It’s not like I’ve got the paparazzi outside my house and everything. But it’s nice that people want to hear what you’ve got to say. They want to see you and stuff.

Your Twitter account shows you in Prague, then Leeds, then Miami and then the Bahamas. What do your non-poker mates think of it?

It’s ridiculous. I don’t think there are any bad feelings towards me. I don’t feel any negativity, even though there definitely could be because, obviously, I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in to travel and play poker. But I think everyone is just happy for me, that I’ve come from Rochdale and now I’m like travelling the world. It’s kind of crazy.

You had that amazing run. Have you figured out in your own mind what actually happened there?

No. I felt like I was playing really well at the time, and then in Deauville all the stars just aligned and that week I managed to win. That just gave me so much confidence. I feel like when you’re playing with that level of confidence you have an aura about you and it makes things easier. Bluffs get through a lot more because you’re playing with so much confidence, you just know it’s going to get through. You must give it off that you’re confident and people find it hard to combat that, I guess. Winning breeds winning, in a way.

I don’t think you’d deny you were running good. But what, really, does running good mean?

I felt like I was playing really well, but I can’t feel like I’m the best player in the world and that’s why I was winning all the tournaments. I don’t deserve as much as I’ve won. It’s definitely tournament variance. There are so many amazing players out there who don’t have half the results I have, who are maybe just as good or better. But at the same time, I’m maybe putting myself down a little bit there. I do feel I do a lot of things really well in tournament poker that a lot of people don’t do as well as me.

Who do you look up to?

To be honest, my group of friends. I feel lucky that I have that pool of knowledge that I can just ask them about hands. The two people I most respect are probably Tom MacDonald and Andrew Moseley. They are two UK cash game players who nobody has probably heard of. But they play the big cash games in Macau and they are incredible at poker. When I talk to them about hands, it’s always amazing. He [Moseley] has been killing it for years. He is a massive unsung hero of the UK. He’s probably like ten times better than nearly all of us, but nobody knows who he is.

Tournament poker has this habit of chewing up people and spitting them out. What are you doing to safeguard against that?

Just working hard and having more results. Being sponsored helps a lot in that respect. It’s a difficult question because I don’t really know what I could do to safeguard against that. Just win something else.

Are you aware that this could be a transient thing?

Yeah. A lot of people move out of poker. I mean, when I’m 40 I don’t want to do what I’m doing now. I’m sure I’ll be playing poker to some extent, but hopefully I’ll have a family and kids and stuff. I don’t want to be travelling around in a different city every week, even though I’m grateful for the situation I’m in now. I’m doing something that I love, travelling the world, but I want to do it now, rather than when I’m older.

A lot of the old pros have been complaining recently that the game is boring to watch because of all the young pros coming in and being unsociable. Do you feel an obligation to entertain?

I totally agree that the game can be not great to watch for the general public. But a lot of that is down to the way the TV produces it rather than the players. For a lot of us, this is our job. We’re not entertainers. It’s unfair to put that pressure on us to be entertaining for TV, when we’re just here to make money playing poker. But at the same time, being a Stars pro now, I should consider it a little bit. I just want to win tournaments and hopefully that will be entertaining for people.

Poker changes incredibly quickly. Everyone says that. You’ve been on the circuit two years, so what has changed?

Probably the aggression factor. It’s constantly getting higher and I don’t know if it’s going to stop. Everyone just fights for everything. It’s ridiculous. Everyone is just so competitive. I mean, I don’t know if it’s necessarily got a lot tougher, but you just have to adjust to it a different way. Maybe you can’t run over tables like you could a few years ago, but you can still beat the other players by playing differently against them.

Are we going to get to a point where you’ll have nine players playing absolutely optimally, and so it’ll just be a luck game again?

I think even if there are nine good players, people always make mistakes. People might see that situation and play badly, even if they’re good. I see good players all the time play terribly. People just aren’t very good, I guess.

A lot of pros tend to focus on the downside of life on the circuit, talking about long airport lines and bad internet connection in hotels. What do you think? Is there a downside?

I’m such a positive person. It’s really, really difficult to get me in a bad mood. Or to irritate me. I just let things slide where somebody else’s blood might boil. I feel like you should be happy. Life’s good. I could be working in Asda.