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Faraz Jaka: "When Good Players Get Lucky They Make the Most of It"
Faraz Jaka is a poker nomad.
The international poker circuit is his home, and that means he’s at home most of the time.
Berlin, Malta, the Dominican Republic, Amsterdam, Prague ... those are just a few of the places you can meet up with him this year if you want to.
We caught up with Jaka on Day 4 of the EPT Malta main event after he had just surged into the chip lead by winning two pots in a way that weren't, let's say, entirely governed by skill.
He unfortunately busted later in the day but in the meantime the affable and inspiring pro spoke about luck in poker tournaments, stalling at the tables, the WSOPE in Berlin and why the November Nine remain a mystery to him.
PokerListings: A long time ago in Prague you told us you spent all year traveling. Do you have a home now?
Faraz Jaka: No, nothing’s changed. I’m still chasing the tour and I’m basing my travels around that.
PL: Maybe you’re making these deep runs in tournaments only because you have nowhere else to go.
FJ: (laughs) No, there are usually places nearby where I play that are worth a visit, or I fill in the times between events by visiting friends.
I’m lucky to have friends all around the world so there’s always something to do.
PL: Usually we wouldn’t ask this, but how much luck is involved when you run like that in a tournament?
FJ: Obviously there’s a lot of luck involved. In many tournaments that I’ve won there have been some crazy hands and bad beats that went my way.
The difference is when the good players get lucky, they make the most of it. When the worst players get lucky, they don’t win as many chips as they can.
It’s the same the other way round. When a good player gets unlucky he minimizes the amount of chips he loses.
PL: A big issue this week has been stalling at the table. What’s your take on this?
FJ: I don’t have a strong opinion on the topic. I’m not necessarily against stalling but I think it should be limited.
Sometimes it can get sort of ridiculous, and more importantly if it ruins the experience for players it’ll harm the game as they won’t come back.
PL: Does it bother you when it happens at your table?
FJ: Not really, no.
PL: You also played the WSOP in Berlin and it seems there was quite some criticism about it. What was your experience?
FJ: I remember they changed the starting time of a tournament. I think that was a big mistake and it upset a lot of people.
I think it was Day 1B of the turbo. Day 1A had begun at 4 pm but Day 1B was supposed to start at noon.
There weren’t many players there, so they postponed it, but some players had already showed up so they were annoyed.
Personally, I think that this was the first time they did it, so mistakes are bound to happen. To me it’s more important how they rectify them and solve the problems and improve.
PL: So you didn’t think it was bad.
FJ: No, I didn’t. There is certainly room for improvement but I think that people tend to exaggerate when they’re complaining about certain things.
Also, people tend to compare it with PokerStars events, which is a little unfair as PokerStars is a huge online site worth billions of dollars and they have more money at their disposal than most of the other tours.
PL: Why are the WSOPs in Europe and Australia so much smaller than the one in Vegas?
FJ: It’s simply a branding thing. The WSOP started out in the US, so that’s where their brand is strong.
I think you have to expect these lower numbers. Maybe it could change if the WSOP had an online presence over here in Europe
PL: Do you have a favorite in the November Nine?
FJ: To be honest I don’t know who’s in the November Nine and I’ve never even watched the Main Event.
I don’t really follow poker much. When I don’t play I prefer to get busy with something else. That’s my way of staying balanced in life.
Maybe I should watch a little more as there are some individual people worth following and learning from.
PL: Did you follow that John Juanda and Jen Harman were inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame?
FJ: Yes, that’s definitely of interest for me.
PL: Europeans complain that they never have a chance of induction. Is the selection process biased?
FJ: I think you could see it that way, but we mustn’t forget that poker has been big in the States for many years and the boom in Europe is not that long ago.
Thus, I think it’s not surprising that most of the players are Americans because they’ve been around much longer.
There are superstars now who do their thing, and they should probably be inducted in maybe 10 or 15 years, but for now it’s OK to have mostly Americans in it.