Young Gunna!: Interview with Jason Young

Jason Young
Jason Young wins Event 17 at the 2008 WSOP

Jason Young quit his job a little while ago on account of he was running good at the poker. Turns out it wasn't a bad decision.

The 26-year-old from Suffern, N.Y. honed his poker chops at the Borgata in Atlantic City and came out to Vegas for a little World Series of Poker fun. On Wednesday that fun turned into profit as Young took down the 2008 WSOP's Event 17, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout, defeating Mike Schwartz in heads-up play to claim the title, the bracelet and $329,872 in spending money. talked to Young shortly after his thrilling victory.

Jason, obviously the schedule for this event was a little rough. You played all day and all night yesterday and all day today, and you've said that you got only one hour of sleep last night. Was it adrenaline fueling your run at the end?

All adrenaline. It was like back in high school, if I had a big baseball game or whatever, you know, you get pumped. You get yourself up for it. How often do you get to a World Series of Poker final table?

So once I got here that was it. I wasn't stopping until it was over. Second place, eighth place, fourth place - no good. All that mattered was the bracelet, at this point.

You probably didn't dream of becoming a professional poker player. What were your aspirations growing up?

I actually wanted to find a job or find something to do that would allow me to make a lot of money without me having to work too hard, so, here it is! Yeah!

Can you take us through the final table in your own words?

Yeah. I got real lucky - there was the only time I sucked out at the final table. We were just back from a break, I think with seven or eight players left, and I was all-in blind versus blind with ace-jack against ace-king. I hit a jack on the turn and another jack on the river and from that point on my hands held up; I bet strong and got people playing back at me when I had big hands.

Jason Young
Young Buck!

I won some pretty big pots. I sat back and let some of the players dump off all of their chips to me because they were trying to bully around the table, and other than that I just tried to play solid hands, be patient and just wait for the right situation.

Things got a little sticky at the end there, but I tried not to go on tilt or do anything stupid, just keep myself grounded and not go crazy. And it all worked out in the end!

What was going through your mind during the heads-up match? Was it tough to remain off tilt?

I mean, yeah. It was pretty hard, because it was over; he had like $130,000 left. I've seen some crazy things happen and I've had some crazy things happen to me, so everyone was telling me "No big deal, don't worry about it," but I knew better than that that anything could happen.

One more hand and he's got seven million and I've got three million. The bracelet's important to me, man. I just wanted the bracelet, and if I had come that close to getting it and lost it, I don't even know what I would have done about it.

I would have been burying myself in my room with bottles of booze for the next three or four days, at least.

So is it safe to say that the bracelet meant more than the money?

No, the money means more than the bracelet, but the bracelet is nice to have, too. I can't even fathom the money. I don't even know what that kind of money looks like. I don't know what to do with it.

Does anything spring to mind off the top of your head?

Honestly, we're going to go out and have a good time tonight. We're going to enjoy the rest of Vegas. I'm going to play some more tournaments; I was supposed to go back to New York on Friday but I'll probably be back out in Vegas on Monday.

Can you talk about how you got your start in poker?

I learned poker from my grandmother, actually. We used to play Seven-Card Stud - I didn't even know what Hold'em was three or four years ago. And then everyone started playing it and it was on TV and I started playing in Atlantic City.

I did all right in some tournaments, won some money, so it started being a hobby. Me and my dad have been to Atlantic City like a hundred and fifty times in the past three years. You know, it's something good for us to do together - I'm 26 and he's 52 years old.

I took him out to Vegas for the first time to play in some tournaments and stuff like that. I've been playing ever since but I never dreamed it would come to this. This is what all the work is for!

What do you do when you're not playing poker?

Well, what do I do when I'm not playing poker? I'm partying, like to have a good time. I just left my job of six years because things were going all right with poker, and it looks like that might not have been such a bad decision after all.

What was this job you quit?

I worked for my town's Parks and Recreation Department. I set up camps and after-school programs. The only problem was that I made $35,000 a year and it probably cost $90,000 to live where I was living. So this tournament, it's like I just worked 10 years in two days. That's not bad, man. Not bad at all.

Did you choose the shootout format intentionally?

I love the shootout format. The first couple of tournaments I played here - I mean, it's so short-stacked, the chips and they kept moving me. I played like seven different tables the first few levels and couldn't get a read on anyone.

These shootouts are so simple. It's like a single-table sit-and-go. You only have to worry about who's at your table; you don't have to worry about being moved or some monster stack coming to your table. You just take care of business at your table and there's a lot of play. You get to put reads on people and it's probably my favorite type of tournament.

Where do you do most of your playing?

Atlantic City, at the Borgata. I'm not a professional yet, but ...

Now you've got a bankroll.

I've got a bankroll and a little bling on my wrist to say otherwise, I guess. We'll see what happens; one step at a time.

Lovin' it. Congratulations, Jason.



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So that's your story. Young man goes west, gets rich. Probably drinks your milkshake. Dude says he's sticking around for the summer and clearly has the chops. Moral of the story, don't sleep on Jason Young. It could be hazardous to your bankroll, yaknahmean.

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Walter Lynn 2008-12-09 01:07:00

I just met Jason this past weekend in a tournament in New Orleans, we had a break during which we shared a meal and a great conversation. All I can say is his family did a good job of raising this young man. I was really impressed with his play and even more impressed with his attitude. Hope you get to play with Ray R. again soon, Jason...good luck from the old man back working in Texas!!!

Joe Kelter 2008-09-18 06:12:00

Hey i dont know if jay remembers me but i played a cash game with you right as you got back from your tournament win and yes i did take 150 from you in a pot and yes i did smile but you didnt care because you were rich haha good luck and congrats man

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