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Last year Jesse Sylvia finished second in one of the biggest poker tournaments in history and according to the young American pro, it only made him hungrier for a big win. Sylvia is in Australia at the first ever WSOP Asia Pacific, playing as part of Team 888poker, and after talking to him we can tell you he's driven to win his first bracelet. We caught Jesse on camera to talk about how his experience at the WSOP last year changed his life, and what he's going to do with the opportunity.
I think it's really cool to get to be one of the people to play the very first World Series anywhere. I imagine people who went out for Europe the first time were kind of freaking out because it was the first time it was outside U.S. soil. I think that playing the World Series is something I've been kind of waiting for a little bit. Ever since I took second in the main event I've been wanting to win a bracelet so any time I have an opportunity to do that it's a really cool thing and I'm a person who loves to travel so getting to go to really cool places and do it somewhere else is just all that you can ask for.
I've never felt bad about taking second. I've never regretted anything I've done in the tournament very much. I know that I would have loved to have taken first and it was something I thought a lot about but I'm very happy with my accomplishment and I know there will be other tournaments where I can win. I prepared for three months and I got as in poker-shape as I could to win the tournament so I'm really happy with what I did and everything that I put into it and I think that I gave myself the best chance to win. That said, it's not the worst thing in the world to take a big second place because it gives you that hunger to win everything else and it keeps you very motivated in playing everything and trying to play your best whenever you're in a tournament.
Yeah, Greg Merson the poker player is a very good player. He puts in a ton of time. He's constantly working on his game. He's constantly grinding. If I ever had a question about Hold Em online, live games, tournaments, whatever, he'd be probably the first person I can go and ask and I'd know I get the right answer because that's his world. Greg Merson the person is an awesome kid. I really like hanging out with him. He likes traveling and having fun too and that's really cool. I'm always happy when I see him around on the circuit and stuff. It's kind of one of those things where you have this life changing experience and he was one of the main people in that experience so we're always both excited when we see each other because it's like, you remember that time and stuff.
My life's changed a lot since taking second place. I've been traveling a lot more, I've been playing a lot more tournaments abroad, even around the U.S. I've been working more on my tournament game and stuff like that and I've been getting noticed a lot more at different places. People, they want to come over and introduce themselves and talk to me about poker and stuff, and I'm like a pretty easygoing, outgoing person so I don't know, I like meeting lots of people. It's really cool. I had never signed an autograph before the final table so that was a pretty amazing experience and more people want to do interviews with you and I like talking so that works out.
Definitely I think that when, I mean I grew up in the Money Maker era. By grow up I mean I started playing poker because I saw Money Maker win the main event on TV and I thought it was the coolest thing ever that you can play a game and make money on it. And after that first time I watched poker on TV that was it, that was what I was going to do. I always kind of looked up to a lot of the poker players who did really well in tournaments and were constantly at final tables - Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey - all those guys. So any time I meet somebody and they have that gleam in their eye like "I want to do what you did," it feels really good to be one of those people. I still think I have a lot to prove and a lot more tournaments to win to become one of those people who's constantly at final tables but it already feels like I've claimed a victory and that feels really cool.
Yeah, I mean 888 has been nothing but amazing to me. They've allowed me to travel. They've allowed me to play more tournaments than I was ever playing. They've taken care of us on the road. They've just been so cool to us. The team that travels tightly together is myself, Jake Balsiger, Russell Thomas, and Sam Holden, and I'm very happy to say that all three of those guys are awesome people. They're really easy going, they're a lot of fun to hang out with, and they have great poker minds. It's a really good team and we have a lot of fun together and we can keep learning and getting better with each other which is the best thing to do when you're playing poker all the time.
I just recently moved outside the U.S., moved to Mexico and started playing online again. I finally get to play on 888's site and it's really cool being a part of that, coming up with ideas for tournaments and stuff and having somebody keep their ear and listen to you and do stuff like that. That's going to be a really cool experience in the future. I'm really excited to see how much 888 grows in the next couple of years.