Jake Cody is living proof that tournament poker isn't simply variance, and that you can make a hell of a lot of money if you know what you're doing. After an incredible breakout year in 2010, last year was perhaps even better: a bracelet (and, consequently, Triple Crown), final tables in anything he played (including WSOPE Main Event), second in the GUKPT Grand Final, and a rare-considering-the-current-market sponsorship deal with PKR. Another $1.38 million for the fast-car fund; don't mind if I do.
Did you tick all your boxes?
I've definitely far exceeded my expectations. I started a blog at the beginning of the year and looked back at it recently to see how many of my goals came true. I had a list of eight things that I wanted to complete for the year and it was obviously very optimistic, but I've actually managed to complete seven of them.
I'm not massively interested in New Year Resolutions, but I have made some this year. One of them is to never wake up past midday, and I've been keeping to it so far. I've just moved into a new house in Leeds, so there's lots of stuff I've got to do, and I feel as though I can get so much more done if I wake up a bit earlier. It's a lot easier.
I also want to drink less; not quit entirely, just moderate it a little, and not feel as though I have to drink at every single opportunity. Most of my social circle now is made up of poker players, and none of them have a set routine or anything they have to do the next day, so if one person wants to go out, everyone's easily persuaded, which is fun, but is a bad thing overall. Most of us all have quite a bit of expendable money too, so there's no concern about whether we can afford it or not. But I think we all need to calm down overall.
[Jake is alerted to a certain video on YouTube].
[Laughs]. Yeah, I was in Edinburgh one night with a few friends, and for some reason we decided to play credit card roulette. One of us would have to get slapped by this girl, and I lost. We just picked the first girl we saw, but in the end, she didn't slap me, she hugged me, which was a bit of a result. I basically ran good.
Do you splash the spondoolies?
I think I'm quite disciplined in the most part, but if I told somebody how much I spend on things, they'd probably think it was ridiculous. It's definitely relative, but you do lose touch with how much money's worth sometimes. I don't have too much of a problem playing smaller tournaments - £1,000 is probably my cut-off, some UKIPTs too - and I'm still motivated, but when you've played the WSOPE a few weeks earlier were it's $1.4 million for first, of course it's harder to get too excited. I still get an adrenaline rush though when I'm playing well and make the final table - I think if you've got a big stack in live poker, it's one of the most fun things ever, so I'm never bored of it.
If I did go on a big downswing I could always get backed for tournaments, and I've got the house to fall back on if I needed to, so I'd never go broke and be in that position, or I hope not anyway. I would never spend my entire roll; I would get backed way earlier if I were in trouble, and then grind some lower stakes stuff. When you're playing some of the buy-ins I've been playing, it can easily add up. Expenses as well. The bankroll's never totally safe.
Are you still grinding online? Did Black Friday affect you?
To be honest, I've kind of fallen out of love with online tournaments. I used to play them all the time and really enjoyed them, but these days, I've been playing a lot of heads-up cash games instead. It gives you a lot more freedom in that you're not tied down for the whole evening. When you play online MTTs, you end up eating badly and your sleeping pattern's always messed up, so it deteriorates a lot of other aspects of your life, although you can't complain when you're playing poker for a living. At the moment, I just play when I feel like it rather than having a set schedule or routine.
My form has been good overall. I've had a few bad losing days, and I'm still getting used to the swings overall at the higher stakes on PKR, $5/10 to $25/50 No Limit Hold'em. I've been playing a lot of live cash too actually, in and around the North. There are a couple of games in Leeds. And I played for quite a bit too when I went to London.
Overall, I put in very little online tournament volume over the year, but I won a SCOOP back in April for $230K, so there was no way I could have a losing year after that given the amount I've played. I do need to be playing more online tournaments, just to keep myself refreshed in various situations. I live with Jamie Sykes and Ash Mason who play online all the time, so it's awesome to have them around to ask about hands and stuff, but I've had a couple of sessions recently where I just felt a little bit out of touch with where online is at the moment.
On the whole Black Friday didn't affect me too much and wasn't much of a big deal as I'm more of a live player these days, and can still play cash on any of the Euro sites. I withdrew most of my balance, but did lose a bit of money, which was annoying, but not devastating. I guess it was my own fault. Hopefully the same thing doesn't happen to poker over here. I think it's unlikely - although I wouldn't be totally surprised if it got taxed at some point - and it'd be great if the Asian market got tapped into, and also if the Americans got back on their feet too.
How important was the Triple Crown?
[Jake won the $25,000 Heads-Up event at the World Series for $851,192]
I knew about it, but I didn't want to add too much emphasis, and put pressure on myself to complete it - I just wanted to do my best and then, obviously, the first tournament I played I won, and it was an amazing start. I was very lucky it happened and I was guaranteed a winning Series. At the end of the day, all of us poker players want to make money, and you can't put prestige above that, but I do massively want to break records and win more titles. If you asked me at the start of the year if I could lock up a big win, or a more prestigious title with less money, I'd probably take the money.
It's massively overestimated how much everyone has in poker. People think that when you win a tournament you have millions and millions of dollars in the bank, but that's not the case at all. I was backed by James Bord for the $25K heads-up, so had to split first prize. I had 50 percent, and I also swapped 10 percent on the bubble with [Chris] Moorman. He obviously then snap-bubbled, but it could have easily have been the other way around, and I would have been very happy with the $85,000.
It was quite an interesting structure and I've never played one like it before. You start off the match with one of the three bullets and you can add on at any time. You have to lose all three bullets to lose the match, so if you both use all three bullets at the start, it can all be over in one hand, but if you do it bullet by bullet then you can draw it out.
There was a lot of talk about what the best strategy was against certain players and I think it's still undecided. I just took it as player dependent. If you think you've got an edge against an opponent, you want to be as deep-stacked as possible, and if you think it's close, or they're a more experienced player, then you should try and play as shallow as possible. That's the theory.
I didn't go in thinking I was going to do certain things; I just tried to adapt to them quicker than they did to me and hope to catch them by surprise. Thinking back, Anthony Guetti gave me the toughest match by far. I'm not going to lie: he pretty much owned me, at least in the first half of the match anyway. He was super aggressive and seemed to read me very well. Everything I was trying just wasn't really working at all and it seemed like he was in control. I think the dinner break was important in that match and I may have lost otherwise, but I managed to claw my way back and advance to the next round.
The Gus [Hansen] match went really well, and I think my strategy was particularly effective against him. I don't want to go into too much detail, but I wasn't playing too light out of position, and just tried to play big pots in position. He couldn't seem to get into the game, and I felt I was just reading through anything he was doing. I was really pleased to beat [Yevgeniy] Timoshenko too. It's very difficult to say who the best player in the world is, but he is definitely in that unique category.
The atmosphere in both the Hansen and Timoshenko matches was incredible. I've seen the coverage on TV and it doesn't do it justice at all. It was like a football stadium in there and I was absolutely revelling in it all. I was loving it. There were a lot of borderline offensive chants, and I definitely couldn't repeat them.
It was the same when Matt [Perrins] won his bracelet, and I was really happy for him. I always say this, but if I was going to get heads-up in a tournament, and it was simply a case of who I thought would be the most difficult opponent, I really wouldn't want to play against Matt. One of the things he needs to do is play more. He has massive raw talent but he just needs to put his mind to it more and get grinding again.
Where did that Mickey Mouse hoodie come from?
I'd been in Vegas since the first week of May playing the WPT $25K, and then there wasn't too much going off after that tournament, so I went on a road trip to L.A. I bought the hoodie in Disneyland and decided to wear it for the first tournament, and it was lucky, although I retired it straight away and haven't put it on since.
I haven't worn the red hoodie I won in Deauville either. I don't know why. I have a little stuffed wolf called Sebastian that I think I bought in Copenhagen. He was a lucky mascot for a bit, but is at my friend's house, so he hasn't been directly lucky for a while. Maybe he's been looking over me throughout the year.
What's the real secret to your success?
I think I have good table presence, and can manipulate opponents better than other players can. I feel like I can adjust to players, have control over the table and read game flow better.
Are you heading back to Vegas this year?
Yeah, definitely. I was there for the whole two months but didn't get burnout at all. I was looking forward to coming home but I wasn't getting homesick or anything. I absolutely can't wait for this year and was talking about Vegas the other day with my friends. It's a lot nearer than I thought.
I was in a house last time with Matt Perrins, Chris Brammer, Ashley Mason, Chris Walker, Madison Bergeron and Rob Woodcock, and we had a great time, but I might stay on the Strip by myself this year. I haven't decided where exactly, although I might look into the Panorama Towers.
I've stayed in a few of the big hotels throughout the summer and the Wynn and the Aria are my favourite. One of the best things about the Aria it is that they have these electric curtains that you can set your alarm to, which is awesome because I'm the worst for getting up, especially if there's a snooze button. I just relentlessly use it and end up sleeping in for an extra three hours.
I want to play live cash while I'm out there. Although the tournaments are great value, it's so easy to brick everything, and you see so many great players bricking the whole Series. I just want to make sure I'm prepared for that, and at least soften the blow a bit by playing cash.
Tell me about WSOPE…
I played the Main Event in 2010, and a couple of side events the year before that. The Empire was good for English players with it being in London, and quite convenient, but it wasn't a great venue, and the field is so much softer in Cannes. Cannes is really nice, and the tournament was well run - I literally can't say enough good things about it.
The final table showed just how good the structure was. The cream rose to the top, and the lineup was one of the toughest I've ever seen. I wasn't upset about going out. It would annoy me if I had played badly, but I ended up getting massively sucked out on in that tournament, which was new to me; normally everything goes perfectly [laughs].
In a way, I couldn't complain, as every major final table has gone really well; I've won the flips, held when I needed to, stuff like that, but It just didn't happen that time. I didn't realise how big it was until a few weeks later, and then it kind of dawned on me a bit. Hopefully I'll get more chances and win it next time.
How did the PKR deal come about?
There'd been a couple of things in the pipeline which I don't want to go into detail about, but I spoke to them, and they asked me to go to a meeting. I went in open-minded, and was happy to hear what they had to say, but they blew me away and I wanted to sign with them straight away.
There's just general stuff for the website I need to do, promote them at all times and wear the badge. I think around the UK, everyone knows who I am anyway, so wearing the badge doesn't change too much, or mean people recognise me more.
GUKPT Grand Final and you come up against Fabian Quoss again…
[Fabian Quoss was runner-up to Jake in the WPT London 2010]
We're quite good friends so it was fun getting heads-up with him. He's a great player. There are so many good German players, and I think they are a great rising nation at the moment. We've definitely got some meta game going on, but we were quite shrewd on the final table and stayed out of each other's way until it was down to three-handed. With the final being how it was with us having most of the chips, there was no reason for us to go after each other.
What you been up to recently? Any goals for 2012?
I had the family up for Christmas, and it was fun, and I've just come back from Ireland, and that was a good trip. I only played the Main Event. I'm good friends with Dave Shallow, though. 12 months ago, me, him, Flushy [James Dempsey] and Toby Lewis spent New Year's together in New York. I've got some great stories of Dubai but his girlfriend's pregnant so he's got a bit more sensible these days; he's not quite as wild as he used to be, but I think he still wants to go a bit crazy now and then. He always will.
I was supposed to sort out a flight to Australia today but I ended up not booking it. I just bought a new car too, so I'm thinking I might just skip it. I've been to the PCA for the last two years, and as a whole, I think it's one of the worst stops as a major tournament: the resort is overpriced and not very good; I don't like the way it's cutoff - it's like an American resort that's been put on the Bahamas; it's massively Americanised; and the food's not that good either.
This year, I'm going to play pretty much every single EPT and play around England. Obviously some of the European WPTs too. Lil' Dave Nicholson lives in Leeds and is a good friend. He's considering going to L.A. in March, so I was thinking of going with him and playing the LAPT and then heading to Vegas for a few weeks to play cash. In the meantime, I'll just carry on playing heads-up, and getting the house sorted. I'm just happy to be home for the time being.
To be honest, I'm so terrible at planning, that I wait to the last minute. I'm always asked what I'm doing in the next few weeks, and I say some outline plans but really I've got no idea. Right now, if I break even over the year, I will be content. If I play the number of tournaments and go to the type of places I went to last year, and can do all that for free, then I definitely won't complain.
Could you survive without poker?
I don't even know what the hell I would do. I guess I would be pretty, pretty f*cked. I would be okay for the time being, but in the long term… I would probably go back into education and try and learn something I'm interested in. I'm not ready to retire just yet.
I think poker will always be a part of my life, but I don't want to be grinding as much live poker as I am now in 10 years' time. Hopefully I'll have settled down and I won't be able to play as much. There's definitely a lot more to life than poker, even though it's giving me some great opportunities at the moment.
Our New Year Reviews will continue throughout January and appear every two days.
#1 - JP Kelly
#2 - Roberto Romanello
#3 - Daniel 'jungleman12' Cates
#4 - James Keys
#5 - Julian Thew
#6 - Jerome Bradpiece
#7 - Rupert Elder
#8 - Barny Boatman