Jake Schwartz Interview: Battling Phil Hellmuth, WSOP Success, Personal Life and Business

For those who don’t know the man behind the microphone, allow me to give you a short bio. His name is Jake Schwartz, and he is a serious genius. An expert of all forms of poker, but considers his best game No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

Schwartz is a professional poker player originally from Brooklyn, New York, but moved to Florida after having some financial troubles. This ultimately led him to follow his poker dreams. Jake was grinding cash games at the Hard Rock before he started to get interested in tournaments. After finding success early in his tournament career, he would soon transition away from cash games. Ever since then, he’s continued to win bigger and bigger, and hasn’t looked back since.

Bio

Jake Schwartz, Professional Poker Player

  • Over $3,356,660 in Career Earnings
  • 83 World Series of Poker Cashes
  • 6 World Series of Poker Final Tables
  • 26 World Poker Tour Cashes
  • 7 World Poker Tour Final Tables
  • Holds record for most WPT Final Tables without win
  • Has the biggest poker stable in the world

Interview

Early Career / College

You have a pretty good career so far. After looking at your Card Player and Hendon Mob It seems like you been playing for quite a while now. Like over 10 years, is that right?

Yeah, I started playing cash (games) underground when I was like 15, in New York. And then did it to pay my way through college, then kinda kept with it, stuck with it.

Yeah that’s what I wanted to go through too, It says you’re from Brooklyn originally, and then you went to college in Indiana.

Yup!

And now you’re based out of the Fort Lauderdale area, Florida is that right?

Yup, yup, that’s all right.

So did you end up moving because of poker? Or was that like a family thing? Did you get married?

I wound up actually moving to Fort Lauderdale because I- back when I was 23-24 I went broke, and needed to make some money and play cash and do all that good stuff.

Did you have a regular casino that you were rounding at the time when you were building up your bankroll?

The Hard Rock down in Florida.

Oh awesome yeah, I’ve seen a lot of great videos come out of the Hard Rock. It seems like a pretty good place. They just updated their facilities recently, isn’t that right?

Yeah It’s really nice actually, I’m a big fan.

Beginning of Poker Success

So you worked your way up the stakes, or when you first started taking shots at tournaments, were you backed at all? Or was it something that you were doing on your own, like paying to play on your own winnings or job?

I actually moved down there because I had a couple friends that were willing to back me at the time. And they wanted to see me get back up on my feet which was kinda cool that I had supportive friends that had faith in me.

Yeah exactly, Not a lot of people end up having that.

And then I moved down there, saw some immediate success and just kinda didn’t look back from there. And then yeah, it was good, it was cool.

Deep Tournament Runs

I’ve seen a majority (of your stats), skimming through all of your finishes, this is your 6th WSOP final table. Also on your resume, you have a bunch final tables for WPT, you played in PCA. This is a pretty big story this time, it’s not your biggest cash by any means, because you took down 2nd place money for 52k and I think you’ve had a score for $400,000 and $200,000. But would you say this (final table against Hellmuth) is the biggest storyline so far out of your tournament career?

No, I don’t think it’s the biggest storyline of my career, but it was definitely an awesome experience. I guess it’ll be a little bit of a footnote in history, getting 2nd place to Hellmuth. I think my WPT success outweighs my WSOP Success.

Yeah as far as that goes, I would definitely have to agree as well, you found a little bit more success there. You have like ($500,000) more earnings as well.

Yeah, unfortunately I’m just not a closer on either tour.

I don’t remember recalling or even watching any of the events you went deep in but there’s like “4th” and theres “2nd” and there’s some “3rd” places… You always get very close to the end, and this was a special event.

I actually have the most WPT Final Tables without a win. Yeah, that’s a record I need to shake. That’s the problem I have getting up there in the WSOP as well.

Biggest Storyline of Career

Any regular rec player, they’d love to finish at the Final Table, but for you yourself, I would consider you a professional, it makes you even more hungry, you want to get that 1st place finish.

Definitely makes me more hungry. Actually you asked what I think the biggest storyline of my career is, I believe. I think It’s actually the fact that my business partner and I, Jerry Wong, I think we run the biggest stable of poker players there are right now. And by action of just a bunch of people, and are successful at it, and we run really hot with that. That’s actually the thing I’m most proud of.

You and your business partner Jerry Wong, how did you guys meet?

He lives in Florida and we’ve just been friends for years and we just kind of came together and started this venture. We’ve had a guy who’s won the main event once, we’ve had a guy who got 7th in the main event, we’ve had WPT winners, we’ve had bracelet winners.

We try to connect. We try to connect with the players. We pride ourselves on being easy to work with and easy to deal with and have a good reputation.

It seems like you’re just super consistent with what you’re able to accomplish among all of the people you network with, whether it’s in poker or business. Pretty successful guy all around.

Favorite Variation of Poker

You’ve been able to continue your success – this specific event was 2-7 lowball draw. What is your favorite variation of poker? Is no-limit hold ’em your “bread and butter” or do you like live mixed games?

No-limit hold ’em is definitely my bread and butter and definitely tournaments, I’d rather play tournaments than cash games just for the competitive factor. I really like to play mixed games. like today I’m going to go play the 10k dealer’s choice. I really like to play mixed games during the summer because you don’t get to play a lot of mixed game tournaments, or during WSOP, because you don’t get to play a lot of mixed game tournaments other than that.

Is the event you’re specifically talking about another WSOP Bracelet event?

It is, yes it is

Which other ones do you planning on doing this year?

I’m going to play everything. I’ll play it all. I haven’t taken a day off yet, and I probably won’t.

Tournament Grind

When WSOP comes around, do you usually stay in Las Vegas for the duration of the series?

Yeah I stay out for the whole series, this year I got a house with two of my friends, Chad Eveslage and Justin Liberto. And we brought our dogs out, My friend Justin brought his wife out. We just have a good little routine. When we’re not playing we just hang out with the dogs, shit like that.

Do they grind tournaments as well?

Yeah they’re both actually having decent summers as well. Chad, my roommate, actually got 4th in the 25k HORSE in event, which Hellmuth, I think got 5th in, so he’s having a good summer.

The Phil Hellmuth Blow-Up

That’s the one where Hellmuith blew up in? Or was that the stud event, or you said HORSE Event?

He blew up in the stud event, my friend got 4th in the first event of the summer actually. So we’ve been exposed to a little too much Hellmuth this summer already.

This is just Hellmuth season, everybody gets to indulge a little too much on all of the blow ups or glorify that stuff. What was your opinion on tha? I know some people are mixed, some people are like “yeah, he’s completely out of line.” Some people know it’s a show. Like Mike Matusow is one of his best buddies, and he’ll always defend him on Twitter, what do you think?

I think he’s a little out of line with it, I think. But frankly he’s never done or said anything disrespectful to me, so I feel like I don’t need to put my nose where it doesn’t belong.

I think he’s a little out of line. He’s a 60-year-old man that doesn’t have much sportsmanship, but yesterday, playing yesterday his sportsmanship was pristine, it was awesome. But I think he gets caught in the heat of the moment sometimes, and I think his emotions get the best of him. But he’s never done anything to me. He’s never gone off on me.

I don’t approve of it and I wouldn’t do it, but to each their own, you know?

I think that’s what makes everybody individual, and that’s the best thing you can do is just remain impartial. In that instance where as long as he’s not directing any disrespect towards you. He’s tweeted out that his mom and his dad already saw the outcome. And he’s already dedicated to make a change, and to try at least a little bit to not be such a rude person.

He was nothing but respectful to me, and he was gracious winner to me when he won. He was a very deserving winner, he played very well. So yeah, but his outbursts are in my opinion, not great. But a lot of people want to argue it’s good for the game. I just think it’s whatever.

Personal Life and Business

So is cash (games) boring to you? Or do you feel like if you did play cash, you would rather play high stakes?

Yeah if I’m going to play cash, I’m going to play big mixed games. I’d rather just do my backing thing and spend time doing other things. I don’t need to be playing poker all the time.

The whole risk reward with having players and having a stable of people, you’re risking a little bit to have exponential wins.

I like hunting for big scores and glory, and at this point I just want to get a signature win. It’s barely even about the money.

You’ve run deep in a lot of events. People definitely know you within the community. But as far as that breakthrough Negreanu or Hellmuth moment or Ivey Moment, you’re just wating on that. But you’ve already done enough as far as your resume.

Jake Schwartz’s Battle vs. Phil Hellmuth

People already recognize you and have a ton of respect for you throughout the entire community. It’s just having that #1 trophy or that 1st place finish.

Yeah which I’m hungry for, I really want. So, it’ll happen one day I hope. I thought it was going to be yesterday, it wasn’t. Thought it could’ve been Monday or Tuesday whenever I got 3rd last week, it wasn’t.

I think he made like 9-7-6-5-2 low, and yours was like a 10-high hand, I forget, but it was like a swing of 700k and from that moment he had a 2:1 chip lead, and then it was just a grind down.

Yeah he took his momentum and he leaned on me like a boxer and he played very well. He got the chip lead and didn’t relinquish it. He played very well.

By no means is this anything to hang your head on, you’re going against, what people consider one of the greatest tournament players ever and also one of the best heads up players ever. Even though he just lost to Dwan, beating Esfandiari, beating Negreanu, Nick Wright and everything. You’re going against one of the toughest dudes out there, It’s definitely props to you for hanging in and battling it out as long as you could. It’s just you just can’t give him any type of lead, he’s going to try to sit on you and do the most.

It was great, it was a great experience. It was a lot of fun. Something I never thought I’d wind up doing and frankly, hopefully it happens again one day.

You’re more than capable of going back and running hot again. You have 83 cashes in the WSOP. You have 26 cashes at the World Poker Tour, EPT you have your one cash. So you know how to get into the money and run deep and make something happen. So eventually… you’ve got Doyle (Brunson), you got Erik Seidel still playing, Tony G’s still playing at their age. You got at least 20, 30, 40 years under your belt. 

Yeah, I sure hope so!

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