Sep 24, 2013
RakeTheRake's Poker Pro Interviews: Jonathan Gray
By RTR Dennis
RakeTheRake managed to grab some time with US poker pro Jonathan Gray to talk about the WSOP Millionaire Maker, fellow poker pros, and Nintendo. Read our interview below to find out about Jonathan's high points, poker advice, and what he thinks the key differences are between live and online poker.
♥ ♦ ♣ ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠
What first attracted you to playing poker? Did you fall into it almost naturally or was it something you were determined to get into?
My Dad gave me a newspaper article he found about Texas Holdem being a mathematical game. I’ve been interested in math since I was really young, especially probability, so he figured it was something I could do well in. He was right, I love this game. I’ve played all the time since, and that has taken my game to a higher level. Earlier this year, you placed third in the WSOP Millionaire Maker event, taking a pretty whopping $534,505. That’s both your biggest win and highest placing in a WSOP event so far – what did that feel like?
At first crushing. I was already tired out when I registered for the second flight, but had this strange calm feeling, almost like I knew I was going to win. My girlfriend had the same feeling, and I truly believed it. On my last hand I was sure the river was going to flush me. When it didn’t, I almost just couldn’t comprehend it. That seemed more surreal than the wonderful experience itself. After getting over that sort of confusion, I felt very happy and grateful. Happy to be even a minute part of the history of such a wonderful game and players. Happy for Benny and Mike who seemed like nice guys and exceptional players. Grateful that the universe gave me a shot at this, and that I got a lot of support from those close to me as I decided to go for it. Do you have an ultimate goal in terms of your poker career?
The Main Event has to be the single most prestigious tournament, so winning that would certainly be a career pinnacle. I’m a real dreamer, so that would be an ultimate goal. Realistically my only goals are more short term: to enjoy and try to make the most of each game I play. Do you prefer live to online poker, and what are the important differences between the two for you as a player?
Besides the occasional live tournament here and there on a whim, I really just started playing live with any consistency during this summer’s WSOP. So far I can’t say I like one more than the other. They’re just too different to compare. Playing in person seems more like playing a sport, and online is more like a videogame. Live tournaments last longer and it takes more energy to observe an entire table than to keep glancing at a computer screen. One thing that I’ve noticed in both is insecure players berating others unfortunately. It’s horrible for the game. What other poker pro do you admire the most and why?
I’ve always liked Phil Laak. He’s entertaining and interesting to watch. He has kind of an existential thing going on. Has a great mind, made quite a mark on the game, and you can tell has fun and appreciates the ride. What one piece of advice would you give to any budding poker player?
Find a way to become as untiltable as you can. Helps in life too. What are you hobbies and past times outside of poker?
Since my first Nintendo I’ve loved video games. I like reading but don’t end up doing it as much as I should. Science, math, biographies, fantasy, pretty much whatever. I love basketball and running but health problems have stopped me the past few years. Favorite poker moment to date?
I have to go with the Millionaire Maker final table. It was a wonderful experience and felt like an honor to be there. I’m a lucky guy. What’s next for you?
I’m excited to play the WSOP circuit events in Indiana in the beginning of October and maybe more of the stops after that. Also I’m getting addicted to open face Chinese poker. I’m hoping that gets big online or Foxwoods starts offering games because I’d like to play even more. Thanks very much for your time, Jonathan.