Faraz Jaka has played in every single World Series of Poker in Las Vegas since 2007, occasionally also playing in WSOP Europe. Finally–after cashing for the 71st time–Jaka got the job done.
The famous founder of popular poker coaching website JakaCoaching.com won the WSOP $1,500 Shootout, coming out as the winner on three-straight 10-man tables to take home $237,367 and his first-career bracelet. Jaka defeated Michael Finstein ($146,686) after roughly 45 minutes of heads-up play.
In the unusual format, everybody came to the final table today with virtually the same stacks. The star-studded table included Olga Iermolcheva (3rd, $109,780), Adam Friedman (8th, $29,834), and Brazilian stars Allan Mello (9th, $23,689) and Yuri Dzivielevski (5th, $63,295).
The 987-player field had the majority of players start at a 10-player table. The winners all received $5,759 and advanced to the second round. The 10 winners of the second round all advanced to the final table and locked up at least $19,003.
After winning his first bracelet, Jaka found himself more relieved and accomplished than excited.
“I’m pretty great and still just taking it all in. I was so zoned in that I’m still kind of decompressing. I mean, I’ve gotten a lot of seconds and thirds, not just in WSOP but also in WPT events and so on,” Jaka said. “It’s definitely nice to kind of get that monkey off my back, and I feel like it’s just one of those things, and I’m gonna start shipping the rest now. It’d be cool to win a WPT championship or an EPT, but nowadays EPTs are few and far between. But a WPT championship is definitely the next step.”
Jaka was visibly calm throughout all three days of the shootout, noticeably loose and chatty with his rail both during the event and while on break.
The 37-year-old nearly missed the entirety of WSOP because of back issues but made it back to play some of the best poker of his life, resulting in a bracelet and a deep WSOP Main Event run.
“I had two herniated discs. I was signed up for surgery, and it got so bad that I was stuck on the floor one day for four hours. I couldn’t move,” Jaka said. “Any movement was a level 9 or 10 nerve pain and had to call 911.
“They gave me ketamine just so they could move me and that literally zapped away all the nerve pain that I had been having for four weeks. Then that put me in a position where I was able to do physical therapy and I basically, recovered in about three or four weeks and made it out to the series. I thought I was gonna miss the whole thing. So, yeah, this is awesome.”
Jaka had the biggest rail at the final table, with a number of students (including this author) supporting him throughout the day.
JakaCoaching.com has risen to prominence and pulled together coaching efforts from the likes of Dara O’Kearney, Scott Baumstein, Fausto Valdez, and Thomas Boivin.
While he’s a coaching site owner aimed at helping his community, Jaka believes coaching has helped drastically improve his game as well.
“These guys are representing. We’ve got a tight community and they’re all awesome. When you’re coaching other people and they ask you questions, sometimes you don’t have the answer and then you feel like, okay, I’ve got to figure this out. So, it kind of keeps you honest,” Jaka said. “Also, just hearing so many different perspectives makes me a better player. How many different people think about the game, that’s obviously helpful when you’re planning against other people as well.”
Jaka said he’s likely to end his series and go home on a high, leaving with nearly $300,000 in WSOP cashes.
Finally, he mentioned that his 2009–2010 WPT Player of the Year trophy was lost in storage, so he’s more incentivized to do something special with his long-awaited bracelet.