Where are they now? October Nine: Jesse Sylvia

October 27, 2012

With the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table only days away, what exactly are the October Niners doing to prepare mentally for the big day, and what are they up to? Chip leader Jesse Sylvia, hailing from the quaint and exclusive seaside town of Martha’s Vineyard, USA, is a much deeper thinker than most other 26-year-olds.

According to a recent WSOP interview, he has much to say and it’s not simply what he says but how he says it, with “careful thought and obvious passion.”

Sylvia explained that after he was officially a member of the elite October Nine, all he did for the first week was relax after the stress he had incurred during his intense stint in Las Vegas. He says, “I tried to watch some poker videos to keep sharp when I got back, at sites like CardRunners and DeucesCracked. But the first few weeks back home for me was a time to try and unwind and enjoy the moment.”

Sylvia was an overnight sensation, one day being an unknown poker player, the next being chip leader at the biggest final table in poker when at once everyone who knew anything about poker knew his name.

He explains, “I guess it’s that even if you’re away from poker, or try to get away from it like I did, when you are in the spot I’m in, you are never really quite away from it.  Know what I mean?  Because wherever you go, that’s all you get asked–’how do you feel about being the final table,’ things like that.  It’s just always with you.  I mean, the island was a sort of sanctuary for me, not just geographically but also s a place that’s isolated, which I think is good.  But in some ways, always being connected to poker regardless of what I do makes me continue to think about the game all the time.  I need to stay as sharp as possible, so I guess that’s a good thing.”

But any way you look at it, poker pulses through his veins just as much as anything else he’s compassionate about. In fact, he says during the series, he didn’t even realize he was playing up to 60 hours a week, just playing in everything he could. He says, “My girlfriend was the one who woke me up to the fact I was playing so much. But I am used to grinding long hours, so it didn’t affect me in a negative way.”

As far as his play style goes, he has tried to be more of an “instinctual player,” trying to go beyond the theory of the game. He also believes in the ten-thousand-hour rule, as explained by Malcom Gladwell in his books Blink and Outliers. This concept is based on the fact that if you put in at least ten thousand hours into something that you basically master it and become very in tune with it. And surrounding himself with people whom he respects and can learn from, which he calls “collective knowledge,” is another strategy that he employs. There’s no doubt about it—Sylvia will be a force to be reckoned with come Monday.


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