October 9 Spotlight: Jesse Sylvia

by | Published: Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Jesse Sylvia was staring down the barrel of a disastrous 2012 World Series of Poker. With just the Main Event left to be played, Sylvia had entered 13 events without cashing in a single one. He hadn’t even gone close.

The primarily cash game player could never have expected his World Series fortunes would be turned around so quickly. He is now the chip-leader and outright favorite of the Main Event of the 2012 World Series of Poker.

Despite having never cracked success there (his previous best result was 175th in 2011 $1500 6-handed No-Limit Hold’em event), Sylvia never had any doubts that he would continue playing in the World Series.

“I told myself that I will play the WSOP every year that I can, because it’s so different.  It’s not like going out to the casino every day.  It’s much more exciting as it builds and builds as you get closer to a gold bracelet,” Sylvia said in a WSOP interview after reaching the final table.

It is this excitement that Sylvia plays poker for. He says he doesn’t care about money and it is the thrill that has him hooked to  the game.

“There is a common thread that poker players do not care about money when it comes to playing.  But I do not really care that much about money even away from the table,” Sylvia said.

Another motivation for Sylvia is meeting new people and making friends. He switched from mainly playing online to becoming a regular in the $10-$20 games at numerous Las Vegas casinos to do just that.

“I had to interact with people more.  I also got out more and that’s how I found my girlfriend, by getting out.  I look around and I see the entire world as my friend,” Sylvia said.

The irony is one of his best friends and poker mentors, Russell Thomas, will be sitting across from him at the final table in October.

The pair, who once lived together, have been dreaming off taking each other on heads-up since the second day of the tournament.

“After Day Two, Russell and I had dinner together every night.  We would talk about our chip counts and hands we played over dinner.  Then, his family came out and my girlfriend came and when all of us would get dinner I would be like, I hope you’re the one I get to play heads up.  When we got down to ten-handed, we just looked at each other.  I was shaking my head and he was shaking his head back and forth.  It was apparent we were both going to make it,” Sylvia said.

While poker clearly brings Sylvia a lot of joy he does not see himself playing for the rest of his life and would love to pursue a career directing and producing movies.

“I hope I get to the point in my life where I am financially stable enough to do other things and not have to depend on poker for all my income,” he said.

If Sylvia can hold off the eight  other players hunting for his chip lead he will take home $8,527,982 and have achieved his goal a lot faster than he could ever have expected.

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