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“I knew I could play. I’ve cashed before in the World Series, but I’ve never had a big cash. This big win just kind of makes me feel that I’m legitimized. Hey, I was confident before that I could do it, but now I know I can.”
James Jewell: Postal Worker Final-Tables a Record-Breaking WSOP Event for $100,594
James Jewell’s day job is an automated machine operator for the U.S. Postal Service in Fort Worth. For the past several years, poker was a fairly serious hobby. Then James final-tabled the WSOP Seniors Event and won more than $100,000. Now, says James, “I’m legimitized!”
“I knew I could play,” James explains. “I’ve cashed before in the World Series, but I’ve never had a big cash.” His big win “just kind of makes me feel that I’m legitimized. Hey, I was confident before that I could do it, but now I know I can.”
And why was James so confident in his play? A big part of the reason, he says, is the lessons he learned at WPT Boot Camp.
Learning from the Champs
James came to poker relatively late in life. “When the poker craze started, my friends said, ‘Hey, James, you need to get into poker!’”
James took his friends’ advice. “I started buying books and studying,” he says. Then he heard about WPT Boot Camp and immediately signed up.
“Once I started playing poker, I wanted to get as good as I could,” he explains. “I wanted to learn as much as I could. I thought, ‘Hey, this is taught by pros, this is something you can do to get better and I want to get better,’ so that’s why I went—and I’m glad I did!”
In fact, James didn’t just go to one Boot Camp. After taking his first two-day tournament camp, he felt that he’d learned so much that he came back three times, to three different Champions Events.
Champions Events feature a star-studded lineup of top players, each of whom gives a specialized seminar in some aspect of poker play. James realized that Champions Events were his opportunity to broaden his poker knowledge even further.
“I thought, ‘They’re bringing in some good instructors, and I’ve liked all the instructors so far,'” he explains. “When you see new pros come in and sharing their knowledge, then it’s worth going and learning something new.”
The Corvette Bankroll
WPT Boot Camp prepared James to become a serious player. It taught him the value of aggression, and it brought home the importance of “playing the player”—varying your play to adjust to others at your table. But, says James, the most important thing he learned from Boot Camp was “preparation. Having a game plan.” Thanks to Boot Camp, when James sits down to play, he knows exactly what he’s going to do in many of the most common situations that come up.
“It’s important to know what hands you’re going to play in what situation and which hands you’re going to raise with, which hands you’re going to call with,” James says. “In most situations, you should already know what you’re going to do rather than having to think about it on the fly.”
James’s Boot Camp teachers hammered home the importance of having a game plan, and James took their teaching to heart. But he still wasn’t sure how much time, money, or energy he could commit to playing poker.
Then, on Christmas Eve, his beloved Corvette was totaled. And James came to a momentous decision.
“I made a decision to use that money to play poker,” James says. The insurance payment for the Corvette became his poker bankroll. “Some of my close friends supported me but some people said, aw, you shouldn’t do it,” James recalls. “But that decision made me $100,000!"
Confidence and Aggression
When James sat down to play in the WSOP Seniors Event, he was feeling good. Just a few days earlier, he had chopped a satellite to the Main Event and picked up $5,000.
“The timing was good,” he says. “Shortly before the event I went to a Boot Camp, so I had more confidence. I think that was a plus.”
James’s confidence increased as he observed his opponents. The 2011 Seniors Event had a record-breaking 3752 entries—more than any other Day 1. But the other 9 guys at James’s table seemed like players he could beat.
“Three hours into the tournament, I made a comment on my Twitter,” James says. “I said, ‘You know, I usually don’t say this but I feel like I can outplay most of these guys!’”
He could outplay them, he felt, because they were largely passive players, whereas he knew how to use the aggression he had learned at Boot Camp. Also in his favor was his well-thought-out game plan, whereas most of his opponents were indeed figuring out their play “on the fly”.
“I just felt like in that particular tournament, and especially early on, that I could exploit them and take down more pots,” James says.
His strategy paid off. A few hours later, he sent another Tweet. “They have the known players listed on the chip count leader board. I have more than all they have listed.”
James made it through Day 1, and then Day 2. In previous tournaments, James had struggled to get any deeper in a WSOP tournament than just cashing—but this time was different. When the bubble burst, James had a fairly big stack and he thought he might go deep. And then, on Day 3, he found himself at the final table.
“It was exciting,” he says, with the lure of winning and the TV cameras from ESPN’s live coverage of the event. “But I don’t know what it was,” he says, “it just seemed like the further the tournament went, the more relaxed I got. I felt real comfortable.” Having a game plan, James says, made all the difference.
When James finally busted in 6th, he sent one last Tweet. “Will finish 6th for 100K payout could not be more pumped,” he wrote.
A Future in Poker
With his bankroll several times bigger than it was, James is excited about his poker future. “I’m going to play more, that’s for sure,” he says. “Now that I’ve got a bankroll to play with, I’m definitely going to use it!”