When Mike Jozoff woke up in the Bahamas on Monday morning, he already had reason to celebrate. The previous evening, he entered a $1,110 buy-in live satellite to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) and booked his seat to the $10,300 Main Event on his first attempt.
A spot of pampering was in order. So the 23-year-old poker pro from New York booked himself a haircut in the Rosewood, a luxurious enclave in the already lavish Baha Mar Resort.
While he waited for his appointment time, Jozoff thought he’d kill time and play a bit of online poker on PokerStars. That’s where he battles under the name “Fearfightr”.
“I was playing a small $109 tournament with $7K guaranteed, one-tabling on my laptop. Just something to do,” he tells us. “I thought surely I’ll be out of this before my hair appointment. The only way I won’t be is if I’m down to the final three or something.”
The next thing he knew, he was down to the final three.
He arrived at his appointment with his laptop in hand. “I told the hairdresser we could cancel or reschedule if she wanted. But that I was fine having the haircut as long as I could play during it, and she didn’t mind.”
As his hair was getting chopped, Jozoff was chopping down his opponents. He took the tournament down for a few thousand bucks.
Two tournaments. Two victories. An undefeated record in the Bahamas.
On the first official day of the PCA festival, he was already up more than $10K.
Since arriving at PCA, I have registered two tournaments and won both of them. Yes, one was a satty into the 10k main, and yes, the other was a 109 on stars i regged while getting a haircut.
However, if this trend continues, I estimate my profits on this trip to be roughly 13M.
— Mike Jozoff (@mikejozoff) January 23, 2023
“$10K is just one buy-in here. So I’m going to have to keep the run good going to be profitable,” he says.
FROM TENNIS TO POKER
At just 23, Mike Jozoff’s poker career is off to an incredible start.
He grew up playing tennis seriously and continued to do so throughout college. But when he realised a career as a pro tennis player wasn’t on the cards for him, he decided to channel that competitiveness into…cards.
“That competitiveness definitely got me into poker,” he says. “It’s a way for me to try to be the best at something, win something, and have that be part of my career.
“I wasn’t going to be a top 10 player in tennis. But maybe I have a chance to do something in poker.”
He came of live poker age (21) during the pandemic so was unable to play brick-and-mortar poker until 2022. That’s when he opted to transition from his cash game background to play multi-table tournaments professionally.
He had success right off the bat.
“This is my first PokerStars event and it’s awesome– by far the best run event I’ve been to. The dealers are great. The environment is great. Everything is awesome and it helps that I’m running good!”
“People say there’s a lot of survivorship bias in poker tournaments. Because the guys you see playing regularly in the high rollers, all of them had to run good in the beginning and have some big scores in order to initially build that bankroll,” he says. “There’s a lot of luck in that regard.”
For Mike Jozoff, that meant taking down one of the first live tournaments he ever played. In February 2022, he chopped a $2,200 six-max event in LA with Chance Kornuth for $20K.
“The very next tournament I played was a $1,700 WSOPC event and I ran super well with 100% of myself,” he says. Jozoff won that too, banking a healthy $161K.
“I won some all-ins I wasn’t supposed to win, that just has to happen in tournaments,” he says. “I got super lucky and it was great for the bankroll to be up $200K in the first few weeks [of being a tournament pro].”
He didn’t slow down. By October he was also a World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) champion, winning a $1K six-max event for $73K.
God I love @PokerStars
— Mike Jozoff (@mikejozoff) January 23, 2023
“THE BEST RUN EVENT I’VE BEEN TO”
Mike Jozoff now has a place in Montreal for online poker. He splits his time between there and New York when not on the road for poker tournaments.
On this trip, he’ll be firing just about everything. Including the $25K buy-in PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) and several high rollers.
“This is my first PokerStars event and it’s awesome,” he says. “I’m not sure if it’s an American vs European thing, but this is by far the best run event I’ve been to. The dealers are great. The environment is great. Everything is awesome and it helps that I’m running good!”
You sound like a guy that’s won every tournament he’s entered.
— Johnnie VIBΞS (@JohnnieVibes) January 24, 2023
With so many high roller events on the PCA/PSPC schedule, Mike Jozoff admits he’s amping up his average buy-in for this trip. “I’ll be playing everything $25K and under,” he tells us. “There’s a small chance I’ll be in a $50K too. I’m not a super high roller reg or anything, but when there’s a high roller running and it looks good, I’ll get in.”
At this point in our interview, one such super high roller reg–Daniel Dvoress–walks by, and Jozoff spots him immediately.
“I’m not quite like him just yet, where I can fire everything,” he laughs. “But hopefully I’ll get there one day.”
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