Lee Davy sits down to talk with the high stakes heads-up specialist Jason Mo to talk about his recent dust up with PokerNews, his thoughts on poker news media levelling, and much more.
That wasn’t what I expected.
I was preparing to meet Mr Angry, and I got to meet Mr Cool, Calm and Collected.
I invited Jason Mo onto the show because his Twitter account has been quite active these past few months. Whether it’s having his account locked by PokerStars for sending out threatening tweets about their employees, or getting into 140 character assassination wars with PokerNews employees, it’s grabbed the attention of a lot of people.
But I also wanted to find out who Jason Mo is, and what makes him tick. I don’t think I got exactly what I wanted, but it’s worth a listen all the same.
*Please listen to the 52-minute audio to get the full flavour of this meal. Below you will find an abridged version.
Give me the Jason Mo elevator pitch
“I have been playing professionally since 2009. I mostly play mid-high stakes heads-up online, some six-max and some tournaments. Recently, I have been playing some live cash and tournament games.”
What do you see when you look at the poker world?
“I see it drying up a little bit. The glory days of the Moneymaker days are over and they probably won’t return; especially in the games I play; most player’s are quite good now, so you have to work hard and stay ahead of the curve or your win rate will be cut quite quickly. I think there will be fewer professional players in the future because the money is drying up.”
Considering what you have just said, what are your plans for the future?
“I plan on quitting poker professionally at some point in my life. But for now I guess I am still ahead of the curve enough to make a solid living through it. When that ceases to become a viable employment option for me I will turn to something else.”
What makes you so successful?
“I think about the game very analytically. I take a very math and theory based approach to the game and that type of strategy is always going to beat other types of strategies. I am also fortunate that some of my firends are amongst the best poker players in the world so I always get the right feedback on my game.”
What holds you back from being even more successful?
“My work ethic has dwindled in the past few years. I have been successful and the games are drying up. I think online poker, especially high stakes online poker, is a game that you really have to work hard every day on your game, and play every day to show a positive win rate. I have been game selected more and playing more live cash games and live tournaments where I don’t have to study as often.”
I only know you through your Twitter account. You come across as someone who is frustrated that attention is placed on people who are not the best poker players. What’s your opinion on that thought?
“I think you are a bit off. I don’t care who is idolised in poker. For me, poker is just a way to make money. I am not in it for the fame or glory. If I am the best player in the world and I wasn’t getting the attention I should be getting then that’s not a bad thing for me because I am not in it for recognition.”
But you don’t hold back on Twitter so you attract that attention anyway.
“I guess that’s fairly accurate. I have a decent number issues on how the poker world operates. Mostly issues that directly affect me. I also don’t work for anyone and don’t have to report to anyone so I can say what I want.”
Talk about the beef with PokerNews.
“First of all I wouldn’t consider PokerNews a news source. They are more of an affiliate site for most poker sites that include some content for live tournaments and some fluff pieces. The main issue I have is because they are an affiliate site and some people think they are a news site, some shady dealings within the poker community that effects me and other players doesn’t get promoted.
“It’s highly probably that a lot of the sites they are promoting – if something goes wrong with their site – that’s something that the poker consumer needs to know, but if you are an affiliate site being sponsored by these sites it’s in your interest not to report about these things.”
Give me an example of an unethical practice that is not being reported by PokerNews.
“PokerNews are paid to cover a bunch of live events around the world. A lot of the time there is egregious incompetence within the tournament staff that effects the players such as chips or money is stolen or there are huge flaws in the way the tournament is run or structures and they are never reported by PokerNews. All they report on is how fun these poker tour stops are and they miss pretty big issues that affect every player.”
Talk about the the Galfond op-ed.
“Phil Galfond was allowed to write an op-ed within POkerNews outing someone in a personal deal that may or may not have stolen $250,000 from him. The first issue I have is this is a personal financial transaction that took place where only one person shares their view. It’s been written under the facade that everyone should out everyone in the poker community that have lied, cheating or scammed.
“I know of much greater issues that have been brought to PokerNews and they have declined to publish anything about. These are about more prominent people within the poker community and they affect a wider group of people. I don’t think they should be allowed to choose whose reputation they destroy within the poker community.”
Are you saying had the allegations been against someone like Daniel Negreanu then PokerNews wouldn’t have published it?
“I don’t think they would have, no. It’s backed up by empirical evidence. There have been stories I won’t mention in this interview where much worse things have happened, with more concrete evidence on the table, and they haven’t touched it because it involved two prominent members of the community. In this instance, Phil Galfond is a much more prominent member of the poker community than the other party so they are more ok making him a scapegoat for the whole issue.”
What’s going on in your mind when you are getting very personal with people on Twitter such as calling them an ‘idiot’ or ‘useless’?
“It depends on who it is and what it’s about. The PokerNews/Galfond issue. I don’t expect them to take my opinion seriously.”
“They are allowed to do what they want to do. They have a fundamentally different viewpoint on the poker industry and what a poker media outlet should report on. So we will always disagree on some level.”
But you are a prominent member of the poker community. I am sure PokerNews would give you a platform.
“I dont’ think so. Looking back at the issues I have had with Pokernews the responses I have gotten are either generic or irrelevent responses to the point that there isn’t even room for discussion.
“Here’s an example, the first thing that was brought up to me in response to the ethjics related to the Galfond article was that the end justifies the means. Regardless of whteherr this is true or not it misunderstands tje point of why this is a bad precdent. At that point there isn’t much of a discussion that I can have,”
Using a poker analogy, do you think you are on a different level from the team at PokerNews
“Yes, I would say that.”
If you owned a poker news site what would it look like?
“I don’t have an absolute solution to this. The main issue I have with this article and the way poker media works as a whole is there are massive issues that not only involve more prominent members or websites within the poker community, but also directly affect far more players than issues like this and it’s been going on for quite some time and a lot of these issues are under covered.
‘It’s odd that the site now takes a moral standpoint and chooses Phil Galfond on how we should out cheaters in the community. There have been pretty big issues with super users, bots, hugh multi-accounting issues that have been presented to PokerNews sources and have been ignored.”
Your Twitter handle is CuntyCakes123. That tells me you are a person who couldn’t give a fuck what people think. Where does that attitude come from?
“I think I have always been pretty blunt especially when it comes to me talking on Twitter or online forums. I have never felt a need to be cordial or pretentious in any way especially when I don’t have to.”
But where does it come from?
“I have always been pretty competitive. If I was ever doing something that involved competition I tried my best and really wanted to win. I am sure if that’s relevant, but I guess when I was in High School I did a lot of High School debate. I guess it’s an extension of that. Under that format I would be limited as to what I could sa. I don’t report to anyone. I don’t need to. I don’t need to watch what I do. I work for myself. I can do whatever I want.”
Is this going to come back and bite you on the ass?
“In my personal life I am very nice to the people I associate with. I always do my best to look after my friends. Those that who are close to me know me for who I am and I hope they are accepting of it.
“I am generally laid back. I might be a little brash at certain points, but these issues don’t affect my day-to-day life that much.”
Have you ever over stepped the mark?
“I can’t think of a specific instance. I don’t know where it comes from but I just don’t care.”
If you are anti establishment why did you join the Global Poker League (GPL)?
“I spoke to Alexandre Dreyfus about it. I would day 50% of my decision is based on his vision and dedication towards the projects. I have been somewhat involved in other eSports as a fan. I think persoanlly it won’t work out very well to turn poker into an eSpot but for me personally it’slike a freerool. OIf it doesn’t work out then fine, but if it does that I benefit from that.
“I also like the formats. I am one of the best HU specialists in the world and up there with short handed play. So because the format is like that and the lack of action in most avenues I play it’s an alternativ way to play poker.”
Does Jason Mo want to be a star.
“I would say no, although I am indifferent whether it happens or not. I would think that I am quite good at the game but I don’t see a correlation between being good at the game and being popular. I would say that most of the best players in the world right now are not well-known, and the most well-known players in the world right now are not close to being the best. Because I am competitive I would rather be the best player in the world than the most popular.”