Jason Koon on short-deck ante-only tournaments and life at partypoker

TAGs: Jason Koon, partypoker

Lee Davy catches up with Jason Koon to talk about his first experience in a Short Deck, Ante Only tournament, and life as a partypoker ambassador.

Jason Koon on short-deck ante-only tournaments and life at partypokerJason Koon has been buzzing around the periphery of the high stakes scene for as long as I can remember. But something changed in 2016. It must be love. I can see it in his eyes.

Insane numbers began hitting him like buckshot.

A seven-figure score here.

A seven-figure score there.



Koon has $13m reasons to be a cock, but he’s the complete opposite. If the man were a bird, he would be a Robin Redbreast; trusting, humble, sweet. Don’t misunderstand me, I reckon he has a punch like an anvil, and likely lifts twice my bodyweight before downing 50 soft-boiled eggs each morning (free range, organic, of course), but I would welcome the opportunity to be stuck in solitary confinement with the man.

I catch up with him during the break on Day 1 of the HKD 250,000 (USD 32,000) No-Limit Hold’em Short-Deck Ante-Only at the Triton Poker Series in Montenegro. He busted in the last hand before the break but will buy back in after he has a few fork fulls of goodness and a ten-minute meditation.

“I am going to win this thing,” said Koon.

The man was serious, deadly serious.

I had six minutes.

The clock was ticking.

Is that your first experience of a Short-Deck Ante-Only tournament?

Tournaments, yeah.

What did you think?

If done properly they can be really good. I think it’s going to be tricky because the game is ultra-complicated when deep, and it can be kinda bad for recreational players. Also, the game when played ultra, ultra-shallow, is…I don’t know; there is a skill to it, but it’s the equivalent to 25 antes, which is like less than ten big blinds. So with all of the money lying in the middle, there is massive amounts of shoving and calling behind. It’s a really fun game to play, with the right stack depths it’s quite tough, and there’s a lot ofJason Koon on short-deck ante-only tournaments and life at partypoker room for skill. There’s going to be a lot of trial and error. It’s weird trialling and erroring it at such high stakes.

Will the game migrate to MILLIONS, EPT and the likes?

I’m not sure; it’s very, very different from Texas Hold’em, very different. It plays similarly to Pot Limit Omaha in a lot of ways. I think if the game becomes Pot-Limit preflop, it could be a lot better, but they don’t seem interested in doing that. So, I’m not sure how it will be received. It’s really, really high variance; like really high variance much higher than PLO.

You are wearing a partypoker American flag patch; I don’t think I would have ever imagined that ever happening.  How does it feel?

Great, I’m really pumped to be a part of this, they are a great squad, I love those guys.

How did it happen? 

I have been around a long time, I’ve known a lot of the people involved in partypoker. I’m good friends with John Duthie and Mike Sexton and Rob Yong. We had a few conversations about the mission and what they are trying to do, and I was on board with it. I thought I could be of value in helping them accomplish the goals and we came to an agreement and said ‘Let’s do it’.

What are some of those goals because it was unusual to see you and Isaac because of the American angle. I was expecting more Spanish, French, that type of thing with European liquidity.  Is it because of your status as a high stakes player?

I’m sure that has something to do with it. I mean a lot of the televised poker tournaments regardless whereabouts in the world, I’ll be there. Isaac and I relocated, so we play online, but we’re also everywhere there is a big poker tournament. I don’t think people only cheer on people from their own country. I think people who like poker players; they prefer people out there trying to be good. A person from China could be a fan of Ike or somebody from London could like the way I play, it doesn’t matter that I’m American. Yeah, I think maybe there is some importance in smaller countries, but overall it’s more like who’s going to be around awhile? Who’s going to win the right games to promote poker? And, who’s going to stay on top of the game?

Talk about the MILLIONS brand. To me, in many ways, it looks like the same model we have seen before, but it seems to be thriving.

Well, John created the EPT, so it’s going to look like something he made before. With poker tournaments, it’s not like you can completely reinvent the wheel. What they’re really shooting for is just really trying to listen to the players and make tournaments that everyone likes to come too. Like it’s all trial and error, we’re making lots of mistakes. We went to Barcelona, and it was a great Main Event, but we all agreed that’s probably too high stakes for the average amateur being able to fire 5-6 bullets in a 10k Euro, so we are not going to do that again.

We are going to do stuff that works. Stuff that fails will drop off. But the most important thing is they’re eager to listen to people. Like the high rollers, in Barcelona. A couple of guys were like you know these are pretty fast structures I don’t think the rake should be this high. Immediately cut the registration fee out, like 2% of the rake is gone now. So they are 3% flat rake now, period. That is the lowest rake you can have travelling on any of these high rollers.

Jason Koon on short-deck ante-only tournaments and life at partypokerThese guys are looking to turn a profit, but right now they’re just trying to grow market share and really provide the best experience you can get. I mean doing the Baha Mar move; I heard that the smaller stakes players on the site, they can actually do better than no rake, with the rake back incentives. So they are looking at the entire ecosystem, it’s not just like, nosebleed high stakes players. They are trying to look out for everyone, but we need people to give us their feedback and tell us about things they are not happy with, from the software of the site or the structure of the live tournament and just keep hammering away and expect us to make changes.

The important thing you said there was WE are not going to do that again. It feels like you’ve got a say in the matter. I always feel like Patrick Leonard has a big say on how partypoker online operates, do you feel you have the same influence at partypoker LIVE?

He {Leonard} definitely does. It’s a very small group of people. We are all sharing our ideas together, every single day in chats like, the highest and lowest people are always in the same chat, and we are always sharing our thoughts and expressing our views and learning together. It’s a direct line of communication. We don’t have an unreachable guy sitting up top.

Jason Koon returned from his meditation to finish fourth in the Short-Stack, Ante-Only event for $169,936.


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