Aspiring poker players should always check out what elite players–such as online legend and BBZ coach Jonathan “apestyles” Van Fleet–have to say.
In a recent YouTube interview with BBZ student and No Jumper podcast host Adam “Adam22” Grandmaison, apestyles dropped some wisdom that we thought we’d share with you.
You can read these lessons below, then keep scrolling to watch the full two-hour interview.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Apestyles admits that when an opponent keeps 3-betting him or coming after him in a tournament, he’s guilty of sometimes taking it personally. “I used to get personally offended and I’d try to get them back, in a way,” he says. “Subtly, not directly.”
To overcome this, apestyles spoke to poker mindset coach Elliot Roe, who asked him when the first time he felt this way was.
“It was when I was getting picked on in third grade by these kids on the bus,” says apestyles. “And then I realised I’m bigger than them, and I started fighting back.”
This pattern of reacting to aggression with more aggression was actually one that had continually come up throughout apestyles’ life.
At the end of the session, Roe asked apestyles: “So, are you going to let eight-year-old Jon make your decisions at the poker table?”
“Hell no,” says apestyles. “That kind of stuff helped me drop the emotional stuff that happens at the poker table. I’m always trying to come back to being clear-headed and making good decisions, taking myself out of it. If someone is after me, cool. Let’s figure out how and why.”
Apestyles has been gallantly candid about his struggles with addiction in the past. If you want a full refresher on his career, you can check out this thread:
You'll know Jon '@apestyles' Van Fleet as one of the biggest winners in online poker history, with $16.6M in online cashes.
What you might not know?
The childhood bullying, periods of depression, and battles with drink and drugs he overcame along the way.
A thread 👇👇👇
— BBZ Poker (@BBZPoker) December 9, 2020
What apestyles learned while going through rehabilitation–having discovered mindfulness, meditation and Buddhism–is that the poker mindset and recovery mindset are very similar.
“You learn in recovery to focus on what you can control, to do your best, and to let go of the results,” he tells Adam22. “That’s a lot about equanimity. That’s about keeping calm. There’s always a place of calm within you.”
This is something a lot of poker players need to hear.
“You’re going to get a bad beat and that’s going to hurt no matter what. It’s going to sting,” says apestyles. “But then there’s the talk around it: ‘I’m so unlucky, blah blah blah’. You’re adding to your own pain. I try to think of things I’m grateful for when bad things happen.”
TAKE IT SLOW
In order to reach Supernova Elite on PokerStars back in 2009, apestyles was grinding 16 tables of sit & go’s at a time–while on a downswing. “I was getting my ass kicked,” he says.
He then went to stay with his friend and fellow online poker legend Steve “gboro780” Gross in Las Vegas and noticed that Gross–who was the biggest winner online at the time–was only playing four tables on a dirty, old laptop.
“I was like, is this really where the magic happens?” says apestyles. “But what I saw was that he was super slow and he thought about everything. He would write shit down and was always super even.”
Apestyles decided to try what Gross was doing: slow down, play big buy-ins, think through every decision, and stop auto-piloting.
“I started having fun again,” he says. “Playing a more focused style, I went on a huge upswing.”
MTTS WILL ALWAYS BE SOFTER
At one point in the interview, Adam22 asks apestyles if he’d ever leave MTTs behind in favour of cash games or sit and go’s. Obviously, apestyles is a beast at tournaments, but his explanation of why he’s going to stick with them was interesting.
“MTTs are insulated from the usual things that are hurting online poker: solvers,” he says. “Yeah, you can solve for different stack depths, but it’s hard to solve for different stack depths, ICM considerations, money bubbles, bounties…it’s so complex that a computer couldn’t completely solve it, at least not yet.”
Secondly, apestyles points out the attraction of MTTs to recreational players.
“The idea of turning $10 into $10,000 sounds pretty sweet,” he says. “That big pay off will always attract recreational players, so MTTs will always be softer.”
Want to learn poker from apestyles? Then check out his bundle for BBZ.