BODspotlightFinalThe BetOnDrew Spotlight looks to draw focus to poker players’ feats, attitudes, opinions, and more.  Read, enjoy, and find inspiration.

“Best beard in poker, natural 9 peeler extraordinaire” is what his twitter info states.  This man, last years Philly Main Event runner-up Michael Jukich (@Juke08) is who we are talking with today.  Mike also finished 4th place in the last event at Cherokee this year and if you haven’t guessed it yet he loves him some baccarat.  Here is more about Mike and his story.

1 – Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in poker?  Let’s see…. I was raised by very religious parents but I certainly wouldn’t call it strict by any means. They were very supportive of whatever their “baby boy” did. With that being said, I had an upbringing that involved ZERO gambling so I’m not sure where I get mine from lol. I never played any type of card games growing up and was first introduced to poker at a buddy’s home.  I can’t remember the blinds but there were peanuts but I specifically remember not knowing all the rules and what beat what. A hand that sticks out to me was when I made quads queens by the river. I was facing a bet and ended up just calling and asking “is four queens any good” everyone laughed but I was actually serious and from then on I wanted to learn more about this poker stuff. I watched Moneymaker do his thing in my college dorm and my roommate showed me the wonderful world of online poker. I made a couple deposits and won a little lost a little at first. My roommate and I would read twoplustwo forums and talk poker non-stop. My first big break was when I had made several deep runs in a $10 rebuy tourney on Poker Stars. I had busted deep in it a couple nights in a row and I wrote on a piece of paper I WILL WIN THE 10 REBUY TOURNEY on Poker Stars within a month. Sure enough with the power of positive speaking, I ended up winning it a couple days later for just under $10k. I was on top of the world and thought I was the best and immediately told my parents I would be taking a break from school and focusing on poker.

2 – Do you play poker full-time or are there other passions that you follow on a regular basis?  I play full time now. I’m interested in anything gambling related lol. I try to work out 5 days a week which is tough sometimes on the road. I love sports, lettered in 3 during high school…I am hyper competitive.

3 – You recently finished 4th in a $580 WSOP circuit ring event – congrats!. You said on twitter afterwards that you “totally redeemed yourself”.  Was Jukethis deep run special for you and can you explain?  Yes I finished 4th in Cherokee, NC.  The twitter comment was basically just me being happy to finally make a nice run after not even so much as a min cash the whole series. I had put myself in a big hole gambling and had put together enough to come play about 10 events at this particular spot and it felt great to final table again and I thought I was playing better every day so it was nice to see some type of financial result.

4 – Last year you got 2nd in the Philly Circuit Main Event.  Philly is just around the corner, so do you have plans to repeat this deep run?  How do you plan to duplicate last years success?  Philly was good to me last year; I had a 4th, and 11th, and chopped the main for my biggest score of my career. So I will certainly be playing most of the events there and looking forward to the main. Unfortunately As I’m writing this I busted day 2 with about 60 left. I made day 2 with a slightly above avg stack but never got anything going and ended up shoving ten bb’s from the button with KJ of hearts running into the big blind KK and I was out the door. I did end up taking another 4th in the very first event I played here a $365 re-entry, so the trip seemed very promising from the start.

5 – We heard you had an interesting summer of playing baccarat in Vegas.  Would you like to share that story?  Baccarat lol. This game is the devil.  I had been playing a bunch of high limit baccarat at a casino about 3 hours from me leading up to my trip to Vegas and doing fairly well. So when I got to the Rio I continued right where I left off.  I believe the third night I was there I ended up making about $20k in a few hours, this was definitely my biggest win in a casino game in a single night. I was pumped, this was a great boost to the bankroll esp when I had around $50k in buy ins scheduled to play for the summer. I continued to do well in bacc picking up what seemed like $5k every time I played. I had a few small losing sessions but always seemed to get it back the next day. It gave me a real confidence while playing poker because I always felt that I could get my buy in back if I busted out. I ended up bricking almost everything until one of my last $1500 buy ins on my schedule. I took the chip lead when we were down to 12 people and was really starting to realize my dream come true of winning a bracelet.  I lost a few pots and I ended up running 10’s from the button with about 20 bb’s into the small blinds QQ and I was out in 12th. I was devastated; this was my second biggest score but getting that close and not doing well poker wise all summer 12th was not good enough. I still had the main to look forward to but I was really disappointed. Then the night from hell happened lol. I had just decided to hop in the $5k even didn’t have scheduled about two hours late. I felt that I was playing well and had made a decent amount in bacc and combined with my 12th place finish I would “take a shot” as they say. The second hand I play I pick up QQ and end up getting it all in pre flop against Ludavic lucay’s A10 from the small blind. He immediately flopped an Ace and I was out the door see ya $5k. I was not upset about the money I was extremely annoyed that I was almost gifted a full double right away when I was pumped and ready to play. So I went back to the bacc room.  All the dealers knew me by now and I sat down by myself and struck up a friendly conversation with one of the Asian dealers. I wasn’t tilted and was winning some and losing some. before I knew it I was down 5k. Oops so now I’ve lost $10k on the day I should probably just call it a day and relax. But I ended up going to the room and grabbed another brown 5k chip. I lose that fairly quickly and have to go back to the safe again lol. I bring down another 5k and another and another. All of a sudden I’m stuck about $25k and felt as if there was no turning back. I had to get SOME back. Long story short I had a little over $10k in chips from the Venetian that I had put away for the main event and had the rest of what I brought and was up for the summer on the table. This was a disaster. Down to my last 3k I make a massive come back and have around $50K in front of me at one point. I was down about $60k so breaking even was becoming a reality. I should have walked away. I ended up losing it all and was left with one main event buy in. This was one of the most miserable days of my life. I had thrown all my progress and all my success in poker I had worked so hard for away in just a few hours. I ended up playing the main and played awful, my mind set just wasn’t right, how could I recover from such a huge down swing?
6 – Any advice for others who are trying to mix other games (bacc, BJ, roullette, etc) in along with poker?  I always looked at bacc as my “cash game” I know a lot of tourney players supplement their buy ins with cash games. I enjoy cash and do fairly well in the games in my home town. I usually play about 4 nights a week when I’m not on the road, so when I make plans to go play tourneys I would never feel motivated to play cash games. I’m usually grinding fairly long hours in the tournaments I play and I’m not exactly thrilled to hop in a cash game and play more poker after busting out… so that’s how the bacc all started.  I could go play casually have a drink or two and  try to win my buy in back and then go to bed. It worked for a while but I definitely don’t recommend that poker players do anything in the pit. Just stay away, it has ended up hurting me more than it has helped.

7 – What do you think the biggest keys to success are in the poker life?  Discipline and bankroll management have to be some of the biggest keys to success in poker. You have to make sure you are always able to give yourself a chance to play. You never know when you are going to just win a tournament or go on a big upswing in cash.  If you blow your money….you will never be successful.

8 – Has your beard in any way influenced the way the cards fall, or other players play against you (haha)?  I’m not so sure the beard has helped me run any better lol. But I’ve done pretty decent since starting to grow it out in August. I don’t know how people perceive my image with the beard. A guy in Maryland Live told me he would never mess with me and that I looked like a total bad ass, so maybe it discourages a few people from playing big pots with me lol..

9 – Any poker idols or influences that you feel have helped you to achieve the success you have thus far in your career?  I wouldn’t say I idolize anyone in poker. I try to look at what other successful players are doing and maybe take away some things that I notice here and there. I’m always willing to learn and love talking poker with friends. I stayed with Cory Waaland and John Gonzalez in my most recent trip to Cherokee and I tried to pick their brains a little while I was there. I think some discussions we had really made me start looking at things differently and I’ve felt a lot more confident about my game and how I’m seeing things.

10 – Good luck in Philly and do you have any future poker plans after this series?  I have plans to go to New Orleans for the circuit stop there.  It was a blast last year and hope to win something decent before the summer. Depending on how that trip goes I will be playing the summer schedule by ear.

11 – Any shout outs you’d like to mention?  Got to shout out to my girlfriend Ashley Myers, she’s the most supportive girlfriend and person I could ever ask for. It’s very important to find someone that can understand the lifestyle and she certainly does that. My mom is the best and my dad watching down on me I hope to make him proud.  Also team BIWSP (but it was suited posse) lol couple of my old poker buddies will know what that is.

This was a lot of fun to read and put together for everyone, so we hope you enjoyed it. Thanks again to Mike “Juke” for sharing his story with us and we look forward to seeing many more future successes from him!!!

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