"I'm Staying in a Buddhist Monastery Where I'm Not Allowed to Speak"

Published on Jan 20th, 2013

Yes, this is a title of an article on PocketFives that will describe the life of Faraz The-Toilet Jaka (pictured) after the 2013 National Heads-Up Poker Championship and Aussie Millions. You can read on to see where he's headed for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, but in the meantime, he is gearing up for the National Heads-Up Poker Championship in Las Vegas that will air on NBC in March. Jaka is one of 64 players who make up the field and we caught up with him to discuss his rather unique lifestyle and interest in Buddhism.

PocketFives: Tell us how participating in the 2013 National Heads-Up Poker Championship came about. You played two years ago and fell to Eugene Katchalov in the first round.

Faraz Jaka: I think most people had their agents or anyone representing them reach out to get them in. I didn't have anyone to help, so I just reached out to my group of contacts that I knew would have close ties and asked to see if they were interested in having me on the show. I was also on NBC Heads-Up a couple of years ago when I won the WPT Player of the Year and had met Mori Eskandani, who produces the show.

PocketFives: How excited are you for the event? What did you learn from the last time out that could help you this time around?

Faraz Jaka: I'm definitely very excited. It's a very exclusive event and it's hosted by NBC, which is really cool for such a large network to take an interest in poker, so to be a part of that and the massive television exposure it gets is definitely an honor. I learned absolutely nothing that could help considering I got knocked out in the first five minutes last time and was the first one out. I almost felt like I didn't really get to play the event, so this feels kind of like a second chance.

PocketFives: What is the atmosphere like at the tournament?

Faraz Jaka: It's a very relaxing event considering I usually fly in for a poker tournament and there are tons of poker players and lots of cash games and side events going on, so I am always busy. At this event, there are only 64 players coming and with it being a heads-up tournament, you aren't playing non-stop the entire day. You have your scheduled match that is relatively short and then you are free until the next one.

It almost feels more like a vacation in Las Vegas, which is rare for me since most of my trips there are pretty much 100% work-related. You get time to go to the pool, have dinner with friends, and do something low key at night. Usually, I don't have any time for that stuff during a WSOP or WPT week where I am stretching to get in an extra hour of sleep every night.

PocketFives: Talk about the process of preparing for possible opponents. The draw party is the night before the tournament begins, so you should have a little bit of time.

Faraz Jaka: Everyone in this is a known player, so there is a very high chance we already know a ton about each other's game. There is definitely time to research, though, as we have the draw party the night before, so you have all evening and possibly a few hours in the morning. You can also see who your two possible competitors are if you win.

PocketFives: Are you still working on your casterboarding project?

Faraz Jaka: Casterboarding is a bit of a long-term vision, which is very high risk and high reward. It's kind of like a poker tournament: even though it's profitable, the chances of you winning are slim, but when you do, it's huge. More importantly for me, it was my first business venture and I have learned tons from it, which is exactly what I was hoping.

PocketFives: What makes the casterboarding venture risky?

Faraz Jaka: We are trying to create a sport out of what has been a toy in the past. Any time you are trying to create a new category, it's very tough. When you are trying to do something that's already around and just do a better job than the other companies out there, it's a lot easier, but the ceiling of how large the company can grow is limited.

I also have a new venture I'm involved with that I am very excited about at the moment. It's not mine, but I have some equity in it and am doing some consulting on OwnTheNightApp.com. It's an app that tracks your spending at bars and clubs and gives you a VIP level. You get perks for achieving VIP levels, like a platinum member can cut the line and get in without cover along with three of his or her friends.

We are starting in Chicago and San Francisco for beta testing. It's truly an incredible app that benefits businesses and customers at the same time. My plan is to keep planting entrepreneurial seeds every couple of years and eventually a couple of them will blossom.

PocketFives: What's next for you after the Heads-Up event?

Faraz Jaka: I'm flying to the Aussie Millions to play what's probably my favorite poker event of the year. Then, I'm going to Thailand and staying in a Buddhist monastery for 10 days where I'm not allowed to speak the entire time. I have always been interested in Buddhism and mediation, so I just reached out to some friends who are into the same and got some recommendations for places people have been to in the past. It's a meditation retreat.

I like to keep myself busy and work hard, but I think it's important to do the exact opposite and just spend some time appreciating the simple things in life and have a reminder of how unimportant all of these things in our daily lives can be that we take so seriously.

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  1. Just saw repeat of old WPT with jaka...announcers called him "toilet" and "the toilet" the whole show...

    "K Vince, "the toilet folds" !!

    cant wait till monsterdong gets famous..

    Edited By: tripseekerx Jan 20th, 2013 at 09:33 PM
    Originally Posted by tripseekerx View Post

    Just saw repeat of old WPT with jaka...announcers called him "toilet" and "the toilet" the whole show...

    "K Vince, "the toilet folds" !!

    cant wait till monsterdong gets famous..

    urr is he not famous then or not from usa

  3. Buddhist monastery for 10 days - this dude gone and lost his f8cking mind

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