Jason Rivkin Closing In On A Full Life Outside Of Poker

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After a stellar year of tournament results, Jason Rivkin is nearing the point of leaving poker as a full-time living. (Will OC photo)

There are many schools of thought about how to be a successful poker player on a long-term basis. Some suggest specializing in a single game and increasing your edge as much as possible while others would say it is better to have a diverse background to have an edge in many games.

Jason ‘RivJ’ Rivkin has chosen to go with the latter approach and it is paying off wonderfully for him. The 29-year-old Rivkin’s background is in high-stakes cash games but in 2016, he had his best year playing No Limit tournaments. Rivkin finished second to Tony Dunst in the final $1,000 buy in event of the World Series of Poker and earned over $209,000 for his effort. Fast forward a few months later, Rivkin took home another silver medal in the WSOP Circuit Main Event at Cherokee.

There is more to Rivkin that just poker. Rivkin started an MBA program at Monmouth University in 2014 with the intention of being able to work full-time once he graduated, and supplement his income with poker. As Rivkin puts it, he was in a prolonged downswing and “couldn’t justify torturing myself for a living just to get by.”

Rivkin came up in the online mixed game world and the first live cash game he ever played in was the $20/$40 Seven Card Stud game at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He prefers to play mixed cash.

“I like the speed of the game and the controlled environment. You can never lose your stack in a hand. Disciplined play is valued over wild aggression,” said Rivkin.

That same disciplined play that Rivkin refers to is necessary to run deep in tournaments. Rivkin claims that No Limit Hold’em tournaments were always an “afterthought” to him but as he started to notice the large prize pools forming around them, he decided to adjust his schedule to play more.

The pivot in Rivkin’s game obviously paid off over the summer when he nearly achieved his dream of winning a World Series of Poker bracelet. Rivkin was disappointed he was unable to close out the victory but overall, he is satisfied with the result.

“My dream in poker has always been to win a bracelet. For 13 years I’ve dedicated myself
to the game; a process that I assumed wouldn’t be validated until I won a bracelet. But as I grew older, dreams encountered reality. As bitter as a second place finish feels from a competitive standpoint, the reality is that the money earned gives me much more than a bracelet or a ring ever could. Just to be on poker’s biggest stage is a thrill of a lifetime.”

In total, Rivkin earned over $455,000 in tournaments last year and is now, according to him, set up for future success thanks to the financial independence that his results have given him. Rivkin isn’t planning on increasing his tournament schedule based on his 2016 but is instead more focused on going back to his bread and butter of mixed cash and preparing for the long-term future.

“It was hard to set expectations for 2017 since tournament success is extremely unpredictable. I want to keep my bankroll healthy by playing cash. I want to improve myself and strengthen my relationships. I want to set myself up for the next 20 years. My success in 2016 has allowed me to play the high stakes cash games I can thrive in,” said Rivkin. “From a personal standpoint, I have enjoyed the freedom of financial independence. I never have to doubt why I started to play this game in the first place. As an added bonus, I will have my MBA by the end of the year.”

Many poker players dream of a day where they have enough money stuffed away to not have to play the game for a living and Rivkin is heading in that direction. He will have a world of options open to him once he receives his MBA and it will be interesting to see what the future holds as that step in his life completes.

“Now as I’m finishing up my degree, my goals have changed. I hope to use my business acumen to start and manage a business. Everything is moving in the right direction. Momentum is a real thing in poker.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Super happy for you JRiv. Played with you a bunch these past 8 years and have witnessed a bunch of the “torture” you’ve been through. You’ve always been a good guy, and I’ve respected your game for a long time. Most deserved. Way to go.