When you get caught up in grinding, then grinding some more, then playing a quick cash game in between meals, you can almost forget where you are. Whether you’re at home with the sun shining brightly outside or sitting just feet from the Eiffel Tower, if you don’t take a moment to soak up your surroundings, you’re missing out on potentially life-changing experiences.
One poker player who has taken this philosophy to heart is Jordan ‘JWPRODIGY’ Westmorland, who won the PokerStars Sunday Grand in the final days of May for $69,000, helping raise his lifetime cash total to almost $4 million.
“The best part about choosing poker as a career path is the freedom aspect of it,” he said. “Therefore, the number one interest that coincides with my work is travel. When I was younger, I’d never leave the hotel when I was on a poker trip. I’m focusing more on getting out and learning about all of the unique countries around the world. I still live out of my suitcase, but I’m loosely based in Mexico for now.”
A visit to Panama altered his views of what an optimal trip should be like. Rather than getting out and exploring the famed Panama Canal or checking out Panama City’s quaint historic district, he camped out in his hotel room and grinded online. It was as if the outside world didn’t exist.
“I have a memory tattooed in my mind that perfectly explains why it’s important to leave your hotel,” he said. “It was my first time to Panama and it was for an LAPT series. I kid you not, I did not see the light of day. People would ask, ‘What was Panama like?’ My response was, ‘I have no idea.’ I think because I’ve been doing this for almost six years professionally, I’ve become better at the balance aspect of things. It’s a simple philosophy I’ve adopted: work hard, play hard. I think when you step away from the tables, it’s so important to max your days out with all kinds of fun.”
Westmorland said that at the time, it seemed perfectly normal to stay inside, grind, and socialize with other poker players. It was only after he got home and his non-poker playing friends and family asked him about the trip that he recognized he might not have spent his time well.
“From what I’ve experienced with my group and seen in other groups, it’s mentally taxing to play an entire day of live poker or online poker that all you want to do is grab a drink and dinner with everyone afterwards,” he explained. “I think that’s why I’ve come up with a rule of going early to live trips to tour the place before work begins.”
The Sunday Grand score was the third largest of his career and capped off a month of May that also saw Westmorland take third in a $109 No Limit Hold’em SCOOP event and win the PokerStars Weekender for over $80,000 combined.
“May was spent in Cabo San Lucas,” he said. “We had these two incredible homes and I believe there were 13 of us. I’ll be honest, though, there wasn’t a lot of sightseeing. We were all in party mode to the max.”
While he didn’t sightsee, Westmorland and company were often spotted at the beachside Mango Deck Restaurant & Bar, ensuring that he soaked in a little vitamin D.
“It’s a beach club that really pops off,” he said. “It had a great atmosphere, whether it was the break-dancing routine on stage, the beer chugging contest, or musical chairs with lovely female tourists.”
His company in Cabo included Alex ‘lynskey99’ Lynskey, ‘Doesoner’, ‘Andyhin22’, Jonathan ‘Monster Dong’ Karamalikis, ‘2k14’, ‘Corlusion’, Ben ‘bennybunny18’ Richardson, Timothy ‘Weygang’ English, Stevan ‘random.chu’ Chew, Angelina ‘ARichDesign’ Rich, and Benjamin ‘Spektah’ Leblond.
Following SCOOP, Westmorland headed southeast to Guadalajara, Mexico. There, he plans to follow his same philosophy: work hard, play hard. “After you either bagged chips or fizzled an entire session, it’s hard to rally,” he said. “The detox part is the best part. It’s where I turn my brain completely off of poker and just live in the moment.”
After his stint in Mexico, Westmorland will migrate north across the US border to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker Main Event, which starts in a month. He’s not a huge fan of Las Vegas itself, which is why you’ll find him 2,400 kilometers south right now until the big $10,000 buy-in tournament starts at the Rio on July 9.
His “get out and see the world” mantra has seemed to work so far. Westmorland has racked up two six-figure online scores over the years and has almost 400 top-three finishes. He’s up to #40 worldwide in the PocketFives Online Poker Rankings, two spots off his all-time high set in 2013, and just passed 4,200 in the money finishes.