The New Jersey online poker community is immersed in the PokerStarsNJ NJCOOP series which wraps up next Monday. The series is the largest in the state and one of the few that run during the year. Matt ‘papamat25’ Iles is a PocketFives veteran dating back to 2007, who has had his fair share of battles in the former days of worldwide online series like PokerStars WCOOP.
His lifetime online earnings of $3.4 million are an indicator of just how much volume Iles put in before Black Friday left him able to play only in his home state. Iles enjoys the convenience of being able to log on from his home but misses the online life he once had. There is a substantial difference between the community he used to play against and what he faces in New Jersey and Iles tries to take advantage of his experience every chance he gets.
“NJ online poker is fairly different from ROW online poker. The overall level of play is very different and I think that NJ is much softer than ROW,” Iles said. “I think that has a lot to do with the U.S. being affected by Black Friday. ROW players were able to continue playing poker online at the highest of levels while the U.S. was in a blackout period that lasted for many years.”
In recent weeks, Iles has moved into the top 10 of the New Jersey Online Rankings, and climbed into the top 250 all-time in tournament earnings on PocketFives.
The NJCOOP Main Event starts on Sunday and Iles’s series so far includes a respectable five cashes. One of the largest scores of Iles’s career came in the Full Tilt Poker Online Series (FTOPS) in 2010 when he binked for $84,000.
The NJCOOP Main Event holds a guarantee of $200,000. Iles won’t win that much money should he come out on top this weekend and has a fond perspective on the days when he would play for large sums on a daily basis.
“I think my favorite memory would clearly have to be my win in an FTOPS. It is one of my biggest wins to date,” Iles said. “l also really enjoyed rooting for close friends deep in those events as they had the opportunity to have a life-changing score. The team competitions back then were also significantly larger and more intense due to the larger pool of players.”
Iles still gets the itch to go play larger series when they are available. When he sees players post on social media about them, Iles is tempted to book a flight and head to a new grind destination. Iles prefers not to log the miles anymore and stay home instead where he has softer games available to him.
When he did travel, Iles remarks that seeing what players across the world were doing helped him to stay sharp with his own game and that has carried over to his success in New Jersey.
There is the potential for other states to regulate online poker in the near future and should that day come, Iles is on the fence about what the next step in his poker career might hold.
“I will always keep every option open when it comes to my poker career. If another state offers better games i would definitely consider moving even if it was temporary. I will say, though, it is very nice to have online poker available in my home state.”
When the NJCOOP Main Event kicks off on Sunday, New Jersey’s best will be in the field to take down the most prestigious online title in the state. Iles will be among them as he attempts to add another piece of online glory to his successful career.