Jesse Martin is considered to be one of the best all-around poker players in the world, with tournament results from a variety of formats to the tune of more than $3.2 million, two World Series of Poker gold bracelets, and respected high-stakes cash game prowess. His latest score, worth $2 million, was the largest of his gambling career but it didn’t come from poker.
On Sunday, Martin, playing as ‘180DegreesMiami,’ won the DraftKings $10 million Fantasy Football World Championship for $2 million, and it might just be the major non-poker win that puts him in the conversation as one of the best all-around gamblers in the world, no matter where he’s placing his bets.
“I’ve had some poker wins where I didn’t totally understand the concept of having it not sink in,” Martin said. “I feel like the poker stuff kind of sunk in right away. This one, I don’t know if it was because it was online, or just more money than ever, but It took some time to sink in. Both the money and also just the fact that it’s the World Championship of DFS. Not that it’s like super mainstream or anything, but it was just kind of weird to think about just playing fantasy football since I was seven years old or whatever. All of a sudden I won. It was pretty exciting. The whole thing is pretty wild. I’m feeling pretty good about it.”
Martin was one of 180 qualifiers for the FFWC and turned his $55,555 entry into the biggest win of his career. His winning DraftKings roster was led by star running backs Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, but it was the low-owned stack of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill coupled with the bargain performances of Greg Ward and Boston Scott that truly helped deliver Martin the victory.
In 2013, Martin won his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet. He won the $10,000 buy-in WSOP No Limit 2-7 Single Draw event for $253,524. Four years later, at the 2017 WSOP, Martin earned his second gold bracelet and about half the prize money when he won the $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw tournament for $130,948.
“I would say my first World Series of Poker bracelet, nothing’s really ever going to top that as far as an event, as far as getting over the hump,” Martin, a two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner, said. “That, if you go back and look on YouTube, I’m crying during the video. It was a lot of money, it was $250,000, but that felt like the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of years of poker, kind of just being the grinder and you know, some good finishes, but I never really broke through for that one major title.”
Martin also has a pair of runner-up finishes and a pair of third-place finishes from WSOP events. One of the third-place results is Martin’s biggest poker cash to date, when he won $594,570 in the 2014 WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship.
Another notable result on Martin’s poker résumé is a fifth-place finish from the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic in 2017, when he cashed for $230,380.
As talked about in his post-win interview with RotoGrinders, Martin had a decision to make as to whether or not he’d keep with Mahomes and Hill or pivot to Jameis Winston and Chris Godwin. Had he made the switch, Martin would’ve actually scored more points, although it ultimately didn’t matter. Martin did make the switch for the DraftKings $1,500 buy-in NFL $250K Game Changer and won that tournament for another $50,000 on Sunday.
Although Martin can be categorized as a true grinder, both in poker and elsewhere, the massive $2 million win from the FFWC might be just the score he needs to order to pull back and take it a bit easier.
“There’s poker stuff that I want to work on, but I’ve always felt like it’s hard for me to work too hard on it because playing is more profitable in the short term,” Martin said. “Maybe I’ll set a little time aside to play poker or study poker. I honestly think it’ll probably be a bit of a transition in my poker career where I’ll 100% keep playing, but maybe will be a little more part time than I used to be, maybe not go out to the World Series for seven weeks. Instead, take three separate one-week trips or something like that, and maybe not play poker.”
It’s hard to blame Martin for wanting to kick back a little bit after hitting such a big score, but we shouldn’t expect him to give up poker altogether. He might dive into DFS more, he might not, but at the heart of it he’s always going to be a poker player, he said.
“I was really playing poker four, five times a week up until a couple weeks ago,” Martin said. “Maybe I turn that into one or two times a week, hopefully, or maybe start studying the solvers and become a great no-limit player and then maybe start doing that a little bit more. I don’t really know, but it came at a really good time for stuff like that, because I was ready for a little bit of a transition. I’m always going to be a poker player, I love poker, but I was grinding really hard.”
For more on Martin’s win and he process from start to finish that led him to FFWC triumph, check out his feature interview on RotoGrinders.