You Gotta Know: Jeff Gross on Poker Boxing, Burning Man & More

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Team PokerStars Online member Jeff Gross gives us his thoughts on topics both poker and pop cutlture in the latest 'You Gotta Know'

Jeff Gross makes it all look easy. From lounging on the Streamboat in the Virgin Islands with Bill Perkins to strolling the halls the World Series of Poker with 23-time Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps, Gross is seemingly everywhere you’d want to be all the time.

While it may look like Gross is living that easy life, don’t be fooled. He’s constantly hard at work earning himself the ability to live out the poker dream. Gross is a poker social media savant, constantly tweeting, posting photos and stories on Instagram, vlogging on YouTube and, of course, streaming poker on Twitch giving his fans ample opportunity to watch him grind.

Gross’ work has paid off too, he’s one of the few American poker players who has been able to secure a sponsorship in the post-Black Friday landscape joining PokerStars as a Team Online Pro.

As skilled as he is in social media, Gross is equally accomplished as a longtime poker grinder, having battled on the felt for over a decade. To date, Gross has earned over $3.1 million in lifetime live earnings and another $1.2 online.

As a guy who’s not afraid to share his opinion, we stole a few moments from his busy day to get his thoughts on topics both poker and pop-culture. So, here are some takes from Jeff Gross that you just gotta know.

Fortnite

Fortnite has been dubbed the most popular game on earth with famous Fortnite and fellow Twitch streamer Ninja earning a reported $350,000 a month playing it.

“I have not played but [Fortnite] seems very interesting. I’ve seen it, I’ve watched it on Twitch but it’s just one of those things that I know it’s a time suck. It would be fun, but I haven’t added any extra games or video games to my current plate.”

Friendship

There was a time when Gross had the nickname “PBF” standing for “professional best friend” and is known as a guy everyone likes having around.

“I think having friendships is one of the key pillars in life. To have supportive people, surround yourself with good people with similar interests and likes. I pride myself on having really strong relationships and long-term friendships with a great group of people. So, for me, you’re only as good as your word and having key people that are supportive and have your back is paramount for me. I think that’s something that I have a lot of strong relationships with.”

Extreme Sports

Known to do a little night wake surfing on Lake Mead, is Jeff an adrenaline junkie off the felt?

“They’re cool, I respect it. I was pretty much soccer my whole life but in terms of watching and respecting the craft, I think it’s really cool. I always wonder how guys are doing what they do. Like, how do they try it for the first time? How do they get into it? But for me personally, that’s not really a go…but I respect it.

“I do follow along and keep up with some of these Instagram pages. There’s a lot of crazy stuff, like parkour where people are doing these really insane type of jumps. I think it’s pretty amazing. I do find it fascinating and I would say I’m interested in it but I have no interest personally to do that stuff.”

Big Blind Ante

The big blind ante may be the next big evolutionary rule to tournament poker as the format finds its way into cardrooms all over the world.

“I love the big blind ante. To my knowledge, Cary Katz has got credit for that. I played some Aria $25k’s and they used it there. I’ve done it in Florida at the Hard Rock. At the World Series obviously in some events. I gotta quote Matt Savage who was saying he believes the Main Event next year will use the big blind ante. That’s his guess and obviously, he’s one of these guys in the loop…you know, Jack Eiffel, Matt Savage, Tony Burns, Sean McCormack, these guys that are in the know and are kinda in a small group that talk and exchange ideas. He’s pretty confident on it. I love it.

“It makes a lot of sense to me personally. Especially the early levels with 25 antes or 75 chips… It’s one of the bigger innovations and kinda just better all around moves in poker I think that’s happened. That’s something that actually moves the needle with recreationals and people are like ‘alright, this speeds up the game.’

In theory, you could probably cut an hour off a day, at the World Series for example, like in a $1K event or something. You could legitimately, easily, make it one less level a day you play and you would save that kind of time. I think it’s beneficial all around for the game, these types of things, like shot clock, would be great and this is also up there as absolutely a game-changing deal.”

Burning Man

Slated to start on August 25, Burning Man 2018 will see legions of “Burners” journey to the middle of the desert to experience the yearly festival.

“I’m biased, I went there in 2014. Antonio Esfandiari was the one nudging me and really pushing me to go for years. I finally went. I actually skipped an acquaintance’s wedding…it was like where I was on the fence, where it was like ‘I have a wedding, do I go or not?’

“I went and then I met my wife there. Walking past each other in the middle of the desert and now we’re married. That was in 2014, four years ago.

“It’s a special place. Definitely one of the more magical experiences that I’ve been a part of. Not just because of meeting my wife but it’s unbelievable and I would recommend anyone to try to go once if they can.”

Poker Boxing Matches

Antonio Esfandiari has an upcoming boxing match against comedian Kevin Hart, which will be another in a long string of poker players doing battle in the ring.

“I think it’s cool. [Antonio] told me about this a while ago. I think it’s an interesting thing, I think it’s kinda one of those things people want to see things that are out of the box. He’s obviously a pretty big underdog but it’s exciting. Who wouldn’t like to see Antonio get hit in the face a few times for all the antics he does? It will be fun to watch. It’s a mixture of friendliness but also the fun and the unknown. For [Antonio], it’s going to get him in better shape and there’s a lot of positives to it: it’s good publicity, it’s fun, and lighthearted within poker.

“These types of deals are generally lopsided. There’s not too many that I’ve seen that are too evenly matched. There hasn’t been a ton of really great matches but I think it’s kinda fun. It’s just different. You can bridge poker into another world and get some interest and action behind it. I think it’s a good thing.”

Gross routinely vlogs on YouTube, streams on Twitch, posts stories on Instagram and tweets on Twitter – all of which he can be found and followed under his username: JeffGrossPoker.

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