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Matt Clark

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  1. [caption width="640"] Jason Lawhun's career as a scientist allows him to see poker from a unique point of view[/caption] Most of the players that comprise the New Jersey online player pool are longtime residents of the state or have moved there to further expand their poker horizons. Jason ‘JLaw’ Lawhun hails from Ohio but moved to New Jersey in 2013 as part of his career as a scientist in a consumer products company. Since then, he has been a force at the online tables with over $235,000 in tournament winnings to his name. Like many others before him, Lawhun got his start playing poker with friends but gradually moved his way toward the online scene once he entered college. Lawhun says he “lucked out” as his job required him to move to a state with regulated online gaming since where he lived in Ohio did not provide local access to a casino. “If I didn’t happen to move to New Jersey, I think poker would have fallen off into something that I only did very rarely, although it is a game I love to play. It’s a shame more people don’t have the opportunity to compete in this great game because of the current legislation,” said Lawhun. In his life as a scientist, Lawhun says there is a lot in common between the way he solves problems in the lab and that thought process carries over to the poker table. “As a scientist, you need to have a very logical mindset that is able to analyze situations and come up with data-driven conclusions based on your experiments. It’s the same in poker. You analyze the hand (situation) you’re in, and come up with plays (conclusions) based on previous hands (data points from previous experiments) which help you determine likely hand ranges of your opponent and come up with the correct play,” said Lawhun. While the analytical mindset he uses has obviously paid dividends, Lawhun also says he uses an out of the box approach to finding solutions in both science and poker. In fact, he claims that he is at his best when he’s “experimenting” with new betting lines in order to make him harder to read. Lawhun spends roughly 70 hours each week between his day job and poker which forces him to have a familiar routine so he can have the as much success as possible in both ventures. In order to achieve a quality balance in his life, Lawhun usually takes Saturday and Monday off from playing to spend time with his girlfriend, her two kids, and his dog. “A typical day for me now is to get up, go to work, come home and meditate or take a quick nap, exercise, take the dog for a walk and then play poker until I bust out of my last tournament. Then, I try to get a few hours of sleep and start the process all over again the next day," said Lawhun. "I’m grateful my family is very understanding of the passion/goals I have for poker and support me in my poker endeavors.” With such a condensed schedule, Lawhun says he doesn’t allocate much time to studying the game but believes he would be a much superior player versus where he is now. Lawhun played his first major live tournament in September when he played in the World Poker Tour Main Event at the Borgata. He is currently unsure whether or not he will play in the WPT Winter Poker Open in January but is planning to play the World Series of Poker Main Event in July 2017. Being a well-rounded thinker has helped Lawhun to excel in poker and with that success has come an understanding of how to succeed in the game even when things are going poorly in the short-term. “Poker will piss you off, it will make you feel bad about yourself and feel like you’re dumb and the poker gods are out to punish you," said Lawhun. "You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to get unlucky. If you can keep in perspective [that] it’s just part of the game and the game is meant to be played and enjoyed, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.” Above all else, Lawhun uses his “experimental mindset” to continue improving and to learn from his mistakes. “It’s hard not to beat yourself up over mistakes in poker. But if you try to look at mistakes as a learning experience it really helps your mindset. I’ve made plenty of bad plays at the table, but I try to learn from my mistakes and get a little better every time I play,” said Lawhun.
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