Not many poker players can credibly claim to have had a better run than Jack Sinclair has enjoyed the last few years. He only recorded his first live tournament cash in April 2017, but since then he has jumped up to 19th place on England’s all-time money list on the strength of $3.6 million in cashes, including a WSOP Main Event final table appearance in 2017 and a WSOP Europe Main Event victory in 2018.
Two weeks ago Sinclair added “SCOOP champion” to his list of accomplishments with a win in Event #15-M, $530 8-Max No-Limit Hold’em. Playing as “Swaggersorus,” he defeated a reg-heavy field to earn the $92K top prize — not bad for a guy who doesn’t consider himself to be “a top online player.”
I reached out to Sinclair last week and he was gracious enough to chat for a bit about adding an online title to his live wins, how having good mentors has aided his success, and how he focuses on staying “happy just to be here.”
PokerStars Blog: You’re a bit of a traveller — originally from the U.K., but your account is based in Georgia (the country) and you travel the world for live poker. Is that where you played SCOOP this year?
Jack Sinclair: I’m actually grinding from Montreal at the moment. I am a resident in Georgia though, so I have moved my account there, mainly because I love the flag. Sometimes I play from Georgia but mainly I am there for some business outside of poker. I love the country and want to represent Georgia in the online poker streets as best as I can.
What does your general playing schedule look like these days, both live and online? And what was your plan of attack coming into SCOOP? Do you play a particular mix of buy-ins?
I mostly only play live these days, I travel to all the big stops and some of the smaller ones. I actually don’t have a home at the moment — I just travel full-time.
I still love playing online, so when the big series are on I get involved. But I don’t consider myself to be a top online player, so when I play online my main goal is to improve. This year I tried to stick to only playing 4-6 tables at a time, mostly playing $500+ buy-in tournaments. I feel like I have improved a lot even in just one week playing online, as I am playing against strong opponents and able to think a lot about each decision. I’m also not so exhausted after each session, so I am able to review hands in the morning.
So much has to go right to win any poker tournament, let alone a SCOOP event against top competition. What went right for you in this tournament?
I don’t remember too many standout hands from Day 1. I know I was playing very aggressive and taking a lot of spots, which I think is important in these events. Day 2 was a lot more memorable. I played some huge pots early and had a big stack for most of the day, and I was able to come into the final table as chip leader.
The closest I came to busting was when I was all-in on the river as a bluff, I think with 10 or 11 players left. This was a crucial pot, not only because I would have busted if he called, but it gave me the chip lead right before the final table and set me up to win the tournament.
There were some pretty solid players at the last few tables in this tournament. Does anyone stick out to you as having presented a particular challenge, or maybe someone who you were glad you didn’t have to tangle with because someone else took care of it first?
There were lots of good players in this tournament, I really had to battle to make it to the final table. Although at the final table itself I ran astonishingly well — it really doesn’t matter how good your opponents are when they are short and you win every all-in.
Some of the notables were Jonathan “Proudflop” Proudfoot, Vicent “gordon0410” Bosca, and Benny “rungodlike” Glaser. I should give a special mention to Nick “FU_15” Maimone, who always takes it to the streets, and makes your life very difficult. Luckily I made a couple of hands against him this time.
You’ve had a couple of close calls on PokerStars before, in the Sunday Million in 2017 and a SCOOP final table last year. After those experiences, how did it feel on an emotional level to nail this one? Is there any additional sense of satisfaction in winning a major online title to go with your big live wins?
I’m very happy with this win. For me it is not so much about the title or the money, but my performance in this event, and the series in general. I feel like I have proven to myself that I am able to beat high stakes online, and I have improved a lot, especially my mindset. Big shout out to Thomas “WushuTM” Muehloecker, who I’ve been sharing an apartment with during SCOOP, for helping with that.
Your first two years on the live poker circuit have been hugely successful. What do you credit most for your extraordinary early success? And how do you stay balanced mentally heading into the heart of Year 3?
I have to credit my success to having great mentors. I moved in with Phil Gruissem early in my career and he really revolutionized my game. Since then I have surrounded myself with great players and I pay attention to what they say. I think I learn best through discussion so this works very well for me.
Having had a few results doesn’t change too much. I am still very motivated to keep playing. My main focus now is to be the best player I can be, and I trust that the results will come. It is very easy to lose sight of that when you are winning a lot or losing a lot, but it is important to remind yourself that learning is the goal — that and trophies.
I find it extremely difficult to not have expectations when starting an online series or a live trip. Any time I go in “expecting” to do well it always ends badly. The mindset I try and keep is “just happy to be here.” I try and get the most out of the experience, win or lose, and that way the result doesn’t matter (as much).
Finally, do you spend much time away from the tables or are you in more of a “strike while the iron’s hot” mode? Do you have any hobbies outside of poker?
I have a fair few hobbies outside of poker, although I very rarely take time off. On some stops I play squash if there are courts. I cook when I have a kitchen, and I always travel with my guitar. I used to be a drummer but it’s hard to travel with a drum kit.
It’s hard to find time to do all the things I’d want, but I mostly only want to play poker anyway, so I’m not complaining.