A Poker Life – Justin Young
You've heard it before. A young man hits a major score in a tournament, drops out of school to turn pro, and over years has given all of the money back into the poker community and has never heard from again. Justin Young isn't that man.
In Young's short commissioned livelihood, he's won over $3.6 million in championships, with 148 cashes and nine career names. While he loves winning major championships, Young also supplements his poker revenue by grinding away in the money game tables in his embraced casino house, Bellagio. Along with being his go-to money match place, Bellagio was also the site of Young's before all else tournament win in 2004. Since that time, seven out of ten of the main championship scores came at Bellagio, for example his latest triumph in the 2011 Festa al Lago primary event for $349,590 at October. All these seven cashes alone accounts for $2,038,265 in earnings, or nearly 60% of Young's winnings.
In a time where many poker pros have been traveling from Los Angeles into Macau and anyplace in medially for championships, the simple fact that Young has obtained to a location and had such great success there could offer some insight in to his down-to-earth and concentrated nature. Additionally, it demonstrates that he's dedicated to spending some time with his spouse, who moved to Las Vegas together with him from North Carolina, so he could play with more championships without even leaving her alone for too long. Even though many hope to some jet set lifestyle, Young has discovered satisfaction and good success residing a more educated life. That is his story.
Young has been born in Boulder, Colorado but his family moved an hour north into the city of Loveland. His mom had been an interior decorator and his dad was an entrepreneur and former associate of this prosperous folk singing group that the Serendipity Singers. Regardless of the abundant musical and creative influences in his youth, the arts weren't exactly what captivated Young.
"There were always instruments around the house," he recalled. "I think I took six months of piano lessons and a month of guitar lessons, but outside of that I wasn't all that interested in it. "
What really captured his interest were method games. "Every Friday night was game night," he recalled. "I heard boxing when I was four or five years old. We played with a great deal of backgammon, hearts and spades. We performed all night, until it was time to go to bed. We did play with some little gambling games such as Tripoli and poker, and we'd play our own cash, which was quite fun for a child as young as I had been. "
Young learned the hand rankings for poker when he was eight years old from his father, who would go to play poker every couple weeks in a local game. His family would play mostly five-card draw and five-card stud, and although they were all competitive, it was never too serious.
Higher Education, High Stakes
It was not until college that Young singled out poker as a game he was particularly good at. He was attending North Carolina State in Raleigh, studying to be a mechanical engineer. While there he joined the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, and would play in the house's home game. He had modest success in the game, with his years of experience playing strategic games competitively no doubt serving him well.
"It had been merchant 's decision and we'd occasionally play stud, but largely it had been non-conventional games such as 'iron-cross', 'screw your neighbor' and 'guts. ' I think that the most I ever won was $40. "
While many young professional players these days became interested in poker as part of the boom brought on by the "Moneymaker Effect," Young says that his inspirational moment came just slightly ahead of the curve.
"When Robert Varkonyi won the WSOP main event in 2002, I saw that closing table and over again. I was amazed by how a lot of money was at stake and it prompted me to play again. At the moment, I was a 21 year old and I thought to myself, 'I'm better than these guys! '"
He deposited $50 on Party Poker, and quickly quadrupled his money. He began by playing $0.25-$0.50 limit hold'em, and within a year was playing $1-$2 no-limit hold'em. Young's lifelong love of games had found a more concentrated outlet, and the obsession grew.
Engineering a Career
Young graduated in 2002, and worked for a number of months with children with disabilities in Raleigh before eventually pursuing a job in mechanical engineering. During his senior year he had completed a dozen interviews with various firms, but nothing worked out. Eventually his stepfather helped to secure him a job at the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, NC.
"It's just like a significant auto-repair store, but also for jet fighters," Young explained. "It was a pleasant job, where I basically got to play with airplanes. I understood when I moved to school which technology is exactly what I wished to really go for. "
Young was enjoying work in his field of study, but at the similarly time he was steadily climbing higher and higher in stakes playing online poker. It got to the point where he was almost putting in more time playing poker than he did at his job.
"I'm a stats and numbers man, so daily I would write down how long I played with, at what bets, and just how a lot of I lost or won. Seeing the graph, that showed how well I was doing, made it interesting. In a year of beginning my job I had been playing $25-$50 online. The moment they came out with a greater bet, I would play with. This was about the time that I determined I should seriously consider playing professionally. "
Young Love and the List
The decision to leave a comfortable job with good pay and profits in order to play poker professionally is never an easy one to make, but Young had more than his own livelihood to consider: he also had to think of his girlfriend and future wife, Morgan, who he met during his junior year of college.
"We actually met at a frat party, as cheesy as that sounds," Young admitted. "We made a date to another weekend, and after I discovered that she didn't exactly remember what I looked like. She had demand me what car I would be picking her up in, so she could figure out that I was the guy. That's as romantic as it gets. "
While he can downplay the love of the before all else meeting, it's apparent that his association with his spouse and her financial safety is extremely significant to Young. Before he'd allow himself to stop his job, he left a list of 30 items he needed to do. The listing contained getting Morgan's acceptance, acquiring their parents consent, investing and saving a specific quantity of money, and attaining a particular amount of success within his engineering endeavor. On the afternoon he attained the final of his objectives, he moved to provide notice he was quitting his job.
"The whole time my wife was my biggest fan. When I made my list, number one was to obtain her approval. I hadn't said half a sentence until she advised me to simply do it. The entire time she's been supportive, and enjoys the fact that I love everything I do. "
Moving On Up
Directly after quitting his mechanical engineering job, Young went on the biggest upswing of his life. He was living with Morgan in Moorehead, NC, but frequently was on the road to Foxwoods and Tunica chasing cash game action. He began to obtain more and more into playing tournament poker after winning the before all else tournament he ever entered at the Bellagio.
"It was a $1,000 buy-in every day occasion, which back in the afternoon would bring about 140 entrants. I won it was a blast. "
In 2006, Justin and Morgan got married. While he was having great success playing online and on his poker trips, Young didn't feel right about all the time he spent away from his spouse. They chose to make the transfer from North Carolina into Las Vegas in 2007, so he could employ his trade without having to spend too a lot of time on the street. Young played 10 -$20 in the Bellagio, pretty a lot of enjoying the similarly hours because his spouse 's 9-to-5 afternoon occupation. After struggling a little right following the movement, Young caught a massive break.
He had made friends with Shannon Shorr, who proposed he play at the forthcoming 2008 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. In the time the 15,000 purchase was overly high for Young to easily input, but Shorr offered to purchase a huge piece. After selling a few of his actions to fellow Bellagio money game regulars, Young entered the major event and ended up completing to Chino Rheem, cashing for $936,760. Despite having to pay out to his shareholders, the cash and the assurance gained from the remarkable score were valuable to Young.
Party on the Lake
Young continued his success in championships, finishing eighth at the 2009 $25,000 WPT Championship and enhancing on his own performance by finishing sixth at precisely the similarly event in 2011. Young won his biggest title so far in October, when he took down the 2011 Festa al Lago $5,000 major event for $349,590. Young outlasted a re-entry area with 228 entrances and defeated a last table with seasoned rivals such as Chris DeMaci and Michael Katz.
With online money games now inaccessible, Young's huge win came at the perfect moment. With years of experience playing cash games, Young is much better prepared for the poker climate place Black Friday than most of the peers. He continues to play with no-limit money games and lately has ventured to the 400 -$800 combined matches which have been operating at Aria's "Ivey's Room. "
While Young believes that putting a goal to acquire a specific championship may be unrealistic and also a waste of timehe admits that competing for the title of Player of the Year could be something he aspires to.
"If I got off to a good start one year, I would do what my buddy Eric Baldwin did and go after it all year. I think that would be a lot of fun, and watching him do it was incredible. For me to sit here and say that I want to win a WPT title or something like that… of course I want to, but what title you win doesn't rely on in case you played nicely. "
For now, Young is continuing to play cash games and the biggest tournaments that come through Vegas, happy to live the life he leads with a great job, friends and family.