Poker Vlog Star Johnnie Vibes: “The Poker Dream Comes In All Shapes and Sizes”
Photo credit: Patrick Curran / Live At The Bike.
Johnnie Moreno, better known to many as “JohnnieVibes,” is a fulltime money game poker ace for at least a decade.
The 37-year-old moved around a lot for a kid because of his dad being in the army. In his 20’s he made his way into Las Vegas, where he spent a couple of years operating down the corporate career route prior to being released to poker with his younger brother Andrew Moreno and his then-future spouse, Kristy Arnett.
“I lived with Andrew and Kristy, who both had such a passion for the game. It was basically impossible for me not to fall in love with poker in some way,” said Moreno.
Johnnie’s before all else instinct was to attempt to steer Andrew from the match and also towards a more conventional career path, but Andrew finally changed his mind concerning poker along with his victory as a full-time participant.
“He basically convinced me with his results,” said Johnnie.
Johnnie proceeded to become an effective money game grinderfirst in Las Vegas and in the San Diego region. In 12 years he’s won over seven figures as an expert player, with over 11,000 hours of money game activity logged.
Just under a year and a half ago, he started to post video blogs, or vlogs, about his travels and adventures as an expert. His YouTube station has surged in popularity in the intervening months, together with every video becoming tens of thousands of perspectives.
Recently ‘JohnnieVibes’ embarked on a 30-day challenge, where he’d play daily, with a goal of totaling slightly 150 hours performed. Through the 30-days the strategy was to release periodic video updates on his progress, as he expected to demonstrate his achievement as a mid-stakes participant is attainable for many others if they’re eager to adopt the mill.
Stake me to play caught up with Moreno soon after he finished the 30-day struggle to talk how he was a poker vlogger, the outcomes of the question, how being a YouTube celebrity has influenced the metagame, and many more.
Stake me to play: So in under 15 weeks you’ve produced 53 vlogs, and because you’ve stated in a couple of your recent vlogs, they all take somewhere about 15 hours to create. What led you to spend so many of your energy and time to creating these videos?
Johnnie VibesI’ve always had creative outlets along with poker. I recall visiting EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) and only being really captivated from the manufacturers and the way they had been presenting music that everybody understood, but doing it in a way that we hadn’t heard before. I thought it was very cool and I really needed to understand how to do this.
I went home and attempted to learn . I’m pretty good with applications, so I figured out it fast and I started creating 30-minute long combinations, all which required me 30-40 hours to create. When I would complete every blend, I was always so pleased and would place them SoundCloud and ship it to my friends. It was only an outlet I had which was enjoyable to produce. I did nine mixtures in complete, all merely to fulfill this creative impulse I had inside of me.
When I began to learn about movie editing somewhat, it felt just like the upcoming logical step for me personally. I had a knack for apps, so the video part wasn’t that hard for me to learn. I started making videos with my wife Olga and our family and friends, just documenting our travels.
I was never in front of the camera early on, but one day I picked up the phone and did an Instagram story about poker. I got a lot of positive messages about it, with people saying they feel like they learned something from it. It gave me the confidence I needed to try producing a full video with me in front of the camera. I also took into account all of the ways doing videos could profit my life; it would improve my public speaking, improve my video editing skills and it help me make better content for the brand I started, Vibes Clothing.
I didn’t expect anyone to watch my movies, I only thought it’d be fun to perform. Pretty fast it warms up, largely based on a single incident I left where I spoke about losing a great deal of cash. The pain of losing that cash was really clear. I showed a great deal of vulnerability and it sort of went viral.
That sort of put me onto the map and individuals kind of came to anticipate high production value . I took that as a challenge, and actually wanted to up my game. It never crossed my mind that I could earn money from doing the movies, it was only that I needed to obtain at something which was enjoyable for me.
CP: It feels like being fair and transparent about life for a poker pro is a cornerstone of your strategy. Has the practice of reporting and recording those times been useful for you as an individual participant?
JV: I think one of the greatest culprits is that I’m a vlogger before all else plus a poker ace moment, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I record my results in vlog format probably one out of six sessions that I play. So, I’m still primarily a grinder, the vlogging thing is more my fun, creative outlet. I predetermine which days I’m going to vlog.
One side effect or positive thing that has arisen from doing the vlogs is that I’m way more accountable now at the tables. I’m known for having a positive and welcoming table presence, and now I can’t actually be off my game. There have been instances when I’ve been running bad or enjoying poor, and someone will tap me on the shoulder and tell me about how my movies have motivated them for a better person in the dining table, or they helped them through a challenging time in their lifetime. Those interactions snap me from it, for example, ‘What the hell am I doing here sulking? This person just reminded me exactly who I am and who I want to be. ‘
CP: Speaking of lovers of this vlog, is there some distinct positive interaction together or remark from a viewer who has trapped or hit home to you?
JV: Yeah, after I had been playing poker and somebody tapped me on my shoulder and demand if he would speak to me for a minute when I had an opportunity about one of my movies. As soon as I got up to speak to him,” he stated, ‘The video that you put up of you and your wife making your entrance together at your wedding, I’ve probably watched it a hundred times, before all else thing in the morning. It really helps me start my day feeling inspired. ‘ For me to find that movie, it makes me amazingly happy, but to believe that a individual who had never actually fulfilled me may use the movie as a source of inspiration and it had nothing to do with poker, it had been this ‘Aha! ‘ moment for me personally. These videos I create can inspire people in a manner that governs poker, and that’s most likely the largest present for me.
CP: Do you feel this openness and transparency regarding what being a poker ace can be similar to has directed individuals to get in touch with your movies?
JVI’d mention that, beyond transparency, yet another sense folks have taken to my movies is they feel like exactly what I’m performing is something which they’re also able to attain when they work hard. I’m playing in $300,000 buy high rollers and $100,000 buy money games; I’m doing exactly what every average Joe can do, which goes down to their regional casino and play with mid-stakes poker. What’s separating me from 99.9% of the populace is I’ve managed to take action for a living. I’m discussing with individuals that the practice of how I’ve gone about doing this, but I’m also revealing the individual component. So, I believe that one of the chief reasons my YouTube station has gotten so popular is that people watch my movies and state, ‘I can do this, too. This is well within my reach if I work hard and embrace the grind. ‘
CP: How about dealing with the negative side effects of putting yourself out there? As you probably know, folks aren’t always nice to strangers on the Internet.
JV: I’ve done a lot of personal development work, and I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t care that many about what a stranger thinks about me on the net. This was a procedure. I recall reading the before all else couple of remarks and feeling like I had to defend myself. However, I’ve understood that the individual commenting understands nothing about me personally and they’re seeing my movies via a lens that I know nothing about. Every time somebody makes a remark that’s negative, it’s 100 percent based on something which is moving in their lifetime and it doesn’t have anything to do with me personally. Intellectually I obtained that early , but in practice it’s taken some time to obtain to there. If my wife explained , ‘I think that in your last video you seemed inauthentic. ‘ That’s comments I would wholeheartedly accept in. However, trolls on the Internet? They overlook ‘t bother me.
CP: You mentioned in one vlog that a guy folded to your bluff, saying he didn’t need to lose to you especially. Has your notoriety influenced any other areas in fascinating ways?
JV: It is actually difficult to say because a great deal of times I dismiss the number of men and women know who I am at the poker table. There have been many times today where I’ve played with a complete session and someone doesn’t say everything throughout that whole time, but then when they obtain up, they will say, “I’m a huge fan, it was a joy to play you. ” So in those cases, I went the whole session without knowing there was a dynamic there.
I will say that I’ve developed a reputation for hero folding. That is something that has been in the back of my mind when there is that big spot. I feel like it is possible that I might need to call a little bit more often because of my reputation on the Internet.
CP: Yeah, your very before all else vlog was about correctly folding pocket kings to aces preflop on Live At The Bike, right? Maybe that contributed to the reputation?
JV: Exactly. It is really tough to obtain into that metagame because I’m not even sure who has been watching the videos. I do see a lot of people that do know me falling into two categories: people who are afraid of me, and people that want to take a shot at me.
CP: So you just wrapped up a mini-series of videos about a 30-day challenge you undertook. You committed to playing 150 hours of mid-stakes cash games in that span. You kicked off the before all else video in the series by discussing how, playing primarily mid-stakes cash games, you’ve managed to earn more than a million dollars in 12 years of playing. You then say you want to show people that it is still possible, even if cash games have gotten tougher in recent years. Can you tell me more about how this series came to be?
JV: First of all, there’s the current poker climate of San Diego, where I live. Through circumstances outside of my control, [$5 big blind] has become the biggest game available to me, or slightly in close proximity. I was wondering what to do next, and the thought of grinding out so many hours at mid-stakes was not something I was excited about, because I had been there and done that, and I always am trying to think about what comes next.
I think that 30 days was a perfect amount of time for me to push myself, though. It was more than just playing consistently; it was doing so while maintaining a balanced life. Playing for 30 days while still working out, creating content and spending time with my wife. I knew it was going to be difficult, and that is part of the sense I wanted to do it. Every time I’ve undertaken something ‘hard ‘ in my life, there have always been these positive profits for me. Also, I had a feeling that making a video series about the grind would make compelling content for the viewer.
CP: You said in the before all else video that it was going to be borderline impossible for you to lose money over the 30-day period. What were the final results, and regarding those results, what was your take away from how it all went?
JV: In the video I did say that there was going to be a range of possible results that would go from not winning any money to all the way up to winning $150 per hour, with the most likely result being around $40-$70 per hour range. It was almost prophetic because I started out crushing and then had one of the biggest losses that I ever had in a $5 big blind game, which brought everything back down to almost nothing. Then it settled right in that sweet spot, right in the $40-$70 range, which I thought would happen. To me, it just proves how big the edges are in live no-limit cash games, and how 150 hours is enough time to obtain a grasp on whether or not you are better than the competition.
CP: So as you’ve said, one of the reasons people have identified with your content is that the fans see what you’ve achieved as attainable if they are reasonably skilled and put the work in. Is it feasible for that many to make a living like you have, if they commit to the grind?
JV: It really depends on how big of a life you want to live, because there is definitely a ceiling on mid-stakes grinding and that ceiling is close to $100,000 a year. For a lot of people, they don’t find that as a workable long-term option. For me personally, I managed to perform it for about five years prior to needing to proceed to high stakes and also needing to attempt starting my own clothing business. There’s burnout in anything you do, and even in the event that you love what you’re doing, even if you aren’t growing within that thing, then you are eventually going to not love it as many.
So, ‘how workable do I think that it is? ‘ I think that you could make a solid living playing mid-stakes poker for the rest of your life, but I’m not sure that many people would actually want to do that because the ceiling doesn’t go.
CP: Have you discovered that spending the time to watch hands for audiences has helped your game? Perhaps not altered how you played, but helped explain to you you play a specific way?
JV: Yeah, 100 percent. Articulating my thought process was beneficial. That is something different that training has also helped with. If you may ‘t explain what you are doing, then do you really know what you are doing?
CP: What’s the most rewarding thing about the journey of the last 15 months doing these vlogs for you?
JV: My videos also serve as somewhat of a diary. I’m not necessarily known for rattling off hand histories, but more so for presenting the lifestyle and documenting my travels. So, I’m always going to be able to go back to episode whatever and see the time that I went to Mexico and when I traveled to Japan, captured on video forever. If I was just reciting hand histories, I’d probably never want to go back and watch my old videos. So, these episodes are also for me. I want to be able to have my future children, in 20 years, to be able to look back and see the time my wife and I went to Mexico or the video that I made from our wedding.
CP: What are your plans for the future as a vlogger? Are you going to do it as long as it’s rewarding and meaningful for you?
JV: It is something that I contend with all the time because I definitely never want for video production to feel like a chore. It’s the similarly way I feel about poker; I created a balanced schedule for myself early on so that I wouldn’t feel burnt out with poker, therefore it’d always feel refreshing to me. I would like to do exactly the similarly thing with videos. Should I don’t have a great story to tell, then I’m not gonna make a video just for the sake of making one. If that means I take a break for three months or a year, then so be it. I’m not going to force it.
CP: Any last words for viewers out there, or any other projects you have coming up that they should check out?
JV: I’d just like for people to know that the poker dream comes in all shapes and sizes, and by simply putting one foot in front of the other, you can achieve your version of that poker dream for your self.
You can check out the before all else video from ‘JohnnieVibes’ 30-Day Challenge series beneath, and head to his YouTube channel for more of his vlogs: