Jens "Jeans89" Kyllönen is the Finnish poker phenom that has completely crushed the high stakes tables of Pokerstars this year. On February 28th, only two months into 2012, Jens has already amassed a total of $1,7m in winnings for the year and sits comfortably on top of the leaderboard with $600k more than the player behind him. HighstakesDB has gotten the chance to have a little e-mail interview with Jens.
Interview with Jeans89
Going way back, do you remember how you first heard about poker and when you started playing the game first time? Did you start playing online or live and what stakes? Did you realize quickly that you had an eye for the game?
- I don't remember exactly but it was around 5 years ago, we watched some WPT and started playing home tournaments with friends. I started with some freerolls online, cashed in one and ran that money up in Limit Hold'em cash games. After reading some Sklansky books I realized I wouldn't have to apply for any summer job, I could make a bit more money playing poker.
How has your way up the stakes been, have you switched games along the way? Was it a smooth ride to the top, or did you have some big bumps on your way up?
- I pretty quickly moved to NLHE and within a year I was playing 5-10 as my main game taking shots to 25/50. At this time I saw an opportunity in PLO, the games were softer, and it felt like it was going to be the next big thing.
I've always felt confident in my game and every time I would jump up in limits I very quickly found leaks in most regulars. A big struggle I had was in 2010 when I started taking shots into nosebleeds on Full Tilt Poker which in my opinion were often softer than the 25/50 games. I kept a losing cap of 100K, and it was always the same story, I'd grind 25/50 win a lot, go to 200/400 cap and just lose every pot, quickly reach my cap, quit the games and take a shower thinking why do I keep doing this.
In your opinion, when was your real poker breakthrough, was it when you won the EPT Copenhagen?
- That was one but I think the biggest one was when I won the European Championship of Online Poker (ECOOP) Main Event for 315K, this was when high school had just ended, everyone was looking for places to apply for studying, and I thought to myself, I can really do this poker thing.
What do you think has had the most influence on your results this year, your volume (only one player has more hands than you this year) and edge on your opponents, or has it been a real good run of cards?
- I'd have to say a combination of all.
We have only seen you in the PLO high stakes games. We presume you started with Hold'em as most others, when did you make the switch?
- It's tough to say exactly as there was a point I was playing both at the same time, but around 3 and a half year ago?
The last couple of weeks we have sometimes seen you on lots of tables at the same time. Obviously who you are playing against plays a big part, but how many tables do you feel you comfortable playing against average opponents?
- I like to play up to 10 tables at a time max, after that the time-outs and mis-clicks start coming. But I'll only play this many if I really think there is value in every one of the tables as I'm sure my edge drops
Since you have played basically everyone in the poker variants you play, which players do you think are the toughest/respect the most, and why?
- Almost all the regulars who play 50/100+ are really tough and I couldn't that easily put them in any skill order, they all have very different sort of weaknesses and some days someone plays better and some days worse.
You are mostly/almost exclusively playing short handed online, is it a strategy you have to avoid HU? If so, why is that?
- I consider myself a lot stronger in 6-max than in Heads-Up and that is also where I've put most of my volume in in the last 3 years. The problem with HU is also that only the best players will play me while others sit-out, and I don't see the edge either way being very big so it just (imo) becomes a waste of time. What often happens as well nowadays is that the one willing to stay and play HU if a game breaks is the one who ends up paying the extra big blind. I play on most European sites as well so I can almost always find some sort of 10/20+ ring game action which will give me a better hourly rate, which is still what I play for, not to keep the railers happy. That being said I don't see anything wrong with challenging yourself every now and then and play someone good HU, I do this sometimes myself but fairly rarely.
Will you be going over for the WSOP this year? If so is it tournaments, cash games, partying you have in mind - or perhaps a combination of everything?
- Right now it feels unlikely, I was there for the first time last year and got stuck in the main event for 1 and a half weeks which was very draining and stretched my trip to a month long. If I do decide to go there this year it would be for cash games and partying
How did the Black Friday, or more specifically the shutdown of Full Tilt, affect you? I remember seeing a post on 2+2 that you had gotten a relatively big cashout processed, but perhaps it was just a small part of it?
- At one point I had a huge amount of money stuck there that I luckily did manage to cashout, however the games were so good I left like 30K to play with, and won like 150K two days before Full Tilt Poker went down, so..
Finnish players are now playing under PokerStars.eu. This must be great news for you for the tax reasons. Do you have any comments? What's the main reason you did not move abroad as many other Finns?
- This is huge news for the Finns. The main reason so many Finns didn't play on Full Tilt Poker/PokerStars was unless you wanted bigger than 25/50 action you could find it on other sites which are all tax free. I expect you will see a lot of new Finnish nicknames at 5/10-25/50 on PokerStars now. I've always wondered why they didn't do this before, if the license wasn't too hard to get/expensive it is a no-brainer, too bad it didn't come a month earlier before this years upswing though ;).
- I did look into some options of moving abroad, but it usually requires that you can only stay here for 6 months of the year, and I like Finland way too much for that. All the friends, family, parties etc are here...
Lastly, what is next for you, any big live tournaments, interesting live games? Perhaps Macau?
- I just came back from Copenhagen where I played the EPT, busted in day 1. It's nice to do a few live tourney trips a year if a good group of Finns are going, but I find it hard to get the motivation to play them seriously nowadays, after winning so much online lately. I'm very interested in Macau and will definitely be doing a trip there at some point.
HighstakesDB would like to thank Jeans89 for the chance to ask him a few questions, and wish him the best of luck for the rest of the year.