Ian Johns won his second WSOP bracelet of the summer and third career after taking down the $10k Limit Hold’em Championship early Monday morning. Johns joins Jason Mercier and Benny Glaser as multi-bracelet winners in 2016.
Heading into 2016, it had been 10 years since Johns had won a bracelet with that title coming in a $3k Limit Hold’em Event in 2006. Normally, Johns play Limit Hold’em cash games for a living and is a instructor at The Poker Academy with fellow three-time bracelet winner Rep Porter.
I caught up with Ian on Tuesday and discussed his pair of bracelet wins. We talked about how those wins impact his career, being a limit poker pro in the modern era and raising three kids as a poker pro.
PokerUpdate: Give us a bit of background about yourself in terms of how you got started in poker, where and how you honed your game, etc.
Ian: I started playing with a group of friends my senior year in high school. We would gather around and play No-Limit Hold’em tournaments on my parent’s pool table, using poker chips from the cardroom that used to be inside the bowling alley my parents owned. I then became obsessed with the game and read books and forums daily and started playing online.
PokerUpdate: You won your first bracelet ten years ago. Back then, did you envision it would take a decade to win #2?
Ian: Winning bracelets has never really been something I’ve set out to do. I’ve had a few years where I played double digit events but most years I’ve just played in the limit events because I feel like I’m good at them and they’re a profitable venture for me. I guess my answer is that I never gave a ton of thought to winning ‘bracelet number 2’.
PokerUpdate: Now that you have had a few days to process things, tell us what it is like to have won two bracelets in a single summer? Also, do these wins do anything to “validate” your poker career or are they just nice accomplishments?
Ian: This has been the most amazing experience of my poker career multiplied by infinity. It’s been so amazing to have accomplished this, but even more amazing is the amount of support I’ve received from everyone who has been a part of my life.
I’ve received so many kind messages and congratulations that it’s truly overwhelming. And yes I would say this has been somewhat validating, though that was never a thought that entered my mind in terms of reasons winning would be cool.
A million thanks to all. You guys are the best.— Ian Johns (@IanJ300) June 20, 2016
PokerUpdate: Your tournament resume (at least according to Hendon Mob) is primarily WSOP cashes (and three wins.) How often do you play tournaments and do you primarily only focus on the WSOP? If so, why is that?
Ian: Before I had a family, I chased the tournament circuit some, as I had more time and was more in tune with No-Limit Hold’em tournaments. Since then, though, I’ve essentially stopped playing tournaments that aren’t at the WSOP.
This is mainly because the WSOP is the only place that offers limit events that I feel are worth it to play, and I have no interest in playing No-Limit events.
PokerUpdate: You mentioned to WSOP.com that you might play the poker lottery known as the WSOP Main Event. Is that still your intention and what do you feel about your chances?
Ian: Right now, I have no idea if I’ll be playing or not. I feel like my chances are somewhere in the 1 in 7,000 range because I’m probably about an average player for the field.
PokerUpdate: You were quoted at WSOP.com that NL Hold’em players pass you in ability a long time ago. There are many limit players that decided to switch over to NL Hold’em because of the big money available in tournaments. Why did you decided against such a move?
Ian: Limit Hold’em has always just been my favorite game. Every attempt I made to learn No-Limit Hold’em ended with me not being interested so I just didn’t do it.
Sometimes 2k turns into… pic.twitter.com/vdHYrmM6bI— Ian Johns (@IanJ300) June 9, 2016
PokerUpdate: For those players more inclined towards limit games, what is the limit poker scene like in Las Vegas? Where’s the best action for those that are looking for something other than NL?
Ian: The limit scene in Vegas is sustainable but not thriving. The Bellagio is the main place to go for Limit Hold’em. The 20/40 runs daily year round. The 40/80 runs almost daily year round. And the 80/160 goes all summer during the WSOP and sporadically throughout the year. Los Angeles and San Jose are essentially the only two cities that host higher than 40/80 Limit Hold’em on a daily basis.
PokerUpdate: You’ve played professionally for over a decade now and have remained a limit poker specialist. Do you feel that it is easier or harder now to make a living as a pro and how does being a limit pro impact this?
Ian: It’s undoubtedly harder to make a living now than when I started. That’s because when I started it was the best time in the history of poker for a professional player. I don’t really have a ton of thoughts on the difference between being a limit pro and a No-Limit pro in today’s climate. All I would say is that I assume that every game has its great players and in order to make a living you have to be sharp and play your best.
PokerUpdate: According to the article posted by WSOP.com after your first win, you’re a Limit Hold’em specialist primarily playing $80-$160. Is Limit Hold’em you favorite/best game? If not, what is your best game? What’s your #2 game?
Ian: Yes Limit Hold’em is by far my best game. I enjoy some other limit variants equally but my experience and skill in Hold’em is far greater than in games like Omaha 8 or Better and Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, though I enjoy them.
PokerUpdate: After being a pro for 10 years, what advice would you give to a new kid getting ready to try and make it in the poker world? Would you tell him to focus on NL or to broaden his horizons with other games and why?
Ian: My 100% honest advice would be to play poker as a profitable hobby and do something else with your life, because poker is a brutal thing to do for a living for such a large percentage of people.
If he insisted on playing for a living, I would tell him that he needs to first figure out how to gain complete control of his emotional attachment to the game (i.e. tilt control and battling the losing streaks mentally and emotionally) and understand bankroll management. I’d then tell him to try to learn and get good at every game and variant he can.
PokerUpdate: You’re a coach at The Poker Academy with fellow three-time bracelet winner Rep Porter. Tell us a bit about the site, your involvement there and how it is different than other training sites.
Ian: Rep has been a great friend of mine since the moment I started playing live poker at 21 years old. When he came to me and asked me to do the Limit Hold’em course with him for his site, I was honored and said yes instantly. We worked on the course outline for a couple months and went back and forth over e-mail and then I flew up to Seattle to shoot with him and Rick Fuller and Ron Upshaw, the Poker Academy team.
We had a great time and put out a course that we feel is comprehensive and informative and has some fun mixed in as well. Our goal is for it to possibly help anyone looking to improve at Limit Hold’em, even top-notch players.
I say that not out of any arrogance about what we’re teaching, but because oftentimes even the very best players could hear one sentence within hours of footage that may change the way they view one portion of their game and help them improve. For newish players, our course is a goldmine in my extremely biased opinion.
PokerUpdate: After winning over $500k so far this summer, what are you plans moving forward. Does this money change anything for you or is it just a nice bankroll booster?
Ian: This was a life changing summer for me in every way. My plans haven’t changed a ton. My family and I had a move in the works before the summer even started, so we’ll be focusing on that in the coming months. After that, the plan is to keep grinding poker and daily fantasy sports, but just more comfortably than I was before.
PokerUpdate: I see in your bio that you have three children. Tell us what it is like being a poker pro and raising three kids. Do you feel it is easier having a family as a cash game pro as opposed to chasing the tournament circuit?
Ian: It can be very hard to play for a living and raise kids. Prior to our third son, we lived in Seattle and I traveled frequently to play. That was hard on the family, so we moved to Vegas three years ago. Since then, we’ve lived a much more balanced and happy life, where I’ve gotten to see my kids daily, aside from the WSOP when things get hectic. Cash games are the surefire way to go in my opinion for a poker playing mom or dad.
PokerUpdate: Are any of your kids old enough where they’re trying to get Dad to teach them how to play poker? If so, which games have you taught them?
Ian: My 8-year old is an Open Face Pineapple Chinese Poker whiz, admonishing anyone in his path who puts a Queen or King anywhere but up top. The other day he tried to teach my 5-year old to play. Didn’t go quite as well.
As far as real poker, we haven’t gotten there yet. I’m sure we will soon. And I’ll constantly pester them about how this can be a hobby they have when they’re older, not a profession.
PokerUpdate: Finally, what are you goals in poker moving forward? Where do you see yourself in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years?
Ian: I only have one goal and that’s to provide a nice life for my family and raise well-rounded and happy children. However I can get that done, sign me up.