How to Become a Poker Pro and Keep Your Cool: Jeff Madsen’s Story

US gambling news - GamingZion

Jeff Madsen shocked the world by winning the World Series of Poker Player of the Year award in 2006.

Jeff Madsen was only 21 when he grabbed his first World Series of Poker bracelet back in 2006. A few days later he won his second one, beating Erick Lindgren in one of the most prestigious tourneys of the summer – the $5,000 6-max NLHE. Playing at American poker rooms, Madsen went on to add two 3rd place finishes in 2006, which led to him winning the WSOP Player of the Year award that year.

Mind you, he was still the University of California Santa Barbara student at the time. Now, eight years since the fabulous kick off to his career, he boasts 111 cash finishes, and eight more titles. The biggest question is has Madsen managed to find balance between hard work and determination, or were his successes just a stroke of luck, let’s find out together.

The beginning

A story of Jeff Madsen poker professional from the fast rise until today

• Jeff won the prestigious WSOP Player of the Year award in 2006

• His career started with him playing casually at American poker room in Chumash Casino

• He now boasts a whopping number of cash finishes and career titles

Jeff was introduced to poker right after he graduated high school in California. At the time poker the game was booming on television, and besides the USA it was growing popular all over the world: people were playing poker in Jamaica, Bahamas, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, and other exotic locations.

Madsen was taking his first poker steps playing with friends and collecting strategy literature. He started attending UCSB, but also made regular trips to Chumash Casino to play live poker under American gambling laws. This is where he started gaining his real experience and learned other games besides hold’em.

Madsen recalls: “They had Omaha hi-lo there. And I read a lot of books in the beginning like Supersystem and all the multi-game books. Just reading all those books got me interested in those games just from the beginning.”

Professional poker career takes off

Several years later came the 2006 success, when Madsen took $10,000 to Las Vegas, planning to participate in six WSOP events. In his very first one, $2,000 Omaha 8-or-better, he placed third. By the end of July he has already collected a whopping $1,467,852 in cash and grabbed the WSOP Player of the Year award.

But the very next year, Jeff came down from the winning cloud. He only totaled $137,000 in cashes that year, and 2008 wasn’t that much better for him either. Madsen realized that it’s extremely hard to achieve what he has done back in 2006, and took a different approach to reality.

He says: “I knew I was a good player, but I hadn’t really played on the professional poker circuit, so it’s definitely a learning process any time you’re kind of new to this environment and the variance. I didn’t just think I would win everything, but I just knew I was a good player, so maybe — you get a little comfortable, and you can’t get comfortable, or too relaxed, and sometimes you take spots that are too high variance that you normally wouldn’t, but you just won, you have money, so, those things kind of affect it naturally.“

2009 brought back the success, when he grabbed another title, and in the beginning of 2010 he walked away with third biggest score of his career winning $625,006 for the first place at the Borgata Winter Open. 2012 saw him sitting at the final table of the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker and another tourney at the WSOP. Last year he was back at the top, winning third career bracelet at the WSOP $3,000 PL Omaha.

According to the poker pro, he was able to focus on his play and himself, just like he did at the start of the career, and that brought in results. American gambling news quote the player: “I think I’ve just been playing good, it’s just working out and last year was good too. My cash rate wasn’t as high last year, but it’s still high, good results last year. In 2012, I cashed a lot too, it’s been going well for a few years now.”

Jeff Madsen’s 2014 year

2014 is only half-way through, but Madsen has already cashed 14 times, with two titles in the bag this year. He commented: “I’ve been winning this year with confidence… you can’t have an oversized head or an ego and play dumb, but if you have confidence, people can feel that at the table and it’s going to work to your advantage in a lot of pots, and it helps you trust your reads and stuff like that.”

Going into the WSOP 2014, the biggest event of the poker year, Madsen had the following comments: “I’m just playing good deep, and my reads are on right now, and obviously winning key flips. And when you’re running above average and playing well, it’s kind of an unstoppable combo. So all my games feel good right now, my mixed games are good right now, too.”

Life beyond poker

With Madsen’s poker career back on track, Jeff is contemplating plans to spend some time on one of his other interests. He says: “I’ve got a lot of freedom so I kind of just do what I want, which is good — that’s why poker is one of the best jobs you can have. I feel like I’m doing really well, and once I get to a certain point, maybe I’ll take a little time off poker and pursue other stuff a bit more. But you know, I’m definitely into hip hop and rapping, so I think that’s something I could definitely see myself doing for a long time as well.”

Jeff was involved in making music with hip-hop beat producer Prahlad Friedman, also a fellow poker pro. Madsen has actually been able to identify parallels between rap an poker: “Yeah, I think they’re definitely related, and obviously I like listening to music sometimes when I play. They’re definitely my two favorite passions, for sure.”

The now 29-year-old pro is hungry for more poker success, but realizing himself in hip-hop is also one of his priorities: “It’s just something about the hustle and about the competition of it.”

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