Interview: Jon Friedberg
Resides: Las Vegas, NV
Best Known For: Winning $1,000 no-limit event at 2006 WSOP, being the CEO of AllVegasPoker.com
This week, poker pro Jon Friedberg spoke with us about his career in poker, a new poker-related business project for him, and his thoughts on the future of the game. In 2006, Jon won a $1,000 no-limit event at the WSOP. At the time, the 2,891 player field was the largest non-Main Event field in WSOP history.
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PokerTips.org: Jon, you're a bit of a dinosaur in the poker world relative to the young online poker playing generation. Tell us how you got into poker.
Friedberg: When I was a sophomore at the University of Arizona, I discovered an 18-and-up Indian casinos. My friends and I would go down there whenever any of us had any money and play blackjack. A state law was passed that banned blackjack tables in AZ casinos, so we migrated to the poker tables. At the time, I knew what all of the hand rankings were (thanks to the video poker machines!), but had no idea how poker games were actually played. It was an expensive lesson playing 2-4 limit hold'em and 1-4 Stud, but it eventually became an obsession to master the game. I read a few books and spent countless hours at the tables, and during my senior year, won about $25k playing 10-20 limit hold'em.
PokerTips.org: What would you say has been the highlight of your career as a player?
Friedberg: The highlight of my career was winning a WSOP event in 2006. At the time, it was the largest non-main event in history. Since 1994 when I started playing, I had been dreaming of winning a bracelet. After doing so, I have since felt like my poker career is complete.
PokerTips.org: Prior to Black Friday, were you playing online poker as a primary source of income?
Friedberg: Yes, I was playing a lot of online poker before Black Friday, and with an endorsement deal as a sponsored show host, it was my primary income. That said, I've always had my hands in a few projects so wasn't completely dependent on poker like many online players.
PokerTips.org: What games and stakes could you generally be found playing?
Friedberg: On Sundays I always played in all of the major tourneys on Stars, Full Tilt and UB. All non-Sundays, I was playing 2-4 through 5-10 NL cash games on UB.
PokerTips.org: Tell us a little about your new venture, AllVegasPoker.com.
Friedberg: My new venture practically fell out of the sky. I was friends with the guy who had launched the website AllVegasPoker in 2004. This past February, he contacted me about helping him sell advertising on the site. He had been receiving a lot of interest from Vegas poker rooms but didn't want to spend the time working on it himself. One conversation led to another, and the more I learned about the site and its opportunity, the more involvement I wanted to have. By May, he and I reached an agreement that I would take over the site and run it entirely.
For those unfamiliar with AllVegasPoker, we are the most comprehensive source and largest online community surrounding poker in Las Vegas. We have complete information on every poker room in Vegas, every tournament, cash game, etc., as well as over 2000 player-submitted room reviews and Las Vegas trip reports. Basically, the site provides everything you need to know to plan your Vegas poker trip, and I'm very happy about my new involvement with the site.
PokerTips.org: What's your opinion on the future of online poker in the U.S.?
Friedberg: I think online poker will eventually be legalized and regulated, and there will be a similar online poker boom to what we experienced in 2003-2006. It may take a while, and there might not be as many rakeback and affiliate deals as before, but it's too popular of a game, and too big of a business to never come back.
PokerTips.org: How would you speculate the Full Tilt fiasco will play out from here?
Friedberg: My sense is that Full Tilt will eventually be bought out by some investors that are willing to pay out the $150 million owed to American players and try to rebuild the trust and equity in the FTP brand. I honestly believe the same will happen with UB, despite everyone else's pessimism. In the case of FTP, $150 million is a small price to pay given the upside opportunity. UB is even a smaller price to pay, which is why I think it will also get purchased and eventually pay everyone out.
PokerTips.org: Finally, what are some tips you might have for our readers hoping to make a trip to Vegas to play some poker?
Friedberg: Well, my first tip would be to visit AllVegasPoker to find out which poker room is best suited for your interests! Contrary to what some people think, Vegas can actually be a very cheap vacation. Airlines always offer discounted rates to Vegas, there are plenty of hotels that offer cheap and clean rooms, and no shortage of inexpensive food options. Plus, the poker games are amazing at every casino. So check out AVP, save up a few bucks, and come jump in some of the best poker games in the world on the Las Vegas Strip!