Interview: Jon Aguiar
Hometown: Boston, MA
Place of Residence: L.A., Las Vegas, Toronto, Playa del Carmen
Best Known For: Being outspoken against injustices and inefficiencies in the poker world.
This week, Jon Aguiar (FatalError) spoke with us about his poker career and reputation for speaking out in times of controversy in the poker world. Aguiar may have a few enemies in poker, but there's no denying that he is usually on the right side of each issue he champions.
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PokerTips.org: When and how did you first get involved in poker?
Aguiar: I learned from some 21 year old ex-junior hockey players in my freshman dorm in college, we played penny dealers choice games with some dumb luck and weird stuff mixed in. I was the first one to buy a few racks of cheap chips online and they had a table. We used to watch rounders and play in "carpy" and "lucky's" room which smelled of drying sweaty hockey equipment and used dip containers and was decorated in newspaper clippings of them fighting on the ice back in Canadian juniors. Carpy showed me how to get a free 5$ from pokeroom.com and after losing it a few times deposited 20$ and never looked back. From there I graduated to the MIT game that was eventually renamed the "river street game" for the street in Cambridge, MA it started out on, met some great players and we moved to Vegas after UIGEA. The rest is history.
You have a reputation for being outspoken about controversies in the poker world. What drives you to speak your mind so often?
I just stopped caring, so many people care about their reputations so much they don't say things that might be wrong or displeasing to others even when they are generally in the best interest of everyone to be said and amplified by others. There's a lackadaisical attitude amongst people that somehow lots of scamming, stealing, and lying are just a thing in the poker world and they don't have to be. I don't have a deal or generally care about getting one, it's probably cost me a lot of money in equity unless some site that I actually trust decides that the guy who never stops complaining might actually be a plus for them (assuming they respond to my complaints themselves!). Lots of people who wear patches, own/rep media publications, or are in similar situations to not be taking shots at others can't say what I say but want to, and some taken the time to tell me just that which makes me more confident in my decision to behave in such an outspoken manner.
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about and working on various public viewpoints you take or do they come to you pretty quickly?
I think most of my viewpoints are based in incredibly simple to get to logically so a lot of them are just "fist pump" responses. That's the frustrating part about a lot of the dumb shit you see today, it's not even that difficult to logic out the correct or best decision making path without ever engaging in trial and error but people in positions of power fail at it over and over.
Have you ever been made to feel threatened or targeted for something you've said?
All the time, but poker players are really nearly all complete bitches when it comes down to it. Maybe someone will actually take a shot at me someday but it's mostly irrational people who get infuriated when you shut them down by stating "you are incorrect because of X, Y, and Z" and their only way to respond is some abstract threat of violence or to talk shit about you to others and try to negate the validity of your logic by attacking your character.
You recently started a podcast with friend and fellow poker pro J.C. Alvarado called Occupy Poker. What are your objectives with that project?
Easy question! we want to give people a real insight into poker players lives and let them get to hear some stories that JC and I can get out of our friends that any other poker podcast can't, because we just know these people so well and have long established relationships with them our conversations will be more organic and exciting for the "outsider".
If you were suddenly hired as Annie Duke's public relations manager, what advice would you give her on how to handle the outstanding freeroll money promised to members of the Epic Poker League?
Epic is obviously never returning so I'd put together a panel of three well respected math minds in poker to work out the free roll equity of each player in the league and pay them that amount of money +10% or some similar penalty. For the final $400k owed in Event #4, the players who have played previous Epic main events would receive either ?, ?, or full credit depending on how many events they played and a proportional amount of the $400k based on their previous participation vs. other qualified players.
Obviously this is all moot as Annie and Epic will never make good on these debts and Annie, as with UB, actually believes she has no actual culpability in the matter.
What is something you've been wrong about in poker before?
Media reported a discrepancy of a large amount of chips in the PCA between days 5 and the final table which for a while seemed to be some sort of serious error by the staff that was being swept under the rug, it turned out pokerstars has not put out chips for players who didn't attend which had less chips in play than # of entrants and the clock showed. This turned out to be a much smaller issue than i made it out to be as it only resulted in an incorrect reported avg stack.
Who are some of your personal heroes?
Haralabob, Matt Savage, Lee Jones
Do you feel affected by people who criticize you for not being more accepting of the status quo? What's your strategy for handling criticism?
Nope! People don't like what they don't understand, that's a fact of life
How do you see the future of online poker in the U.S. from both a personal and general standpoint?
I feel like speculating on it is ok if you're preparing yourself for various scenarios in terms of managing your life, but the US government is such a shit show who knows what will ever happen. Personally being forced to leave the country eight months a year is more of a gift than a penalty for me.
Finally, do you see yourself being involved in the poker world indefinitely or are there other interests on the horizon?
I'm a sailboat, just going where the wind takes me.