The Card Player Online Player of the Year ( OPOY ) award honors the best tournament player across the major online sites in a given calendar year. Previous winners have included greats such as Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron , Alexander “AJKHoosier1” Kamberis and Steve “gboro780” Gross . Here, we take a look at one of the current top contenders.In his short career, Jamie “TheCronic420” Rosen has managed to rack up nearly $2 million in winnings. The 25-year-old has come a long way during that six-year stretch, moving from a dorm-room poker junkie to one of the most respected players in the game today.Rosen has done well on the live circuit, making three World Series of Poker final tables, but the majority of his success has come online, where he is currently the 15th ranked player according to the OPOY standings. He is currently in the midst of his best year online, having earned over $600,000.In this interview, Rosen explains how he got his start in poker and why he’s so thankful for the flexibility his profession provides.Julio Rodriguez: Did you learn to play poker while living in Florida?Jamie Rosen: I actually didn’t get into poker until I moved away to Indiana for college. My uncle had graduated from Indiana University and he wanted me to do the same. So I left Boca Raton and enrolled with the hope of getting a degree in business administration.I moved into the dorms and met this kid who always had money and kept showing me these checks he was getting from playing online. Every other week he had a new check for $8,000 or $10,000, and being the impressionable youth that I was, I just wanted in.Then I did the dumbest thing ever and took out a $2,000 student loan in order to finance my first deposit online. I didn’t even bother to ask how to play. I just figured I would get money online and go from there. I took $500 and immediately started playing $5-$10 limit hold’em and blackjack simultaneously. Needless to say, I didn’t keep that money for very long. I didn’t know there were forums and books you could turn to learn the game. I honestly just assumed that online poker consisted of a bunch of old guys sitting behind a monitor, clicking buttons. I was completely naive.Julio Rodriguez: When did you start to win?Jamie Rosen: I ended up losing about $2,500 total before I made the switch to smaller tournaments. I was so bad when I started, that I told myself to just do the opposite of whatever I wanted to do and incredibly enough, that started to work. Slowly but surely, I started to win.I was still a bad player, but there were little instinctual things that I was doing to keep my head above water. One day, David “Bakes” Baker started berating me in the chat box and called me a fish for open shoving 40 “bb’s” (big blinds) in a tournament.Keep this in mind, I had no idea what a “bb” was. I literally googled it and from there I found a ton of help and was able to fill the gaping holes in my game. I started studying and then one week, it all clicked. I won three tournaments in a four-day span and all of a sudden, I had a $70,000 bankroll. A couple of buddies of mine, Ben “ShankingYou” Palmer and Adam “akat11” Katz convinced me to head to Borgata for a tournament and I ended up chopping it three-handed for about $65,000. So I guess I have to thank “Bakes” for berating me in the chat box and making me the player I am today.Julio Rodriguez: What did your parents think of the decision to play poker professionally?Jamie Rosen: I have the typical Jewish mother, who desperately wanted her son to become a doctor or a lawyer. At first, my parents were not happy about my decision to turn pro, but after seeing me on television a few times and seeing my name high up in the rankings, it’s like they’ve become big fans. They know that I can now make more money than a doctor while basically living a retired lifestyle. My mom is always bragging to her friends that I’m a successful player and my dad has actually gone so far as to rail me online and cheer from the chat box when I win a big pot. He’s even starting to learn all the lingo.Julio Rodriguez: What separates you from the average player?Jamie Rosen: The game has transitioned from preflop play to flop play. You just can’t survive today without being able to take flops. Part of that is always having a plan for each situation you can encounter. I don’t get stuck on any one outcome, I’m constantly reevaluating when the texture of the board changes and seeing what I can do to confuse my opponents. Once you can get to that level, your cards almost become meaningless and you’ll start to see yourself deeper and deeper in tournaments.All these other people play like robots. They are all on the same page. If you can somehow find a way to play differently, but still solidly, you have a chance to make some serious money.Julio Rodriguez: How have your new living arrangements changed your game?Jamie Rosen: I now live in Las Vegas with Steve “gboro780” Gross, Eric “blizair” Blair and Andy “BKice” Seth . I was a good player before moving in, but it’s incredible to think about what I’ve become since I started living with all of those guys. It’s not so much that I’ve been mimicking their playing style or changing my game, but it’s been so valuable to get other people’s perspective. It’s so important to be able to continue learning in this game, even from the fish at the table. If I see a sick line from someone who doesn’t even know what they are doing, I have no problem modifying it to work for me. I think that’s part of the reason why I’m having my best online year ever.Julio Rodriguez: You are currently in the running for Online Player of the Year honors despite taking a few months off earlier this year.Jamie Rosen: Shortly before the L.A. Poker Classic , I got the bad news that my brother had passed away. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. All of a sudden, poker didn’t matter anymore. Luckily, I have some great friends who were able to help me through it.Thank God that I have a profession that allows me to just take off and be with the people that matter the most to me. I don’t have a boss calling me in. I don’t have work that needs to be done by a deadline. Instead, I was able to get back to Florida and be the rock my parents needed me to be. I’m a son and a brother first and foremost. Poker takes a backseat to that.Julio Rodriguez: Did your brother play poker?Jamie Rosen: He loved it. I put him in a $500 tournament once in L.A. and he somehow managed to take fourth or fifth place. During his run to the final table, he managed to take out Men “The Master” Nguyen , which of course we all enjoyed seeing. Being able to share my passion with my brother like that was a very special moment for me.When you final table an event at Commerce, they give you a leather jacket, and because of that great memory, I made sure he was buried with it. His passing has put a lot of things in perspective for me. No matter how many times I get beat or how bad I’m running, I now know to shrug it off and make the most of the time I’m given in this life.
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