It would be hard, if not altogether incorrect, to say that Jordan Morgan's career as a professional poker player got off to a slow start. With over $800,000 in live tournament winnings in just two years of professional play, Morgan has become one of the most talked about "young guns" of the game. He received ample TV time for his runner-up finish to Alex Jacob at last year's United States Poker Championship (USPC) and his online screen name 'iMsoLucky0' has garnered a cult following.
Still, despite his tremendous success, as of two weeks ago Jordan was still without the one thing that often defines a tournament poker player's career: a first-place finish at a major live event. Well, you know what they say: the fourth time's a charm! After netting three career runner-up finishes, Morgan finally reeled in the big one, winning the World Series of Poker Circuit Event in Tunica, MS and a gold Circuit ring.
There were no TV crews, no fancy stage and no scantily clad women on hand to deliver the first-place prize money on a silver platter. Instead, just the final-table participants, a handful of their family members and friends, a small contingent of Harrah's employees and a few measly tournament reporters were there to witness Jordan Morgan take down his first major live title. Less than two weeks removed from that same final table, Morgan granted PokerNews an exclusive interview in which he told us about the win.
PokerNews: First off, congratulations again on your win in Tunica. Where does this one rank among your accomplishments in poker?
Jordan Morgan: This is definitely the number one accomplishment for me. This being my first live win and pushing me over the one million dollar cash mark really makes it special for me. I was definitely more excited just after this than I was after second at the USPC even though it was for about half the money.
PN: You've recorded three live second-place finishes early in your career – the biggest of those, of course, at the USPC. When your heads-up match against Terry Hawkins began, he had a slight chip advantage over you. Did the thought of another bittersweet runner-up finish ever cross your mind?
JM: Honestly, no it didn't. I really felt like I was in the zone and I was so focused that all that was going through my mind was playing the best poker possible against Terry.
PN: What stands out about this heads-up match (compared to those past) that led to your dominating win?
JM: In two of my three runner-ups I was at a huge chip disadvantage versus a really good player (Daniel Alaei and Alex Jacob) and both of those felt hopeless. What was so different about this one, however, is that I have learned how to keep my focus so much more at the table. During my first few heads-up battles I really let the pressure get to me somewhat and I could feel the money and ring or whatever weighing on my head. Against Terry I was just focused on playing.
PN: At the final table, it seemed as though you and Glyn Banks shared a mutual respect for each other's game, yet the two of you seemed to butt heads quite often. How come?
JM: Well, at any final table you can try to avoid someone, but eventually you are going to clash. Glyn was sitting on my left and he knew how to play aggressively in position. He was picking his spots well and picking on me early, but unfortunately for him after that he ran into a few big hands of mine. One hand I picked up black kings and limp-raised versus him and he folded jacks face up. Overall I was very impressed with his play.
PN: Was there a significant hand in the tournament after which you felt like you were going to take it down?
JM: Definitely when I hit the full house versus Brian's straight. Having a commanding chip lead at that table really made it feel like the tournament was over in my mind. [The hand in detail: On a board showing , Morgan called Brian Rutland's all-in bet holding , only to see that he was drawing to four outs against Rutland's nut Broadway straight. A miracle rolled off on the turn, which gave Morgan the checkmark for the hand and a dominating chip lead.]
PN: [There was one hand] when you guys were either two- or three-handed. The dealer accidentally exposed one of your cards and dealt you a new one. You opened with a raise and took down the blinds and antes. As you returned the cards to the dealer, you smiled and said something to him about your hand. There was one ace – what was the other card and what was it you said to the dealer?
JM: The exposed card was a queen and it was replaced with an ace. My other card was a five or a six, I think, and I was just being congenial with the dealer and said something like, "Thanks for replacing it with an ace," I think.
PN: After talking to your mom during Tunica week, [is she] your biggest fan?
JM: There is no question she is definitely fan #1.
PN: When asked about her thoughts of your decision to pursue a career as a professional poker player, her response was, "His dad and I aren't real thrilled about him quitting college, but how can you argue with his success?" How did you go about breaking the news to them?
JM: It wasn't really an abrupt decision. I've always had a healthy relationship with my parents and they knew about all the success I was having with poker. I had also shown them statistics and explained exactly what I knew I was capable of. When the time came that it no longer made sense for me to be in school, I think they understood it almost as much as I did.
PN: Do you ever see yourself going back to school to get that degree?
JM: It is definitely possible. I'm sure it wouldn't be in what I started in (Physics), but I can definitely see myself going back. I have a passion for football and it has always been somewhat of a dream of mine to coach football. I could see myself pursuing that after retiring from poker and having a child or two.
PN: What did it mean to have your parents there to witness your first major live win?
JM: It was great. I was basically all alone at the USPC and having family/non-poker friends be there for my first win made it even more special. I only wish my wife could have been there, too.
PN: Now that you've got that first big one under your belt, is there one tournament in particular you'd most like to take down for win number two?
JM: That one is easy: Definitely any WSOP bracelet event.