– General Introduction –
Jason Koon is an American professional poker player. He was born on August 14th, 1985 in Weston, West Virginia.
Coming from an online poker background, now he regularly plays the biggest high rollers, be it Triton tournaments, Poker Masters, or any other huge buy-in events. He’s also appeared on PokerGO’s revived version of the classic poker show Poker After Dark where he played in a $300/$600 NLHE-PLO mixed cash game.
Koon cashed in a number of major Short Deck Hold’em tournaments, even though that game is very new to European and American players. He’s won one WSOP gold bracelet so far and is the global ambassador for Natural8-GGNetwork.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2006: He starts playing online poker.
- 2009: He wins a SCOOP tournament for $302,000 on PokerStars.
- 2011: He finishes second out of an 11,000-player field in an FTOPS event on Full Tilt. Thanks to a heads-up deal he made, however, he took the most money out of the prize pool, $458,550.
- 2016: He wins the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open for $1 million.
- 2018: He wins a $100K Aria High Roller and a $HK1,000,000 Triton Short Deck High Roller event within the same month for a combined $4.6 million.
- 2021: He wins his first WSOP gold bracelet after finishing first in the $25,000 Heads-Up NLHE Championship event for $243,981.
– Jason Koon’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Koon got into poker completely by accident while studying business administration and finance at the West Virginia Wesleyan College. While recovering from an injury, a friend of his introduced him to Texas Hold’em to pass time, even though Koon had no interest in cards at all before. He quickly found out he had a knack for the game and opened an account under the screen name JAKoon1985 on PokerStars. He started off playing small buy-in online MTT’s and heads-up Sit&Go’s.
He first made news in the online poker world when he took down the $2,150 NLHE SCOOP event in 2009. He earned $302,000 for that victory.
→ Live Tournaments ←
Jason Koon is one of the most successful live tournament players in poker history. Currently, as of the time of writing this article, he’s 8th on Hendon’s all-time money list. He’s amassed $34.1 million in tournament earnings over the course of his career. That sum comes from 154 different cashes over 13 years.
The first result on his page is a 17th place finish from a $1,000 tournament at the Deep Stack Extravaganza III from 2008. His first 6-figure cash is from a $10K event at the Festa Al Lago in 2010 where he came in 4th for $225,000.
Koon’s been focusing on high roller tournaments since 2016. These are super high buy-in, small-field tourneys with usually the poker world’s very best in the field. He often plays the Triton series’ events. He finished 5th the HK$2,000,000 Triton Main Event held in Jeju, South Korea in 2018 – he pocketed $1.079 million (HK$8.47 million) for that performance. Only a few days earlier, he came in 3rd in the Triton High Roller Series’s HK$500,000 Short Deck event for $462,586 (HK$3.630 million).
However, that is only the very end of the heater he had in 2018. In May, he won the Short Deck Triton Super High Roller tournament in Montenegro for $3.580 million, then went back to the US to win another high roller, the $100K event held at the Aria at the WPT Tournament of Champions Festival. His short deck championship title from Montenegro is his biggest single live cash to date.
Some of his other notable tournament scores include a 2016 victory at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open ($1,000,000); as well as an LA Poker Classic Turbo High Roller (2015; $436,344), and a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100K High Roller (2017; $1.650 million) championship title.
→ World Series of Poker ←
The first time Jason Koon bought in for WSOP tournaments was in 2009 – he ended up cashing twice that year. As of now, he has 55 WSOP cashes to his name for a combined $3.093 million.
He has won one bracelet so far. In October 2021, he finished first in the $25,000 Heads-Up NLHE Championship event for $243,981, after beating Gabor Szabo from Hungary in the final match-up for the title.
World Series of Poker Champion!
— GGPoker (@GGPoker) October 8, 2021
He came very close to taking down another heads-up WSOP event with a 2nd place finish in the $3,000 heads-up NLHE-PLO mixed event in 2012. He was defeated by Leif Force in the final duel that time. His biggest WSOP payday is $489,585 for 4th place in the $50K NLHE High Roller from 2021.
Koon spoke about the World Series in an interview where he explained he’s not willing to play every event just to chase bracelets. Rather, he only focuses on the high buy-in tournaments he normally plays outside the WSOP since those are more profitable for him. He’s planning on playing the Main Events and the high rollers, though, as well as the high stakes cash games that are running simultaneously with the WSOP events.
→ Live Cash Games ←
Although Koon is mostly known as a tournament player, he regularly plays in high stakes cash games as well – sometimes even on camera.
He was featured in Poker After Dark’s $300/$600 NLHE/PLO mixed cash game. There, he played against players such as Matt Berkey, Isaac Haxton and Doug Polk. Polk even made a video analyzing a hand they were both involved in on his popular YouTube channel.
This is how Koon himself once described how he feels about his tournament and cash game skills:
“I was looking at a vision board that I wrote in an early part of my poker career, and it said: ‘be able to beat the best cash games and the best tournaments in the world at some point’. I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I thought it was more of a pipe dream than something that could actually become true, and one day it just happened. It was a long road; it took a long time, a lot of work, and a lot of help from very talented people, but eventually I got there!”
→ Online Poker ←
Koon was a well known online poker player under the screen names JAKoon1985 on PokerStars and NovaSky on Full Tilt.
According to HighstakesDB, he overall lost money in high stakes cash games on Stars, around $14,000, playing NLHE. However, he saw undoubted success playing MTT’s online.
He won a $2,150 SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker) event for $302,000 in 2009. In 2011, playing in a Full Tilt Online Poker Series event, he came in 2nd out of no fewer than 11,343 players. Although he didn’t win the tournament he won the most money thanks to a heads-up deal he made – $458,550 to be exact.
Even though these days he almost exclusively plays small-field live tournaments, 11,000 is not the biggest field he beat in an online MTT. In 2015, he finished 3rd after 18 hours of play in a $100 SCOOP tourney that had over 22,000 entries. That way he turned his $100 into $110,820.
In January 2022, he took down the $25,500 Sunday Million Super High Roller on GGPoker, winning $339,257 after a heads-up deal.
→ Sponsorships ←
Jason Koon was a member of Team partypoker, a group of professional poker players who are signed to promote the online poker room between October 2017 and July 2021. He was a coach for Phil Galfond’s strategy site, RunItOnce. He’s also been picked to be an ambassador to the Triton high roller series in January 2019.
In October 2021, it was announced that he’s joining Natural-GGNetwork as a global ambassador to the brand.
→ Scandals ←
There really isn’t anything that can be dubbed “a scandal” involving Jason Koon. So, here are a few interesting facts about him instead.
If someone’s looking for stories that are mainly associated with him, two things come to mind. First, people like to point out how much effort he puts into keeping his body fit at all times. Second, how quickly he adopted Short Deck Poker, a new variation of Texas Hold’em that came from the Asian high stakes cash game community. In this game, the cards 2’s through 5’s are removed from the deck.
He won the HK$1,000,000 Short Deck Triton High Roller in Montenegro, finished 3rd in the HK$500,000 Short Deck event in Jeju, and cashed in the Short Deck event at the Poker Masters in 2018 – the year when big-name poker pros started playing 6+ poker for serious money. He also played in the Jeju super high stakes Short Deck cash game.