EPT8 Campione: It's in the bag for Faraz Jaka


The impeccably dressed Faraz Jaka is among the Day 1B field. What with his violet check shirt, neat trousers and elegant shoes, Jaka single-handedly raises the bar on sartorial standards among poker players, with the possible exception of that guy in the blue sequined hat and orthopaedic shoes.

Even more incredible is that this veneer is put together using the contents of a suitcase and nothing else, for Jaka is among the growing group of players living out of a bag as they travel the world playing poker and making a living.

"When I graduated university I was in Europe for about a year and a half and back in the states every two months," said Jaka. "I was homeless, just travelling to EPT events, and it was amazing. But the last four or five months started getting very draining. So I moved back to the US and started playing WPTs. It was a lot easier to have a good routine, eat healthily and work out. But then I got real sick of being normal."

Sick of being normal is how Jaka describes living in permanent fear of running out of fresh unmentionables. But it's a lifestyle he's happily embraced, forgoing a permanent address, subscriptions to shopping magazines and neighbourhood watch meetings in favour of a hotel key card, replaceable neighbours and a turn down service.

It's all clean!: Faraz Jaka

"So now I'm back on the road. I figured the older I get I'm going to need to be a little more settled but I go through these phases. I didn't' plan on doing this but I got the bug and then all of a sudden boom, I'm on the road."

But what of the practicalities? Again, it's difficult to get past the laundry issue.

"Laundry' is always a big problem but you know, when you're in major cities you can go find self-service place where you put a few coins in," said Jaka with the level headed logic of an urban adventurer.

"I've even had times where I've grabbed detergent and literally put detergent and water in the tub or in the sink and cleaned my clothes. It works! Who the hell cares?!

Jaka is not alone in this department. EPT winner Kevin MacPhee is of the suitcase kind, in a state of permanent travel, and doing his best to survive it.

"I don't really have time to do laundry so I have laundry detergent in my toiletries bag," admits MacPhee. "So if I get in a pinch and need to do some underwear or socks of something like that...

MacPhee has another ingenious solution. "For my EPT packages I just wear the shirts until they stink and then throw them away. Whenever I go to a new city I'm obsessed with doing laundry. It's like a cleansing experience because it's so hard to do all the time, and it's so expensive at hotels, so you definitely don't do that."

Living out of a bag also means ditching all that's not essential. No books, no picture frames or lampshades. It all has to fit in the bag.

"My laptop is the main thing I have," said Jaka. "I also have two start-ups so that's probably the biggest challenge; trying to play a part in my business with my partners. We're on backwards hours so a lot of times I'm getting up in the middle of the night to do a business call, or something like that. It's fun, it's exciting."

Can the suitcase life last forever? Perhaps poker players, and characters in thoughtful novels from the 1960s, are the exceptions. There's always another tournament to play, somewhere else to go.

"I've no idea when I'm going back to one place," said Jaka. "I have my travel schedule planned from now to the end of the World Series. I plan my whole year to the end of the World Series, that's such an intense month and things can change for you a lot, but I plan my year up to it."

So while the business can be run from the other side of the world, and while someone will still deal cards to him in the casinos of Europe Jaka will find his own peculiar version of contentment with a laptop, a suitcase and a boarding pass. And for those thinking of ditching a permanent address in favour of the road, Jaka's advice is to ditch any notion of luxury and get stuck in.

"It's really fun to see the non-touristy side of cities, what the real culture is like. Go out and interact with people and meet locals. That's how you get to have a lot of fun."

Getting outside and meeting people? Sounds like a big ask of some poker players. Jaka though will be leading by example.

Tournament snapshot
Level 7: blinds 250-500, ante 50
Players: 270 of 391

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Campione