Jens Kyllönen is known online as “Jeans89” and is widely regarded as one of the top Pot-limit Omaha players in the world. Jens joined SIG this summer as a Trading Intern in our Bala Cynwyd office. He was nice enough to answer a few questions and provide insights into one of the biggest hands he ever played.
What is your favorite type of poker to play and why?
Pot-limit Omaha. The highest stakes online games running were Pot-limit Omaha most of the time so that’s where it was possible to make the most money. The equities run closer, which often leads to bigger pots and more all-ins. Recreational players tend to like the game because it’s easier for them to get lucky and win big, and therefore there are often more profitable tables running than in other games.
When you were moving up from lower limits, what skills do you think differentiated you from other players and allowed you to be successful?
It’s hard to point out any single skill. I was always exceptionally good at math in school and think I have strong logic and reasoning skills. However, the most important thing I’ve been good at is trying to understand my opponent and the way he/she is thinking…trying to figure out what he/she is trying to accomplish with his/her actions. Lastly, I’ve always been good at controlling my emotions and almost never tilt.
On average, when you sit down at your favorite game, where do you think you rank at that table?
Some years ago I felt like I was definitely in the top 3 best Pot-limit Omaha players in the world, if not the best. Nowadays, I’d still answer 1st on average, unless I’m sitting in really tough high-stakes online game.
What do you think is your biggest edge at your favorite game?
Once again it’d be tough to say one thing in particular. Probably my exploitative game, how far I’m willing to deviate from my standard strategy to maximally exploit the weaker players at my table
What was your daily routine when you were playing poker professionally?
My sleeping was definitely messed up. I’d usually wake up somewhere between 1-3 p.m. and go to bed at 3-6 a.m. I’d always open the computer and check what games are running first thing in the morning. I didn’t have any specific target hours I’d work. Depending on how good the games were, I might play even up to 20 hours straight. I played between somewhere 2000-2500 hours per year.
Which poker books or websites would you recommend to an aspiring poker player?
Especially for the big bet games, the problem with poker books are that the game is just evolving so rapidly. A five-year-old book might be very outdated. The best way to learn nowadays are poker training video sites like Run it Once. (Note: Jens has produced videos for this website in the past) You pay a monthly fee to get access to videos produced by pro players in which they record their play and explain their thought process. The Two Plus Two poker forum is also a great resource.
We teach poker as a tool to train our traders here at SIG. How do you think your poker background helped you during your trading internship?
It didn’t help too much in the beginning, but probably did a bit as we got further in mock trading and there started to be more things to consider. I feel like it would be helpful in the real trading.
What were your expectations coming into working at SIG and how was your experience different?
I was surprised about how nice and respectful the traders and superiors were. I had this image of the industry where that wouldn’t be the case. Even the owners/founders of the company talked to the interns and taught us, which was pretty cool.
How did you spend your free time living in Philadelphia?
SIG organized a lot of events and dinners, which were fun. My girlfriend moved in with me and stayed for a majority of my time here, so I spent a lot of time with her, trying out new restaurants and checking out tourist attractions. Also visited Atlantic City and New York since they are so close by.
What did you like best about working at SIG?
Probably the work atmosphere. The fact that it has been so easy to talk to the traders and ask questions about anything I’ve been wondering about and getting good answers.
How is the food in Philadelphia?
The STARR restaurants are great. Especially Buddakan and Parc.
Can you walk us through your thought process on an interesting hand you played?
Isildur1 (Hijack): $116,506.70
V. Wahlbeck (Cutoff): $12,479.24
Jeans89 (Button): $119,038.66
Ilari Fin (Small blind): $47,200
1-ronnyr3 (Big blind): $17,022.50
Isildur1 raises to $900, 1 fold, Jeans89 raises to $3,100, Ilari FIN calls $3,100, 1-ronnyr3 raises to $13,900, Isildur1 calls $13,900, Jeans89 raises to $59,000, Ilari FIN calls $44,100 more (all-in), 1-ronnyr3 calls $3,322.50 more (all-in), Isildur1 calls $59,000.
Flop: ($182,422.50) 8♠, A♠, J♠
Isildur1 checks, Jeans89 bets $60,038.66 (all-in), Isildur1 calls $57,506.70 (all-in)
Turn: ($297,435.90) Q♠
River: ($297,435.90) J♣
Ilari FIN shows 8♦6♥7♠5♠ (flush)
1-ronnyr3 shows 7♥A♣ 8♥Q♣ (two pair)
Isildur1 shows A♥T♠Q♥4♠ (flush)
Jeans89 shows A♦K♥J♥T♥ (full house)
Jeans89 wins $297,435.90
I will walk you through the second biggest pot of my career. Apparently only the biggest won pots are easily found on HighstakesDB and I lost the biggest pot I ever played, so you won’t be able to find it on the site. It’s not everyday you try to stick in 595 big blinds preflop with AKJT single suited to the king. To an inexperienced Pot-limit Omaha (PLO) player, the hand might look stronger than it is. It is actually around a top 10% hand.
Viktor “Isildur1” Blom is a very interesting player and a friend of mine. During the time this pot was played, he was one of the best heads-up No-limit Texas Hold’em players in the world and had very quickly gotten good at PLO, especially heads-up. He played a very loose and aggressive style which suited well for heads-up, but made him vulnerable in a ring game. He was also not very experienced at ring game PLO in 2012, while that was, and still is, my specialty. For this reason I was happy with the situation of us being so deep and I was actively looking for situations to play bigger pots against him in position.
Isildur1 opens in the hijack and I wake up with AdKhJhTh on the button. I think he is opening loose, around 40% of hands, when he should be opening closer to 20% in this situation. This is a pretty big deal, as my hand is coin flipping with 49.85% equity against a top 20% range while it is a 53.8% favorite against a top 40% range. Even though a top %-range doesn’t exactly describe Isildur1’s opening range here, it is close enough and gives a good idea of how well my hand is doing against his range. A 40% range includes way more hands that my AKJT dominates. Either calling or re-raising (3bet) here is fine. Normally I would lean towards calling (and would definitely do it against a 20% opening range), because I don’t push that much of an equity edge and this hand plays very poorly against a 4bet from any of the players remaining in the hand. Calling also adds some deception as this hand will hit the high boards hard which he doesn’t necessarily expect and I might be able to steal the pot on lower boards which I miss with this hand but he expects me to hit. However, here with us being so deep and the other reasons I mentioned earlier, I decided to go for the 3bet.
Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies also happens to be a really interesting player and a close friend of mine. I’d actually say Ilari and Viktor are probably the most entertaining online players in the world to follow and they both have a big fan base. Ilari had a reputation of being a very reckless and crazy player, an image which he was very good at using to his advantage. I knew him personally and knew this was not quite the case. His style was very loose and passiveish. He was a bit overoptimistic preflop and liked cold calling 3bets with not-so-good rundowns, even out of position.
Ilari FIN decides to cold call my 3bet in the small blind. Because of his $47,000 stack-size, this gives me some information. Generally in PLO, if you have aces and are very deep stacked, you do not always want to reraise preflop and turn your hand face-up, because this might put you in very bad situations after the flop. This however is not one of those cases, because by 4betting, Ilari FIN can raise up to $10,900 (this is pot-limit). If he does that and everyone folds to me and I call, there will be $23,000 in the pot and he will have $36,300 left in his stack to the flop. With this 1.6 stack-to-pot ratio (SPR), he will not be put in many difficult spots after the flop as he will just bet the pot on almost any flop and get it all-in. Therefore in this hand, I’d expect him to 4bet here with his aces and other very strong hands close to a 100% of the time. For this reason, now that he just cold calls, those hands are excluded from his range, which leaves him with mostly different kinds of rundowns. Against that range, my AKJT is ahead and I don’t need to be worried.
The action is on Ronny “1-ronnyr3” Kaiser, a very good player who was definitely one of the best during the time this hand was played. Now looking at the action from his perspective: Isildur1, a very loose player opens in the hijack. I 3bet on the button very deep, which I can do with a fairly wide range of hands in this situation. Ilari FIN cold calls in a situation where he would 4bet his strongest hands. 1-ronnyr3 is definitely good enough to recognize all this. In an ante game with this deep and aggressive players, his 85bb stack is actually a fairly short stack. In this situation, he can basically get his entire stack in with a 4bet. If he does that, what will usually happen is that Isildur1 will fold and I will go all-in to isolate Ilari FIN out of the pot and there will be a lot of dead money in the pot. For this reason, 1-ronnyr3 can 4bet here with a wider range than he normally would. For example, if he would have 50% equity against my hand, he would be very +ev with the dead money in the pot. I’d expect him to be 4betting here with somewhere around top 10% of hands. And so he decides to 4bet.
Probably the most surprising action of this hand is Isildur1 now cold calling the 4bet. If he had aces, he would definitely want to 5bet to get it heads-up against 1ronnyr3 with all the dead money in the pot, instead of letting me and Ilari FIN in the pot and having it go 4-way to the flop. Therefore, I mainly put him on a double-suited quality rundown, which my hand is slightly ahead of. And so the action is back to me. I’m not happy about 1-ronnyr3’s 4bet, and am definitely behind his range. Against top 10% of hands my hand has 44% equity. However already having $3,200 in the pot, with the pot odds I’m getting I can’t fold and am committed to at least calling. But can I do better than calling? Basically we can ignore 1-ronnyr3 in this consideration, since we can consider him all-in and our expected value doesn’t change against him whether we just call or raise. Against Ilari FIN we certainly do better raising. If we just call, he gets good pot odds to call with a likely rundown which has good playability postflop in a multiway pot. If we raise, we either force him to fold, or call himself all-in knowing he is slightly behind. Against Isildur1 I would argue the same. We know we are slightly ahead of him right now. His likely double-suited rundown will play very well postflop where he will usually either hit the flop hard or miss it and be able to make good decisions against me with what would be about a SPR of 2. If I instead 5bet, I expect him to never fold, but being slightly ahead in equity, I push a thin equity edge in what will be our big sidepot and secondly take away almost all of his postflop playability, as I can get in $59,000 now and make the stack-to-pot ratio very low on the flop.
I go for the 5bet, Ilari FIN calls himself all-in, and Isildur1 calls. We go to the flop, the pot is $182,000 and we have $57,500 effective stacks behind. With such a low SPR, the flop is a no-brainer shove and I just pray he didn’t get lucky to hit the flush. Unfortunately he did, but I manage to hit the full house. Easy game.
Looking at the hands at showdown, I don’t like Ilari FINs original cold call, and probably not the second call either where he calls himself all-in, but these aren’t big mistakes ev-wise. I think 1-ronnyr3’s 4bet is a close one with AQ87ds, but I think it’s +ev and like it. I don’t like Isildur1’s cold call to the 4bet at all with AQT4ds, and that is definitely the biggest mistake anyone made in this hand. I do however think that after considering that call a sunk cost, the second time around he has to call my 5bet to $59,000. Results wise, running through the equities, this was a very good situation for me, as my hand dominated 1-ronnyr3 and Isildur1. In the 4-way main pot I had 28.2% equity, Ilari FIN had 26.12%, 1-ronnyr3 had 22.94% and Isildur1 had 22.74%. In the huge side pot with Isildur1, I was a 55.59% favorite. It might not sound like much of an edge, but in PLO this is really good, as the equities run much closer than in many other games.