WSOP Main Event – Jesse Sylvia: Leader of the Pack

As more than 6,000 players converged on the tables of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event on July 7th, many of them being veteran poker pros with years of experience beneath their belts, the last thing anyone expected was for a complete unknown to be sitting in the best seat in the house when July’s action was all said and done. That’s exactly where Jesse Sylvia has landed himself, destined for seat 6 in the conclusion of the WSOP Main Event as the dominant chip leader going into the final table.

The question most poker fans are asking themselves is simply: Who is Jesse Sylvia?

Jesse Sylvia is a 24 year old poker player with only four major live tournament results under his belt, a grand total of $23k combined since 2008. He has a lot more experience playing online poker, however; his largest cash being a staggering $100,000 from a three-way split in a big Sunday tourney. Sylvia has a lot of cash game experience on the virtual felt as well, but openly admits that his lack of bankroll management is his biggest downfall.

Sylvia grew up on the little island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. With a creative genius for a mother and a scientific engineer for a father, Jesse had quite the upbringing, and judging by his mental capabilities and personality, took in a lot of qualities from both sides. He is a very down to earth young man, believing that happiness is the most important goal in life, and that joy is achieved through positive interactions with others much more than monetary gain.

Although his biggest interest growing up was to become an inventor, Jesse Sylvia became heavily involved in online poker games when he was attending college at Cal Lutheran University. His biggest win – the $100k three-way split mentioned above – was the highlight of his career; a turning point in his life where he decided to forgo traditional employment and play poker professionally.

It wasn’t long, about six months, before his bankroll dwindled back down to a mere $10,000. While on break from college, back home in Martha’s Vineyard, Sylvia came to the realization that a professional poker career was not for him. Sylvia was determined to continue playing poker, but would pursue a traditional professional career along the way. Now – knowing he will have more than enough money to do it when the 2012 WSOP Main Event concludes in October – Sylvia has decided to move to Los Angeles to go to film school.

As mentioned before, Sylvia has cashed in four major live poker tournaments. The first was his largest win coming into the 2012 WSOP, pocketing $15,078 for a 2nd place finish in a $200 NL Hold’em event at the 2008 Mega Stack Series. In 2011, Jesse cashed in his only WSOP event, earning $2,954 at 175th place in a $1,500 NL Hold’em 6-Handed event.

Sylvia’s other two cashes came in 2012. The first was a WSOP Circuit event at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas where he finished 5th for $4,290. The second was in May at the WPT’s Five Star World Poker Classic, coming in 8th in Event #3, $1,000 NL Hold’em, barely profiting at $1,455.

In an interview with, Jesse Sylvia was asked what he hopes to get out of his October Nine experience. Sylvia gave it some thought and responded that he believes it is “the people in your life that make you rich”. While the money is great, he is playing more for the glory of it all. Sylvia is the current chip leader of the famed October Nine, going into the final table of the 2012 WSOP Main Event with a stack of 43,875,000.

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