Throughout the year BLUFF.com brings the 2015 Online Player of the Year races for New Jersey and Nevada front and center with features on the players competing for top honor in online poker in the United States. Next up is Jason “JayRiv22″ Rivkin.
Over the last two weeks of BLUFF.com’s Sunday Majors and OPOY coverage there’s been one name on nearly every headline, as “smaulerg” has used big weekend scores to climb to the top of the most recent New Jersey OPOY rankings, putting a new player on the top of that list for the first time in 2015.
That same two week period has also changed the landscape of the entire rankings with one player vaulting from outside the top twenty into the top three, potentially changing how people view this OPOY race as Jason “JayRiv22″ Rivkin is the only “non-professsional” player even near the top five.
That’s said with a grain of salt as Rivkin’s live tournament resume shows over sixty rated results totaling over $200,000 in career earnings with the majority of those coming from 2011-2013 when Jason and his brother Eric started playing full time after graduating from Rutgers University as they saw poker as a better alternative than a less than ideal job market in 2010.
That two year stretch saw both Rivkin brothers make numerous “close calls” on the tournament circuit, with Jason notching two top twelve finishes at the 2013 WSOP, after starting that year with his first two major tournament victories, claiming trophies at both the Borgata Winter Poker Open and the inaugural Parx Big Stax series, where he’d make close to a $75,000 score.
But, Jason’s life has changed since then as he’s taken a step away from the tournament circuit grind to enroll in a full-time Monmouth University MBA program and is working towards his degree saying that “poker is my past and not necessarily my future”.
Rivkin and his girlfriend, Stephanie Hubbard who also has an extensive tournament resume bolstered by a deep run in this past weekend’s massive opening Foxwoods Poker Classic event, both now have more of a “career oriented future” but the convenience of NJ online poker has helped them continue to play the game high level as they still try to attend the bigger events on the regional circuit.
With busy work and job schedules, coupled with many other real world distractions, the majority of online player pools are made up of players just like Rivkin, while most of his competitors in the OPOY race are playing every day and night, he’s limited in his tournament volume as he can only play in his down time making what he’s done through the first three months of 2015 even that much more impressive.
The daily majors on weeknights seem to be where Rivkin has done most of his damage this year, as he’s notched five $10,000 guaranteed final tables through the last month and a half, including an outright win for just shy of a $3,500 score, clearly showing that he has not lost a step since stepping away from the game full-time.
While his chances to take down the 2015 NJ OPOY title might not be attainable as the other players in the race will eventually just have more opportunities at points and scores throughout the year, his fast start to the year has turned this OPOY race for the better, as “regular” players can now see that a spot on the rankings and even near the top of the list, is attainable even if your not playing every day.
If Rivkin can keep this pace into the summer, he could make himself a serious threat to do more than contend, as it will be the first summer he’s not going to attend the WSOP as he says he “needs to balance my quest for a bracelet with other life obligations”. That missed time in Las Vegas will certainly be a double edged sword as he’ll pass on what has become a summer tradition in his life, but it could provide him the perfect opportunity to pull ahead and away from the rest of this OPOY field.
Win, lose or draw, Rivkin is going to use the remainder of this year’s OPOY race as as a way to “stay connected to the poker community” and as a competition amongst his friends, as some of his best friends in the game are New Jersey online regulars “AnthonyMason” and “MikeyCasino” two players that will certainly push Jason, potentially to New Jersey’s highest online honor.
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