Jon Van Fleet has had one of the most successful online poker careers in history but it wasn’t always a smooth ride.
Van Fleet, who’s known online as “apestyles”, sat down with PokerListings.com to look back on the biggest challenges he faced over the last decade.
It’s a story that covers huge highs and low lows and takes Jon all over the world playing poker.
It’s also a story that has a happy ending, so far.
For the last four years Jon’s been focusing on putting down roots and getting more balance in his life and it’s been working.
Just two weeks before this interview Jon had the biggest online score of his life. He won the $1k Powerfest Main Event on partypoker for $153,000.
Watch the full video below to hear tons more and keep watching PokerListings.com for more original poker video.
Smooth Start to Poker Career
Van Fleet first started playing poker right around the time Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003. He was going to school at Texas Tech and played for fun with his classmates.
Over the next few years Jon started taking poker more and more seriously and went on a big run that built his initial bankroll.
“When I look back on my first results in tournament poker, when I didn’t even really know what I was doing, I had a period where I just won everything in a row.”
Jon said his roll went from $3,000 to $70,000 really fast.
“I remembered thinking, ‘Wow, you can really do this. I can play a game and make this my living’. It was really mind-blowing to me.”
Black Friday a Big Bump in the Road
Jon’s career took off and until April 15, 2011 he was able to earn a living playing online in the US.
That all changed when the American government shut down online poker, freezing funds and forcing people like Jon to either find a new line or work, or move to a different country.
“Man, my heart just droppped,” said Van Fleet.
“I couldn’t believe it. I knew they had banned banks from doing transactions but I couldn’t believe it had all been shut down.
“Honestly what followed from that time period was bouncing around from place to place, uncertainty and I would say I went through a depressive period where I was drinking a lot and using a lot of drugs.”
Jon lived in Costa Rica and a few places in Europe before moving to Mexico, which is where things became unsustainable.
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