Jesse Lonis Opens Up About Life and Poker on 888Ride

Jesse Lonis

5 minutes

Last Updated: July 7, 2024

888poker’s David Tuchman has been keeping busy with new editions of the popular 888Ride podcast and has recently taken a few poker greats on a ride around Las Vegas during the 2024 WSOP.

Joining 888Ride for almost a full hour was Jesse Lonis, an up-and-coming tournament crusher who has been at the very top of the charts for the last few years after having only a few thousand dollars to his name a few years ago.

In the interview, Jesse talked about his upbringing, the way he came into poker, and the motivations and methods that brought him to the very top of the poker world.

When he was interviewed a few days ago, Jesse sat at the number one spot of the overall GPI rankings, a massive feat for a player whose results did not come mainly from super high-roller tournaments.

Check out the full 888Ride episode with Jesse Lonis below or keep reading to find out more about Jesse and the main talking points from the interview.

Who Is Jesse Lonis?

Although Jesse Lonis has been in the poker media quite a bit lately, many poker fans probably still don’t know his name, as he only came up over the last few years.

His first live poker results date back only to 2018 when he was playing small buyin events at various poker festivals around the US without any significant scores.

A number of relatively small results that Jesse discusses in his interview helped him build a bankroll and learn how to beat poker tournaments. Still, it wasn’t until January 2021 that he would genuinely start a career as a professional poker player.

A fifth-place finish at the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open in Hollywood gave Jesse his first 6-figure score, worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars, and the confidence he needed to keep going in poker.

Jesse Lonis at the WSOP

Lonis moved to Las Vegas with his family and started grinding the tournament circuit that year, nearly final tabling the WSOP Main Event in 2021 as well.

Millions of dollars in cashes and countless titles later, Jesse climbed to the very top of the GPI ratings, ahead of the high rollers and other tournament crushers alike, having dominated the tournament poker scene over the last two years.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, as the 888Ride interview gave us a deep insight into Jesse’s youth and years of emotional and economic turmoil he had to endure.

Difficult Childhood Built Jesse’s Spirit

While Jesse Lonis might be at the top of the poker world today, his childhood was far less glamorous, as he and his siblings faced lots of hardships.

At a young age, Jesse lost the presence of both his parents, who were alcohol addicts, as his father ended up in prison and his mother was not able to take care of him and his two siblings.

Instead, the children ended up growing up in New York with their grandmother while their father was in prison in Alaska, and their mother lived in upstate New York but was unable to take care of her family.

17-year-old Jesse Lonis

Jesse revealed all the details of these difficult years in his 888Ride interview but also explained how living a life this way at an early age ended up turning him into the person he is today.

What’s more, Lonis was first introduced to gambling in those years, as his grandmother loved to gamble for entertainment and would occasionally take him to Atlantic City, where he encountered slots, poker, and other gambling games for the first time.

Jesse learned how to play poker with his grandma as well, as he would take over for her playing on Full Tilt Poker and other online poker platforms of the time for the lowest of stakes.

What Made Jesse So Good?

The 888Ride interview with Jesse Lonis started with him and Tuck discussing how he reached the top of the GPI rankings and what distinguishes him from the thousands of other poker players competing.

It is well known that Jesse is not you classic GTO poker player, and while he said he does understand the basics of theory, he also confirmed this is not the primary driver of his game.

Instead, the young crusher explained that he was always a pretty good judge of character and solid at understanding why people do the things they do, which is a powerful skill to have at the poker table.

Jesse Lonis with his trophies

Whether he plays against top tournament pros or uncles and aunts, Jesse says he is able to exploit their tendencies and make the right plays to maximize his profits.

Indeed, we have seen Lonis crush both the high rollers with some of the best players in the world and various WPT, WSOP, and other tournaments whose fields are made up of thousands of recreational players and pros alike.

In all of these, Lonis has been able to maneuver and get to the finish line more often than others, much thanks to his willingness to adapt, play “small ball” to avoid coolers early on, and make the folds needed to avoid busting his stack.

What’s Next for Jesse Lonis?

As usual, David ended the interview by asking Jesse what was next, both in poker and in his personal life, and his answers definitely did not disappoint.

Jesse said that he wants to be the best father he can be on a personal level and that he has some pretty big goals professionally.

This includes staying at the top of the GPI rankings as long as possible, becoming a legendary poker player, and even looking to break Phil Hellmuth’s WSOP bracelets record, which currently stands at 17.

Jesse is a long way from breaking any such records, but still very young, infinitely motivated, and clearly extremely talented, he may have what it takes to get there someday.

One thing is for sure: we will see a lot more of Jesse Lonis at major poker tournament stops in the coming years, and many more titles and millions of dollars going his way.

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