Home I Poker I Espen Uhlen Jørstad: “I was in the right place at the right time”
Our sister site, VIP-Grinders.com, met up with poker pro and former eSports player Espen Uhlen Jørstad for an interview.
VIP-Grinders.com: First of all thank you very much for taking the time. Would you please introduce yourself for the people who don’t know you yet.
Espen Uhlen Jørstad: My name is Espen Uhlen Jørstad, 29 years old from Norway and currently living in Tallinn. I am a Unibet Ambassador and play poker full-time.
VG: Nowadays it is very difficult to become a sponsored poker pro. Can you please explain how you got your sponsorship with Unibet?
EUJ: I was very lucky, to be honest, and just in the right place at the right time. I messaged Unibet, right before I started streaming on Twitch, as I was playing all my volume on Unibet anyway.
I sent them a short email including my biography and my plans for streaming, etc. This was at the time when they were just about to get their Ambassador Team together. They answered that they will check out my stream. That’s what they did, they liked the stream and here we are.
VG: Not only they like it, in my opinion it is one of the best cash game streams out there. However, more attention and views on Twitch get tournaments. What made you decide to stream cash games?
EUJ: I’ve been mostly playing cash games and Heads-Up cash games. Then I saw that almost nobody was streaming cash games, at least not on any decent stakes, so I thought there was potentially a market gap there, which I might be able to fill.
That’s what made me stream cash games and I think I will keep it that way, although the viewership is slightly lower than for tournament streams.
VG: I read that you were an overweight WoW Slob when you were younger, while today you are a fit and good-looking man. When did this incredible transformation start and was there a special reason for it?
EUJ: I basically made a decision as I was very self-conscious and insecure about my weight. I got called into the army, and I figured it was a good spot to actually put in some effort to improve my health/appearance/confidence, etc.
During that year I lost about 18 kgs, and realized that exercising and eating healthy was actually not all that horrible.
VG: Do you benefit as a poker player from your World of Warcraft background?
EUJ: I wouldn’t say World of Warcraft specifically, but before WoW I also played a lot of Warcraft 3 and DotA.
We saw that a lot of people with a Warcraft 3 or StarCraft background transitioned to become very good poker players. I think that it’s pretty logical actually, as many of the skills they aquired playing WC3/SC were somewhat transferrable to poker.
I think the main two skills were logical problem solving and making a lot of decisions in a short amount of time. Especially being able to make many decisions quickly in WC3 transferred nicely to multitabling poker online. Playing more tables meant you got to play more hands per hour, and more hands per hour meant a steeper learning curve.
VG: What are you doing to improve your game and what helped you most to get to the level you are at today?
EUJ: Back in the days I read all the books such as “Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky or “Super System 2” by Doyle Brunson and others. In addition to that, I joined all the poker training sites like DeucesCracked, StoxPoker, CardRunners, etc. I am still member of a training site today.
I never got poker coaching in a formal sense, I just had a lot of friends who were playing poker, so I discussed a lot with them over the years.
VG: Can you recommend one of the newer poker books and if so, which one is it?
EUJ: I read a lot of books this year, not so many poker specific ones though, but I am reading “No-Limit Hold ’em For Advanced Players” by Matthew Janda and I think this one is really good.
VG: You won “Rising Star” at the Spirit of Poker Awards here. How do you feel about it?
EUJ: I was humbled to even be nominated, to be honest. And coming out ahead vs Parker “Tonkaaaap” Talbot and some other very tough competitors was definitely a surprise.
I can’t really say that I see myself as a “Rising Star”, but I was honored to take it down! I made sure as I received the trophy to give a quick shoutout to my mom for voting on her phone, her iPad, her laptop, and her work computer. Thx mom!
VG: You recently moved from sunny Malta to freezing Tallinn. Can you please compare the two places from the perspective of a professional poker player?
EUJ: Well it all began with me checking my schedule, and realizing that I would only be home for three weeks in total out of the last three months of the year. As the rent in Malta was pretty steep I decided I would be homeless for the rest of the year, and just go from event to event and hotel to hotel.
Then one of my fellow Unibet Ambassadors (Rauno “Estonian Jesus” Tahvonen) told me that he was moving in with a friend of his in Tallinn, and that there was room for one more guy in there.
They were both super motivated to study and play a lot, and they were both eating healthy, practicing meditation, and overall doing a lot of the same stuff that I was trying to do. As such I figured that even though I was travelling a lot for the remainder of 2017, it would be a really nice duo to live with for 2018!
VG: Is there anything you always wanted to do in your life, which you haven’t done yet and if so, what is it?
EUJ: Nothing specific comes to mind, but more generally I would say confidence building and being more appreciative would be the two main things outside of poker. To improve in these areas I have been doing stuff like exercising, eating healthy, practicing meditation and “journaling”.
I find that the journal especially helps me out with being more appreciative. I mean, it sounds really “woo woo”/spiritual/hippie movement/whatever, but I really think most of us just plow through our days without ever sitting down to reflect on how good we really have it, at least I know I used to.
It’s a really quick and simple exercise, as I write down 3 things every morning that I am grateful for, aswell as 3 things I will do to make that day great. In the evening I’ll write down 3 «amazing things» that happened that day, as well as how I could have made that day better.
VG: Where and what will we be seeing from you in the coming months?
EUJ: For the last couple of months of 2017 it will be pretty hectic with travelling and live stops. I’ll be doing Cash Game Festival (Tallinn) -> Norwegian Championships of Poker (Oslo) -> Unibet Open (Bucharest) -> Unibet UK Poker Tour (Manchester) -> Nordic Championships of Poker (Prague). After Prague I’ll head home to Norway to spent a couple of quality weeks with friends and family.
In 2018 the plan is to cut down a lot on the travelling and study more, grind more, and basically do whatever I can to become an endboss. I’ll also hit the Twitch grind pretty hard again!
If you want to join me on this journey, you can follow along here:
VG: Thank you very much for the interview!
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