Poker Player, Coach Jade Lane Talks War and Black Friday

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Jade Lane

Jenny Woo had the opportunity to interview an American hero and poker player and coach, Jade Lane.


On April 22, 2004, shot twice, burned and bleeding, Jade Lane laid in the dirt near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Pat Tillman, a platoon mate, and former NFL safety for the Arizona Cardinals laid less than 50 meters from me—dead. The medevac helicopters hovered overhead, and Jade slipped in and out of shock and consciousness. Jade knew in that instance his life had changed forever, and one question crept into his mind, "What in the hell am I going to do now?"

Jenny Woo:  How do you think your military experiences have contributed to your poker playing or poker skills? (ie. gun fire over your head while playing, environment, etc.)

Jade Lane:I think my military experience has benefited me greatly in poker.  The obvious would be that it teaches you to better handle stress, and to make good decisions under stress.  I think the single greatest benefit I have gotten from the army, is my work ethic.  It's easy to slack off when you play poker for a living, it's easy to put working on your game on the back burner, because playing is what everyone wants to do--it's just more fun.  It's also easy to quit playing, when things are going really well, or really poorly.  I think setting realistic goals, that you actually have control over, and having the discipline to continually achieve those goals, is hard for a lot of the students I coach, as well as poker buddies I know.  I also think learning intestinal fortitude is key.  When I was in the army, both in training and combat, I suffered a great deal.  You get used to living outside, being wet, hungry, tired, dehydrated, bored, and afraid.  After putting your mind and body through something like that, playing poker in a place like the Bellagio, or in the comfort of your own home, seems like a cake walk, even when you are on a 20 buy-in downswing. 

Jenny Woo: How do you feel online poker has contributed to your poker playing/skills versus playing in a land-based casino?

Jade Lane:  I think that playing poker online and live require two semi-different skill sets.  I think online players are more skilled in many areas, and I know my game has improved a great deal, having moved to online poker.  Things like HEM, Pokerstove, Combonator, Flopzilla, are things that live players--at least that I played with-- had no clue how to use.  It's also very hard to track and analyze your game playing live.  Human beings are built with all kinds of biases, and without these tools to meticulously and analytically analyze your game, I think it can be near impossible to get 100% accurate feed back.

That said, I think live professionals excel in parts of the game that online players do not.  For example, live pros are much better at reading their opponents, fishing for information at the table, and using small bits of information to make big decisions more clear.  There is a lot to be said for being able to watch some one, when they cut their chips and fire the third barrel.  Live pros are much more likely to be able to play and maintain for longer sessions.  You only get a few great weekends playing live, with a few players who can make your year, so when they are in town, you have to have 20 hour sessions in your bag of tricks.  I also think that live professionals learn to cope with bad runs better, since they seemingly last for ever, due to lack of hands played.  When you've driven all the way to the casino, waited on the list to get in a game, and you lose your first 5 or 6 pots, you can't just click the sit out button, go do something else, and come back in an hour when you have cooled off.

I think learning to play both, has benefited my game immensely. 

Jenny Woo: What was your first thought on 'Black Friday' - went many poker rooms went offline to the US market?

Jade Lane:  I, like most poker players was very depressed when I received my first text message about "Black Friday".  It was the uncertainty more than anything, and a bit of that still lingers.  I spent the weekend sitting around moping, asking myself what I was going to do.  But by Monday, I was formulating a plan, and getting my ducks in a row.  I set up an account on Black Chip Poker, so I could continue playing online, and found the games to be better than expected.  I had spent most of the last year, living in Mexico, and learning Spanish, so that seemed like an obvious fit--though I also considered moving back to Las Vegas, and playing live.  Ultimately, I chose Mexico.

Jenny Woo: We see that you have joined DragtheBar as a poker coach - how is that going?

Jade Lane:  I have really enjoyed working for  I like being part of a poker community.  The last year, living in Mexico, it was just me and my wife.  For the first time since I started playing poker, I was isolated from other poker minds.  I spent most of my time learning the language, and grinding hands.  I didn't have a good group of individuals to study poker with, and both me and my game missed it a great deal.  I like doing private coaching.  By listening to other players, learning their leaks, and thinking of strategies that they use--both good and bad--it really improves my game as well. 

- Jenny Woo, Senior International Correspondent