On the Button: Kyle Julius

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Kyle Julius is a pro player from Naperville, Ill. The winning online player has made the transition to live poker with huge success. Now with $2 million in online and more than $2 million in live winnings, he’s proved to be a dangerous player. This year, he finished second in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for $1.5 million. Ante Up’s Mike Owens recently caught up with Julius to discuss his breakout year.

Wow, quite a year. Are you doing anything differently or do you feel like everything is just coming together for you now? Yeah, the year has been pretty good to me so far. I don’t think I’m doing anything differently, I just think now I have full confidence in what I’m doing and things have finally just started to click.

How did you get into poker, and how did it evolve into your primary source of making money? My brother Ryan, who is two years older than me, introduced me to poker when he came back for a holiday from college his freshman year. Ever since then, I was intrigued and slowly got more and more into it. By the time I got to college it was something I would use to make living money. Poker has been my only source of income my entire life. Not that it always went well. There have been a lot of ups and downs, that’s for sure.

Where do you like to play when you’re in Illinois? Honestly, when I’m in Illinois I don’t even like to play poker. When I’m actually home I usually avoid playing and just hang out with friends and family. Traveling all the time makes it hard to stay in touch with everyone.

What were your expectations of poker in the time you started playing? My expectations when I started were to just make a living and have some spending money. As things started to progress I would always tell my girlfriend (now his ex) that I would eventually get rich from this game and be able to use the money to start making money in other ways. I was always confident in my abilities when it came to poker, but for it to all actually happen in such a short time period is pretty surreal.

As someone who used to be an online player also, do you prefer online or live poker? When it comes to online and live they are two different monsters. But, honestly, if I were given the choice to be able to play online only or live only, if it was about the money I would have to go with live poker. If it were about enjoying myself I would go with online poker.

Any goals for life beyond poker? I see myself for sure playing for a while. I don’t know how long, but at this point I’m just going to take it one tourney series at a time and see where it takes me. It’s not something I want to do my entire life, but for now I enjoy it, and it’s been going well.

What books, if any, have been most helpful to your game? I honestly have never read a poker book. I feel like I am friends with some of the best players in the world and have been able to learn from everyone I know. Also just playing a ton and learning from my mistakes has been the key to my success.

You are playing mostly tournaments, but what about cash games? Cash games don’t really interest me that much, though I see all these guys making a ton of money playing cash and really don’t have to put as much time into it as tourney players do. You can play as long as you want or as short as you want in cash, as tourneys you can play for three to four days in certain ones and not even make the money. I just enjoy tourneys better because of the strategy and the competition of them.

What would you say is the stupidest bet you’ve ever made? The stupidest bet I have ever made is a tough one, too many to count. I’m drawing a blank, but I’d probably have to say the dumbest thing I’ve done gambling-wise was when I was a sophomore in college and I had run my Bodog account up to about $25K playing cash, which was a ton of money to me at the time. Then I got the brilliant idea to play online blackjack and lost it all within about 20 minutes. Haven’t played online blackjack since. (laughs)