When it comes to US-based online poker pros, you’d be hard pressed to find one more talented and accomplished than Yong “LuckySpewy1” Kwon, who goes by “YK” was recently named the 2020 WSOP.com Player of the Year.
The 31-year-old Kwon, who plays from New Jersey, collected $10,000 in cash and an exclusive WSOP.com Player of the Year ring for accomplishing the feat.
“I’m well known for the hours/grind I put in online, so it’s nice to get recognition for what I do. However, the WSOP.com POY title wasn’t something I strived for,” YK told PokerNews. “I know that putting in volume/hours as a professional poker player is an essential part of success so I’m trying to play as many days as possible. I remember some regulars were losing it when they saw me playing $10-$30 satellites the day after I won the bracelet but that’s just who I am.”
Oh yeah, in addition to being the new WSOP.com POY, YK is also a bracelet winner after he topped a field of 2,825 entries to win the 2019 WSOP Event #7: $400 NLH Online for $165,263.
He’s also claimed numerous partypoker US titles including last year’s WPT Online Borgata Series powered by partypoker US Network Event #2: $109 NLHE R+A $10,000 GTD for $6,933, a pair of PokerStars NJCOOP titles, a NJSCOOP title, and more than $3.8 million in online tournament earnings according to PocketFives.
|1||Yong “LuckySpewy1” Kwon||73,039.91|
|2||Krista “Pollux” Gifford||63,265.86|
|3||Anthony “boom81boom” Chin||59,173.24|
|4||David “dehhhhh” Coleman||58,162.66|
|5||Andrew “WATCHGUY42” Lichtenberger||57,631.62|
|6||James “PRPirate420” Vales||55,377.44|
|7||Angel “ChromeKing” Lopez||50,445.25|
|8||Alexander “ShadowFiend1” Condon||49,718.15|
|9||Tony “Panoramic” Dunst||49,626.44|
|10||Jonathan “jetsfan14” Borenstein||48,951.80|
The Allure of Poker
YK moved to the United States from South Korea when he was just 10 years old. He’s resided in New Jersey ever since and got into the game after watching High Stakes Poker and the WSOP on television.
“I always thought poker professionals were cool,” he said. “When my parents saw me watching these shows, they always told me how they knew someone who lost everything gambling so wanting to be a poker professional was something that I kept to myself.”
By the time he was in college, YK was 24 tabling Full Tilt Poker $10-$25 SNGs from his dorm.
“I came up with this idea of finishing college in three years to have an extra year to try poker. In order to graduate early, I took classes over the summer. I remember taking four classes in a month or two where I was in the classroom from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and when I got back to my room, I would take another online course while playing online poker.”
The plan worked as he ended up graduating from college in the planned three years with a 3.7 GPA. He earned a year to pursue poker full time, but this was in 2011, so those plans were detailed by Black Friday. As a result, he got a job as a programmer.
Fortunately, New Jersey would soon offer legalized online poker, so YK was back in the game.
It’s All About the Grind
YK, who is married and has a 17-month-old son, has been a volume beast for the past six years. He strictly plays pot-limit Omaha cash and NLHE/PLO MTTs.
“I think I played close to 1.6 million hands of PLO cash and another million hands in MTTs,” he said. “I semi-retired from PLO cash but lately I’m playing them both again.”
The grind paid off big time in 2019 when YK capture WSOP gold.
“I never thought about winning a bracelet before this WSOP online bracelet existed,” he said. “The only way to win one was to fly out to Vegas. I never really enjoyed playing live poker and when I did, I might have been the worst player in the whole field because I was always trying to bluff a guy Level 1 trying to get him to fold aces. Some of my poker buddies offered me some insane odds (500:1) on me winning a bracelet and I never took the bet because I never saw myself winning a bracelet playing live.”
“I played for about 14 hours straight and by 7 a.m. I won the WSOP bracelet and $165k.”
Fortunately, the WSOP introduced online bracelet events in 2018. What’s more, players didn’t have to travel to Las Vegas, they just needed to be either in Nevada or New Jersey.
“By this time, I was playing all the tournaments offered in New Jersey from $5 satellites to $1Ks. The prize pool in NJ regulated poker sites have been pretty small compared to what it is now and this WSOP online bracelet prize pool was 10x what I was playing for so I was very excited.”
He continued: “Before I registered that WSOP.com bracelet event on Sunday, I was walking at a park with my wife, and I don’t know why but I told her, ‘It’s going to be a long night.’ I played for about 14 hours straight and by 7 a.m. I won the WSOP bracelet and $165k. I remember sprinting across my house to tell my wife that I won the bracelet event like a kid on a Christmas day. I’ve won countless tournaments online but this one just felt different.”
The heater continued for YK as a week after the bracelet win he won the WSOP.com $500 buy-in, $300K GTD NLH for another $121K, meaning he won over $300K in 10 days. It was good enough to earn him the PocketFives Monthly Leaderboard that month.
So, what’s in store for a man with a laundry list of poker accomplishments?
“I don’t really have many poker goals other than putting in volume/grinding, but something new in 2021 would be to stream poker. I have everything set up to stream so it should be happening very soon.”
In addition, while live poker has never been his jam – he once flew out to Vegas after winning two $10K WSOP Main Event seats only to sell them for $20K and spend his time watching and betting World Cup games – YK isn’t ruling it out once it rebounds post-pandemic.
“I actually plan to play more live poker going forward,” he said.
For more on YK, be sure to follow him on Twitter @LuckySpewy1.