Poker has long been among the world’s most popular card and casino games. Its impressive longevity has seen it evolve since its inception in the 1800s. One of the more recent developments in poker is its competitive scene. 

Beginning in 1970 with the first World Series of Poker (WSOP), competitive poker has quickly become an irreplaceable part of the game. People from all around the world compete for million-dollar prize pools and fame. 

Some players have stood out in pro poker, whether for their impressive results, personalities, or playstyles. These players have forever changed the game, their names known to every serious poker player. One such poker pro is Jason Koon. 

Player Overview

Jason Koon is an American professional poker player most known for his tournament career. Originally an online poker player, one of his earliest tournament successes was the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP), which earned him over $300,000. 

Koon has over $42.3 million in total earnings for live poker, 60 cashes at the WSOP, one bracelet, and nine final tables. He’s also made two final tables at the World Poker Tour (WPT). Koon has had impressive success in high-roller tournaments like the Triton Poker series and the PokerGO tour. 

In 2021, he appeared on the TV series High Stakes Poker. Koon won the $800,000 No Limit Hold’em – Heads-Up High Stakes Duel by beating Phil Hellmuth in the fifth round; nobody dared challenge him after, granting him a win by default. 

Early Life

Jason Koon was born in West Virginia on August 14, 1985. He had a rough childhood, abused by his father, who left when he was eight. Soon after, he moved with his mother to Lewis County, where they lived in a tiny farmhouse.

Despite growing up poor, Koon had said he never felt freer or happier than when he lived at the farm, where he frequently visited the local lake to fish. As a teenager, he was involved with baseball and track and field. Unable to afford college, Koon sought a sports scholarship. Since nobody in his family had gone to college, he was determined to do so, and he succeeded. 

Sadly, all his efforts in training his body seemed to be for naught: a tragic hip injury ended his track career. During his recovery, a roommate taught him how to play poker to alleviate his boredom.

Koon’s passion was reignited by poker, which led to him pursuing it as a career after racking up $115,000 in medical and tuition expenses. 

“I was broke and in debt, but I knew I could make it,” he later remarked. “You need the courage to decide what you think is best for you. You have to value yourself and not rely on the judgment of others. I knew there was a chance I could fail and that people would mock me. I was terrified of that, but not enough to accept it.”

Poker Career

Koon started playing poker during college under the aliases of ‘JAKoon1985’ and ‘NovaSky’. In 2008, he began participating in live tournaments.

He scored a major online tournament win in the SCOOP in 2009. Koon debuted on the WSOP the same year, cashing in twice at two different $2,000 No Limit Holdem events for a combined $27,371. His first six-figure score from a live tournament came in 2010 when he finished 4th in the WPT $10,000 No Limit Hold’em – Championship Event, earning $225,680. 

After a prize-splitting deal, Koon made $458,550 in FTOPS Event #24, earning over $100,000 more than the event’s winner.

From there, he began consistently racking up six-figure payouts in 2012 at a major event in the Bahamas and at the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha event of the WSOP. Koon did it again when he finished second at the $10,000 Bellagio Cup in 2013.

He continued his six-figure streak at the $100,000 No Limit Hold’em – WPT Alpha8 event in Saint Kitts and won $436,344 at the $50,000 No Limit Hold’em – Turbo High Roller event at the 2015 LA Poker Classic. 

He’s even made six figures from $100, earning $110,820 after playing for 18 hours at a low buy-in event in the 2015 SCOOP.

Seven-Figure Streaks

A seven-figure payout is almost unheard of, even for many seasoned players. For Koon, such massive scores are commonplace. 

His first came in 2016, winning the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open for exactly $1,000,000. Koon claimed a $1,650,300 win at a Super High Roller event in the Bahamas in 2017 and more six-figure scores followed. 

In 2018, he scored his biggest prize to date, taking down the HK$1,000,000 No Limit Hold’em – Short Deck event of the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series for a whopping $3,579,836. That was followed up with a $1,039,940 win at the WPT $100,000 No Limit Hold’em – ARIA 100K High Roller and a $2,100,000 third-place finish in the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl for a streak of three consecutive seven-figure cashes.

Another 2018 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series win netted him $1,079,443. He repeated that seven-figure streak in 2019 for $2,840,945. Koon also scored £907,000 (about $1,099,834) after finishing second in the London Triton Poker Super High Roller Series.

With this much success, you may be surprised that Koon did not yet have a single WSOP bracelet. This changed when he finally earned one at the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em – Heads-Up Championship (Event #11) in 2021. At this point in his career, the award most likely meant more than the money. 

“It’s one of those things when you’re on an airplane, and a person is like, ‘Do you have a bracelet?’ I’m just like, ‘Nope.’ At least I can finally say yes to that,” he told PokerNews. “I love coming here. I think I’ll play poker forever, and when it’s all said and done, I think it’s inevitable I’ll have several of them.”

Koon’s success shows no signs of slowing down, with a $1,863,228 score at the Triton Poker Series Madrid in May 2022 and a $1,600,000 finish at the PokerGO High Stakes Duel III Round 5 in December 2022.