Interview by Amanda Duckworth and Photo by Keith Selle
Amanda Duckworth is a lawyer from New Jersey and friend of INKED. As the girlfriend of Kane Kalas, a professional poker player, she has learned a lot about the poker community the past few years. Given her familiarity with the sport, she sat down with Jay Farber, a 33-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is probably best known for taking second place at the 44th World Series of Poker Main Event in 2013, earning a cash prize of $5,174,357. His unique resume also includes working in a tattoo shop. Though mainly retired now, he still enjoys playing poker, but dedicates most of his free time to jiu-jitsu.
How many tattoos do you have?
Nine, but a couple have been touched up or covered up.
Which tattoo was your first?
The dragon and kanji on my left arm. A little ink advice, don’t get tattooed at 17.
Which tattoo is your latest?
The half-sleeve on my left arm which is going on almost 6-years-old now. The theme is derived from a Japanese legend revolving around a Samurai who saved his village from a tsunami with a single stroke of his sword.
Plans for a next tattoo?
Going to finish the sleeve on my right arm, and then start a “Panda Playing Chess” piece on my leg.
Do you have any gambling-related tattoos?
Nope. I honestly think they’re corny.
Do you think being tattooed is helpful in poker (e.g. in “distracting” other players, creating a certain image, etc.)
I think the image you put out there is very important in poker. How people perceive you and your ability to play off that perception can be a big advantage.
Your favorite tattoo?
Left arm half-sleeve.
Any tattoos you regret?
A sh*tty lotus, which has since been covered up and the dragon tattoo just because it’s not a good piece. In addition to not getting tattooed at 17, don’t get flash art.
Would you ever get your hands tattooed?
Worst tattoo you’ve ever seen and why?
I’ve seen a ton. I used to work in a tattoo shop. It’s hard to pick out an overall worst.
How did you first get involved in poker?
I grew up in a pool hall, gambling on anything and everything. When Rounders came out it was the hot new thing for everyone, so I just picked it up and ran with it.
What type of games do you play the most and what do you prefer?
I play them all. However, the only one I can say I’m competent at is No Limit Hold ‘Em. PLO is more fun, though.
Do you travel far and often? For poker?
No, unless it’s a great game in LA. I have no reason to leave Vegas.
What other projects do you spend time on?
Jiu-Jitsu takes up most of my free time, but I’ve got an e-commerce business I’m working on as well. Plus a few projects in the cannabis space.
Tell me about your biggest cash.
I got second in the Main Event of the WSOP in 2013. That was a little over five million.
Do you think players develop certain reads on you based on your tattoos?
I wouldn’t say reads, but there is a perceived image that is derived from my overall physical appearance.
Do you feel any sense of camaraderie with other tattooed players?
No, I don’t really feel camaraderie or friendship toward anyone while I’m playing. Even if we’re friends. I’m still trying to take your money and you’re still trying to take mine.
Who do you look up to in the poker community?
I look up to guys like Bobby Baldwin, Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson. I admire and respect the skills of a lot of players. There are some great people playing the game today, but I look up to the all-time greats and the guys who have left a legacy off the felt.
What would you say are the most important skills for a successful poker player to have? Bankroll management, table image and awareness, balance, consistency and having no fear.