At the 2006 WCOOP on PokerStars, pros Chad Brown and J.C. Tran took down different events to win a coveted bracelet. Among the list of 17 winners in 18 different events (Kyle Bowker won two this year) was a mild-mannered Duke University student double majoring in biomedical/electrical engineering named Jason Strasser. Although he's just 21 years-old, the young gun has been playing against some of the toughest competition in the world over the past few years. Strasser accumulated $200K in live earnings and $500K in online career winnings, as he emerged as one of the best young players in tournament poker.
"I like that you can apply mathematical and logical concepts to poker to improve your chances and understanding of the game," Strasser recently said in an interview. "Earning income from poker means I don't have to rely on my parents as much for spending money. It's also allowed me to travel and see places I've never been."
Although it was only recently that he could only legally play in a Las Vegas casino, Jason "Strass2" Strasser had been making a name for himself online and on the European Poker Tour. Since European casinos have a lower age requirement at 18, Strasser played in several EPT events and he held his own against Europe's top pros.
At the 2006 WSOP, Strasser made his first trip a memorable one. He made one final table and cashed in five events including the Main Event. Strasser had the skills and experience to handle the largest field ever at the WSOP due to his experience against loose online player and against aggressive Europeans, particularly the Scandinavian players. By the end of Day 2A, he emerged as one of the chipleaders. He eventually finished in 169th place out of 8,773 and outlasted more players than Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer combined during the years they won the WSOP championship.
Strasser had an amazing summer and when he returned to Duke for the fall semester, his success continued at the WCOOP when he won Event #10. He proved why he's one of the toughest NL tournament players around when he bested a field of 2,458 players competing for a prize pool of $2.45 million. Strasser began the final table as the chip leader with the Hendon Mob's Barny Boatman sitting to his right. The two would duel with three players remaining. Strasser had the big stack, and although Boatman had the experience on his side, his A-6 lost to Strasser's A-Q in one of the most dramatic hands of the WCOOP. Both players were all in preflop and Boatman took the lead when a six flopped. The poker gods were smiling upon Strasser when a Queen spiked on the river. Boatman was out and within a few minutes, Jason Strasser won $442,440 for a day's work. That's an impressive payday especially from an online tournament that was won by a college kid sitting in his dorm room.
Brad Willis from the PokerStars Blog explained, "Strasser is an exceptional example for his contemporaries. He represents a lot of what is good about online poker right now. While he's still young, his skill is undeniable. Though he's made major cashes for more than $600,000 this year alone, he is still respectful of the game and his place in it. His demeanor, maturity, and selfdeprecating sense of place in poker is laudable. All are traits from which a lot of people, young and old, could learn."
Personally, I've had the honor of covering Strasser during the 2006 WSOP and watched him play over the course of a few weeks. He shows a level of maturity at the tables that many of his peers should replicate. He's hard to spot, but if you look for the quiet kid with all the chips in front of him, that's Jason Strasser.