Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2019

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Jay Farber spent some of the $5 million he won at WSOP — but not on a Ferrari

Catching up with one of last year’s breakout poker stars


Steve Marcus

Jay Farber, right, 29, a Las Vegas VIP host originally from Santa Barbara, Calif., smiles after folding a hand against Ryan Riess, 23, a poker professional from East Lansing, Mich., during the final table of the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em tournament at the Rio on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

Averaging more than 60 events and 70,000 entries over the past few years, the World Series of Poker annually produces great stories and surprises over the course of the summer at the Rio.

One of last year’s best came straight from Las Vegas. More specifically, he came out of Las Vegas’ hottest nightclubs.

Nightlife promoter Jay Farber went from having never cashed in a WSOP event to nearly becoming the 2013 world champion. The 29-year-old made it to the final day of the WSOP Main Event before eventually falling to Ryan Riess in heads-up play to finish second for $5.17 million.

With the 2014 World Series of Poker less than two weeks away — the first two tournaments are scheduled for May 27 — the Sun recently caught up with Farber to reflect on last year and look ahead to this summer.

You were resolute that the $5 million wouldn’t change your day-to-day life back in November. You were going to keep your job and stay living the same way. Has that turned out to be true?

It pretty much has. I do all the same stuff I did before; there’s just a little bit more money in my bank account. The lifestyle I live in Vegas was a pretty extravagant one to begin with. I’m very fortunate with what I’ve been able to do. Thankfully, no one has treated me much different and not much has changed. I still go out. I still take care of people when they come in to town.

Did the notoriety you gained help your business?

It helped a little bit. I’ve stopped actively marketing myself lately. I’ve just sat back and tried to focus on my existing clientele. I think during this series, it’s going to pick up a lot because every poker player knows who I am now.

Have you played poker more or less than normal?

I’ve played a little bit more. I was never really a big tournament guy, but now I have the opportunity to play in a lot of big cash games with a lot of interesting people. I’ve been trying to take advantage of that while I can. I played the ($125 buy-in) Aria daily tournament a couple times and went to play the (World Poker Tour) Bay-101 Shooting Stars, but no tournaments other than that.

Did people recognize you at Aria? What was their reaction to playing against you in such a low-buy-in tournament?

It was funny. I was killing some time before I was going out to dinner with a customer, so I jumped in the tournament. A couple people recognized me at first, a couple didn’t. It was interesting after everyone realized it.

How’d you do? Did you cash?

No, I got bad beat in a couple spots. It’s tournament poker, so you can’t complain too much. Getting your money in good is all you can ask for.

How much are you planning to play at the World Series of Poker this summer?

I’m going to see how the tournament fits with my work schedule. I want to play in the ($1 million buy-in) One Drop. I’ll play the Main Event again, and we’ll see if any other tournament comes up. I’m really not a tournament grinder, so I’m not going to spend every day trying to win a bracelet.

Do you really think you’ll play in the Big One for One Drop?

I’d love to. I’m definitely not putting up all of my own money to get into that. If I can sell enough of myself to whoever wants to buy a piece, I definitely want to play in it. I think it would be amazing just for the experience.

Do you have any sponsors for the WSOP?

Invisible Text approached me about wearing their shirt before the final table, and we’ve continued the relationship. It’s a really cool app. My buddy (poker pro) Dan Fleyshman was responsible for that. I’ve known him since the beginning of my career in Vegas, so I’m happy to work with him on anything. I currently don’t have any other real plans or sponsorships, but I’m in talks with a couple other people. It might come down to right before the World Series kicks off.

Everyone always want to ask what you’re going to buy right after cashing for so much in the Main Event. So I’ll amend the question: What did you buy?

I bought a house in December, closed on it right before the end of the year. I also said I was going to buy a Ferrari. I decided I wasn’t going to do that. I decided to pay taxes and put money away instead. Everyone’s big thing on Twitter is giving me grief because I just bought a Corvette and not a Ferrari. But some priorities are a little more important at this point in my life.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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