ArticleMeet Poker Academy Ambassadors – Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet

Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet is one of the best tournament players in the world. During his poker career, he has won more than $5 million in live tournaments and more than $22 million online. The American is a proud ambassador of ACR and the Poker Academy.

By Doro | 12 Jun 2023
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Jon Van Fleet, more commonly known as ‘apestyles’, is a professional poker player from Austin, Texas. He has been playing the game for nearly two decades and is highly regarded in the online poker world. 

To date, his total live earnings amount to $591,992, including one WSOP-C ring. His total online winnings equal over $22 mln$. His most notable achievement to date is his first-place finish in the 2017 Partypoker Millions tournament, for which he won a staggering $1,027,000 from the $5 million guaranteed prize pool. He remains one of the most successful poker players around.

The beginnings

His initial focus was on the game of chess. However, he soon realized that making a living of it would be difficult. Therefore, he decided to pursue other avenues for securing an income. At first, he had difficulty succeeding in poker but his previous experience with chess, especially his ability to study the game, helped him to hone his new skills. He studied furiously, buying tons of poker books and immersing himself into learning the game. Through his hard work and dedication, he soon became a skilled poker player and became a pro. 

Van Fleet admits that he was lucky enough to start playing during the Moneymaker-boom which meant there were plenty of games available for him to play. Additionally, he met some other pros who taught him more about how to approach the game like a professional. 

However, not everything in his life went smoothly. There were also some major hardships he had to face.

© apestyles1

Rough times

His personality predisposed him to fall into addictions and depression. In 2009, he began to feel overwhelmed from the pressure of maintaining a professional poker career and these problems – drug and alcohol addictions – progressed until it was negatively affecting his personal and financial life.

I used to drink a lot. I got blackout drunk and went on to play ‘sauce123’ at stakes $100/$200. That night, I busted my whole $80k roll on my poker account which was really a lot to me at that moment. The next morning, I woke up and I didn’t remember anything. I thought I was hacked and started contacting the site but after looking at my poker tracker, I saw that I called off like $40k with bottom pair. I couldn’t believe it, I just went right back to bed. That was pretty hard to come back from.

With help from close friends, Van Fleet sought treatment and he eventually recovered from his addictions. He now leads a healthy lifestyle which includes training, teaching, volunteering and playing poker.

Biggest achievement = quitting drinking and hard drugs for 8 years. Biggest failure = The many times in which I’ve epically punted money. Biggest goal = Ultimately to improve the lives of the people I love.

Apestyles’ inspiring story of overcoming addiction and getting back on track proves that it is always worth seeking help and that no dream is too far out of reach. His journey to recovery has shown that anything is achievable if one has the desire and determination to see it through.

Jon Van Fleet
 © apestyles1

“There is no after poker for me”

Besides being an elite poker player Jon Van Fleet is also an accomplished writer and coach. Having co-authored “Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time” – the popular three-volume book series has been called a masterclass in poker skill development. He also coaches poker and hosts online seminars on the game for the BBZPoker community.

I think there is no after poker for me. I think of that as a good thing. I love that I’ve been able to play a game I love for a living for as long as I have. And I love that it keeps me sharp and continuously learning. There are plenty of things other than poker that I want to do but I don’t see myself not playing ever.
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