Faraz Jaka is Homeless and Loving It
Professional poker player Faraz Jaka’s online screen name is “The-Toilet.” Considering he is technically homeless, that nickname is either funny or sad, depending on your point of view. But don’t feel bad for Jaka for his lack of a place to hang his hat because he is homeless and proud of it.
In a short article on CNN Money yesterday, Jaka explained how and why he went from the extravagant lifestyle of a jet-setting poker millionaire to the minimalist lifestyle of a jet-setting poker nomad. Faraz Jaka is one of the best poker players in the world. Currently ranked 42nd on the Global Poker Index, he has won over $4.5 million in live tournaments (figures courtesy TheHendonMob.com). In terms of poker, he has it all. But he doesn’t want it all.
In the article, he says that by the age of 24, he had won $2.5 million, was named the World Poker Tour’s Season VIII Player of Year, and was worn out. He settled down in Chicago and had everything you would expect a young, rich poker player to have, including the huge apartment with a fantastic view. After a while, though, he got the itch to
travel again, but he felt “pot committed.” His 18-month lease, his friends, and everything else that was in Chicago made him feel like he couldn’t leave. But he took a leap of faith, shed himself of most of his belongings, and, for all intents and purposes, made himself homeless.
“Fast forward to 2012,” he wrote, “I traveled to 45 cities, 13 different countries, and took 57 flights. I was working along the way, hitting major poker tournaments and playing online, but I was experiencing so much more.”
The real turning point for Jaka was in 2013 when he spent ten days at a silent meditation retreat on an island in Thailand. He lived as sparsely as you could imagine: he had to turn over all of his belongings, he showered in a tub of water, and slept on a wooden bunk bed. They were the happiest ten days of his life.
Since then, Faraz Jaka has lived out of just a couple small pieces of luggage, carrying only about a dozen articles of clothing (plus underwear and socks, I assume), his laptop, and various chargers and power adapters. He uses public wireless internet hotspots to get online, crashes wherever he can find an open bed, and thoroughly enjoys himself.
In a video that accompanies the CNN Money article, Jaka says of his newfound lifestyle and philosophy, “A lot of people get caught up in these bubbles, especially people who are really successful, when you’re staying in fancy hotels on the road all the time and you’re not really, truly experiencing the local culture. You start to lose touch with reality and what your everyday person goes through.”
He adds later, “A lot of people are chasing these short-term goals: a nicer car, better seats to the game, and when they get those things, it doesn’t actually make them happy. Real happiness comes from being aware and having a purpose.”
As mentioned, Jaka has won over $4.5 million on the live tournament circuit. He has nine World Poker Tour cashes and 25 World Series of Poker cashes, with multiple final table appearances in each. His best live cash was for over three-quarters of a million dollars when he finished as the runner-up in the $15,000 Championship Event of the Bellagio Cup V in 2009. Coming in close behind that is a $755,000 score for a third place finish in the 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event. He has also won, according to PocketFives.com, over $3.6 million in recorded online poker tournaments.
As for that nickname, it came about when he first started learning how to play poker. As many beginners do, he tended to play any two suited hole cards, hoping to hit a flush (I know I used to love, love, love Ace-Deuce suited…it’s an Ace and it’s suited and connected!). Flush, toilet, the jokes make themselves. So, his friends started calling him The Toilet and he adopted it as his online screen name. As far as origin stories go, it might be a little disappointing, as we might have all been expecting something at least PG-13 rated, but hey, it’s cute.
In the article, Jaka makes it clear that to do what he is doing with his nomadic lifestyle does not require one to be successful poker player or amass riches. He says that it is easy to make excuses, to find reasons you “can’t” do something. You can, he writes:
We live in a world where Internet is everywhere and you can work from your computer. We live in a world where, thanks to Airbnb, you can rent out someone’s apartment or live with a local for weeks at a very affordable price.
Even maintaining relationships with friends and family from a distance is a lot easier with the ability to make video calls from anywhere, like the mountains of Peru or high above the city in Tokyo. (Also a good way to convince people to join you.)
Making changes takes effort, and most importantly, letting go. The reality is that we live in a changing world. And it’s never been easier to break free.