Level 5 (200/400/400)
Total Entrants: 76

With 10 minutes to go before break, we visit Table 11. There's been a raise to 1,200, and a call, and the action is on Jon "Travis" Taylor (pictured). Taylor is a stoic actor, with a table presence that is hard to read to say the least. Calmly, he three-bets to 6,200 and takes down the pot.

We caught up with Taylor at the break to get a peek behind the curtain of his game. The Nixa, Missouri resident is an Air Force veteran who now works as a Manager for CenturyLink, managing new service infrastructure and installation to residential and business customers. But the tale of how he got there is a bit of a winding road.

While in the service and stationed at Sheppard AFB in Texas, Taylor was the resident pool shark, relieving green recruits of their boot camp bankrolls on the regular. He took up poker, "before it was popular," he says, and calls himself a student of the game.

"I would read and study everything I could get my hands on, even the unpopular stuff." When his wife would catch him watching or reading something she considered below his skill level, "She would ask, 'Why are you wasting your time with this stuff?' And I would say, 'The last thing he says might be something I haven't heard before.'"

That desire to learn the game led to a stint as a poker dealer at Mesquakie casino in Tama, Iowa. But after months of dealing and playing long hours, with little to no life balance in between, Taylor says he came to realize that the lifestyle wasn't a good one for him, and he resolved to get a regular job. He was a lineman in the Air Force, and easily picked up work as a lineman for CenturyLink. He held that position for 15 years before being promoted to manager, a position he's held for the last decade.

Today, poker is just a hobby. "My only hobby," he says. "My eyesight started to go so I had to give up pool."

Asked what his biggest strength at the poker table is, he gives us three answers. First, he says he's basically un-tiltable. Whether it's bad luck or his own mistake, he says he regularly takes it in stride. Second, he's worked hard on his table presence and gives off few tells. And third, the support of his wife regardless of the results of a session or tournament.

Sounds like a recipe for success to us.

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