Poker profiles Poker

Jonathan K is on the way!

Written by James Potter

This article first appeared in the Mar/Apr 2011 issue of World Gaming magazine.

There is a new star on the Australasian poker scene. His name is Jonathan Karamalikis and this young Australian is on the way to a long and prosperous future in the game.

Back in 2009 I was lucky enough to captain the Australian team in the first World Team Challenge at the Asian Poker Tour (APT) in Macau. With the need to find a well-balanced team I went on the search for a young internet gun. All roads led to a quietly spoken kid in Adelaide who was making more money playing poker online than many top CEOs make in the business world. Not only was he an exceptional poker player he was also one of the nicest young men you will ever meet.

Jonathan started playing internet poker at a very young age and became well known for his racy handle ‘Monster Dong’. It didn’t take long for him to make his mark. Last year he joined a select band of Australian pros when he was offered a lucrative sponsorship by online poker giant Full Tilt Poker. He soon justified this selection in the biggest possible way by winning the PokerStars Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Grand Final last year. Not only did the victory catapult him to the top echelon of Australian poker, it also saw him take home just under half a million Australian dollars for his troubles.

I caught up with Jonathan at the recent Aussie Millions to find out how he is enjoying his new found celebrity status and ever-growing bankroll.

JAMES: So why do you call yourself ‘Monster Dong’?

JONATHAN: Haha, always the first question. I made Monster Dong my username to make myself feel better about my adolescent issues! To be truthful it was a bit of a joke and it seemed to stick so I ran with it.

JAMES: When did you start playing poker?

JONATHAN: A good friend taught me how to play with just a deck of cards when I was 16. That night I created an account on a play money site and played endless hours until I won $3 from a freeroll. I spent about six months learning the basics and I’ve never looked back.

JAMES: Obviously the APPT Grand Final in Sydney last year was your greatest moment, what was your best achievement in the poker world prior to that?

JONATHAN: This probably sounds pretty stupid but winning my first, and at the moment only, Aussie Millions ring was the happiest moment in my poker career, even though the APPT was worth more money.

JAMES: Are there any other poker players you respect or players you have studied?

JONATHAN: I respect anyone’s game who’s continuously successful, but to be honest there is no one in particular.

JAMES: You have excelled at both online and live poker, what do you view as the major differences between the two?

JONATHAN: Being able to see who you’re playing against live is a huge advantage. Usually in the first 20 minutes you can work out what kind of person they are and what their tendencies may be. Online there’s a lot more re-raising and aggressive play. Live poker is more focused on post-flop, as there is a lot of tighter or scared play.

JAMES: Outside poker what do you enjoy doing?

JONATHAN: I spend most of my spare time hanging out with my mates. I try to watch basketball and I love the travelling and going to new places. I probably spend 4 to 5 months of the year on the road. When I can get into a routine away from travelling I love going to the gym.

JAMES: So where to now and in the future?

JONATHAN: Right now it’s the Aussie Millions for me. I’m playing a lot of big events here and I’m really hoping to do well. I want to do Europe sometime this year: play some tournaments on the EPT (European Poker Tour) circuit, maybe London for the World Series of Poker Europe and obviously I’m going to have another trip to Vegas for the World Series. That’s a ‘can’t miss’. However I might just go for the main event this year because my mates and I usually get preoccupied once we’re there.

JAMES: Is poker your long-term profession or do you see it as just a hobby that you love?

JONATHAN: I consider poker both a hobby and a long-term profession. I look at it as a competitive sport, not because you have to be an elite athlete to be the best, but because the nature of the game is so competitive that you’re always looking to improve. I don’t really have any plans and I’m more than happy to keep doing this for now.

JAMES: Thanks for your time, mate. I look forward to a few beers and seeing you again on the felt.

JONATHAN: Sounds good James, thanks.