Cash Plays’ New Co-Host, Meet John Kim
August 3, 2021
Cash Plays, PokerRoad’s only podcast dedicated entirely to poker cash games and what it takes to crush them, for the first time since its inception has a new regular Co-Host joining Jeremiah Smith behind the mic. 

The new Co-Host, John Kim, is a longtime online and live cash game pro known on the web as “Nicolak,” who regularly earns hundreds of thousands a year at the real and virtual tables.  John employs a methodical, responsible approach to being a professional poker player that varies greatly from many of poker’s most well known degenerates, whose wild habits and bankroll swings seem to grab the majority of the game’s headlines while often enforcing an image of a professional player that isn’t always all that flattering.  Though not really interested in the spotlight, John does seem determined to show that there is another way to be, and specifically that there are successful players like him out there, who through poker comfortably provide for their families, give back to their communities, and do honor to the game. 

Over his professional poker career, which spans more than a dozen years, John Kim has done just that, however despite over $300,000 in live tournament cashes, over a million in online tournament cashes, and years of mid-level cash game dominance, his approach to the game is still not that well known, so in order to properly introduce the man that will help helm Cash Plays , and to perhaps help him in that undoubtably noble pursuit, I decided to ask the man some questions.

Mark Anderson:  Thanks for taking the time John, it’s great to have you in the PokerRoad family.  What do you think if anything your presence may be able to bring to PokerRoad and this newest version of Cash Plays?

John Kim:  “Well as you know I have an extensive history with cash games of all sorts, not just No Limit Hold 'em, although that is where I put 90% of my time nowadays.  Therefore, I bring a good amount of experience to cash games.  Also, I've been one of the most consistent and solid winners over the past decade at mid-stakes, so I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about.  Jeremiah has pretty good knowledge for cash games but I probably bring more experience and knowledge and I think that will translate to better overall content for the podcast.  I will also be able to handle any questions regarding cash games from any of our listeners with confidence, so I will be able to provide valuable input in a micro form (hand histories or specific situations) and a macro form (making a successful career out of poker and how to go about it).”

MA:  You’ve had quite a bit of online success over the years while staying mostly under the radar.  Any worries about how the instant fame that goes with hosting a PokerRoad podcast may effect you and your game?

JK:  “Instant fame? [laughing] I've never been one to seek fame in poker but if it comes with co-hosting Cash Plays so be it.  I've always treated poker as a means to provide a good life for my family and myself, and nothing more.  As for getting more recognized, who wouldn't like that, but for the most part any fame or whatever comes with the gig will not change who I am and how I approach things.”

MA:  Okay, “instant fame” may have been overstating it, but seriously, don’t you have any concerns that teaching your style in a public forum every show may help future opponents play against you?

JK:  “I don't think I would be necessarily telling people how I play the game but rather what the correct plays are and what's right and wrong when it comes to specific hands or situations.  Therefore, I don't think my opponents will know what my tendencies are if I'm not really talking about my own game.  I will talk about hands I've played from time to time, but I'll try to make sure I don't give out too much information on how my game is tailored.  The hands I talk about will show how to hand read, apply correct fundamentals, and deal with specific opponents but they won't really give away specifics of my own game.  This is how I approach it as well when I post hand histories in my blog, because I know my opponents are reading it.  Even if an opponent were to pick up something from something I said or wrote, I'm pretty good at making adjustments on the fly so I'm not too concerned.”

MA:  But if you’re not looking for fame, why even risk it, why put yourself out there at all?  Knowing PokerRoad, I’m guessing it’s not for the money. 

JK:  “Well it's definitely not about the money.  I was asked by Jeremiah and I accepted for a couple of reasons.  One is that I wanted to show that one can make a good living and provide a very good life for oneself and his/her family with poker.” 

“Even though we have come a long way in poker in the past 10 years and it is more acceptable in society, there are still stigmas attached with being a poker player by some people.  I want to show that, hey, I can make a good stable living playing poker and along the same time provide a good life for my family and myself, while also being a good husband and father.  I go to church, pay my taxes, and make contributions to charities from time to time.  Basically I'm trying to remove some of the stigma that poker players are degenerates and are not productive in society.”

“Also, I never feel like I deserve any fame or recognition for playing poker and I don't think poker players should be thought of as celebrities, but if we have the medium to reach out to poker players we should try to help them out however we can, whether that is teaching them how to play better or just how to live properly while balancing poker and life.  I guess I feel like poker's given my family and myself a pretty good life and I don't mind giving something back, even if that's improving my opponents.  Plus, I like the challenge!”

MA:  Jeremiah mentioned on your premier episode that you have set the highly ambitious goal of earning a million dollars this year primarily from online mid-level cash games and a few tournaments.  Do you plan on letting us listeners in on how that battle is going as the year progresses- kind of like what Jean-Robert Bellande does with his twitter (@BrokeLivingJRB) but hopefully with less cringe-worthy swings?

JK:  “[laughs] well as you may or may not know I'm behind pace but that was expected.  I did expect to be closer to my goal than I am now but we all know that poker involves a lot of variance.  Also having a family brings unexpected moments where I have to focus on other things besides poker and I have not put in the time in poker that I wanted so far.  Basically, life involves variance too.  I'm hoping that changes going forward and I'm planning on working harder than ever the rest of the year in poker and then hopefully I'll be happy with where I end up at the end of the year, whether I reach my specific goal or not.  I guess I'd be willing to let everyone know how I'm doing in that goal.  I do post my monthly results in poker on my blog.  I'm also thinking about posting my wins and losses daily on twitter (like Jean-Robert) so people know what kind of swings a professional poker player goes through (who plays a more stable form than someone like him).”

MA:  Speaking of your blog- any chance that some version of it may soon be available at PokerRoad as well?

JK:  “If they ask, sure!”

MA:  You’ve mentioned your family a few times, both here and on your first show.  Obviously, they’re an important part of your life but you seem to feel that they, specifically your wife, really helped you succeed in your career as well.  Can you elaborate on that?

JK:  “I give my wife Jeannie praises for setting me straight early on in our relationship.  I was a young poker player and like most young guys was somewhat of a degen and played really long sessions in card rooms.  She helped me "grow up" and become responsible.  Also, she is a really good poker player in her own right.  She had 3 straight years of winning 6 figures on PartyPoker playing mostly 6-max $10-$20 Limit Hold 'em.  She doesn't play as much anymore because I do well enough for the entire family nowadays.”

MA:  This will be the first time since its inception that Cash Plays has had 2 hosts (at the same time), how do you feel that dynamic may change the show? 

JK:  “I think it's good to get two sides to any story and in poker even a hand has it's own story.  I think the show will be better for it and not knocking Jeremiah but I'll bring that experience and knowledge that listeners were looking for in Cash Plays.” 

MA:  Any worries about spending so much time with someone like Jeremiah Smith?

JK:  “Yeah, I told Jeremiah that PokerRoad should pay me more than him because I'm more tolerable than him so it's easier on his end.  I'm kidding (obviously).  Actually, I've only recently gotten to know Jeremiah so this is still a relatively new relationship, but we've been getting along great so far.  Besides being spiritual and married, I think we're both generally nice guys that want to help out others whenever we can, so we get along great and will continue to do so.”

“I'm happy to be joining the PokerRoad family.  They're respected in the poker world and they're giving me a way to give advice to others while also making a name for myself so I'm thankful as well.  I'm thankful to Jeremiah as well for asking me to co-host.  He's a really good guy and I hope everyone I meet at PokerRoad or due to PokerRoad are as cool and nice as him.  Wait take the cool part out... just kidding.”

John “Nicolak” Kim, can be found crushing the mid-to-high-stakes poker tables at both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.  For more information on John, check out his excellent blog or listen to his premier episode of Cash Plays right here at
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