Steve Aoki: DJ, Music Mogul, and Poker Fiend
The founder of DIM Mak Records’ passion for poker
The poker boom has led to a lot of poker players coming out of the woodwork. From the average man on the street to millionaire celebrities, everybody is visiting poker tables and putting their skills to the test. One of them is Steve Aoki. While most people know the electronic music maven as the founder of Dim Mak Records, Aoki is likewise a self-confessed rabid poker fan.
“I’m a poker fiend,” he tells CBS affiliate KROQ. “I’ve been a poker fiend for 6 or 7 years now. That’s the one thing that will always keep me going. That’s usually my routine. I go play in the club then I go play in the poker room until I leave the town. I don’t even see my bed.”
The superstar DJ compares the adrenaline rush he feels when playing poker to the one he gets from completing a new track. “When I finish a track that’s an absolute banger,” he tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “you get that same feeling as when you go all-in on a hand, someone follows suit, and you know you’ve beat them.”
Most of Aoki’s playing is done in Las Vegas, where he’s been a resident DJ for numerous clubs over the past few years. When he’s not in Vegas, though, he still manages to find time to play with a group of friends including Michael Phelps, Verne Troyer, and Joe Madden. He has also hit the tables with fellow EDM artist Deadmau5.
Aside from his cash games, both at home and in Las Vegas, Aoki has also organized poker tournaments in his spare time. One such event took place during last year’s Holy Ship! Cruise, a weekend trip to the Bahamas with some of the biggest EDM names in the world including Fatboy Slim, Boysnoize, Laidback Luke, Rusko, Diplo, A-Trak, Skrillex, and Zedd.
Although Aoki doesn’t consider tournament play as his area of expertise, he’s had enough poker experience to be comfortable with providing some guest commentary at the 2013 World Series of Poker. It’s not surprising, though, as Aoki has spent time playing with poker luminaries like Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, and Phil Ivey – three players who have several titles from the World Poker Tour, whose events are sponsored by bwin.party, operator of Partypoker.fr. They also have 12 WSOP bracelets between them.
“In the poker world, Antonio Esfandiari is the one who brought me in,” Aoki reveals in a Poker News interview. “Then, I met Phil Laak through him and eventually met Phil Ivey. Ivey would come to XS, we would grab some dinner and hang out and talk about some other business stuff. He’s actually really smart and really intelligent, so having conversations with him is great. Ivey is a really great dude and we get along really well.”
Despite his current decision of avoiding the tournament scene, Aoki isn’t exactly keeping that particular door closed. “If I ever retire from DJ’ing, then maybe you’ll find me at a tournament,” he says. Judging by the way he’s going, that’ll be a long time from now.