Professional cornhole player Jay Rubin takes backyard game to another level

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You throw up a block shot and wait to see if your opponent misses left or right. Then you go over the top and hope they can’t push through, turning your two point round into a four point round. 

That’s how the mind of a professional cornhole player works, at least according to Jay Rubin, who lives in the northwest suburbs. He’s been working on his bean bag game for the last seven years. All of that practice has paid off – Rubin is now a professional cornhole player with the American Cornhole League. Rubin is currently the top ranked cornhole player in Illinois and sixth in the world. 

Like most people, Rubin started playing cornhole in backyards at barbecues held by friends and families. He realized that he had some skill at the game and decided to look into competing on another level. 

That meant practice and lots of studying – yes, studying – other cornhole players. What seperated the professionals from the great backyard players? It turns out there is a lot more to mastering cornhole than just trying to throw your bag in the hole. 

“A lot of players had flat bags,” Rubin says about the professional players he studying at the time. “They were executing a different variety of shots very successfully. So I wanted to make sure I had a flat bag.”

He also noticed that there was a lot of strategy involved. Players weren’t just throwing the bags at the board and hoping for the best. There were blocks happening. Players were throwing bags around those blocks. And sometimes you just had to go over the top with an “airmail” – think of it like a swish in basketball. You’re throwing your bag right into the hole without hitting anything else. 

Rubin began practicing hard whenever he could find the time. He has another full time job but he would squeeze in practice pretty much everywhere – lunch breaks, after work, after the kids went to bed. Then he began entering tournaments and he started winning. Over the years, cornhole tournaments have gotten more and more popular. You can find them pretty much any night of the week at different locations around the Chicagoland area. 

“Two or three summers ago I think I ran a 90% win rate,” he says. “That brought in about $42,000 between me and my partners.”

So far, professional cornhole isn’t paying “leave your day job” kind of money. But Rubin is adding more sponsors and has big dreams for his future, along with some advice for people looking to reach the pros. 

“You can go to the American Cornhole League’s website and find different tournaments and blind draws in your area. From there you can network and meet people that have the same interest. How far do you want to take it? Do you want to go out a couple of nights a week and throw some bags, have a couple of drinks and have fun? Or do you really want to test yourself against the best?”

You can see our full video story with Jay Rubin in the player above. 

He is always posting videos of his tournaments and other trick shots and tips on his Facebook page here

And big thanks to The Red Barn Restaurant and Brewery in Mount Prospect for hosting us for this shoot. They have a cornhole tournament every Tuesday evening. 

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