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Poker News | World Poker News

The Round Table – Shane Schleger

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He's known as Shaniac online and Shane Schleger in person. He's 30 years old and he's already made money in the millions. Just off a final table at the Bellagio Cup in Las Vegas I caught up with Shane and invited him to The Round Table.

KL: You just finished up a couple months in Vegas for the World Series. What is it about the WSOP that sucks it out of everyone?

It's the elements; I really think the weather has a lot to do with it, and just the crowds. Although some people do, I think relatively few people thrive in it. More people are overwhelmed by it, just the sheer numbers. There are so many psychological pit falls, just being in Vegas and having to restrain yourself and find a balance from all the things that you think you might want to be doing. It's tough to strike a good balance during the World Series and yet you feel obligated as a professional poker player to putting in a lot of hours and being there as much as you can but at some point I have diminishing returns. Every year I say I'm not going to go back for the whole time, I'm just going to do a couple weeks here and there and the last three years I have gone back and stayed the whole time. It is exciting too, there is a unique energy.

KL: How do you recover from it?

Just get back on the road. I think the reason I like poker and the poker life style is that it keeps me moving, so I get to see new places. Going to new places sort of refreshes me and inspires me. Sitting around too much on my couch in sunny southern California just gets me complacent. I want to go to the next place; I want to get on the road again. I'm basically never happy wherever I'm at. I'm looking forward to the next thing. Maybe that's why I like tournaments too, there is a finish line. I know what I am trying to achieve in this one space of time and then I can look forward to the next one, going on to some other place.

KL: You are an online player too, where do you play?

I play at PokerStars and Full Til t almost exclusively. I don't play as much online anymore, maybe two to three days a week at most.

KL: What is different about live versus online?

I really think you get a lot more information live, seeing the players and their personality. You can pick up on certain tangible things. I feel like I can make better reads live whereas online there are more technical aspects that you have to get right. Live you can actually get away with a lot of imperfections technically if you are good at reading people and situations. Online there are a lot of good players who know a lot of the technical aspects. Being able to pick up a read on them is obviously a lot harder sitting on a computer. Poker is really about capitalizing on someone else's mistakes. Online there is a lot more luck involved.

KL: What do you think about poker scene? There is kind of a scene within a scene because of the TV and fame aspect and it seems like there are now characters in poker. What do you think about that?

I think it's a little bit weird, but it's an interesting time because I feel like poker players aren't necessarily naturals in front of the camera. It's a weird thing. First of all I think poker fans are ridiculous, there is so much randomness and luck that goes into it. I don't really see how the entertainment is going to carry it though, but it might, I don't know.

The idea of poker fans is weird to me. It's weird that you show up in Mississippi and someone's interested in who you are or there is that generic celebrity level because they have seen you on TV. The funny thing about the whole TV versus poker thing is people don't really believe that you are a professional or that you can do it unless they have seen you on TV and of course being on TV has nothing to do with actually making it.

My parents might listen to me tell them that I can make money playing poker but it's not real to them until they see me show up on TV, which is sort of absurd because being on TV is really meaningless. That's actually kind of the annoying aspect too, once you are really willing to dedicate your whole life to your media appearance, and the way you come off, and the way certain people like Phil Hellmuth have mastered it, there really aren't that many benefits. It's not like you are an actor that has talent and you get hired for your work or anything. You show up on TV because you got lucky and now people have this sort of inordinate or undeserved respect for you that doesn't really help you in the long run. You still have to get lucky again to get there again.

A few people are able to monetize their media exposure but I think for the most part it's kind of like a drawback. It doesn't really help most of us financially. It's a weird thing. People are getting praised or recognized for something that is mostly luck whereas most people who are famous are getting recognized for something that is skill based, not just playing cards.

KL: How do you stay grounded with everything that comes with poker - i.e. the money, the semi-fame?

I did a lot of stuff in the world before poker. I had a lot of humbling experiences and if it wasn't for poker I would probably be doing something really mediocre with my life. I am really grateful for it every step of the way. Plus, it's been a struggle the whole time for me. It's not like I ever really jumped in there and became a superstar, so I guess I avoided that area where it could go to my head in a bad way. It's really more that I have a prospective from my twenties without poker. Most of my twenties I lived without the existence of poker and it sort of helps; I never forget.

KL: What are your future poker plans?

I was just in New York and then I went to the Borgata to play in the WPT event there. I have a trip planned; I am going to go to the Turks and Caicos event and Aruba at the end of the month.

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