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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Shaun Deeb

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

I have been particularly interested in writing the story of Shaun Deeb for quite a while. Watching him go from one of thousands of grinders online, to one of the most popular players of our era has been one of the highlights for me as I’ve covered poker.  You can imagine my surprise when I read a few months ago that Deeb had announced his retirement from tournament poker.  I was well aware that Deeb did very little outside of grind online poker tournaments, most likely playing more tournaments than anyone else who has ever played the game.   I had felt that Deeb had seen everything there is in the world of poker, but I guess even the daily grind and bad beats were enough to get to him.  With the exception of playing just a few live events which he had won seats to prior to announcing his retirement and an online cash game now and then, Deeb has stuck with his retirement from tournament poker.  At only 23 years old it’s fully expected Deeb will make a comeback sooner or later, and many agree that taking a break now will help him be that much better of a player when he does return.

Shaun Deeb was born in Troy, New York, and began playing poker at the ripe old age of five.  His first poker teacher was his grandma, who taught him the basic rules, and even a little bit of strategy.  Deeb continued to play the game through his childhood, hosting home games with his friends on a regular basis.  When Deeb turned 18 he began making the two hour trip to Turning Stone Casino, where the legal playing age is 18.  There he began dabbling in cash games, where he found some success playing 1-2 no limit.  By this point he was a member of a few poker forums, and began meeting some people at Turning Stone that he had met online to discuss strategy.  These discussions with these accomplished players would have a positive effect, and fast one.

Ready to try the world of online poker, Deeb deposited $30 and hoped for the best.  It doesn’t quite match the stories of those that never have to make a deposit and are able to run their freeroll prize up to thousands of dollars.  No, Deeb had to settle for taking his initial deposit of $30 and bringing it up to $33,000 in two weeks, including winning $13,000 in a tournament in that time frame.  

Deeb attributed the 180 man tournaments on PokerStars for much of his success, as it allowed him to build a big enough bankroll to play the regularly scheduled multi-table tournaments.  In fact, for the year of 2007, Deeb won more 180 man tournaments than the number two and three players combined.  One of the reasons he was winning so much was his ability to play so many tables at a time.  At first he only played a couple tables at a time, but before too long he was able to work his way up to as many as 30 tables at a time.  Because of his skill level and his ability to play so many tables at once, he was able to contend for the Tournament Leaderboard month after month.  In fact, Deeb is the only person in history to win the yearly Tournament Leaderboard in back-to-back years (2007 and 2008).

Despite working his bankroll up to six figures, Deeb had major leaks in his game, but they didn’t involve anything at a poker table.  Deeb started playing casino games, mostly Blackjack online, which eventually caused him to lose 90 percent of his bankroll.  In a Blackjack binge that has been well documented online, Deeb wagered close to one million dollars in just a six day period on Ultimate Bet.  In that period he actually won $30,000, but unfortunately the rest of the time he was playing casino games he wasn’t as lucky.

Luckily for Deeb he has learned a very valuable lesson, and has been able to stay clear of casino games since then.  Another part of his game he has worked on was not berating players using the online poker room chat feature.  For a period of time when he lost, he would be unable to contain himself, especially if he had suffered a bad beat.  Because he played so many tables at once his play would suffer in all of them.  He experimented with imposing chat bans, but because he had so many fans watching his tournaments he liked to talk to them.  Throughout last year he has seemed to work on this tilt factor, and has become pretty much hushed in the chat boxes.

Deeb has a number of huge online scores, most of them among the largest in history.  Deeb has a total of three six-figure cashes.  On May 11, 2008 he won the Sunday Warmup for $102,543.  On August 10, 2008, Deeb won the FTOPS Event No. 9, a heads up tournament, for $115,014.  Just one month later Deeb made his biggest cash ever, winning the WCOOP Event No. 25 for $144,113.  Despite these accomplishments Deeb says his greatest poker win is when he won the three dollar rebuy.  Go figure.

Deeb has been unable to match his success in live tournaments as he has online, and many people feel this led to Deeb getting sick of the tournament grind.  For most of 2008 and 2009 Deeb was on the road, and usually found an early exit out of live tournaments.  People close to the situation feel the grind of playing more online poker than anyone in history, then combining that with tough results live, drove Deeb to deciding on this extended leave from the game.  At times Deeb did show positive results in the live game, however.  In fact, one of his best live results happened shortly before he announced his retirement when he finished second in the PokerStars Baltic Festival High Roller event for $41,739 in October in 2009.  His biggest live cash was $85,183, in August at the European Poker Tour event in Kiev, which he won.

At first people believed Deeb would just take the rest of 2009 off after making his announcement late in the year.  However, other than a few cash games he has stayed out of the online world since then.  He most recently played at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, busting out on Day 1.  When he decides to comeback people think it may be with less volume, so he can concentrate on having more of a life outside of the poker world.  Needless to say, the poker world is a less interesting place without Shaun Deeb. 

Editor's Note:  Deeb has definitely returned.  He played the Ladies Event at the 2010 WSOP dressed as a woman - later tried to explain it in a YouTube video. And he's back with force in online poker, winning the $750K Guarantee on Full Tilt in September 2010.

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