Interview: Shaun Deeb
Shaun Deeb is an online poker pro who resides in Troy, New York. He launched his online tournament career by turning a $30 initial deposit into over $33,000 in a mere two weeks. Since then, Shaun has dedicated much of his time to online tournaments and is currently among the top ranked online tournament players in the world. Having just turned twenty-one, Shaun is looking forward to taking a bite out of live tournament prize pools.
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PokerTips.org: You're known for playing a high volume of tables simultaneously. What is a typical amount of tables you might be seen playing at one time? What is the most you've ever played at once?
Deeb: I often will play nearly every tournament running on PokerStars if I am attempting to win their Tournament Leaderboard for that week. I probably will have 15-20 tables running during peak hours. The most I've played at once was 35. I was above 30 for a few hours each day, which became really hard so I had to cutback.
PokerTips.org: In what ways does your game play change when playing such a large number of tables as opposed to just one?
Deeb: Well, I rarely have just one table open. If I do it's either because I just started my session and that's first tourney that is running, or I am at the end of a session and that is the last tourney I am in. For the first case, I really don't adjust my game at all since it's the beginning of a tourney and I don't have a read on any of the players, unless it was from a previous tourney.
When I have one last table open and it's the end of a session, then I'm most likely in the money, or even at the final table, so I just really focus on player tendencies. I pay attention to who is stealing blinds from the same player repeatedly. A lot of players pick one person's big blind and attack it every chance they get. That can lead to good spots to re-steal from that person who I know is stealing with about anything. It's nearly impossible to notice these things when I have 10+ tourneys going.
PokerTips.org: What have been some key factors responsible for your improvement as a poker player?
Deeb: I used to play a wide range of cash games and sit'n'gos on Party Poker, which was my first and only site for the first two years I played online poker. I was a slight winner in most games but had terrible bankroll management. Lately, I have been lucky enough to meet some of the top online poker players and have really learned a lot just by talking to them.
PokerTips.org: This summer will be the first WSOP you're eligible to play. How do you plan on being involved?
Deeb: I plan on sharing a house with a few fellow online players I have met at Turning Stone Casino in New York, as well as at a World Poker Tour event in the Bahamas. I will be playing in the Main Event and a lot of the smaller buy-in tournaments as well. My first trip to Vegas will actually be next month for the Bellagio World Poker Tour Championships.
PokerTips.org: What are some of your weaknesses as a poker player?
Deeb: Due to some really bad self control, I lost over 90% of my bankroll a few months ago playing casino games. At the time, my bankroll was six figures. It's really sickening to look back and realize how much money I lost during that time. It was too hard for me to grasp just how much money I was betting and losing each day. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I have gotten past it.
Another weakness is that I get very emotional at the tables. I berate players way too often. I tried turning off the chat feature in online games but didn't like leaving people in the dark who enjoy chatting with me while they watch me play.
I also have a tendency to think that my opponents are moving all-in with a much wider range of hands than they actually are which often leads to making loose, ill-advised calls.
PokerTips.org: How many poker tournaments do you anticipate playing in 2007?
Deeb: Well, I anticipate reaching close to 10,000 tournaments, most of those being online tournaments. I also hope to play about 50-60 live tournaments with buy-ins of $1,000 or higher. To date, I have played 2,300 online and maybe ten live tourneys.
PokerTips.org: Do you play tournaments exclusively? If not, what cash games do you enjoy playing?
Deeb: I have a huge interest in learning other poker variants. I think it's important to learn different variants in order to improve your hold'em game. I enjoy playing $30/$60 limit Omaha hi-lo and other games like five-card-draw and deuce-to-seven lo-ball. I am a donator in most of those games, but the chance to learn and get away from the daily multi-table tournament (MTT) grind is well worth it.
PokerTips.org: What would you describe as your ideal poker tournament?
Deeb: I would have to say the 180-person sit-'n'-gos on PokerStars. I have played over 2,000 of those tournaments and have more first-place finishes than any other two players combined. Those tournaments have been a key component for me being able to play so many tables and still make a profit.
PokerTips.org: Is it hard managing your time to ensure you log a high volume of poker tournaments while also allowing ample time away from the computer?
Deeb: Yes, it's very hard to play MTTs and be a productive person. Depending on the structure, tournaments can take up to ten hours to play. In order to log a proper session, I need to reserve twelve hours of my time to poker. I try to play a few days in a row then take a day off.
PokerTips.org: What are some of your hobbies away from the tables?
Deeb: I enjoy smoking. Not illegal substances, but rather hookah, pipe, and cigars. I also enjoy making proposition bets with friends. Recently, I was a part of a piece by ESPN on a monopoly game I played with a few friends, one of whom happened to get third in the United States Poker Championships earlier this year.
Right now I'm trying to keep up a blog for those who want to follow my progress as a player. It's a rough site and I am a very bad writer. I guess there's a reason why I am a poker player and not an English teacher! The site, for anyone interested, is shaunnotfreddydeeb.blogspot.com.
PokerTips.org: Obviously, there are huge differences between playing a dozen tables of online poker versus just one table of live poker. What are some ways in which your poker habits change when you are playing live?
Deeb: Before ever being a successful online player, I was winning money playing live poker. When I turned eighteen, I started to frequent Turning Stone Casino, which is about two hours from my house. I used to win a lot in their $100-max no-limit game. The highest stakes I've ever played for took place online. That probably isn't the case for a lot of people since live poker is more conducive to playing for high stakes. However, after chasing losses online playing $25/$50 no-limit and $100/$200 limit, bad results motivated me to smarten up. Now, I don't bother playing that high.
PokerTips.org: After everything you've accomplished in the poker world, it must be somewhat refreshing to realize that you've only recently turned old enough to play at most major US poker venues. What are some of your personal goals for your future in poker?
Deeb: Some of my immediate goals are to land a six-figure score, win the yearly Tournament Leaderboard on PokerStars, and make a televised final table. My biggest single cash in a tournament is only $13,000 which was in the second week I ever played tournaments. I got very lucky to win that tournament. I have yet to reach the final table in any of the big Sunday online tournaments.
For the long term, I hope to use the money I make from poker to open up a few of my own businesses. Ideally, these businesses would still allow me to play poker and take trips to some of the great poker tournaments around the world.
PokerTips.org: For our readers out there about to go queue up twelve tables of online poker for the first time in their life after reading this interview, what words of caution and advice might you share with them regarding playing such a high volume of tables at once?
Deeb: Anytime someone asks me how I play so many tables at once, I tell them it took a lot of practice. Anyone who tries to play a lot of tables right away will be a significant loser at the tables. You are afforded so little time to make decisions that it's not something new players should try. If you take it baby steps and don't try to jump from three tables to thirty tables, it can be done.