Sunday, June 7, 2015


Hello all! I just checked my blog and noticed I haven’t written in 2015. Oops, time really flies. This entry comes from a house I’m renting with my boys Mike Katz, Jesse Yaginuma, and Adam Geyer in Las Vegas. This marks the tenth consecutive summer I’ve spent in the desert playing the World Series of Poker (WSOP). I usually report here for around seven weeks and play 65+ hour weeks of tournament poker. We are just getting underway.
The summer is always magical in the sense that I get to spend it competing in something that I love to do. The World Series of Poker is an experience. People come from all over the world and from all walks of life to play in tournaments and cash games. There is action around the clock. In addition I get to hang out with an amazing group of friends during my downtime. I have countless memories from summers in Vegas with friends: watching NBA Finals, going to the movies, dinners, nightclubs, being poolside, gym trips, bowling, and just hanging around the house laughing until early hours of the morning.
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Something I love about the Series so much is that I can completely dive into my poker tournament experiences and be present everyday. I’ve played several hundred live poker tournaments over the course of the last ten years now, so it is an environment in which I’m very comfortable. No tournament is ever the same and I play with different players everyday. There are endless social dynamics to be observed. I feel I’ve gotten a great education on people given I’m exposed to so many different types at the table. Every human emotion can be witnessed at the poker table. When a poker player sits at the table he or she is not only risking money. One’s ego is ever-present and at risk of being bruised. I’m always interested by what it takes for mine to rear its ugly head. And I’m fascinated to watch how it plays out in others at the table.
Earlier tonight I cashed in the largest poker tournament of all-time in terms of entries. I finished 1428th out of the 22000+ entries in a tournament billed as “Colossus”. I will be playing 30+ more tournaments before I depart Las Vegas in mid-July.
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I’ve mentioned before about how much time I devote to personal development. I’ve been increasingly taking steps to become more present and to get out of my head. I guess we all spend time lost in thought? I’ve found that true happiness for me just means being in whatever it is I’m doing. I struggled in the past with vulnerability as I inexplicably cared too much what other people thought. Perhaps that is what caused much of my mental fog. I’ve increasingly allowed myself to be vulnerable with family and friends and in my poker career and feel it has been a remarkable success. I’ve entered a cool phase in which I’m just going to be me as I pursue the art of not giving a fuck.
My 30th birthday is next week. I look back on my twenties and smile. I visited 30+ countries and have memories that will never leave me. I’ve been running a business all the while and have found security mentally, financially, emotionally and spiritually. I’ve been surrounded by the most beautiful, loving, supportive family and awesome friends. It’s been a really fun ride, and I’m ready to see what the next decade holds. 
The truth is I have no idea what the next decade will hold. I’m coming out of a yearlong committed relationship with a girl named Justine. I travel so much that our relationship involved us seeing each other in different places worldwide, hanging for a weekend or a week or more, and then having to be separate for a month or more. By no means was it conventional. She’s such a special girl, and I’m really glad we had the opportunity to learn and grow from each other.
I’m sure many of you can identify with the pain and uncertainty immediately following a breakup. I dealt but was able to reasonably quickly get through thanks to healthy living and surrounding myself with family and friends.
Female intimacy is of course something that I want in my life, though I’m a little unsure in what capacity. I am learning that connectedness is so important in my personal happiness. I’m going to continue to be me and live an honest life. I am confident things will fall into place that way. Las Vegas in the summer is an okay place to start.
I expect I'll spend time this fall attempting to transition from playing poker full-time. The game will always be a part of my life, but I'm looking for a break from the constant travel. Also as Zen as I think I am when it comes to the handling the emotional swings of the game, I'm still not. I'm excited for the opportunity to do some different things. I'm open to hearing about any cool opportunities that you guys are getting into. I bring passion and hard work into everything with which I'm involved.
That’s all for now as I have to be awake early in the morning for another tournament. Thanks for reading. As always I’m available to talk about anything via email: I can be followed on twitter @shannonshorr.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mount Kilmanjaro

Hey friends! At 6:34 a.m. local time Friday I summited the world's largest free-standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro with my buddies Jesse and Paul Yaginuma! I consider it one of my biggest personal achievements and got so much out of the journey. The idea was proposed by Jesse and Paul over a year ago. I initially laughed it off thinking it was an unattainable goal. I'm really, really, really glad I looked further into it. A big thank you to the Yaginumas for being such cool fucking guys with ambition and a strong desire to live their lives to the fullest. This reiterates to me just how essential it is that we all keep an openmind about everything. Opening one's mind isn't a process that happens overnight. It's a matter of being exposed to different people, things and places. I'll take this platform, however small it is, to try to express that through this documentation of my Kilimanjaro experience:
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One of my immediate worries before I left was that I had overtrained in the final days leading up to the climb. When we booked this trip Jesse and I were about to head off to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. The WSOP is the busiest time of my year professionally so getting in tiptop shape was going to be hard work. I managed to get to the nearby 24 Hour Fitness in Vegas a handful of times where I would generally walk 35-45 minutes on the treadmill's maximum incline 15.0 at about 3.2 MPH (5.15 KM/H). I tend to keep myself in pretty decent shape but found this workout intense. In retrospect this was a poor way to train, but I had very limited time to get outside and do hikes in Las Vegas. Looking back, a better way to train would be longer walks at less steep inclines and at a slower pace. I finished my time in Vegas and made it to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. When I wasn't catching up with family and friends I was at Oak Mountain State Park hiking. I found a hike there that would keep me somewhat sheltered from Alabama's devastating summer heat and humidity. I'd routinely take the Green Trail to White to Yellow/White Connector to Yellow back to my vehicle. Birminghamians should definitely get out to Oak Mountain if you haven't. It is incredible. I kept hiking until about a week up until my Kilimanjaro climb. I did a quick 4 mile run in the Bama heat one day and then memorably ran a community 5k on a full stomach from the eatery Purple Onion the next, nearly puking for the final half kilometer.
I was in a great state of mind when I left Birmingham on July 31. I caught up with all my family and some friends which is always the best. Additionally I stayed on my meditation grind, more on that later. After a nine hour flight from Atlanta I connected through Amsterdam where KLM Airlines took over carrying service. I arrived to Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania after 22 hours of travel through eight different time zones to the nightmare that only my duffel bag had arrived. Additionally I'd packed a huge suitcase that included my day pack and much of the essential gear I needed, perhaps most importantly my broken-in hiking boots. My concern became real while waiting with many others in the lost baggage line in the third world country--watching workers document all of the claims with paper and pen. I filed my claim and was told that my baggage was most likely in Amsterdam and wouldn't arrive in time for my hike which was to begin in just thirteen hours.
I made it to our hotel and Jesse and Paul helped me keep my sanity. I was additionally calmed by the director of the tour company we'd hired, Ultimate Kilimanjaro, and told we could buy everything I needed the next morning. I slept surprisingly well. 
We had breakfast at the hotel as we awaited pickup by Ultimate. When the van arrived, the porters loaded all of our gear onto the top of the van and we piled in with the guides, porters and cook. In total, seventeen of us were in the van for around ninety minutes in addition to an hour worth of stops on the way to our starting gate. Before we could even get our backpacks on a monkey that was swinging from an overhead tree fell just feet from us then scattered away into the woods. We admittedly started the climb entirely too fast and broke quite a sweat on the first incline into the rainforest. I remember thinking "What did I get myself into?" Our guide Ewald aka "Professor" had to rush in front of us from below to slow us down.
We got a great taste for the rainforest and quickly made camp on day 1. Guides and hikers are required to sign in each afternoon at camp. Something is cool about the fact that history of Kilimanjaro is documented with paper and pencil. It goes along with the awesomeness behind the idea that you're out there, it's just you and nature and no interference. We arrived to 2 two-man tents that had already been set up by our porters, a mess tent where we would eat dinner each night, and a few chairs which we would generally chill in each afternoon after completion.
A quick note on the porters that carry all the equipment up the mountain: they are superhumans. They scurry up and down the mountain at a pace you won't believe until you see it with your own eyes. They balance or lightly support gear on their head in addition to wearing backpacks, tents, folding tables, and all kinds of other stuff. Even guys that weren't particularly big or were slightly overweight were getting after it. It was in two words, humbling and inspiring. In the next month or so I'm going to put together a short video of some of the footage from the climb and you will see it for yourself.
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We ate dinner on night 1 and left only crumbs. Jesse, Paul and I can really put down some food. The porters likely were laughing amongst themselves about fact that there was never a scrape of leftovers from the enormous portions they'd give us. Dinner each night was always a soup with bread, followed by rice or pasta with a meat or mushroom sauce. Or fried fish and potatoes. Or a plate full of carbs like grilled cheeses, muffins?, and other bread. One night at dinner we were brought our first dish. It looked delicious and I said, "Yum, chicken quesadillas". Paul took the first bite and started laughing uncontrollably as it was some sort of banana/nutella mix that we weren't expecting. It was a running joke on our trip. I found all of the food delicious, but another joke amongst my friends and me is that I will eat everything and tell you it's the best I've ever had. There was a chili flavored ketchup made by American Garden that we loved and ate  on whatever we could. It was the likely contributor to the tremendously painful heartburn/indigestion that I battled for the entire trip. I should have listened to my Mom when she recommended to me multiple times to take medicine along the mountain with me.
On night 1 I had my first experience with the Kilimanjaro outhouses. The process was to squat to a hole in the ground when as we like to say, you're "changing your diaper". The outhouses aren't exactly clean and don't smell the greatest. It was a workout in and of itself.
I mostly was asleep by 8 or 8:30 each night, occasionally rolling around in the tent for a little while when the conditions became colder. And let me tell you it was cold. On the final night it was to a point where we wrapped up in everything that we had in order to stay warm. As it got colder we all three slept in just one two-man tent for warmth. In my other downtime I read best selling Freakonomics on the mountain and found it interesting. We spent 20+ hours on the mountain playing a card game called "Presidents" that the guys introduced to me. I got pummeled all trip long.
I awoke around 3-5:30 a.m. each day, content with my night's sleep. The sun came up at 6:30 each day and we were able to catch some beautiful sunrises. I managed to meditate four to five days on the trip which was instrumental in me making summit. Breakfast each morning was a big bowl of pourage which we mixed with chocolate nutella, peanut butter or honey. Afterwards we were brought a platter with three eggs, six pieces of toast, and three medium pieces of sausage. I'd fold the sausage and egg in the bread and coat it with the chili ketchup.
We'd eventually get underway with our hikes from 8:30 to 9 a.m. The hikes were obviously spectacular and I stayed in the moment as best I could. We spent lots of time talking and joking, and I feel like I learned so much from my hiking mates. Occasionally toward the end of hikes we would stream music as motivation. I played Eric Prydz "Liberate" countless times.
We eventually emerged from the rainforest and things really started to open up. It wasn't until late day 2 that we actually got a view of the peak that we'd attempt to conquer. It was a cool feeling not thinking but knowing that the guys and I were going to summit. I don't really have words to describe the views we saw along the way, so I'll let the footage speak for itself when I put it together. I used a GoPro that I wore on a headband. I would have liked to get more footage but was often in the moment and would forget to start rolling. I think we got some great stuff between the three of us. 
The summit day at Kilimanjaro is the experience that most needs to be written about. We reached base camp around 2 p.m. on Day 6. For the first six days we averaged around 4 hours of hiking per day including occasional stops for rest or water. We had just a ten hour break before our summit climb was set to begin at midnight, starting day 7. The guys and I managed to get very little sleep in the meantime.
We awoke to an alarm at 11:15 p.m. and finished putting on all of our gear before consuming some tea and crackers. We got underway around 12:30 a.m. We began the steep ascent of the mountain in the dark night lit up only by an unforgettable view of the full moon and stars and by all of us hikers' headlamps in a line. The view was literally something from another world. It is one of the reasons you should book your Kilimanjaro trip as soon as possible. We trekked and trekked and trekked for over four hours and I can speak for all of us when I say that we were physically and mentally exhausted. Still, there was no chance of us coming up short. The conditions were well below freezing, and we couldn't feel our fingers and toes for the majority of the trip. It was around this point that I experienced the best high of my life. It was the type feeling you hear super long distance runners and other extreme athletes talk about when they're pushed to the absolute brink. It was amazing. I occasionally smoke weed and have used MDMA a handful of times. It should be said these substances have played a vital role in my growth as an individual and are both excellent if used responsibly. They cannot compare to the feeling I had on the mountain however.
Around 5 a.m. we were informed by our tour guides Ewald and Amadeus that we were ninety minutes from summit. This is the point that I found my true second wind and became overwhelmed by emotion. I drew so much strength from the yoga and meditation practices that I've incorporated into my life. I just kept breathing, staring at the shoes in front of me, and taking one step at a time. We were going to accomplish this feat. Around 45 minutes from summit we reached Stella Point which stands 18885 feet above sea level.
Things flattened out and we all pushed on toward summit. Our dream came true at 6:34 a.m. Paul surprised Jesse and me with a flag from our hometown states of Maryland and Alabama, respectively. Regrettably it was so windy that my flag is barely visible in the pictures. We hugged and high-fived then took some quick pictures in the freezing and windy conditions as dozens of others hurriedly took pictures as well. We were at summit for maybe fifteen minutes. At summit we bumped into two dudes from Dallas that we saw and chatted with each day along the way. We also became friendly with a group of girls from Canada and the US. I know we all served as motivation for each other.
The real struggle of the trip for me was coming down the mountain. Having never really experienced altitude, I really got hit at the summit and had some difficulty skating down the initial 2.5 hours of the mountain. My headache was pounding and I was completely exhausted. Thanks to Jesse and Paul's motivation I eventually made it. Once back down the mountain to base camp around 10 a.m., we debated whether to walk the three hours to the intended final night's camp or to truck on for six hours to reach the starting gate of the mountain. It was a no-brainer, and we chose the latter to avoid spending another cold night on the mountain. We also wanted a shower so ridiculously bad. Sixteen hours of hiking later, the porters loaded up all the gear and the seventeen of us piled into the van. 
Jesse, Paul and I arrived at the hotel at long last. Showers were so important to us that we flipped coins to determine which lucky guy amongst us got to go first. I got third. We headed downstairs for an appropriately named African lager called 'Kilimanjaro'. We were just about to walk upstairs and get sleep when our guides and newfound friends Ewald and Amadeus pulled up in a vehicle outside the hotel. We all piled in a car and headed out to the nearby Moshi, Tanzania bars/nightclubs. We took over the dance floor with our favorite porter, Peter. I finally slept after 2 a.m. in what amounted to the craziest 24 hours of my life. 
The next day we relaxed around the hotel playing countless games of Presidents and eating countless plates of beef curry before eventually departing. I recently flew up to Barcelona, Spain. I'm chilling for a few days and then competing in the Pokerstars European Poker Tour series starting this weekend. I hope this entry is enough to convince you guys to book your trip. Nothing is unattainable. 
I can be reached to talk about anything by Keep an eye out for the short video which I'll link to on twitter: @shannonshorr hopefully within the next month. I'm interesting in hearing about big adventures that you guys have gone on that you can highly recommend. I won't stop at Kilimanjaro.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Hey guys. Thanks for checking out this entry. I trust that you're all out there doing what you love and living life to the fullest. This blog entry comes on the heels of a summer spent in Las Vegas playing poker tournaments at the World Series of Poker. This marks the 9th consecutive summer I've competed in the Series. From a financial perspective, things went poorly. I am reasonably happy with the effort and focus that I brought each day which is most important to me when it comes to playing tournaments. I have written about the variance of tournament poker in past blogs, so I won't bore you guys with any of that. I will say that the business is as competitive as ever, so there is no time to make excuses. I need to constantly be working on my game if I want to compete at the highest level.
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The World Series of Poker is always a cool experience. One of the best parts is annually renting a house with good friends. I find that I learn so much about myself and others with each of these summer journeys. There are also so many life lessons to be learned from the game. Over the course of the Series, I witness just about every human emotion play out at the table. People come from all over the world to enter the tournaments, so there is the added bonus of expanding one's mind by meeting folks from different backgrounds with views different from one's own. This is definitely one of the perks of the business that I overlooked and took for granted early in my career. I feel that opportunities like this have been instrumental in my personal growth, and I'm forever indebted to the game of poker for providing them. I was more social at the tables this year then I ever have been during the Series. I met so many cool people at the tables. I prefer to chat in the early levels of the smaller events as I'm usually playing against people I haven't met before. In the events I play with a lot of tournament regulars, I am very quiet at the tables. I find it difficult to maintain conversation and still stay focused on the task at hand.
Let's be honest, the summers are a lot more fun when you're winning money. I have been able to mostly keep my sanity when going through downswings, however. It has not been an easy process, but it gets easier and easier with time. To anyone struggling with this, I'd suggest focusing on bringing yourself to the present moment and looking around. How lucky are we to have the opportunity to do what we love? How lucky are we to get paid to do it? People worldwide are dealing with real problems every second of every day. Inexplicably, I used to embarrass myself publicly complaining when things weren't going my way in poker. I've been on my life balance grind for the last few years and have had my eyes opened to the reality that poker is such a small piece of this world. Deriving one's self worth from his or her poker results is a very dangerous way to live. 
I played a career-low 21 WSOP events this summer. I took two weeks off in the middle of the Series to attend World Cup 2014 in Brazil. I went with some of my best friends Adam Geyer, Jesse Yaginuma and Byron Kaverman. Talk about a great time! We spent 6 days in Salvador and 3 days in Rio de Janeiro, both of which were absolutely beautiful cities. I found the Brazilian locals very kind and welcoming. The cuisine was awesome. I say this despite a street-meat experience gone bad that left us feeling terribly for a couple days. While in Brazil, we attended 3 pool play matches: Spain vs Netherlands, Germany vs Portugal, and Spain vs Chile. One of my favorite things to do is attend live sporting events. That said, the Spain vs Chile game in Rio was the craziest atmosphere of any game I've attended. My friends and I were supporting Chile that afternoon as was 90% of the attending crowd. The Chilean fans were going hard nonstop from start to finish, and you could sense the magnitude of the win for that country as they knocked off the Spanish dynasty. The World Cup was a true life experience, and I'm really glad my friends and I took the initiative to make the trip despite it being in the middle of our busiest time professionally. 
Along my spiritual journey I've determined that I'm at my happiest when I'm having new experiences. I'll continue to jump at opportunities to do new things. Earlier this year I was introduced to formal meditation. I read a book called "8 Minute Meditation" by Victor Davich. I cannot recommend it more highly. I was on the brink of getting into meditation for maybe a year prior. It felt somewhat intimidating and I don't think I was quite ready for it. I feel fortunate to have been exposed to the practice and feel that I'm reaping many of its benefits. I feel that I'm able to get the most out of each of my experiences on days that I've meditated and worked out. It helps me bring myself to the present moment. Of course the present moment is all that we have so we might as well make the most of it. I'm finding that when I'm in whatever I'm doing that I am extremely happy. The fact that I'm present allows me to accept each situation as it is. I'm able to better ascertain what is and is not in my control. Meditation is very personal so you will just have to try it for yourself. Do yourself the favor of sticking it out when the process gets tough. 
I have another big adventure on the horizon. I'm going to climb the Lemosho route of Mount Kilimanjaro in the African country of Tanzania in less than three weeks. It will be quite the journey and takes a full 8 days roundtrip. When I touch down in Tanzania, I will have visited all of the world's continents aside from Antarctica. I will be on a private climb with Jesse and his younger brother Paul. I expect that this will be very transformative from a personal growth standpoint. It's a huge bonus to do it with two great friends that I respect so much. I'm sure we'll learn a lot about ourselves. It will be a test physically to reach the summit of 19,341 feet. I trust that we will all have the endurance and motivation to reach the top, however the altitude poses a bit of a challenge. 
After Kilimanjaro I'm headed to one of my favorite cities, Barcelona. I'm so inspired by the Spanish city already, so it's going to be extra special to be there in a great mindset after summiting Kilimanjaro. I intend on staying 17 days and will be playing a bit of poker while there. The European Poker Tour is hosting it's 100th overall series which should make for an awesome turnout. I'll be itching to play poker again and hopefully can walk away with a big score! 
I'll fly from Barcelona to Spokane, Washington at the end of August. One of my best friends Mike Katz is marrying his lovely fiance Kara in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It will be a wedding for the ages as a huge group of my friends will all be in attendance. I'm looking forward to it. Recently when I booked a multiway flight from Birmingham, Alabama to Tanzania to Barcelona to Spokane, Washington I couldn't help but wonder if that exact flight route will be booked by anyone else ever. 
It feels good to do a little writing. I hope to do some more of it. I'm on my way back to Birmingham in the morning to catch up with friends and family and to prepare my mind and body for Kilimanjaro. I literally can't wait to see my family. They are so special to me and always remind me how great life really is. My niece Alaina is approaching her 2nd birthday and my sister Heather and brother-in-law Ben are welcoming another baby girl Madeline in September. It's a very exciting time for us. A few months ago I met a really special girl named Justine who lives on the east coast of the US. We have connected on a very honest and mature level in the time we've shared together. I'm really inspired by her and am looking forward to spending more time together in the near future.
Thanks everyone for reading. I'm always open to communicating about anything via email: I sometimes use twitter along my journey. If you'd like to follow me on there: @shannonshorr. I'm interested in hearing what you guys are passionate about. If you have an experience that you can highly recommend, I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Year

Hey guys! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season with family and friends. Mine was fantastic as I spent 9 days at my condo in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. I saw a lot of old friends and spent a bunch of time with my family. My niece Alaina is now 16 months old, and I'm enjoying unclehood much more than I could have ever imagined. I always find myself so happy and relaxed when spending time with family.
Between stints in Birmingham I played some poker tournaments in two incredible cities, Montreal and Prague. I can speak highly of these cities as I've now visited both multiple times.

The thing that stands out about Montreal is just how friendly the people are. My previous trips to Prague hadn't convinced it was worthy of all the praise, but I really fell for the Czech city this time. My friends and I rented an apartment near the city and did a LOT of walking, taking it all in. It has been said that Czech women are the most beautiful in the world. I am inclined to believe they are #2 behind the Swedish.

Our successful business trip in Prague culminated with the unforgettable experience that was the Magnetic Festival, a one-day electronic dance festival with DJs playing nonstop from 7 pm to 6:30 am. It was a great night with friends celebrating life, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my 2013. When I have alone downtime these days, I'm either reading, watching documentaries, or listening to EDM (Electronic Dance Music).

There is something so inspiring about EDM, and I'm thankful I was exposed to it a couple years ago. Through this music genre, I've met so many people who are openminded, optimistic and enthusiastic about life. Everyone shares core values and is on the same page about the fact that kindness makes the world go 'round. I encourage anyone reading to give EDM a chance. My favorite subgenre is 'trance'. I've spent so many nights with my eyes closed listening to trance, thinking about the things I can do to improve my life.

As I write this, I'm in Los Angeles, California visiting some of my best friends in poker: Mike Katz, Adam Geyer, Jesse Yaginuma and Mike Sowers. We've had a lot of fun bringing in the new year. I value every minute I get to spend with these guys. When this crew gets together, we have fun no matter what we do. It's been a great week recounting old stories and creating new ones. Along those lines, I've been making a point to avoid using my cell phone when hanging out with friends and have found that the experience has been exponentially better each time.

I'm a big fan of Eckhart Tolle's book "The Power of Now", and it has me focused on bringing myself to the present as often as possible. This seems as good a way as any to start.

On Sunday night I'll venture with friends down to the Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas which plays hosts to the PCA (Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure), one of the biggest poker tournament series each year. I'm excited as always to play some more tournament poker. While we're talking poker, I should brag about a recent honor I received. I was named #7 on the GPI (Global Poker Index) Poker Player of the Decade list that was recently announced. It is one of the highlights of my career, without question, and honestly was very unexpected. I got the news around 3 pm on December 31, making it an extra special New Year's Eve.

I'll confess that it really made me feel good to get acknowledged. There are some poker legends on that list, so seeing my name on that list gives some validation to the countless hours I've spent taking care of all the things necessary to make a living as a traveling tournament poker professional. It isn't as easy as it may seem.
All the travel booking, all the missed and delayed flights, all the nights alone in hotels, all the nights sleeping on hotel floors, all the big scores, all the bubbles, all the miracle river cards, all the bad beats, all the nights partying, all the nights reading, all the people from all walks of life, all the cities, all the countries, ALL the experiences. It's been quite the journey. I've loved it. Can't wait for some more.

You can find the article below:

Happy New Year,

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back in the States

Hey everyone! I last wrote in September from Barcelona, and this entry comes from my condo in Birmingham, Alabama. I still have strong attachments to this city where I was born as my mom, dad, sisters and baby niece all live here. It is a perfect spot for breaks between trips as it gives me a chance to see everyone, catch my breath, and get back on my diet and fitness grind. I'm at my happiest when spending time with family, and this week has been no different. Earlier this week I returned from an ineffaceable 82 day trip in Europe. I once again return to the US extremely inspired and happy. A lot of my time over the last couple of years has been spent on a journey of personal development. I feel strongly that being in Europe facilitates that. It can be attributed to the fact that I'm able to stay very active, meet people from different backgrounds, and have some incredibly different experiences from those I have here in USA. I can feel a sort of personal growth of which, admittedly, I am proud!
After Barcelona I spent the majority of the next two months traveling and playing poker tournaments with one of my best friends in poker, Byron Kaverman. I feel very fortunate to have met Byron as we share a lot of the same thoughts and views about life and how we wish to proceed through it. Additionally, we had a hell of a good time hanging out and checking out what the different European cities had to offer. There were several afternoons where we awoke and high-fived commenting something to the tune of "Woah, great night". I also traveled and roomed at times with two other very good friends, Jonathan Little and David Peters which is always an awesome experience.
(Photo from Stockholm, Sweden with Byron Kaverman)
Chronologically, my trip looked like this:
  • Barcelona
  • Stockholm
  • Madrid
  • London
  • Enghien-les-Bains, France
  • Brussels
  • Paris
  • Copenhagen
  • Amsterdam
Of the aforementioned, it's a very close call between Barcelona and Amsterdam as to which is my favorite. Barcelona is extremely livable in that the weather, food, beaches, boardwalk, architecture and nightlife are awesome. I find the overall ambience of Amsterdam to be the best of all European cities I've visited. I say that despite having spent most of my time there in cold, rainy Novembers. The Dutch people are incredibly friendly, tolerant and openminded. I've been fortunate to make some very good friends in the city which really helps.
I spent almost a month in Stockholm and would be doing it a disservice if I didn't mention how much I loved it. I found the Swedish city progressive, clean, health-conscience and convenient. London is really growing on me. If you can't find something you like it London, you're doing it wrong. It is unmatched culturally, the food is out of this world, and there is something incredibly cool about the anonymity that comes with residing in that city.
My time in Copenhagen, Madrid and Brussels has been brief, so I'm not qualified to comment on those cities. The only other major city I didn't mention was Paris. I've tried to get into Paris but haven't quite fallen for it yet. Despite being a very experienced traveler, I find Paris at times difficult to maneuver as a monolingual (read: dumb) American. 
I will spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family here in Alabama before emplaning on one final trip in 2013. On Friday I fly to Montreal where I'll spend one week for a World Poker Tour (WPT) event. I'll then cross the Atlantic once more for my third annual trip to Prague, Czech Republic where I'll be competing for two weeks in events hosted by both the WPT and the European Poker Tour (EPT). 
It has been a somewhat successful year for me professionally, so I had half a mind to take a very extended holiday through 2013. That won't be the case though, as I have found myself near the top of the leaderboard in a couple of Global Poker Index (GPI) categories as a result of a successful fall in Europe.
The GPI is the foremost system when it comes to ranking tournament poker players worldwide. As of today, I am at an all-time personal best of World #5. I am currently ranked 6th in the GPI Player of the Year race. If I can create some magic in Montreal and Prague, I have a shot of catching the Canadian leader, Daniel Negreanu. My trip was highlighted by a final table appearance in the €10450 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event in Enghien-les-Bains where I finished 8th out of 375 entrants. I had subsequently final tabled another WSOPE event days prior, the €5300 Mixed-Max event as I finished 5th in the 140 player field. I made another major final table at the end of the trip as I finished 8th of 410 entrants in the €1590 re-entry event at the Master Classics in Amsterdam.
It's important that I explain that the GPI systems rank only results, not necessarily tournament poker skill. By no means am I the fifth best tournament player in the world. At least, that isn't distinguishable simply by staring at the list of ranked players' names. In fact, there is so much variance in tournament poker that it is impossible to measure. It would be foolish and unprofessional to blame one's personal downswings on the variance in tournament poker and then hail oneself the greatest when he or she is at the top of the leaderboards.
(Photo with the other World Series of Poker Europe Main Event final tablists. Eventual winner in bottom right, 19 year old Spaniard Adrian Mateos Diaz.)
As I've said before, I am for the most part not motivated by my actual tournament poker results nor where I sit on the tournament leaderboards. I am much more concerned with my level of focus while competing, my preparation, and the decisions I make. However, I feel it is in my best professional interest to sort of go after these titles. I really love playing tournament poker right now, so it is a nice excuse to play some more. I think that the live tournament poker arena is in a really cool place. It is extremely competitive and ever-evolving. The leading personalities, for the most part, are young, inspired, healthy, friendly, well-rounded and great role models. I feel honored to be around them. While I haven't made many plans for my 2014 aside from attending the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in Bahamas in January, I expect I will continue to spend a lot of time playing live tournament poker. A friend told me something recently that resonated: "To give up something you love would be a travesty."
Happy Holidays everyone. Thanks for reading. I can be reached to talk about anything by email I'm trying to cut down on time spent on social media, but at times I'll document my journey on my twitter account: @shannonshorr.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


What's up everyone? Thanks for checking this out. I haven't written in several months. I continue to struggle with writer's block. I'm shaking my head wondering where I got the inspiration to write as often as I did in years past. As I write this, I'm in an apartment in Barcelona, Spain with two of my friends Jonathan Little and Byron Kaverman. We're competing in a European Poker Tour tournament series that's being hosted in this spectacular city. We're preparing for tomorrow's €10300 ($13,600) buy-in highroller tournament that should be a lot of fun.
I once said that of the places I've been, Berlin was my all-time favorite. Barca might get that nod now. Incidentally, I was here in 2006 but was way too young, immature and preoccupied with poker to appreciate the place. When Sunday comes around it is going to be very hard to leave.
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Since my post five months ago, life as a whole has been great. My personal poker results in that time have been just okay, but fortunately I've been on the right side of some poker related business. I don't put a ton of stock in the actual results of the tournaments I play, if you can believe that. I of course want to win as much as anyone, but I have adopted the mindset that my job is simply to go to the casino and make the best possible decisions. Then, one hopes to be on the right side of variance. One of the main differences I see between the very top, long-time tournament players versus those aspiring to be there is that the top guys understand this. I'll add that it is quite liberating.
In the Spring, I played a couple live tournament series in Jacksonville, FL and Montreal, Canada with a little success, and then I got crushed playing the online SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker) on Pokerstars before taking some downtime at my condo in Birmingham, AL. 
While in the south, my friend Jeff and I attended the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship in Atlanta which was an out of this world experience.
I spent 50 days in the desert of Las Vegas playing the World Series of Poker. This marked the eighth consecutive summer I've spent in that city. The WSOP is something that every casual poker player must experience at some point in his or her life. Each summer, tens of thousands of people flock there and eat, breathe, and sleep poker for the length of their stay. It has become such a production, and I think that everyone involved in putting it on did a first rate job. The WSOP experiences I've had while living with my best friends in Vegas are easily the most memorable of my career. Poker can be deflating at times, but those times are easy to forget about when you're surrounded by positive-thinking people like the guys I know. Perspective is everything.
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(Photo from Osaka, Japan. From left: me, Mike Katz, Adam Geyer, Jesse Yaginuma)
My 2013 WSOP was relatively breakeven despite five cashes including an unofficial final table 7th place finish in the marquee $25,000 six-handed event for what looked on paper to be $130,000. For one of the only handful of times in my career, I sold some action to this tournament. Additionally, I swapped percentages with other individuals. These are both extremely common practices in our world of tournament poker that go almost completely hidden from the public eye. Take these things into consideration plus the mounting buy-ins in tournaments in which I did not cash, that figure starts to be pulled back down to $0. I had the opportunity to play the $111,111 buy-in One Drop event and took a decent percentage of myself. I did not cash in the event.
In the aforementioned $25k event, I was really close to victory and the $1.2 million dollar first prize. In what is kind of the story of my live tournament career, it was another near miss. One of the world's best poker players, Phil Galfond (pictured together below) and I played an unavoidable coinflip for the chiplead and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity, and I was on the wrong side. The difference between 7th and 1st in that event is obviously a mindboggling amount of money. But at the risk of sounding arrogant, I'm in no position to complain about my luck. Coming so close over and over again can be frustrating, but I am at peace with it. I'm really hungry and focused as I still seek my first major tournament title almost 8 years later.
After the grind of Vegas, I took some much needed downtime in Birmingham. I caught a Braves game in Atlanta, attended my childhood friend Scott's wedding, and went to Destin, FL for a weekend with my mom. While in Birmingham, I was introduced to Bikram Yoga which I cannot recommend more highly. I hope to get back into it when I get some spare time. I also attended my 10 year high school reunion and had a blast with old friends in a night I'll never forget.
So here I am back to traveling. Our Barcelona trip is on the heels of a trip in South Florida where my friends and I played in a huge record-breaking tournament. I finished in the money of that tournament and was eliminated in the money in the Main Event here in Barca earlier today. Both cashes were insignificant, but I like that I'm putting myself in a position to make things happen. 
On Sunday, Byron and I are headed up to Stockholm, Sweden where we'll rent an apartment and make home for a little over three weeks while we compete in the World Championship of Online Poker. Due to some changes from a couple years ago, we can no longer play on the major online poker sites in The United States. Hundreds of top American poker players have now relocated full-time outside the country or spend significant time in other countries to work. Byron and I were in the unique situation of choosing anywhere in Europe (barring Spain, France, and Italy for similar reasons) to set up while we await our next live tournament series in London. Having both traveled a lot, we wanted to choose somewhere we hadn't been. After some debate we settled on the Scandinavian city. I'm loving being back living a sort of European lifestyle as this marks my third straight Fall spent on the continent. I simply cannot get enough of it. I'm trying my very best to stay present in order to make the most of each moment.131527 10101146963587845 1330136859 o
That's all for now as I need to get some sleep for tomorrow's tournament. As always, thanks for reading. I'm always open to emails about anything, Additionally, I'll be documenting my travels on my twitter account: @shannonshorr.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012: The Year in Review

Happy holidays everyone! I will start by saying that 2012 was the best year of my life. I have said that about each of the year last three years, so it suffices to say that I am happy with the direction my life is going. My happiness and enthusiasm for life are at an all-time high, and I am cherishing every interaction. This year was so unforgettable for so many reasons. In 2012 I continued to strengthen relationships with family (baby niece!) and friends, whipped myself into the best shape of my life physically and met so many wonderful people while seeing a lot of the world. Things went well professionally for me, which was a nice sweetener after a disappointing year in 2011.

It's hard to believe another year is complete. I remember as a kid being so intimidated by something being a year away. It goes without saying that time seemingly goes so much faster the older and busier we get. Our time here really is so valuable, so I think it is important that we all do our very best to live life to the fullest. I've said this before, but I look back on how I was living my life in the poker business from age 21-24, and I was just really doing things incorrectly.  At the end of the year I looked at my Excel spreadsheet and, inexplicably, made a determination of my happiness based on just how red or just how black that figure was. It has been so nice to pull myself from that mindset and become a more well-rounded individual who has interests, passions and goals. I finally bought into the philosophy that one really shouldn't concern himself or herself with the opinions of others. You want to talk about liberating? I've been living my life confident that my decisions are on point. I hope this is not coming across as self-important because that is certainly not how I intend it to read. My hope is that younger poker players who are new to the business read this and don't fall into the same bogged down lifestyle that once held me captive.

I did a lot of reading over the last 18 months on a variety of types of self-improvement. In addition I had the opportunity to spend 135 eye-opening days outside USA in the leap year that was 2012 (118 were spent at my residence in Birmingham, Alabama and 113 were spent Stateside outside Birmingham). The travel and the reading are two of my fondest memories from the calendar year as I feel like I gained so much perspective that otherwise had been lost on me. I've been fortunate to land in a line of work where I have a ton of freedom and realize that kind of travel is not realistic. Still, I challenge you guys to get out there and do some of it! Stay positive when things get tough. Adopt a sense of awareness. Look around. Things could certainly be much worse. Sometimes I'll be chilling on Facebook or Twitter and am just left shaking my head at the general negativity and complaining that has become so commonplace. There is just no place for it. Sadly, I was guilty of this for the longest time.

I kind of want to live in the moment in 2013. I'm going to wake each morning (afternoon?) enthusiastically and try to make the most of my time, wherever that may be. I've only really scheduled as far as mid-March. With regard to poker, there are certain high value tournaments that I have to play almost obligatorily. I'm going to the BCS National Championship in Miami to watch my alma mater Alabama take on Notre Dame, and then I'm going to play the European Poker Tour's PCA stop in Nassau, Bahamas. In late January, I'm going to play World Poker Tour Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the first time since 2007. My dad and I are going to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in early February, and I'm currently training for a half-marathon that I will run on February 17th in Birmingham. I'll most likely hit a couple of WPT stops in Los Angeles and San Jose, CA in late February and early March. That said, there are no signs of things really slowing down.

Here's to wishing you all the best in the upcoming year. I really appreciate you reading. As always, I welcome emails about anything Additionally, please follow me on twitter @ShannonShorr. Finally, if you ever see me around in Birmingham or any of the poker stops or wherever, please don't hesitate to say hello. I am at a point in my life where I am all about meeting people.