Monday, October 15, 2012

Backpacking Through Europe

Hello everyone! Once again it has been too long since my last update. I'm writing this blog entry from a hotel room in the breathtaking town of Lugano, Switzerland. Since my last update, I have spent 31 nights in the US, 36 nights in Costa Rica, and 18 nights in Europe. I'd like to go through and do the calculation for the last 15 months, as I've been spending increasingly less time in America.
After the World Series of Poker ended this summer in Las Vegas, I did about a month worth of unwinding back in Alabama. I then spent a weekend I won't soon forget with friends attending the wedding of our pal Eric Baldwin and his wife Mary in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. When I arrived back home on Sunday August 19 I got a call from my mom saying that my sister Heather, who was expecting a baby September 5, was on her way to the hospital. At 11:57 pm she gave birth to my first niece Alaina! It was a really cool experience and I look forward to watching Alaina grow up. I had a flight to Costa Rica booked for the 21st, so the timing was perfect!
From there, I headed to Costa Rica to play the World Championship of Online Poker with one of my best friends, Adam "simmsux" Geyer. Let me first say that Adam is the definition of a consumate professional. It was an honor to stay with him and watch how he operates: quitely, efficiently, and completely under the radar (by choice). With his incredibly successful WCOOP, he has cemented himself as an online poker tournament legend. On arrival, we almost immediately began an intense work schedule. Down the final 3 weeks of the stay, we averaged 70 hours per week of online poker. Talk about isolation! We did find some time for some amazing adventure. We played golf, went white water rafting, saw a volcano, went zipiling, went surfing, and saw a World Cup qualifying soccer match. I really enjoyed my stay in the country. Along with the adventure, the people and the food were fantastic.
My WCOOP series didn't go well, and I was less than thrilled with how I played at times. It's possible I'm being too hard on myself, and I'll give myself that it's difficult to maintain focus for the duration of that kind of work stint. I found myself tilting at times which is something that I can say with confidence almost never happens when I play live tournaments. Luckily, I won the Pokerstars 792 player $500 tournament last night, so I was able to more than recover my losses from the WCOOP.
I was pretty surprised with how much the online poker tournaments evolved in such a short time, and it took me a bit of time to adjust. Poker is certainly becoming less and less attractive as a means for making a living if you consider how all of our hourly rates have been undeniably affected over the last couple years. I am a firm believer that with the current state of the industry, it would be a very poor decision for any young, unestablished person to abandon school or work to try to make a living playing poker. The variance is just so incredibly remarkable. Myself and other players from my generation were so fortunate with the timing of our entry into the business: a time when the economy was good, people were uneducated about the game, and online poker was legal in the United States. From talking with other professional poker players recently, almost all agree that it would be a most daunting task to try to build from the ground up right now.
After Costa Rica, I went home long enough to see family and do laundry. I arrived in Cannes, France late last month in time for the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event. I had a short stay in that event, but I can only say great things about the town. It's so chill and definitely one of my favorite stops on the poker tournament circuit. I hung around for a couple days as my long time friend and (often) roommate Jon Little made day 3 of the event. Then, we took the short train ride to the town of San Remo, Italy which was conveniently hosting a nine day European Poker Tour series immediately after the WSOP-E. San Remo is another town that I really like despite many negative reviews from poker players. Admittedly there isn't a whole lot to do there, but I found myself spending hours just staring in awe at the natural beauty of the place from our apartment balcony. The 11 live tournaments I played in France and Italy were in a losing effort. 
I intended on flying back to Alabama after the series in San Remo, but on a whim decided to purchase a backpack, cancel my flight, and do some solo leisure traveling around Europe. I am completely intoxicated by travel, and now is as good a time as any. I spent the weekend in Milan and intend on spending this entire week in Switzerland. I'll likely go through Germany the following week. On Sundays I'll check into hotels to ensure stable internet so I can play online, but otherwise I will be staying in hostels and riding trains throughout. Milan was my first hostel experience and I loved it! Meeting new people is near the top of my passions right now, so there is no other way to travel in my opinion. I was initially worried about the isolation, but I have already met a ton of amazing new friends. I feel myself growing everyday and expect this to be a lifechanging experience. I have particularly enjoyed sharing travel stories and getting recommendations on places to go. I am due in Amsterdam for a tournament series beginning November 3 and am supposed to fly home 11/9. As far as I'm concerned though, I'll be traveling indefinitely. If you want to follow along on my trip, I'll be on twitter occasionally @ShannonShorr.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


As I type this, I’m sitting in my office in my condo in Birmingham, Alabama. I bought this place here in the city in which I grew up in late March 2011. The online poker fallout known as ‘Black Friday’ happened three weeks later on April 15, 2011. For those that don’t know, the three major online poker sites were seized by the Department of Justice on that day and online poker was essentially banned in the United States. I was a little unlucky with the timing of things, as I clearly wouldn’t purchase a home in a place where I can’t get any work done. Although I still call it home, I don’t get to spend much time here. When I do, I absolutely love it. My whole family is here, I’m comfortable, and it’s great for relaxing and having time away from the always-stressful career that is tournament poker.

I’ve been home for five days or so after spending 53 consecutive days in the city of Las Vegas. In my seven years in this business I’ve naturally spent a lot of time in Vegas. Truth be told, I don’t like the city. I feel like it’s very hard to find genuine people. Everyone seems driven only by his or her own financial success. There are amazing dining options, but aside from that there isn’t much to do besides go clubbing and gamble—neither of which I’m interested in doing too often. Still, I cherish the opportunity to be able to go work hard out there each summer. I had the benefit of living with five very talented poker players and great friends in Michael Katz, Adam Geyer, Jesse Yaginuma, James St Hilaire and Jesse Chinni. They all also happen to be amazing, well rounded, positive minded men, which makes the experience that much better.

I arrived in Las Vegas this summer in great spirits despite being amidst the biggest downswing of my professional career. I'd never entered a summer in Vegas in better shape physically, and I'd never been happier altogether about life. Something outsiders should know about playing strictly live tournaments for income (as I have been doing for 17 months) is the volatility of the endeavor. Given that only 10-15% of the field gets paid in each tournament, just cashing in a tournament is quite difficult. Add to that most of the money is loaded to the top one or two percent of finishers and you’ll see the necessity for making deep runs often in order to support oneself. Something else that people may or may not know about me is that since the beginning of my career, I have played tournaments entirely on my own dime. The reality is the vast majority of guys you see in the tournament arena are financially backed by other individuals. I told myself from the beginning that I would never be interested in being backed, and I was extremely fortunate early in my career to be in a position where I never had to be. There is something I love about going out there each day and putting my own money on the line. Not many people are saying it, but the truth is tournament poker is getting much more difficult. I can say that without question I’ve become a much tougher individual as a result of all of the heartbreak that is inevitable in this profession that I've chosen.

The first five weeks of this summer started out as had my last three summers at the World Series of Poker: miserably. I make a habit of spending tons of hours playing tournaments each summer, so no matter how hard I try, my overall state of mind is influenced by how the tournaments are going. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time playing these live tournaments, you just have to stay positive and keep the variance in perspective if you want to stay sane. It is essential to check your ego at the door and play each hand independently of the one prior. I can't count how many times I've seen guys bust tournaments as a result of losing focus due to another person at the table getting the best of them.

After scratching just 1 small cash in my first 20 events this summer, I had a shot in the $2500 mixed hold ‘em. It wasn’t to be as I finished 16th late in the night on day 2 in front of a rail of people that was around to see my tablemate Phil Ivey. A few events later, I made a push in the $3000 no limit hold ‘em event. Again, I came up short of the significant money as I finished in 30th place after busting on the first hand of day 3. From here, I bricked 7 consecutive tournaments before cashing for the minimum in a $1000 no limit hold ‘em tournament that uncharacteristically reached the money on day 1. It was at this point that I realized that I had two tournaments left to get my summer (and career) back on track.

I entered the $10,000 six-handed no limit hold ‘em event as focused as ever. This is an extremely prestigious event, so I knew I would have to be playing my very best to have a chance. In the first 25 minutes of the tournament, I was fortunate enough to double up versus a gentleman with a straight flush against his king-high flush on a board of Ac2cJc4c9d and started to think this could be the one. I struggled to get anything else going on that day and ended somewhat short. Early on day 2, I got lucky against one of the class acts in the tournament poker world, Dan Kelly, when my eights flopped a set against his jacks after we had committed my entire stack preflop. We eventually reached the money, but I slipped late in the night and entered day 3 in 19th of the 27 remaining players all undoubtedly losing sleep thinking about the $1.15 million first prize.

Things worked out on day 3, and I climbed to chipleader with around 15 players left. I will say this about that day: I have never felt more pressure to make a deep run. If I came up short it would have taken a long, long time to recover from another missed opportunity. I was feeling the magnitude of the moment. I took special care to be deliberate in my decisions, turned my phone off, and isolated myself on breaks from the tournament in order to keep my focus at the highest level.

One of the crazy things about tournament poker is just how much real money equity is at stake late in the tournament. I won’t bore you guys with details from the rest of the tournament, but I ended up finishing 3rd for $455,000. It hurt to not get my first bracelet after coming so close, but I gave this tournament everything I had. It just wasn’t quite enough. The eventual winner was Greg Merson who is a hell of a nice guy and a truly elite player. He happened to make the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event later in the summer and will play for a staggering $8.5 million when the final table plays out in October. I’ll add that everyone at this final table was extremely classy and professional. It makes the experience that much more enjoyable when you can just get lost in the grind of the tournament and not have to deal with annoying personalities and ego overdoses that, sadly, you so often see in our world.

The next week, I participated in the WSOP Main Event. I was happy with my play in this the pinnacle of all poker tournaments, but I came up short of the money by busting in the middle of day 3 around 1200th of the 6600 entrants with 666 getting paid. I was really exhausted after this tournament but as an afterthought decided to play a $5000 tournament at Venetian that would begin the next day as opposed to flying home. I just felt like my focus was at an all-time high, and I thought it would be a poor business decision to sit it out. I plugged along in this well-run, deepstacked tournament and ended up finishing 4th of the 398 entrants on day 4 for $126,000. It was a nice sweetener to end the summer, and I left Las Vegas the next day with a new energy and passion for poker.

Where do I go from here? I don’t know. I have a lot of thoughts about poker and the role I want it to play in my life, but I’d like to articulate these thoughts in a blog entry at another time. I’m considering going abroad and setting up short-term residency in order to make my return to online poker to play the World Championship of Online Poker in September, but I can’t say for certain. I’m also keeping an eye on the World Series of Poker Europe in Cannes, France in late September. Until then at least, it’s unlikely I’ll play a hand of poker. I have interests and projects I’m going to pursue from Birmingham over the next few weeks. Additionally, my older sister Heather is expecting a baby girl in early September! It’s an exciting time for me personally, and I look forward to what the future will bring. I’m realizing more and more just how fortunate we are to live this life, and I intend on embracing and living every minute of it.

I’d also like to add that I really appreciate the support you guys have given me throughout the summer (and my career). When I got in to this business as a 20 year old I could have only dreamed for it to materialize as it has. The words that some of you have said are so kind and so touching. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Blog Entry About Me

Some of you will notice that it has been six and a half months since my last entry. It's really strange to sit here and type that as I vividly remember blogging daily (sometimes twice daily) a few years ago. Honestly, I just grew tired of it. I look back and cringe a little bit about some of the stuff I put on the internet years ago. Call it poor blogging etiquette, but it got to the point that I actually took the blog entry archives off the internet. Additionally, I lost interest in talking about myself and have thoroughly enjoyed laying low and not reporting to anyone the last year or so.

It has been an amazingly fun and wild six and a half years to start my career as a professional poker player. It goes unsaid that this line of work sends one on an emotional roller coaster. That said, I'm extremely fortunate to be where I am and would do it all over in a heartbeat. Other poker players and I have it so good compared to many others, so I regret sometimes complaining on this blog. On behalf of all poker players, I'd like to apologize to anyone who has ever had to listen to us whine.

Anyway, this blog entry IS about me. Here is an honest, rambling account of what I've been up to since I last posted on November 1, 2011.

Let's get the bad part out of the way. Professionally, things haven't been going well. One of the things I've tried to stress in my blog since Black Friday (4/15/2011) when online poker was essentially banned in the US is the volatility of playing just live poker tournaments for income. The variance in tournament poker is something that only true poker insiders will really ever understand. I am a tournament poker player by trade, so I played 124 live poker tournaments in 2011 with an average buy-in of over $5,000. Comparably, online I played around 30 tournaments per Sunday for an average of about 33 Sundays per year during the years leading up to Black Friday. Obviously, it was nice to spread the variance out over a lot more tournaments. I won't sit here and make excuses though nor will I complain. I made my own decision to play poker professionally, and I will deal with the highs and lows of the business accordingly.

My short term plan is to move to Las Vegas for 50 days starting next week. This will be my seventh consecutive summer in Las Vegas. I will be renting a house with five of my friends, and I look forward to the experience. I intend on playing a bunch of events, but I won't go out of my way to play almost everything that runs. For the last 3 years I have been near the top of all players in events played. That isn't necessarily a good category at which to be near the top. After the summer, I will most likely hop up to Canada to set up residency so I can log in and play poker whenever I'm outside the US. Honestly, I would like for poker to be more of a secondary source of income for me within the next 5 years. I'm not sure if that can happen though as Black Friday was a big setback. Add to that the fact that I don't have a passion for any other kind of work at this time. I can still say with confidence that I love waking up and playing poker each day that I do. I'll enter each tournament this summer in a positive state of mind ready to work.


As I type this, I am in the best shape of my life physically. I weighed in at 173 lbs this morning--down from 237 on Jan 3, 2007. I can't tell you how good it feels to type that! I have fully dedicated myself to my health over the last 9 months or so, and I'm reaping the benefits. As my 27th birthday approaches in a couple weeks, I look back and am pretty disgusted with how I treated my body for most of my twenties. Something just clicked one day, and this sense of awareness came over me. I realized that my overall life could only be improved by getting into tip-top shape. I did it all by myself which makes me feel even better. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to find out if I had it in me, and I got the answer. I've developed a passion for running and look forward to getting into other outdoor activities.

I won't go into what exactly I've been eating because I'm no diet expert. I will say though as many have and will: DIET is the key to success in weight loss. For years I ran often enough but didn't understand why I couldn't shed pounds. You just must show the discipline to lay off the junk food, the late night food, and the big meals if you want to see a difference. Straying from your diet multiple times per week won't cut it. I educated myself on what foods actually were healthy--something else that you must do. I feel like so many individuals don't understand what they actually need to and needn't be eating. It's going to take a lot of work and it's not easy, but I hope this section of this entry motivates just one person to turn his or her life around with regard to health.


Any poker player you talk to you will tell you the difficulty of having relationships when you do what we do. By choice, I've spent most of my twenties single aside from one childish 19 month relationship I had. I've been gone so often and was never in one place, so it didn't make much sense to try to cultivate any sort of romantic relationship. I made some mistakes with girls by not being honest upfront, and I truly regret that. It finally hit home that my actions do have consequences.
At this point in my life, I'm still focusing on me. There are a lot of things I'm still trying to do and places I'm still trying to see while I'm single. I've enjoyed not having to report to anyone. The difference now is that I'm honest upfront with girls about my situation, and it just makes things easier for everyone. When I find a girl that I like that likes me, I hang out with her and we do what we do without labels and don't make a big production about it. I think there's something to be said about that. It's not for a lot of people, and I can respect that.


This is the section of this blog that I'll get the greatest joy from typing. I have increasingly been strengthening my relationships with my family over the last year. I love my dad, mom and sisters Heather and Carly so much. It has given me great pleasure to grow closer and closer with them. I'm in contact almost daily now and know what is going on in each of his or her lives. I've always had a great family life but at times people get busy and lose touch. It's a matter of making it a priority. I've always looked very highly at people with very strong family relationships, and I'm glad to be part of one.

Poker is about to take over my life again, as I'll be playing up to 80 hours per week for the next 7 weeks. Still, I have some non-poker goals and plans for the rest of 2012. I have been doing quite a bit of reading in 2012 and hope to continue that. A lot of my reading has been on communication, eye contact, self improvement, and human relationships--things in which I'm absolutely fascinated. Additionally, I'll spend much of my spare time attacking Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) that I just purchased. I've developed a fondness for foreign films, so I plan on watching a bunch more of them.

I'll continue to spend time in the gym. It's so easy to sacrifice diet and fitness at the WSOP each summer because of the horrible work schedule, but I don't intend on letting that happen this year. Another thing I'm really getting into is meeting new people. For the longest time, embarrassingly, I wasn't receptive to it. I love talking with new people now and believe that there's good in everyone. You just have to dig to find it. I cherish every interaction that I have in my daily life now.

That's all I have for now. If any of you are interested in keeping up with me, feel free to follow at Additionally, I always welcome emails about anything, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
I really appreciate you guys reading. Have a great weekend