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.