On the Button: Q&A with Shaun Deeb

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Shaun Deeb of Troy, N.Y., says his mission this World Series is to make people forget thinking he’s just an online poker phenom. The 24-year-old hardest-working man in poker chatted with Ante Up’s Chris Cosenza about his recent live success, his new training site and the greatest moment in his poker career … slow-rolling his grandmother!

What’s this we hear about you multitabling online during the Day 2 of Chad Brown’s annual event in Jacksonville? Basically I came into the day with half a starting stack and almost didn’t even show up. … I was almost going to just blind off my stack and say, “I’m just going to go play online.” It was a HUGE Sunday. So I was like, “There’s no reason for me to waste my day with 3K in equity of a starting stack.” So, I got to my starting table and told them, “Listen, I don’t want to be here. (laughs) I wanna bust, I wanna go play online or I wanna have a lot of chips. So I apologize in advance if I suck out on anybody any time soon. I’m just going to get it in really bad and please call me; I want you to.”

And so I double-up twice, and then I’m up to like 50K. … I asked the floor, “Is it OK if I play at the same time?” And he said yeah, as long as you don’t do it during a hand. So I was like “Cool!” So I just kept playing and clicking, and I had like 15 (tournaments) open (online) … and people couldn’t get reads on me because they couldn’t tell if I was playing online or live.

And then I had one of my most fun hands of the tournament. I had been really tight for like a full level, which is something I never do. … Tyler Smith opens; he’s really aggressive and happens to have a lot of chips. I have direct position on him and my synchronized breakage online started so I don’t have any online tables. It’s time to go crazy live! So I three-bet {3-Spades}{6-Spades} and I notice the kid in the nine seat had a really good view of my computer and could see all my tournaments went on break. … He wanted to four-bet me light, he said, but he knew because I was on synchronized break that I would just five-bet shove on him. He said no matter what happens on this hand Shaun is putting all of his chips in the middle, which was true. (laughs)

The dealer had pulled in all the bets, so Tyler only sees like a 4K raise to him or something, and he makes it like 5,100 more. He just threw out a random amount of chips, and I asked how much and he didn’t even know. … We were 100Kish deep, so I called his four-bet and the flop comes Kx-{7-Spades}{5-Spades}, so I flop a straight-flush draw. I’m like, “Sweet! Time to get it in!” But then he checks, and I’m like, OK, he has nothing. (laughs) So I bet 15K into like 25K and he calls, which was really weird, and I really didn’t know what he had.

The turn comes another king and he does what I expected the least, he actually leads out for like 25K. It’s a really weird lead and it makes no sense to me. I don’t think he has anything. If he had a king and was trapping or if he had a hand like 10s through queens who’d like the turn card, they’re gonna check, they’re not going to lead out now unless he knows I have exactly a flush draw.

So I end up shoving and he takes a few seconds and is like, “Oh, go back to your tables. This is going to take a while. At that exact moment my synchronized break ended so my tables started beeping again. So I start clicking away. Oh, and I forgot to mention, during the hand I was faking going to my laptop! (laughs) I didn’t want him to know I was on break. …I was doing everything to trick them to make them I was still playing online because if they knew I was on break they’d know I was more likely to be playing a hand loose. … He ended up folding what he said was Q-6-high and I showed him the six-high and he was like, “Awww!” … That was one of the pots that really sprung me to (the final table).

Has poker become so automatic for you that it’s just second nature to focus on so many hands and situations at once? Oh, yeah, 15 tables is nothing to me. I’ve done 30-40 so many times. Like 15 is easy to me. My decision-making in tournaments after playing millions and millions of hands is, every tournament hand I play I know what I’m doing already. I’ve already gone through every combination. … I look at the tables and the stack sizes and immediately calculate every possible outcome I’m worried about. I have a very analytical mind that can compute very quickly. I just think that’s a skill-set that will allow me to multitable like I could.

You just won $300K in a $1K Full Tilt event; you won a WCOOP title and you final-tabled in Jacksonville. What do you consider your greatest poker moment? I was playing a live $50 tournament in New York. It had 30 people; it’s my gram’s local league. We were at the same table with like 15 people left and I flopped like trip nines in a four-way pot. It checks around and (gets to the end) and I (river) quads. Someone bet and she calls. It’s like a J-9-9-7-9 board and I bet full pot on the river. She calls me. I say, “You’re good; I have king-high,” and I show her the king in my hand and she shows A-10 and says, “I caught him,” bragging to her friends about catching me bluffing. And I flash to half the table my nine and I’m like, “a slow-roll here.” And I show it and she was like, “Aww!” Now, people are going to feel bad for me slow-rolling my grandmother, but little do they know this was me getting even. She slow-rolled me the previous year in Vegas. (laughs)

You’ve had little success in brick-and-mortar tournaments. But as of February you had a second-, a third- and a fourth-place finish live this year. How important is winning a major live title to you? It used to be important. I’m only doing it to prove to people who say I can’t play live. … It’s not hard to win live; I’ve always said it’s a sample-size thing. I’ve played maybe 350 live tournaments. That’s really nothing. Online I’ve played 50,000. I was doing things wrong, I was a weaker player live, but it wasn’t like I should’ve been a losing player. There’s no way I should have had the negative ROI that I had. I just never got deep in something. Now I’m starting to get more comfortable. You’re gonna see me crushing this year in the World Series. I’m definitely going to be the sleeper for everything. I’m going to be making a lot of World Series bets, I think.

Tell me about livepokertraining.com. It’s going to be, I think, the best training site there is. I think the problem with current training sites is they just send videos. There’s no interaction; you don’t really work back and forth, you can’t send in questions and get answers from instructors. In our setting you’d come in for a weekend, hang out with me, I have a whole model where I’d go through the different stages you’d need to do, and you ask a bunch of questions, you watch me play.

With me there it’s just so much better … If there’s something I say you don’t understand and you’re watching a video you can’t go further and say teach me more about that. But now if we’re in person you can say, “I really don’t understand this concept. Explain it more in-depth,” and I can do that.