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When I Was A Donk With Steve Gross

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Sep 16, 2015

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Steve GrossIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Before Black Friday, there was no American better than Steve “gboro780” Gross when it came to online poker tournaments. After finishing second in the 2008 Card Player Online Player of the Year race, he won it in 2009 and then finished runner-up again in 2010. It was a stretch of consistency that will be nearly impossible for anyone to duplicate.

In total, the Marlboro, New Jersey native banked more than $6.2 million in online tournament winnings. He hasn’t been a slouch in the live arena either, with another $1.9 million in earnings, including a 2013 World Series of Poker bracelet for taking down the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event.

Here, Gross talks about battling with a severely short stack in an online poker tournament.

In 2007 I was really starting to do well online and I had a few small scores in some of the bigger tournaments that had buy-ins of $100, $200 or $300. Then, the first time I made a deep run in the $1,000 buy-in Super Tuesday on PokerStars, I lost a big pot with two tables left and kind of limped into the final table as the short stack with just six big blinds.

There was a lot of money on the line, obviously, but I was so short that I remember thinking that I had to hurry up and get it all in. I found myself under the gun with 2-7 offsuit and I told myself to go with it. Of course, I got called and I busted.

Fast forward to now and I would’ve never shoved in that spot. It’s perfectly fine to go through the blinds in that situation and wait for a better opportunity. When I made that shove, I had no fold equity and I was up against good players who knew that. So even though it would’ve meant losing a blind or two, I should’ve folded.

The old school way of thinking was that any two cards once you got under ten big blinds would work, but nowadays I’m more than willing to go through the blinds in that spot and come out with four big blinds to work with. I’d rather put in Q-9 for four blinds in late position than put in 7-2 for six blinds from early position. Your chances of survival in the tournament are just so much greater if you wait for a hand with decent equity, as opposed to a hand that has so little when you are called.

That one bothered me for a while and for some reason, I could never really post a good result in that tournament. It was like I was winning everything but the Super Tuesday. So for some reason, that hand sticks out in my mind and is a good reminder that I can be patient and wait for good opportunities.