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Poker Stories Podcast with Shannon Shorr

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Mar 13, 2019

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Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Age: 33
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Live Tournament Earnings: $6.6 Million

Shannon Shorr wasn’t even 21 when he found his first taste of success in the poker world. The University of Alabama student won a satellite to the Aussie Millions and finished fourth in the main event for nearly $200,000. Later that summer after turning 21, he chopped the Bellagio Cup main event. With seven-figures in cashes, Shorr decided not to go back to school, at least for the time being.

Shorr was one of the most consistent performers on the tournament circuit during the height of the poker boom, scoring final tables and wins all over the world. Shorr is coming off a deep run in the 2018 World Series of Poker main event, where he finished 39th for $189,165. The 33-year-old now has $6.6 million in live tournament earnings.

Highlights from this interview include the switch from Alabama to Vegas, a passion for baseball, $5 home games, how berating a player led to an important friendship, winning life-changing money, how a coin flip led to Australia and a poker career, leaving college and ultimately going back for the degree, dealing with six-figure downswings, the comfort of Bellagio, a motivating weight-loss prop bet, traveling the world, fighting back the negative thoughts, dealing with fifth-place finishes, being a risk-averse poker player, new thoughts on bet sizing, why poker players have anxiety, and his deep run in the WSOP main event.

The Transcript Highlights

On How He Turned Pro

Shannon Shorr: I went to school for a couple of years, and I got into online poker and that went pretty well. I won a trip to Australia.

Julio Rodriguez: Yeah. So you weren’t even 21 yet. Well what made you even put money online?

SS: I started playing house games with friends for five bucks. We played seemingly every night at my apartment that I had as an 18-year-old. Then a couple of us started making deposits online. I lost probably $3,500, $50 at a time. I had a co-op job, I was an engineering student, so I was making money and able to afford to afford that kind of degeneracy.

JR: What was it, then? Because a lot of people they win on their first try and that’s why they’re still playing poker. Because they got hooked on the winning feeling. What made you keep coming back even after it wasn’t successful at first?

SS: I think like a lot of people, I was just like hooked on the gambling aspect of it. To be honest, it was gambling for me back then, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. My only experience with the game was playing with a few friends. But I started reading a little bit and actually met Jonathan Little, who was probably my first big mentor in the game. We started talking on AOL Instant Messenger.

JR: How did that happen?

SS: Party Poker used to have a chat feature back in the day, and one day I was berating a player in the chat at the table. Jon Little private messaged me. He was like, “Quit berating this guy.” He and I were both regulars in the sit-n-gos at that time. And then somehow, we exchanged [contact information].

He was like, don’t scare away the fish. And then the rest is history. We started traveling and playing a bunch together live, and he was hugely instrumental in my career. I wouldn’t be here without him.

JR: So you’re playing online poker and things are going well enough to the point where you’re playing big live satellites to go abroad.

SS: Yeah, there were step satellites back in the day to [Aussie Millions], and I was playing a ton of sit-n-gos, that was my specialty. So like all the regulars I saw were playing those, and I was like, okay, Australia. I’ll take a hack at that. I remember working it up. I think I bought into maybe like step 3 at $500 and then worked my way to the $2,000 satellite. I’lI never forget I won a flip to win that seat. A-K verses queens, river king and that sort of was the start.

JR: What happens if that king doesn’t hit the river?

SS: Yeah it could have been a very different story.

JR: So you’re in Australia and things go pretty well in the main event.

SS: Yeah. I ran spectacularly in that tournament, there were a couple of key spots where I got there on the end, like huge all-in pots. I remember I was like playing so crazy online. Back then you could just play so recklessly and run over people you know, and that’s how I was approaching that tournament. Everybody knew it and they were probably making adjustments, but I still was just going for it and I got there. Ran like God at the right time. Ended up finishing fourth for about $200,000.

JR: So $200,000 for a college student who just lost $3,500 in [online poker deposits], I mean that’s got to be pretty crazy for you at that point.

SS: It was, yeah. Right before that Australia trip I decided to take the semester off of school because I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch up on the engineering coursework. I intended on picking it up and stuff, but then like everything just happened so fast. I was like, I have to continue. Later that summer….

JR: You go you get the $200,000 in Australia and you ride that momentum all the way to Bellagio.

SS: Yeah, the Bellagio Cup, I ended up chopping and winning, for about $575,000 to end the summer.

JR: You started off that series by winning a $1,000 event for $126,000. Then you chop the main event, the $10,000 Bellagio Cup, for $575,000. How can you possibly go back to school at this point, right?

SS: That’s kind of what I was thinking. I just kind of tried to trust myself about what the right decision was. I knew school would always be there. I intended on finishing, and I later did. But, it felt good to just go with it. ♠

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.