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Poker Stories Podcast With Jeff Shulman

by Card Player News Team |  Published: May 08, 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.

To listen, visit www.cardplayer.com/poker-podcasts or download it directly to your device from any number of mobile apps, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify. 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, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho, Joe Cada, Freddy Deeb, and many more.

Age: 44
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Live Tournament Earnings: $3.5 Million

Top Tournament Scores

Nov. 2009 WSOP $10,000 Main Event 5th $1,954,395
May 2000 WSOP $10,000 Main Event 7th $146,700
April 2007 Five-Star World Poker Classic $2,500 NLHE 2nd $122,465
April 2008 WPT $25,000 Championship 17th $105,525
April 2005 WPT $25,000 Championship 12th $94,355

Jeff Shulman worked in land acquisition in Seattle before his father Barry recruited him to join the family business in Las Vegas. Together, they grew Card Player Magazine into the industry-leading media company it is today.

As a player, Shulman was just a rookie when he broke out on the poker tournament scene, making the final table of the 2000 World Series of Poker main event. The “whippersnapper,” as described by his opponents, was actually the chip leader at one point before a bad beat to Chris Ferguson sent him to the rail in seventh place. Nine years later, Shulman got his chance at the main event title once again, making the final table alongside poker legend Phil Ivey. This time, he managed to make it to five-handed play before yet another bad beat ended his run, with his chips going to eventual winner Joe Cada.

Now 44, Shulman spends most of his live poker hours grinding high limit hold’em cash games at Bellagio, with his summers dedicated to the WSOP schedule. In total, he has just under $3.5 million in career live tournament earnings. He has also launched a new startup, Higher Level Gaming, that will cater to the eSports community of players.

Highlights from this interview include being a summer camp lifer, how Michael changed the grades, Barry the ass kicker, the Chip and Doyle of spades, making money while you sleep, building a bankroll at the Orleans, dealing with bad beats to Ferguson and Cada, a love for limit hold’em, Hollywood home games in Costa Rica, running into Ben Affleck at the Oscars, getting owned by Gus Hansen, trash talking ElkY, hiring Phil Hellmuth as a coach, getting winning advice from Orel Hershiser, trash bracelets, running into Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and sucking out on Chau Giang in Bobby’s Room.

The Transcript Highlights

About His Experience At The 2000 WSOP Main Event Final Table

Jeff Shulman: I decided it was time to play the main event. I didn’t even have $10,000 to my name, or at least, the thought of putting up $10,000 was way too much. I got there and I remember that I was so nervous. I must have gone to the bathroom five times in the first hour. Just running out, missing hands, trying to figure out what I was doing, sweating. But after you win your first hand… Even now in the WSOP main event, I’m a little shaky until I bring in my first pot, and then it’s go time.

Julio Rodriguez: That was an interesting year at the WSOP, as it was chronicled in James McManus’ book Positively Fifth Street. There were 512 entrants in the main event. I don’t know how many were paying attention to you once they got to the money, just because there were a lot of big names left in the field, including two women.

JS: It’s kind of like when you watch golf on TV. If you’re not one of the leaders, you’re not on TV. And I was in the bottom 10 percent [for a while, before], it must have been day 3, I had pocket kings… maybe seven times that day, and I doubled through every single time. Out of nowhere, I went from not having chips to hearing my name announced as the chip leader.

JR: You take out [Mike] Sexton, Annie Duke goes out in tenth, Mickey Appleman in ninth, Tom Franklin in eighth. Just to give an idea of the type of poker going on, people were [raising 5x preflop back then]. You were the chip leader seven-handed, raising nearly every pot. In the book, McManus (who finished fifth) called you Lucifer, playing off the Chris Ferguson as Jesus thing. You were on cruise control, and then the infamous hand goes down.

JS: I was thinking, [even though they had planned on stopping for the night at six players], ‘could I win it all tonight?’ This guy Jack Fox came up to me and even said, ‘Hey, don’t forget. You can’t win this tournament tonight.’ And I just thought, ‘I think I can.’ (laughing) I remember that I was raising a little more on the button because I had seen Ferguson and these guys shove over and over. I think it was 15,000-30,000, and I made it 6x [with pocket sevens], enticing an all-in. And it happened.

JR: That’s so crazy that was a play that would [work] back then.

JS: It’s so much different than how I play now. But he did it, and I [was so confident, that I] stood up and raised my hands in the air even before the cards were flipped over. Now, I lost the hand…. he had sixes and I had sevens.

[Honestly,] I was so pumped, I had won $140,000. I was the happiest man on earth… until the next day. I was driving into Card Player, and pulled over on the side of the road and just broke down. [I realized,] holy shit, I could have been the champion. It could have been me throwing those playing cards into those bananas. ♠