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2009: A Year to Remember. A Year in Review. (Very Long)

by Shannon Shorr |  Published: Dec 31, '09

I've been back in Birmingham the last couple of weeks. It's been a really nice time as I've gotten to spend some time with my family and friends. Christmas was excellent for my family and me, and I hope it was great for all you guys too. The past 3 years I've recapped my year in a blog post, so I figured I'd continue the trend and recap 2009 below: I brought in 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana with my poker buds Adam Geyer and Mike Katz. Alabama played in the Sugar Bowl on January 2 vs Utah. Sadly, Bama lost the game but we had a helluva good time in New Orleans. We flew from New Orleans to Nassau, Bahamas to attend the EPT Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) event in early January. I made it fairly deep into day 2 but busted around 30 spots from the money when my two kings unfortunately couldn't hold against 87hh on 753r. I won't forget this bustout anytime soon because when the dealer placed an 8 on the end I had to suffer through the screaming and running around the table of the European who'd sucked out on me. I could hardly complain about my luck in this tournament as compared to Adam Geyer who was poised to win the $3M first prize before having his JJ go down to Alex Gomes' A5o on like T65 for a $1 million dollar real money equity pot before being eliminated shortly thereafter in 15th place. Things turned around for me in a huge way on January 11 and 12th though as I posted back to back outright victories in Full Tilt's Sunday Mulligan and then subsequently the FTP $1k Monday event. The two scores netted around $150,000 to get my year off to a great start. A few days later I drove south 4 hours or so and played WPT Biloxi but was eliminated on day 1. I spent most of February and March just kind of chipping away at school. I did escape long enough to fly to Los Angeles to play the WPT LAPC event. I played into day 3 of that event but busted just short of the money when my AQo fell to Pat Walsh's JJ for my final 20bb or so. I went back to school for a few weeks before heading out to Austin, TX to hang out with Adam during the University of Alabama's spring break. The following weekend my dad and I took our memorable second annual baseball spring training trip down to central Florida. When I got back from that trip I took part in lots of tournaments in Pokerstars' first ever SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker) event. Things went horridly in those events as I practically airballed the series after playing and running terribly thus giving about $50,000 to the poker community. April was definitely a month to remember. By virtue of winning a tournament at Bellagio in July of 2008, I'd won a seat to the $25,000 WPT Championship at Bellagio. I flew out of Birmingham early morning on a Friday in mid-April for the Saturday event. I'd planned on playing the $2500 mega satellite that day to try to scoop $25,000 cash since I already had a seat. I remember being tortured by a 2.5 hour delay while sitting inside the actual airplane in Dallas, but finally I made it just in time to register two hours late for that satellite before busting. I decided to wait to play the event until day 1b on Sunday of the $25k event. Things got off to a rocky start but I rallied late in day 1 before doubling through Ryan Young in a very memorable monster pot with my KK holding against his JJ all in preflop. I broke about even on day 2 as I picked up only about 7000 chips after being at a tough table all day. I limped into day 4 of this event with like 120,000 chips which was only good for like 20% of the average stack. This was a day I'll never forget because I was just sorta hanging around before doubling up David Grey in a 400,000 chip pot when my 87hh couldn't outrun his set of sixes on QhTh6d. I was crippled to less than 4 big blinds before doubling in consecutive hands through Steve Billirakis and tennis hall of famer Boris Becker. On day 4 I arrived at Bellagio 4 or 5 hands late after being unavoidably detained. I was sweating my 15 minute late arrival pretty hard because I knew I'd be missing +EV shove spots and because we were just short of the money. Well, I sprinted through the Bellagio and made it in time to get it all in with A9hh for my last 12bb or so vs Javed Abrahams two queens. The board came x x x x A and I was able to double about 8 spots short of the money. Later, my table broke and I doubled through a guy I really like, Nick Binger just two or three spots short of the money when I got it in with two tens vs his two jacks in a CO/Button situation. The board came x x x x T. I continued to climb that day then had a decent day 5. On day 5 I got it in with two kings against a guy named Andy Miller's AQcc with around 15 left. I remember being as nervous as I'd ever been in a pot as I had to sweat the community cards coming of Q324x. I just realized the magnitude of the situation, I think. For the first time ever, I had to get the dealer to break down my stack and count my chips as I walked away from the table to catch my breath. I ended up making the 10 handed final table and then making the 6 handed TV final table in what must have been one of the luckiest situations in WPT history for a would be final table-bubbler when my final 10bb were enough to sneak in after Brian Rast and Yevginey Timoshenko played an unavoidable 125bb pot with AK vs KK. I flew my entire family out for my first career WPT final table and spent the most enjoyable day of my life playing poker, despite finishing 5th which was still good for $408,000. From there, I went back to finish the last couple weeks of school. Shortly thereafter I was back in Vegas for the 2009 World Series of Poker. The WSOP was mostly a failure as I turned about a $60,000 loser in the tournament buy-ins. I did make my 3rd final table in the last 3 years as I finished 5th in the $1500 HORSE event. I gave myself a shot in perhaps the most exciting event of the summer, the $5k 6max NLHE event but busted 37th or something with first place receiving an absurd (for a $5000 event) $1 million and I added one other small cash in the $1500 PLO event. I played a TON of events including a lot of the mixed events in 2009 and really, really enjoyed it. I think I'll probably do the same next year and basically just play any tournament that's running. It was one hell of a tiring summer as I probably worked like 90 hours/week, but I'm fine with busting my ass for 6 weeks out of the year or whatever. After the series I played a few prelims at Bellagio before playing the WPT Bellagio Cup, an event I won in 2006 before it was sanctioned by the WPT. I airballed the series. I did, however, take a lot of fun memories from the summer, as Adam, Mike and I rented a super balla condo on the 29th floor at Turnberry Towers. I also finished 3rd in the Sunday Warmup for $68,000 like the day after busting the $40,000 event, and I had some poker related business work out for me. I had to hustle back from Vegas on July 22nd as I'd enrolled in an online Finance class that I'd need to knock out in order to be on schedule to graduate in May of 2010. I'd planned on getting up a couple hours early each day before the WSOP events and doing work each day, but needless to say that didn't exactly happen. I came back to Tuscaloosa and grinded 10 hours of shit per day for 2 weeks and finished all of the assignments and proctored tests with one day to spare before the class's deadline. I made an A+ in the class :) I had a couple weeks off in August before the fall semester kicked up in Tuscaloosa. After the first week of classes I flew back to LA for WPT Legends of Poker. I busted on day 1 and was back on a flight to Birmingham the next day. I played almost no poker in September as I spent Wednesday-Saturday of each week drinking myself senseless. Bama football had 4 straight home games and things got pretty wild. I did have enough time to play a couple WCOOP events. I narrowly missed a big score in the $10,000 HORSE event by finishing 11th, and almost simultaneously I fell short of the money late that night in the $5,000 WCOOP Main Event. I spent the month of October first spending a weekend visiting my mom in Williamsburg, VA, then hanging out with Adam in Austin, TX for Bama's fall break, then watching Alabama host South Carolina and then Tennessee in SEC football action. I still was unable to get out of Tuscaloosa for any live tournaments as school really had me by the balls due to all of the group work that I needed to do with teammates at school. I did play a few of the FTOPS events. Most notably, I finished 4th in the $1k FTOPS event on November 9th for $105,000. Six days later I put myself in position to have a monster score as I was 6th of the 99 players remaining going into day 2 of the $2500 FTOPS event with first paying $520,000 or something. I cruised most of the day but with 40 players left I surrendered a monster pot where I turned the absolute nuts then shoved for value on the river when a bad card came off. Unfortunately, the guy made a better straight and I was crippled and out shortly thereafter. Later that night I busted the $500 FTOPS main event in the money in 405th place. Late in the month my sister Carly and I headed over to Auburn to watch unbeaten Alabama play our rivals. I nearly had a heart attack, but we escaped 26-21 to stay unbeaten. The month of December has been great. As I said, spending time with my family over the holidays has been a real joy. I headed over to Atlanta early in the month as Bama played #1 Florida in the SEC Championship. In what was the most exciting atmosphere of any sporting event I've ever attended, we routed Florida 32-13 and are now headed to the National Title game which will take place a week from today vs Texas. I've actually seen Texas play two homes games in person this season (vs Colorado and Kansas) which is kinda ironic. Adam is a huge Longhorns fan and is going to Pasadena also, so it's gonna be a fun battle for bragging rights. In addition, I was in Vegas a couple weeks ago. I flew out the day of my last final exam and busted a $5000 prelim. Then, I played the $15,000 WPT Five Diamond event but busted in the middle of the pack on day 2 as I was never really able to get much going. By my count, I played 6 World Poker Tour events, an EPT event, and 29 WSOP events in 2009 which is still a decent amount of poker considering I was a full-time student for the fall and spring semesters. In addition, I probably played 7 or 8 other preliminary events. I finished this semester with an ever-satisfying 3.53 GPA. My cumulative GPA since I returned to school in August 2008 happens to be 3.53 as well. I will graduate from the University of Alabama on May 8, 2010. Personally 2009, I must say, was pretty fucking awesome. I might even go so far as to rank it the best calendar year of my life when all things are considered. From a poker standpoint I put together a very nice year financially despite only playing maybe 17-20 hours per week on average. The bulk of those hours came in the form of the 2009 WSOP. The winning year marks the 3rd of my 4 year career as a professional poker player, with 2007 being a pretty miserable close-to-breakeven year financially. I think my close group of poker friends and I have become much better players as a result of our tight knit group, and I think we'll all continue to improve. This year our boy Eric Baldwin had a stratospheric year and won a WSOP bracelet and Cardplayer's Player of the Year title. I can't wait to see all the damage that we do as a group next year. The stars really sort of aligned too with the timing of my return to The University of Alabama. I was able to come back and knock out two more semesters of school while the poker industry's numbers were down, and I've been able to enjoy an incredibly exciting season of Alabama football. Also, I was able to invest a lot of money in the stock market at pretty much the optimal time and let that money go to work for me while I sat in the classroom. When I look at myself as a person now compared to the place I was in say 2007, I see a whole different me. In 2007 I was a pretty awful son, brother and friend and was 30 pounds overweight. I feel like I've matured so, so much since then and have become an eternal optimist. I'm all the way down to 193 lbs from a high of 235 and have developed much closer relationships with my family and friends. I've also met so many riveting people since I've been back in school and have stopped being so damn narrow-minded. When I was traveling ALL the time in 2006-7 playing poker I forgot there was real life outside of the tournament circuit. I forgot that there were fascinating people out there and that life is about more than the pursuit of money. I look forward to what 2010 brings. Thanks for reading. SS

Shannon Shorr is a professional poker player from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He finished fourth in the Card Player 2006 Player of the Year race. You can follow his progress at

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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