Shannon Shorr: $8 Million+ in Cashes & 19TH Ranked GPI Player in the World Chasing Poker Greatness
Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 062
Shannon Shorr on social media:
Today’s guest on CPG is one of the premiere live & online poker tournament players in the world (With over 9.3 million in live MTT cashes), Shannon Shorr.
It makes sense that Shannon would be special guest number 200 because his first CPG appearance is still, to this day, one of the top-3 most listened to episodes in CPG history. If you haven’t yet checked that one out, I highly suggest hitting the back catalog directly after today’s show.
In my experience with Shannon, he’s a model of thoughtfulness, consistency, humility, and (Maybe the most important attribute of professional poker players) determination. He’s been on this ride for almost two decades with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
In today’s show with the great Shannon Shorr, we’re gonna dive deep into how painful the life of a traveling professional poker player can be, Shannon’s experience being a proud new papa, how easy it is to get frustrated when you’re on the grind even when things are seemingly going well, and much, MUCH more!
So now, without any further ado, I bring to you one of the very best poker players in the world… the one and only Shannon Shorr.
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Brad: Welcome, welcome, welcome my friend to the Chasing Poker Greatness podcast. As always, this is your host, Brad Wilson, the founder of enhanceyouredge.com. And today’s guest is long time live tournament crusher, Shannon Shorr. Shannon has over $8 million in live tournament cashes in his 15 year career with some career highlights including 960k and 247k victories at the Bellagio Cup in Vegas, a bronze medal in one of the toughest and most prestigious tournament fields in poker, the 10k WSOP six handed event and a fifth place finish at the WPT 25k five diamond classic for a cool $408,000. Shannon denied despite never having met one another before this show, but having a ton of mutual friends including former chasing poker greatness guests, Jessie Yaganuma and Jonathan Little, hit it off right away, and I had a blast in our time together. In today’s episode, you’ll learn how Shannon kicked off his poker journey. And all too common pitfall of the poker scene Shannon has dealt with that is simply not talked about often enough, how Shannon manages to stay grounded and connected on a day to day basis. Hint, it involves having an awesome, significant other who always has your back, and much more. So, without any further ado, I bring to you the GPI ranked number 19 tournament player in the world, Shannon Shorr.
Brad: Shannon, welcome to the show, sir. How are we doing?
Shannon: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Brad: How’s life for the live poker grinder?
Shannon: It’s good. It’s different. Changing it up playing online is something I haven’t done seriously. I mean, except for like, in very small increments at a time, and probably a decade. So, it’s cool getting back in and I’m enjoying myself enjoying the challenges.
Brad: Any rush you’ve had to knock off jumping back into the online streets?
Shannon: Yeah, definitely. It’s, the game is definitely, definitely just evolved so quickly. And I just like, haven’t spent as much time working with programs as I would like. So, I mean it’s just a constant. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I’m confident I will be in not too long. Hopefully.
Brad: That’s good, right? It’s, it’s like you’ve been involved even in poker for as long as I have. What year did you start playing poker like in earnest as a pro?
Shannon: In 2006.
Brad: 2006? Yeah. So, 14 years into your career, you’re still not where you want to be, it is, you know, its, poker is a complex game. We’re always learning, we’re always growing. Tell me the story of how you got into playing cards for a living.
Shannon: I got into poker in 2003 in college right at the time, when moneymaker stuff was going on, sort of playing in house games with, with friends at the University of Alabama. And we would seemingly play those $5 games, like every night. It was either, either that or party or both at the same time. And that from there, I started playing online, eventually, after I was able to take my friends for some money. And I was quickly humbled. I lost a few thousand dollars as a college student doing that. And then I met John Little, actually at the tables at party poker, and he was like, probably six months ahead of me. And he just gave, we started talking all the time. And I like just completely like, shifted the way I looked at the game, and it just kind of like took off online.
Brad: Which is, it’s funny, because I remember those party poker days in the chat. Because I, actually me and Vanessa Selbst became friends through the chat of party poker, just talking and like sharing our aim information, right? It’s like, oh.
Brad: Let’s talk. And that was kind of how it was like back in the glory days.
Brad: As far as like, you know, skill level. Like when you first started. I’ve read, you know, your aggressive, naturally, natural tendency was probably geared towards aggression. how helpful do you think that was early on in your career?
Shannon: That was everything early on honest with a man I, I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. Like, no, no one did really anything. But I would just like completely. I was 21, 20, 19 even at some point, so I had like, absolutely nothing to lose. I was just going absolutely bananas. And just that by just doing that I put myself in like, back in ’06 through ’08. There were just so many tournaments to be won just by doing that.
Brad: Why do you think you, you tended to be more aggressive than the field? Like, is this your nature? How do you think that happened?
Shannon: That’s a good question. Yeah, I’ve always been like, very sort of adventurous and like willing to go for it and things and like giving it my all in whatever it was. So yeah, maybe I maybe that just landed to just going for it kind of. Maybe I sent that that was the way to win. I also like loved playing games and competing. I was also like a lifelong athlete as a kid. So, I just, I think I was pretty good at like, picking up on kind of what to do and how to adjust pretty quickly.
Brad: And obviously, you can’t just be, can’t win through sheer aggression forever, right. Any bumps in the road early on in your career speaking of getting humbled, even maybe after you had had some success?
Shannon: Yeah, most definitely. Through I guess, like 2006 to like maybe 2009. That was like the years of like crazy aggression. And then there was definitely like a new breed of sort of that at that point, I was like, barely playing on and ’09, I think I wasn’t playing much online. But then there were like a lot of younger guys playing online that knew how to exploit that. And that just by three betting, like, I was never getting three bet and like, ’06, ’07. And then so I went through a, like an adjustment phase from probably like 2009 to 2011 where I’ve just like, had to realize that I had to slow down kind of.
Brad: How do you go through that adjustment phase? Because, you know, this happens multiple times throughout poker player’s career, you are doing something that’s doing very well, the population catches up, we need to adjust. What is that adjustment phase looks like for you?
Shannon: Oh, for me, it was just talking with friends and sort of being you know, being humble. And losing by and especially playing live, even like, almost exclusive, exclusively played live for like several years. So, like the swings in those and, and on my own dime. So, like the swings in those tournaments are like, it can do some stuff, too. It’s put me through a lot. But yeah, just talking with friends and trying to, you know, make adjustments and yeah, I guess that’s how I, that’s what I did, kind of.
Brad: It’s really hard with live. Like poker, poker messes with your mind anyway. As far as you know, you can do the right thing 10 times and you still go broke 10 times and like you start wondering like, am I doing the right thing? Do I need to change? Do I need to adapt? Like, how do you go about making these adjustments live when you don’t have a database? You don’t have anything to fall back on?
Shannon: Yeah, there’s not, there’s honestly not a whole lot you can, you can do. It’s mostly there’s so much variance obviously. Yeah. So, and yeah, like you said, it just what it does to the human brain is definitely not designed the, just like dealing with the swings of live tournament, not to mention, like travel planning and other stressors that like kind of go along with it.
Shannon: Exactly. But that said, I wouldn’t trade any of it. It has been like the most amazing experience. I, I was drawn to live because you could like I really wanted to travel the world. Like as soon as I like had my first few banks and like was in a really good place financially. Like I knew that it was just all about, like going to see as much of the world and like meeting as many people as I could. So yeah, there was that. There’s like the tradeoff that I didn’t get to work like super hard on my career and get to, like, elite, elite level of like some of these guys. But at the same time, I’ve like had such a wealth of life experience that I wouldn’t trade it.
Brad: Yeah, I mean, I’ve said it many times on this podcast. My, my fondest memories of living at the commerce casino are not, they were never the biggest pots that I won or the best days that I had. They were you know, hanging out with like my cats, Jesse Yaganuma, playing basketball in the commerce basketball court, which most people don’t even realize exists, but it does.
Shannon: I did not know that existed. Where’s the
Brad: It’s like in the back-parking lot. Like in the edge back of the back-parking lot. There’s a tennis court. Just put like two basketball goals on there and like me, you know, Mike, Billy or DGAF just you know, all the commerce rags basically get together. They actually joined a basketball league at one point which I definitely wanted to see footage of a bunch of pro poker players playing in a basketball league. But that’s a great yeah, those are those are my favorite times like the experiences the friendships, the bonding. You’re from the south, like me. So, I’m from Tennessee. You’re from Alabama. What did your family, what did your friends think when you decided to pursue poker as a career?
Shannon: I’m super fortunate to have like two really open-minded parents who have both done a bunch of traveling. My dad’s originally from Ohio and went to, went to West Point as a gymnast. So, he’s, he’s, like, very well-traveled. My mom was in the military as well. So, they, they’d like gotten out and like had a lot of open mindedness about them. That like a lot of people might otherwise not in different parts, of you know, that part of the country and Midwest, etc.
Brad: Lots of places. Really.
Shannon: Yeah, right. So, they were really super supportive. And just, like made it I never had to worry. I’ve said this in a lot of other, other interviews, but like, I can’t imagine having to battle that, like battle, the grind of poker and battle. Like if you’ve had the battle, you’re disapproving friends and parents and family. So yeah, thankfully, it was like a super smooth transition to playing poker professionally.
Brad: Yeah, it’s really invaluable. Because like we just talked about before, you know, those doubts that creep into your mind. Can I do this? Am I good enough? It, like, is this going to work out? Am I just, you know, did I just get lucky in the beginning, and now I’m just going to burn through every single bit of money that I have earned down to zero and be, you know, because poker players like, I think a lot of professional poker players especially start wrapping their identity, and being a poker player and what the size of their bankroll is and their level of success. And so that fear of busting out, going broke, is very, very tangible, very, very real. And if you have doubters in that, are in your inner circle, your friends, your family, it just amplifies all of those doubts and all of those worries.
Shannon: Agree completely.
Brad: Have you had, have you had any experience with that, like anybody doubting, questioning what you’re doing?
Shannon: Yeah, I mean, you hear comments from people that I think really is just like, comes from a bit of insecurity and themselves. I know whenever I like, doubt someone’s life choices. I always recognize it after the fact is insecurities and myself. But yeah, people don’t like make comments or stuff like, you would know, a hard day’s work like, like, a lot of people don’t get, you know, what actually goes in to this career. And, and so yeah, I’ve dealt with, I’m sure everybody’s dealt with that, as all poker players have dealt with that, to some degree, I guess.
Brad: Tell me, you mentioned something that’s pretty cool to me, you have awareness of where these feelings or where that comes from, when you’re projecting it onto somebody else. Developing that awareness, like is this, this is has to be a conscious effort, right? Like, is this part of your, your daily practice and improving yourself as a human?
Shannon: Yeah, I’ve dedicated a ton, ton of time to personal development over the last probably decade or so. Lots of light, lots of reading about a pretty solid meditation practice for the last decade. I’ve always been into fitness. So, I’ve been able to, I’ve been able to, like dive pretty deep and get to know myself pretty well. And yeah, I’m just, I mean, still, I all very often, like surprise myself, like some of the emotions that come up. I’m like, where does that, where does that come from? There’s still like, you know, it’s a lifelong journey. But yeah, it’s been a been a cool, it’s been cool, like getting older and learning more about myself and kind of being able to recognize those things.
Brad: Any examples off the top of your head, like a tangible example of you surprising yourself?
Shannon: Yeah. Say, okay, like, as it pertains to poker, and I’m sure, like, a lot of people listening to this can identify, like winning, it’s not going well, for me personally. It’s like really hard for me to be like, excited for those, for whom it is going well, if that makes sense. Whereas when I’m, when I’m running well, I, you know, I’m much more likely to reach out and like, tell people congratulations and like, be interested. Also, at that is in just in life in general. I would say that’s the case. Whenever I’m like, I’m dealing with anything I’m less likely to, you know, and I retract and I don’t reach out. So yeah, and that’s something I’ve like really tried to shine awareness on like over and over and over. But it’s still, I think that might, that one might just be like human nature a little bit.
Brad: Oh, it certainly is human nature. I mean,
Brad: You’re like on a massive breakeven or downswing playing live cash for instance, like, like me, you know, 300, 400 hours, however many hours it happens to be and like you have a friend that’s just like buys into the game. Here’s the perfect example. I’m like breaking even, getting crushed on a regular basis playing against this guy, I can’t beat him to save my life. And he’s like, buying in for like 30k. And like, I have the god seat on him. And he’s just torturing me. Like, we, you know, we play 14 hours together, just torturing me, torturing me, torturing me. I’ve got to leave commerce and jump on a plane to go back home. And I wait to the as long as I possibly can to cash out, you know, get, get my you know, little ride from commerce that takes me to, to the airport. And like, as I’m on the airport, my friend texts text me and he’s like, oh, I got him for you. Like he took my seat. And literally busted him. Like, in the next hour, he went like a 50k pot. And I’m just like, you know, it’s like, this is like, the thought that goes to your head. Like, he’s a good friend. But you think, fuck that guy. Like why? Like, yeah, like, he’s running like God, why? Why not me, right? Like, I think this is, you know, and then you catch yourself and you think like, why am I being like this, right? Like, this is not the right way to be. We need to be supportive of each other. But I think its just pure human nature. Like, man, screw that dude. Like, why is he always so lucky?
Shannon: Yeah, we’re definitely the human species is definitely, like very self-absorbed herself. What’s the word, self-absorbed? Yeah.
Brad: Egotistical? Like I mean
Brad: We, we battle with the ego and everything is about I? Why didn’t that happen to me? Why can’t I get that lucky, even without ever realizing or, you know, thinking about where we are lucky in life, right? The gratitude that we have for like, oh, I just, you know, was able to live at the commerce casino for three weeks and play high stakes poker 60 hours a week, right? Like, my I have my health. There are people that that in, you know, I’m sure and you’re traveling around people die, bad things happen to them. We have our health, we have our cognitive ability, we have all these things going for us. But we oftentimes kind of forget, look at what we don’t have, instead of focusing on what we do have.
Shannon: That’s, that’s well said. That’s actually probably the best example of like ways, the way that I like surprised myself in my inability to like, I would like to be able to zoom out and have that perspective more quickly than I current when I, then I currently do despite, like all of my sort of mindfulness practices, I would think that I would have, like, gotten there already. But I think life is just like, life’s pretty intense. So, you just have to, you know, just have to try to do your thing, incrementally try to get better each day. And eventually there’s going to be like a paradigm shift.
Brad: Yeah, and like you said, like, it never goes away these feelings, you know, these emotions always manifest, and you’re going to have awareness of them. And you can, you know, that helps me be able to make them dissipate more than if I am just like, caught in my own story of oh, poor me. But I mean, the opposite kind of goes, you know, the opposite happens too, where I had Fador on the podcast. And, you know, I have a question about pain in poker career. And, you know, he said, at the height of his powers, he played for a year, and he felt like he was playing better than he ever had. And he had a breakeven or losing year. And he felt like he couldn’t tell anyone. Like, he felt like he couldn’t talk to anybody about it, because he was already a known entity at this point, right? He had already made millions, like, who’s going to feel sorry for him?
Brad: So, he just kind of swallowed it. And he said, that was like, the most painful experience of his poker career because like, you know, and I think that’s probably, for those of you that have friends and have a community. It’s always important to be open and receptive and be like, yeah, these guys that had tons of success. They struggle too, like, they suffer. Everybody that plays poker has suffered. And so just being there for your friends is just massive.
Shannon: Yeah, it’s a bit of a, like, microcosm for life, too. I feel, you know, with the whole, like, Instagram world and social media. And, you know, this is like being talked about a lot now, which is nice. But you know, all these perfectly curated lives and, like, the reality is, we’re all just struggling, you know. All just doing our best to, you know, put, put one foot in front of the other.
Brad: Oh, we’re all we’re all suffering. And we’re all, everybody’s afraid to be vulnerable. I think that’s the, that’s the real problem. Nobody wants to really be vulnerable or put it out there. And I think that embracing your vulnerability is something that leads to just so much fulfillment and so much happiness and you know, it solidifies and deepens friendships. When you can, you have somebody that you’re like, you know, I’ve done a lot of great things. I’ve had success, but I’m down right now and I need help and I’m feeling this way. And I need to talk about it. Like just those friendships to me are just invaluable.
Shannon: Agree completely, particularly for men, I think born vulnerability is as tough. And especially I’m sure you can relate as a man who grew up in the south, my emotions aren’t really a thing.
Brad: No, they are not. It’s like, just pretend everything’s okay. Put on your, you know, put on your poker face and keep moving forward and don’t talk about it. And if anybody asks you any questions, just snap at them and say everything’s okay, right? What do you think have been the biggest fears or obstacles that have stood in your path to poker greatness?
Shannon: I would say, actually, I would say pornography was it was a really big one. For me. I battled with that for a long time. And I still, still have at times like relapse, but that without question, like, I started, like, watching it like a relatively early age. And I’ve definitely that thing, I think that like, stunted my, like, mental toughness, to some degree.
Brad: What do you mean by
Shannon: I think that, I think that just having dived deep into like, sort of the recovery process, kind of, I realize how much it pulls your attention, like, even at a subconscious level away from just like diving into the present. And like, really go in for them in whatever you’re going for. So yeah, that that, for me without question was like the toughest overcome and still, like, as a battle at times,
Brad: Does it relate to your poker career? I mean, as far as like, you’re playing on tables. And then on like, the side, you have a browser window open.
Shannon: Yeah, that definitely was a thing in the past, back in the day. And then just like, that led to just like, sex was a huge part of my life for like, because when I was in my early 20s, I wasn’t like really meeting girls or anything. And then when I sort of like, was growing up and got some game, then it just like, became like, trying to, like, meet girls that have sex. And that that was like the new like, addiction. So, like, I really had to, like, bring it back and sort of rewire my brain. I have an amazing fiancé now. So that’s, that’s like really helped the process. Yeah, but it’s sex and like, and like, the culture for like young men, especially like our age growing up. It’s like, it’s fucking insane. What are the, like, you see the effects of it. And you see, it’s like, you see how it’s changed the dynamic between men and women. So yeah, I’ve dive like pretty deep into that, into that sort of process. And yeah, it definitely affected my career in the sense that the event, like I’m more prone to anxiety playing online, kind of, just because like, I’m around electronics, and even though I’ve like mostly kick the addiction.
Brad: Yeah. You know, there’s people out there, I’m sure that, that struggle with this this is, you know, I think the, the one thing that I’ve found from doing all these interviews and talking to all these people is that none of us are special, none of us, none of these things that, that poker players deal with are unique. We all tend to deal with the same sort of things like somebody that’s struggling right now. Like, what would you suggest to them? if they wanted to, you know, do better and get on the path to kick in that addiction?
Shannon: There’s a really cool Reddit community called No Fap. Which I use additionally, I think therapy, a professional therapy is super useful. Yeah, both of those have been big for me.
Brad: That’s cool, man. Speaking of the culture, like the just the culture, you know, poker culture especially can be fairly toxic. What are some ways that you’ve kind of, how do I phrase this, built your own culture, I guess or gotten yourself out of the current culture of poker?
Shannon: Hmm. I really like living pretty simply and in nature, kind of. So, my routine basically is wake up, go outside, get some sell and read, drink some water. Just like chill outside with my fiancé. That’s how I like to start the morning. I like to spend a lot of time in the park. There’s a part nearby where I live in Vegas. So, whether that’s like bike riding or frisbee, golf, running, throwing the baseball or softball around with my fiancé. I just like love growing up in the south. I was just always outside and I just love being outside, like this is what for me what like retirement would and like, should feel like kind of. Yeah, so that’s like, that’s the culture of my life now, and I love poker and I love like all the people I’ve met, there’s so many incredibly awesome people. So, I like to have, I like to have that, but I’m doing my best not to let that like, like, we were talking before we started, it’s very poker is very consuming. And the more like when I get in these hardcore grinds and get like really consumed by it, I just really don’t like the person that I am, kind of. And I don’t, I don’t have much to offer because my brain is just like, only thinking about poker. So, I’m really trying my best to like, figure out a way now. It’s kind of nice with the quarantine and like playing online, but it’s like, can go, work really hard for this period of time. You just have to, I’m trying to live very intentionally, in a way that I can work really hard for like this number of hours on poker stuff and then like, totally get away from that kind of so yeah. It’s a constant, constant battle to have the balance but I’m, I’m starting to get, get there a little bit.
Brad: What would you say intentionally? Can you be more granular? What does that process look like? Is it fleshed out like in a notebook? Do you journal?
Shannon: I just kind of like to be as much as I can be in touch with myself and, and doing exactly one thing and not being scatterbrained kind of.
Brad: Is that a problem for you, like growing up?
Shannon: It, yes, it’s been, it’s been a big adjustment just because my life up until I was like 30. I mean, even actually, up until recently, quarantine really, I’ve just lived such a fast life. Like, I’ve always been on the go. When I was a kid, I was constantly, I was playing sports every day. My, my sister too, we were always like, a mom and dad were shuttling us between like all the parks and stuff. So, we’re just like, on go eating fast food. And then growing up in the poker world. It was like, play live tournament, eat something really quick, party, repeat, you know, fly to the next place. So, it’s just like, I haven’t had like a whole lot of time to like, just sit and chill. And like, despite all my meditation, and like mindfulness practices, it sort of wasn’t enough to overcome just how fast life was. So yeah, I’m, I guess that’s what I’m, that’s what I’m working towards.
Brad: Awesome. Most people don’t realize the struggle of poker. And I’ve talked to many people on this show. And, you know, I don’t play a ton of live that, that part of my career I think is, has wound down. I like the online cash game grind being in my own home. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. So, it’s like home games, or like Cherokee. And I can play bigger. I can play bigger online from the comfort of my home. So why am I traveling, right? But I did go play in one tournament and made a day two, which I don’t play many tournaments, day twos are rare for me. But I realized, like, when I’m at home, I have my routine. You know, I was going to bed at 10pm. I was meditating, I was exercising during the day, I had the time I was allocating to poker, and then at like, 8pm, I would start my wind down process to go to bed and get ready for the next day. And when I made that day two, you know, the, it ended at like 1am, which is like three hours past when I’m typically normally going to bed and I hadn’t eaten. So, I was hungry. And also had this like adrenaline dump, you know, you have this adrenaline right, when the tournament ends. And it’s not like you can just go from the table straight to bed, right? You have to, you know, work that adrenaline off somehow. And like, I can’t imagine being a tournament player traveling across the country, dealing with this on a nightly basis. Like it’s pretty clear like, why you go party, right? Because you’re looking for that stimulation, you’re looking for a place to put that adrenaline and that energy. So, like now, nowadays, what is your process look like? You’re when live poker fires back up, like you make a day two, you’re trying to be intentional about the stuff you’re doing? How do you manage this adrenaline at 1am and then keeping everything kind of streamlined?
Shannon: Yeah, that’s, I live in Vegas now. So, I like the idea that my live playing experience will only like my commute is only you know, 20 minutes. You know what I mean? My, I don’t throw off my routine. I’m excited, like whenever live eventually does come around and I can like safely get out there and play. I’m excited to like have both that and now to be like working online, and building a routine and just like being in one place. And traveling is so awesome. And for tournament like and I’ll, I’ll travel live for like some of the bigger tournaments like I really like Florida and my fiancé’s from South Jersey. So, we usually go there see her family and I play board games. So yeah, I’ll play some of those. But I really don’t like being away from routine that that long. But yeah, to wind, to wind down, I mean, it’s tough man like, I’m, definitely like it up until even recently like playing these live stops. It’s like, it’s tough to wind down and it’s tough to get into any sort of routine. I’ll usually just try to like read, read a little bit in the night, but I definitely don’t think it’s the best lifestyle especially now that I’ve like repeated stops. It was a lot more fun when I was younger and was like, going out and like, doing a lot more things. But now, it’s been like mostly all business. I’m pretty over it. I’d be condemned to just play online for a little while, honestly.
Brad: Yeah, I liked the online even as you know, do, do solely play tournaments, you play online cash as well.
Shannon: I’ve been playing a little online cash recently, I could really get into that.
Brad: And you’re, one of the few people you’ve all, have you always been on your own world?
Shannon: Almost entirely. I mean, I’ve sold like, sometimes I’ll play bigger tournaments and break some off. And recently, I’ve been like being a little more responsible and swapping a little more. But for the longest time, I was just like, I don’t know if it was like a pride, pride thing. But I would just like go for it, and deal with some pretty insane swings. Thankfully, I had a bunch of success early on. I was able to sort of like, weather it. But yeah, I definitely, like what it does to you mentally dealing with that, I would prefer to just like, you know, not have to deal with that. I’m trying to design my way in a life that I don’t have to think about money that often, if that makes sense.
Brad: How do you go about doing that? Is there a process?
Shannon: I mean, I think, I think it’s a matter of like getting used to the stakes here you’re playing, that, that probably helps. But I’m in that said live. Like I still, after all these years, like even swinging say like, even on a day where I swing 1% of my net worth, like, I have a really tough time dealing with a gun.
Brad: Really. And so, tell me about the how in the world did you juggle having all of your own action, but then also struggling with you know, a 1% swing in your net worth? That must have been hell? Hell pretty much I think is the word that comes to mind.
Shannon: Yeah, a lot of partying and meeting girls and watching porn, and then going and repeating it. That was, that was my life for a long time.
Brad: So, just distracting yourself effectively?
Shannon: Exactly. Yeah. Only, only recently have I really been able to, like, have I seen the value in like sitting with, sitting with the swings, kind of and seeing how it makes me feel and realizing like this isn’t going to change, change too much. I think it’s the bid. I think for me since given that I like, this, this path of my career was such that I had huge success early on. And I think I had like you mentioned earlier that fear of going broke. Like, if I ever like went broke from the amount of money that I like, had at one point, I think that like, I think that I’m fearful that that would like be very, very tough on me. So, I think that’s why that has a lot to do with a match. One of the things I’m trying to break through.
Brad: Yeah, the, the fear of, I mean, the fear of going broke, it’s, it’s a tough fear. I think most people, I’ve never actually said this out loud to anybody. But as a poker player, after every session, after every time I play poker, like I know, early on in my career, it’s not, not so bad now, but especially early on, when I was you know, less mature. I was a number in my head. I was my bankroll. And that was how I felt my worth as a human was. And when that number went down to a level that felt unacceptable, then my worth as a human went way down and I was very hard on myself and prone to anxiety or depression or whatever, whatever, you know, it was whatever, however it was that I coped with it. And I don’t know you know, what, is it the same for you? Like especially early on that number in your head? It’s a weird thing to think about but it’s like it’s always, there right? Like you know what your bankroll is and you judge that number based on where it’s been in the past and where it should you know where could be in the future where you thought it would be in the present.
Shannon: I get, I can identify all too well with that. Even now I like, like I’ve always been like a pretty meticulous record keeper. How would you say are you like pretty meticulous in your record keeping?
Brad: Not, define meticulous in record keeping?
Shannon: Like I would, like note each session that each live tournament, I would note like the hours I played and like my win loss.
Brad: Oh, no.
Brad: I was like, I wouldn’t keep track of the hours, but I would definitely keep track of the win loss.
Shannon: Yeah, like I could tell you like, if I went to my records, I can tell you like, exactly how much I’m, like lifetime kind of. But I actually think that’s in retrospect. I think that’s a mistake being like that fixated on it. So. I’m trying to like, let go of that a little bit too. Because who really cares? What like, as long as I have an idea what my hourly is, not like I need to like, exactly know, you know, I would rather just, like, be more present kind of, for my poker sessions.
Brad: My, yeah, my personality lends itself towards, I’m the kid that went to school. And like on day one has like all of his dividers and all of this stuff, like and then at the end of the semester, or whatever, I’ve just got, like pages in my book that are like crumbled at the edge, right? Where I’m just like, ah, screw it. Like I have, have good intentions of keeping track of everything and online poker, you get spoiled because you just have a database, right? Like, you don’t even have to, you just look at it for all the information. But yeah, it’s you know, I know like, Mike, Mike, our buddy Mike Katz. He is like, the most meticulous human I think I’ve ever seen.
Brad: I, it’s like, absurd. He like goes out to eat and I’m like, sees like writing down like his food expenses. And I’m like, dude, come on.
Shannon: Yeah, yeah. Always, I was always shocked by yeah, he tells you he, he tells would say that he knows like every cash dollar that he’s spent. He’s like, aware of it. Like, wow, that’s intense.
Brad: Which is funny knowing Mike and how like, carefree he seems. Like, like you would seem, you could think of him as just like super bound with anxiety, keeping track, but he’s like super loose and carefree. Just a very meticulous record keeper, apparently.
Shannon: That’s a funny, that’s an astute observation that I would totally agree with about.
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Brad: What do you think is the most unexpected thing that’s come from your poker journey?
Shannon: I would say just the opportunity to like travel the world. I think I’ve traveled to like 40 plus countries now and just have all the experiences that I’ve had like this would never have happened for me, or I shouldn’t say never, but like highly unlikely that it would have happened for me as a kid growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, that I would have gotten to do this and it had I followed any other path really.
Brad: Any specific memories of your favorite places to travel?
Shannon: Barcelona is one, definitely one of my all-time favorite cities. Australia. That was like that was where I had my first big breakthrough score back in 2006. So that split place will always have a special place in my heart. My fiancé and I did two separate trips where we traveled two months through South America and then through Southeast Asia like seeing basically everything. So those, both of those are absolutely incredible. Peru was my favorite South American country and, in the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. I love the buy. I’ve been pretty much all through Europe. So, like, I love the vibe of like all the European countries and just walking through those, those major cities and killing at coffee shops. And yeah, I mean, like, like, I feel super fortunate to have done to like, I’ve had those experiences. So that’s, yeah, that’s what I’d say is was the most unexpected.
Brad: What was it like, the first time that you, you know, through my, my research, I know, you hadn’t done a lot of traveling before poker, right? Kind of confined to the south. What was it like getting out of the Southern, out of the bubble, meeting people that are different from all the other people that you had met? Because, you know, this is, this question means a lot to me, because I’m from Tennessee, and it’s a very similar thing for me, but what was it like for you?
Shannon: I think naturally, I was fortunate, like I mentioned, to grow up in a household of like, open mindedness where, where I was, like, I never, you know, really did too much judging of other people or anything like that, because I had awesome parents, but it was just different. You know, what I mean? It was like a video game, like, meeting all these people seeing all these different things, being like, what am I going to stumble upon next, you know, and just, I think that was the drug of that, like, kept me going and like, made me so that, that’s when I knew. As soon as I got a taste of that, that’s when I knew like I had to just keep going and keep traveling and playing live.
Brad: Yeah, it’s variety. I think there are some places in the south that are, that are a little different. But for the most part, you know, it’s heavily Christian, it’s the Bible Belt, people don’t really travel super far from their home, typically. They have the same friends, the same community. It’s kind of like a little bubble. And just seeing the variety of people, like you said, that believe different things for me, came from a completely different, different life effectively, and like, they’re just fucking awesome humans. And you’re like, wow, like, this is great, you know. Like, these people who I have very little in common with are now some of my best friends and most favorite humans in the world. And that was really eye opening, I think, for me from at an early earlier age.
Shannon: Yeah. And I, like travel and new experiences, experiences should just be like, it should be required after, you know, like, a lot of the Europeans and Australians that go do a Europe travel and stuff, it should be required for Americans, and it would make, it would definitely make this country like, a much better place.
Brad: I agree. Like, it’s almost, we get so tribal. And it’s almost a badge of honor to stay true to your tribe, and to actively attack people that believe different things than you. And I think that, you know, what you said is, it’s 100%. You know, it’s a great Nussbaum, people should interact with people that are different than them. People that believe different things and realize that you’re not that different. You can have totally different political beliefs, you can have totally different religious beliefs. At the end of the day, when you get down to it, to the core of humans, you’re not that different. And you shouldn’t hate people for, just because they have a different opinion or a different belief than you. Really, you really stunt your own growth. I think as a human when you, you fall, you fall into that trap.
Shannon: Yeah. And would you agree that that all, it all comes from fear within us? I think just the fear that like our way is and isn’t the, you know, the right way?
Shannon: And being, being challenged on that as
Shannon: Can be tough. Yeah.
Brad: You don’t, you know, I think its, I talked with Anton Wigg about Joseph Campbell, in the hero’s journey and how, it’s a very sad thing to live a life and chase something, you know, and finally, get it and realize that you’re chasing the wrong thing the whole time. Right? It, like, what, what greater fear do we have as men to live seven years one way, get exposed to something and realize we fucked up for 15 straight years, right? Like, this is just, you know, it’s a big fear. And again, like, like, we were talking about being vulnerable, you got to face your fears. You know, you have to, I guess just immerse yourself in different beliefs and, and really ask yourself, like, what do I believe? What am I about? I think that’s, that was a big breakthrough for me, growing up in the south, believing one thing and then one day realizing like, I’m living somebody else’s life. I’m living somebody else’s expectations. And I don’t, I don’t like that. I’m rebellious by nature. I want to do my own thing when I realized that that was when I started questioning everything. Not, not just to blow it up. But just say like, I tell my kids, I tell my kids, you can be Christian. And that’s fine, right? You can believe in God, you can be religious, I personally, I am agnostic, but you can do that. And that’s fine. But make sure whatever you believe, is because you believe it. And not because somebody else is telling you to believe it. And I think that that’s something that people really ought to think about, consider, and meditate on.
Shannon: That sounds like some great fatherly advice, and your kids are lucky. How many kids do you have?
Brad: Two, they’re 11, and nine. And because they did the whole thing comes about because I’m divorced from their mother, and they come see us in Atlanta. And so, they asked, you know, why, why don’t you go to church Dad? Why don’t we, you know, why don’t we do this? And, and so, really, it’s just like, an honest conversation about different beliefs. And, you know, you can, it is so limiting to, in my opinion, to say like, oh, this religion is wrong, they’re all going to hell, they’re bad people. That, to me is just, it’s bullshit. Like, it lacks empathy. And I think, if there’s one thing that I want to, one piece of wisdom that I would like to give my kids is have empathy for other people, think about things from their perspective. And the things that seem crazy to you may not be so crazy if you look at them from a different perspective.
Shannon: Well said.
Brad: What do you think is the most high impact action players can take to improve their poker again?
Shannon: I would say building a community is something that I, especially is something that I have, I mean, I’ve done it in ways but it and then other ways I haven’t kind of. I think having like community and being kind of like what you said about life, you know, talking to people with different perspectives and stuff, that’s, that’s everything in poker, somebody can say one thing that can just, like, totally shift the way that you’ve been thinking about, like, thinking about a spot, you know, that you’ve been bleeding chips at. So yeah, I think having a community and having, I like to have like a very, I tried to have like a very diverse, especially now with online, it’s like, you have the opportunity to build these communities a little bit. Trying to have like, a diverse group of, hear from diverse group of thinkers, kind of just to, like, absorb as much material as I can. And, and hopefully, I can give something back. But yeah, that’s that as I think is something, I definitely had a bit of arrogance about me, I think, in my 20s where I was just like, no, I’m just going to go at this alone, kind of, you know what I mean? I’m, I don’t need anybody’s help kind of a bit and like a stubbornness that, that I’ve had in other ways in my life as well.
Brad: Yeah, it’s, it’s a weird thought process that I think pokers deal with when they’re going the lone wolf journey, especially when they’ve had success. And they know, they know where they’re at, from a skill level perspective. And you think, like, I don’t need it. I don’t want to spend my energy interacting with other people. I know what I’m doing. Like, it’s not, it’s, it’s arrogance, you know, kind of plain and simple. But how do you go about constructing this community? Like, how are you going about that today?
Shannon: I’ve got a couple different, like, chat groups, kind of, as well as, yeah, like chat groups. And I do, I do, do like a bunch of independent, because I think now you have to do a bunch of independent study, just because of the way like the programs work and stuff. Like you, as you know, like, it’s just going to require you like spending a lot of time by yourself doing so. So, I like that, in that I like, being able to do a lot of things on my own and then get impact or get have conversations with, with others kind of, yeah, I guess that’s how.
Brad: I know James Romero talks about him, doing a lot of independent study, sharing it with people the things that he found. You know, basically giving value to other people that would appreciate it. That was really that was his methodology for building his network of people and just kind of giving stuff away for free, doing work for people, giving it away for free knowing that, eventually it comes back, right? Like that’s when you try to be the lone wolf and hold everything to yourself and don’t share anything with anybody. That’s a surefire way to not build a network of people that trust you, and are willing to help you when you are inevitably in this poker world struggling.
Shannon: Yes, absolutely.
Brad: When you think about joy in your poker career, what’s the first memory that comes to mind?
Shannon: I would, there’s been so many but like one that I can really like, even before I really like made it. I won a, I won, back in party poker. You may remember there were the steps to go play the Aussie millions.
Brad: Oh, I remember. Yeah.
Shannon: And I was, I was firing those. I was a big sit and go player at the time, there were a bunch of us regulars who had plays. And then we all started playing when they put this sit and go style steps to Aussie millions, we, of course, were all playing those. So, I made it to the last step. But there were only like maybe nine or 10 people who had a ticket to that last step. So, we would have to, we kind of had to organize a timing where we’d like, you know, play this, you know, meet here Wednesday at 7pm. We’ll all sit and actually get this off the ground. So, I remember and then like if you think if you won you of course got the seat, if you got second you maybe went a step down or something. But I remember like three handed winning a flip, ace king versus queens for basically like probably 90% of chips in play, a river and ace. And that like I remember just jumping out of my chair and like being so elated because I knew that I was like going to go you know, go to Australia and this was like the big start of my journey kind of. That was like that was super cool. In addition to that winning the Bellagio cup in ’06 at Bellagio was super special at a time when I was like, questioning like whether I should go back to school or keep playing poker and stuff so that, that was super special. I’ve made, I’m without a bracelet at the World Series of Poker but I’ve made like double digit final tables, it seems. So, I have a lot of like super cool. As well as I’m lacking a WPT victory with like, quite a handful of final tables there. So unfortunately, I haven’t been able to like really, like close the deal in a lot of spots. But just so many, like major final tables have been so much fun to the
Brad: I mean, it’s hard, right? Like I was, I grinded sit and goes too back on party poker in the day. And you know, I would go sometimes 25 tournaments without winning one, like sit and goes and you think yourself like, wow, like were nine handed and I went over 25. And you make a final table very rarely. Final tables are nine handed. I could go over 25 in winning tournaments and you start realizing like holy shit, like there’s so much variance in these spots where you need to run good, right? Like your whole career can hinge on running good at this one final table in this very specific time. And skill level, unfortunately, doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. It’s not the only, the number one decider, right? Like there’s some, you know, you’ve never wanted WPT main event, you’ve never won a bracelet, right? Like, this is variants, you know, and you’re one of the best players, the best tournament players over the last 15 years. And that’s quantifiable, it is tangible. So, like, it’s hard, you need to run really good when you get these opportunities. And I have no doubts, by the way, that eventually you will run good and like you’ll do something ridiculous, like win two, two bracelets in a row or like you know, like it’s just, it’s a weird thing, how variants works in poker. Those step tournaments, by the way, they do bring me back. I, I remember, kind of funny, I had a roommate at the time who was like not a poker player. I was, I was a poker player. He was aspirational, we’ll say. And he was trying to play step up from like a $5 tournament to like the 500. And I mean, I’m not shooting you. He was like in the cycle for like a month. He was in the cycle for like a month, he finally made it to the 501. And he like, bubbled it. And he was so devastated. I remember. Those are good tournaments, though. Like they had like a 500, a 1000, and then a 5000 step. And looking back on it, I do remember like, it was impossible to get a five, 5000 step off unless you coordinated it. You would just table by yourself forever.
Shannon: Yeah. Oh, man, those, those are some fun days. It’s cool though. Like just like even now with this chapter. It’s been cool like having all these, like different chapters of poker along the way, hasn’t it?
Brad: It is. People don’t, people don’t realize, like, back in the day, you know, me and my, my friend like we played 30-60 right, like limit was, that was the biggest limit steak they had on party poker was that two 30-60 tables. And I remember waking up at three, at three in the morning, getting on the list, going back to sleep and just praying to God I didn’t you know, I’d be like 80 on the list and praying to God that I didn’t oversleep my seat at the table. You know, like, I can’t even imagine talking about it there. There was barely any no limit. You know, there was like, for small stakes and 50 big blinds, like limit poker was kind of the thing. It’s just it’s really funny remembering those different times, seeing poker evolve to kind of where it is now, which where it is now I am not super thrilled about but I get for it from a cash game perspective. It kind of is what it is. When you think about pain, in your career playing poker, what’s the first memory that comes to mind?
Shannon: I would say there were, let’s see, probably around like 20, there were like a four year, four to five year really a period of live of time between like 2012 and ’17 maybe, where things just like, basically did not go my way in live tournaments, and I’ve just like, watch my net worth kind of bleed. For play, I like had a pretty nice padding kind of, but it was just like, you know, those fears start to creep, creep in, like, am I really just going to, like blow through all this money. So, I can just remember a lot of, and then of course, like, while that’s happening, I’m definitely not playing my A game. And I was like, my life was such that I was structuring in a way where I would just like fly in for these big live tournaments. I wasn’t like working really hard on my game. So, you know what I mean, I, in my head, like, I probably thought I was like, one of the top players, but the reality was probably just wasn’t in the field at those times. So yeah, dealing like, those are some pretty rough, I can remember some pretty dark stretches during that. Thankfully, I, during the latter part of that, I met my fiancé and she was just like, hugely instrumental in like bringing joy back to my life, and help him like, zoom out my perspective.
Brad: How did she do that? How did she help you?
Shannon: She’s just like, and she’s the most present person I’ve ever met in my life. She grew up on a farm in South Jersey. So, she’s just like, a complete, like, major person, like she’s, you know, locked in on all of our conversations and stuff. And she’s just been like, a sort of mirror for me to like, realize things I’m doing wrong. You know, I think that’s what, as all you can ask for in a partner, I think that’s what makes a great relationship or any relationship, you know, is somebody that you can, like, grow from being around. Yeah, so just being around her and her positive energy was, like, pulled me out otherwise, who knows? I mean, I may have gone broke.
Brad: Coming from somebody that has, you know, ADD, it has problems with attention, especially in today’s day and age where we have a bajillion things pulling on our attention 24 hours a day, you know, how did you, how did you make it work with her, with your lack of attention, right? Was it just, you know, like, an aspirational kind of thing, like, wow, this person is fucking awesome. And I want to be more like them.
Shannon: Yeah, I think it. I think it was that. I recognized in her like, ways that I was like, before I got into the craziness of poker and stuff. I remember being like a super present kid. And just like always being outside and being like, extremely happy and stuff. And then as you get older, and like, you see more shit, right? And you like get involved in poker and go through swings and emotions, even though I had like, like a pretty high net worth. I still like I don’t think was like, the happiest because just like playing, strictly playing poker and drinking and like, chasing girls. That’s not like, I don’t think that really is going to bring happiness. Yeah, so I think, yeah, just seeing what a life like with her could be like, and how I can better myself. That was like, huge motivation for me.
Brad: Yeah, it’s, maybe we’re just getting older and a little more mature. But I think at some point, you start realizing like, you have these dreams, about, you know, going back to Joseph Campbell, right? Like, you chase these, these things that you think are important. And then you get them and then you realize, uh-oh, like this didn’t, this, this didn’t give me the happiness or the fulfillment like I imagined that it would. And at some point, in my life, I’ve realized that even fellowship like this, even a one to one interaction, going out with my friends, sitting around a campfire, telling stories. These are the most cherished moments that I have in my entire life. When I just, I don’t have a phone on me. I’m not being productive. I’m not making money. I’m simply being there with my friends, laughing and having a good time. They’re my most fond memories. And that’s really what I hope to do more of with the rest of my life.
Shannon: Well, well said I agree completely. And it’s, it’s weird because we’re just like, conditioned by society to chase this rat race. Right? So yeah, that’s, I think that, again, plays a role in all of our lives. Like, like you said, I feel the exact same way. I’m like, so high when I’m just hanging out with people, like listening to music. I’m like, wow, this is amazing. Why don’t I just do this all the time?
Shannon: Like why, why am I playing poker 40 hours a week? But now like, I love playing poker, too, but yeah, why do you know what I mean? Just, yeah, just try human connection from, from my travels and experiences. That’s definitely what I think all about.
Brad: And I think, again, you know, going back to awareness and your meditation process. I do want to see, or hear you talk about what that process looks like, you know, from a tangible perspective. But also, it’s when you do gain awareness of what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, and you’re not just sort of acting or flying by the seat of your pants, you do realize the things that you enjoy. And use do start asking this question of, I really like that, why don’t I do that more often? Why do I do that so rarely? But how do you, how do you go about improving your awareness?
Shannon: So, I can take you like, take you through my meditation routine, or
Brad: Sure. Yeah. Almost anything you can provide.
Shannon: I try usually try to, like I’ll dedicate like, the first half hour just waking up before I ideally, I mean, sometimes I fall off of this, but I, an ideal situation, I’m waking up, not getting on my, like not checking my phone or anything. I sleep with my phone in a different room, I think that’s super important. Wake up and get outside, do stretching and yoga for like 15 to 20 minutes, waking my body up and drinking water. Then my meditation routine as I said, I have a meditation pad and I sit outside. And I’ve never really like enjoyed guided meditation or anything. I kind of just like, sitting still, cross legged for 15 to 15 to 20 minutes. And just like noticing my breathing, just, just doing that. I mean, it takes time. I read a book called, Eight-Minute Meditation, to get started back in the day. But yeah, just sitting and recognizing where I am. Because a lot of times, a lot of times, I’ll recognize that I’m more anxious than I like realized kind of, and just like feeling that, feeling my heart like, you know, almost beat out of my chest. And it almost always is a result of like, you know, before or after poker sessions. I’ll be more anxious. I mean, reality.
Brad: And during.
Shannon: Yeah, right. During for sure. Yeah, so swinging, like swinging this big, these big numbers. It’s like, that is anxiety inducing it. A lot of times it’s happening at a level deeper than we like, can control. So yeah, I do that. And that’s, that gets me, then I’m like calm for all of my, or calmer for all of my activities, whatever it is I do for the rest of the day. But yeah, I just try to like in the morning.
Brad: Yeah, that’s, and it’s, if it doesn’t happen the morning at least, at least for me, it’s less likely to happen that day. So just doing it first thing. And I mean, look, biologically, humans are not made for poker. They’re not made for doing what we do. And if there’s a big spot, like you know, in a tournament or in a cash game, your adrenaline is going to spike. Because number one, you need to focus, right? Like you need that energy to manifest so that you can pay attention to everything so that you can make the best decision you possibly can in this moment, which I think lots of people don’t understand all of the little bits of information that is processing behind the scenes. And then that adrenaline spike goes away, right? And then you have to deal with the adrenaline dump. And like you get, you get your ass kicked. You know, you can sit in front of a computer, and you are completely drained. And you feel like you have been through a car crash, going through all of these emotions in poker. So, like, yeah, having a way to gain awareness of that, to deal with that. It’s just, in my opinion is absolutely necessary for poker players. Like you said, like you said, the partying, chasing girls, doing drugs, drinking whatever it is, like I had, it’s kind of an April Fool’s episode with the guy Scott Seaver, who’s a drummer for Tenacious D. And he was, you know, I asked him a wire. Musicians prone to drugs, like, why is drug abuse so prevalent to rock stars, right? He’s like, well, when you get off stage in front of 60,000 people, you have that adrenaline, you have to cope with it somehow. Like, you go backstage and it’s done. Right? Like, where does it go? What happens after that? And so, people just I think and put in the poker world don’t have the capabilities of coping without adrenaline. So, they tried to do something else.
Shannon: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. That’s really insightful. I can definitely, yeah, that’s, that’s why I turned to, my turn to everything that I turned to in the past for sure.
Brad: Yeah, I mean, we’re learning like you is through trial and error, right. I think it’s a big, you know, it says a lot about who you are that you’re able, able, you’re even able to recognize what’s going on. And think that see there’s a problem that needs to be solved. Because I’m, I don’t think I’m being, I’m exaggerating here. But there are poker players that likely deal with all of these things never see the problem and do it their whole lives. They die without even seeing what’s going on.
Shannon: Yeah, and I guess, to each his own kind of, if you like, want to live a certain lifestyle, and you know, it doesn’t interfere with you, and you’re happy and you’re not like infringing on others, you know, happiness, then I think, do whatever you want. But for me, personally, I have, like, personal growth. And it sounds like for you too, is like, it’s just everything to me. And I won’t allow myself to like, not be my best self.
Brad: Yeah, I mean, I just, I think you should just question right? Like, instead of just doing what other people are doing to do it, at least ask the question, is this making me happy? Is this bringing me fulfillment? And if it is, then great, but if it’s not, don’t spend your life doing the same thing over and over. Because that’s, that’s no way to live. What do you think people who are maybe chasing their poker dreams, what do you think they don’t spend enough time thinking about?
Shannon: I would say just balance. The balance of life and like building, building relationships, and building hobbies and good habits. I think that, like, definitely, for me, that was a thing, right? When I get so wrapped up in poker, and chasing, you know, chasing these like accolades and stuff that, you know, the media and everybody tells you, you’re supposed to be chasing, you know, that you just start to live like very one dimensional, a kind of, yeah, I think it takes a lot of undoing, right? Like, say, you do that for like five years, it might take like, seven to unwind from it kind of. So yeah, I think just like trying to have balance, as hard as it is, even now, I’m trying not to get like sucked into playing like, all the time, you know, because there’s just so much to chase online right now. So yeah, I think just trying to have balance and trying to like, set up for like, the long, long term and long-term sustainability, I think, is something I would recommend.
Brad: And it’s, it’s really hard to unwind all of these things, because a lot of times, you know, we’re kind of, you know, we’re the average of the five people we spend, spend the most time with, so we’re reflection of our friends. And when you start trying to change your lifestyle, and your friends are not, this makes it so much more difficult to say, no, I don’t want to go out tonight. You know, I’m trying to try to do something different, like, you know, one or two things are going to happen. You’re either going to have to make new friends, where they’re going to have to change with you. And most likely, you’re going to have to make new friends if your paths are not in alignment there. And that’s a very, very difficult thing to do. Just especially as a poker player on the road grinding, you’re not just going to randomly meet new people in all the new locations, right?
Shannon: Exactly. Yeah, it seems like, I’m sure you’ve experienced this. And like all the people you’ve interviewed in your podcast, like all the more positive energy, you’re around, like, it exponentially like builds versus like being wrapped up in like, in a small group where you just like we were talking earlier about traveling, and like having new experiences like them, the more people that are like growth minded that you can be around the, yeah, it just exponentially helps out.
Brad: Yes, it’s like the one plus one equals five, but also one plus one equals zero too, like, depending on the humans that you’re, you’re spending your time with. It’s just, it’s most, most people, you know, I go back to Fador again, you know, he lived with nine other German players who wanted to be poker pros, and none of them were crushing it when they first started. After a year, all 10 of them were in the top 100 players in the world. And that’s not, it wasn’t a coincidence. They didn’t just randomly stumble upon nine other people who were extraordinarily gifted at poker. It had to do with they had you know, their goals were in alignment, they were all battling for the same thing. They had each other’s back, you know. It’s easy to get yourself into a crowd that is very negative. That you know, you know, you know the people I’m talking about like, naturally, of course, never holds up, I never get lucky, these guys always get lucky. Like just feeling moping and feeling sorry for yourself type of, type of crowd. But yeah, it’s, it’s fun. Let me just
Shannon: You look at those same people like those same people that were doing that 10 years ago that are still doing it today. It’s like man, that’s, that’s like a hell of a way to live because it just doesn’t stop. It’s just well, while some are trying to grow there, that you’re just exponentially getting like compounded like down. It’s compounding downward.
Shannon: It’s in the other direction.
Brad: Yeah, it’s a reverse, you know, it’s a downward cycle versus an upward, downward spiral versus an upward spiral. What do you think folks spend too much time thinking about?
Shannon: In general, or poker?
Shannon: I would actually say it’s the same for both. I think that people are way too concerned about what other people think. I know that I was for like, the longest time. And now finally, as I’ve been able to mostly let that go, I just feel so much more free to like live my life and play my game. And then I think we’re, we’re just so like, all, all of us are so like, insecure at our route, kind of that we care so much about what other people think. And we, we all need that validation. Be cool if we could just like flip the off switch on that. And just like, totally, I’ll be able to do our own thing. But I mean, I think it’s just a process.
Brad: I mean, it we’re taught that that’s what matters. And that’s what we learn. And that’s what we internalize. And again, we get our worth from these accolades, and, you know, whatever they might be, whether it be a bracelet, or whatever it is, we start identifying our self-worth with these things that really, at the end of the day, when, when you do get your first bracelet, right, I’m sure it’ll be a special moment, but it’s not going to be what everybody thinks it is.
Brad: It won’t be as powerful or as important. Going back to those four years, by the way, I had a, had a thought, when you were struggling, you know, your results, weren’t there, you’re concerned about going broke, all of these things. Did you have expectations while you were playing?
Shannon: Yeah, definitely. I just like expected, because I, because the scope of my career was such that I had like success early on, I felt that I was owed this, you know, that, that I that should keep, you know, it was just entitlement really. I felt like I was owed that I should be able to keep winning kind of. So, I needed to experience those losing years to kind of be on both sides, see both sides of it. And that as a whole has just like immensely helped my game. And like having never, like I needed to face like a little bit of financial pressure, I think to like, actually become like a really good poker player.
Brad: Yeah, I’ve found, I found the same that if I have expectations, if I say I’m going to do this, I’m going to play 60 hours a week, this first month, I’m going to rip off 50k. If I start having those expectations, this is the exact moment where I fall flat on my face, and just get absolutely smashed. Because poker is a very unforgiving game. And when you start showing up thinking that you’re going to start winning simply because you haven’t been winning, or simply because you’re at the table, like you and I were great poker players, right? That doesn’t mean we always play poker greatly. We can sit down and play poker as poorly as anybody else in the right situation. So, like, that’s something I hope the audience sort of internalizes and thinks about is like, if you hope to win, if you expect to win, just by showing up, you’re getting a smackdown. You just have to show up with no expectations, try to make the best decisions you can, take it one tournament at a time and go from there. Getting bogged down in those expectations, at least for me, has always been, has always done more harm than good. Always.
Shannon: That’s a really, really good point. Yeah, because then it just adds, like, it gives you that ability and your emotions, you know. Even, even if you’d like do reach that, that big goal that you set for yourself, like then you’re just going to make it bigger and you’re just setting yourself up for like, let down in the future guidance. That’s a, that’s a really good point. Yeah. And it’s, it’s tough, like with social media and stuff. You see, like people all the, like success online, you know, you see everybody successes with poker and stuff, and you just like, have this expectation that you’re supposed to, like, always have to be doing super well. And yeah, it’s a weird, weird dynamic.
Brad: Yeah, it exacerbates all the other problems we’re talking about. Right? Comparing yourself to other people’s results and you’re like, I’m better than that dude. I know I’m better than them. Why are they winning, winning tournaments? That’s bullshit. I’m not winning tournaments. This negative emotions, it just makes every single one of them worse when you have, had you know, you’re, you’re playing with these expectations.
Brad: If you could, if you could gift all poker players one book. What book would that be?
Shannon: One of my all-time favorites is the, Power of Now. That just like being in poker is definitely a game that you need to be in the now, right? You know, ever there’s so, so many different energies and dynamics going on in, in this hand. Like if you’re worried each hand should be played independently. And like that book is obviously about, you know, life, a much bigger picture, but I think it can definitely, just being in the now in poker, i think is everything. So, I think that’s a good one.
Brad: And in life in general, you know.
Brad: I love things that are just valuable all the way around, right? Like getting good sleep, it’s valuable no matter what you’re doing, not just for poker, right and the power of now. You mentioned a word that I’d like to press you on. Energy. What do you think about energy? Especially, like, from the live perspective? What does that mean to you?
Shannon: Live poker perspective? That I think is definitely one of my strong points. And what’s kind of led to my success live. I think, my, a bit like, all like, the mindfulness stuff that I’ve done has been, like, most live sessions that I’m there, I’m not like really on my phone, I’m just there, sort of like, that’s what I love about live is just, just like one table, and you can just like pick up on the energy of the entire, like table every time like, trying to sense like, what people are going through. And whereas online, you know, it’s hard to really like your six dateline or whatever, it’s hard to, you don’t get to dial in, you know, and make like, what become much more crystal-clear decisions, in my opinion in live. But yeah, that’s, that’s one of the coolest things about energy in live poker, it’s just picking up on that and sensing like trying to use what I know, from like, my life experiences to make decisions in that way.
Brad: Do you have a tangible example of using this, this information to solidify decisions?
Shannon: Yeah, I would say, so say, I mean, this is probably how this has happened several times, but just like down the stretch of a tournament, kind of. If a guy, if I see a guy just like, constantly on his phone, like appearing, you know, even not knowing what exactly he’s texting, if he’s a couple seats away. But just knowing that he’s like, completely, like on his heels, and like, very overwhelmed by the moment, it’s going to like, it’s going to allow me some like pretty profitable opportunities against them just, just having that information.
Brad: Yeah, you’re just going to bluff the living bejesus out of it. Just start racing in the dark, right? Like this is a, I think that like, it, pokers interesting in the interpretation of ranges, in that lots of players will believe that the ranges are just set. A player style is just kind of set in stone. When you play live, you can really see people when they start to bleed. You can see them changing what they’re doing. And the interesting thing is, it’s hard to quantify, it’s hard to quantify why you do something against a specific player in a specific spot where you wouldn’t normally do it, but you do it because of the feeling you get from them. Just think they’re going to, you know, they’re going to be super spewing here. And they’re not genuinely, they’re not really spewing, you don’t have any historical evidence. But just because maybe they lost the pot, maybe their body language, maybe their posture, maybe you get the sense that they’re desperate. You can do things and play above the rim, and really exploit these tendencies. Whereas you know, like you said, online, it’s harder to get a sense of how somebody is reacting because you can’t physically see them. With recreational players, I will say like inexperienced people, you can get a sense of like, okay, they’re about you know, they’re about to go off like a rocket. Like you just know, right? When they lose a big pot or things like they’ve gotten three bet two times in a row and they raise again, and they get three bet you’re like, uh-oh. And they’re done. But yeah, live is in and even against like pros and experienced players, you can, you know, you can learn things, you can pick up on things that are heavily exploitative, that you just can’t if you’re not paying attention, if you’re in your phone and not giving your full attention to the to the moment.
Shannon: Agree completely. Yeah.
Brad: And by the way, I’ve told this story a few times, but I remember specifically Hennig is Jesse where Jesse is a guy that Jesse Yaganuma, he is a guest on the podcast. Just to do that. It’s always been incredibly in the moment and quite frankly, an annoying player to play against in a cash game setting. And I remember one time trying to bluff him on the river and like realizing a hole like in my line, and just he was tanking. And I remember thinking like, oh god, I hope he doesn’t realize that like I’ve taken, like I haven’t taken this line as value or whatever it was. And, you know, of course he, he did come to that conclusion and fucked of my world up and not as surprising, not as surprising thing, but like, if you’re not focused, if he wasn’t in the moment, if you hadn’t been paying attention to how I’m constructing my value ranges, he wouldn’t have realized how exploitable I was, which is the very nature of exploitability. Right? Like you exploit somebody else, they have the opportunity to naturally exploit you back. If you could wave a magic wand, change one thing about poker, what would it be?
Shannon: I would, I’d say, so, I don’t play like live cash around Vegas, because I’m just like, not going to get involved in politics. And you know, the private games. I just like, have no interest in being and being inauthentic to people. And like
Brad: What does it look like by the way? Because I’m not in Vegas. So, I haven’t really seen that trend in action. What is it the private situation look like?
Shannon: I mean, there’s games held at like, casinos that just like where you can get in, basically. So yeah, I’d say if I could wave a magic wand, like all of that would be done. And it would just be like, people could just play poker. Like, that’s what I love about tournaments. It’s just like, I don’t have to deal with any bullshit. I can just show up and like play poker. Yeah.
Brad: Yeah. That’s, I think there’s always going to be a place for tournament poker, in live tournament poker. Specifically, I think cash games live and online. Not going to be so good in the future, unfortunately. They’re just every single bit of information that I learned, looks negative on the outlook of long-term cash, which really hurts me. It hurts my heart as a cash game professional, especially seeing how it has been in the past. But, you know, that’s, that’s life, you have to, have to accept the, the changing tides.
Shannon: Yeah, I think just, just like, just like the lottery or whatever, like the appeal of big money is naturally going to bring people in. And that’s why. That’s why, like you said, I think tournaments are here and here to stay.
Brad: Yeah. And you can’t just privatize a tournament, right? Because it’s like, you have to advertise it. It’s typically to the public, publicly available. It’s just almost impossible to make it private. There’s no incentive either, because you just make it a super private tournament. That’s like, okay, like you’re going to have, you know, great players that come and maybe some, some whales, but the whales are going to play the public ones too. So yeah, I would say if anybody out there is investing their time and energy into poker, really invest time and energy into tournaments versus cash at this stage. What’s something people would be surprised that you’re horrible at?
Shannon: I’m not a good cook, that’s for sure. My girl does all the, all the cooking around a here. I’m trying to learn a bit, I guess people wouldn’t expect me to be, given that I’m a poker player.
Shannon: But yeah, it’s funny, like playing poker, you realize, you know, after a decade of doing this, I’m like, wow, I really don’t have like that many skills like outside of, you know, playing poker or different games, you know, that are fitness related stuff that I think, like decent adds like, wow, I don’t really have like, and I think that’s what brought me some fear. With my career about going broke is like, what am I going to do if I go broke? You know, I don’t have any other like, skills that
Brad: Yes. I’ve had the same existential crisis thoughts. Yeah.
Shannon: So yeah, I’m trying to, trying to work in stuff where I can, try to do a little learning.
Brad: Yeah, I mean, nobody’s going to pay us anywhere near to what where our expectation is for what we can do. We could do things, you know, we’re intelligent humans, we could learn and we could do things. But I think it’s safe to say anybody that’s been a professional poker player for 10 or 15 years is not going to grind it out, making even, you know, 30 or $40 an hour that other people would think, oh, that’s great money. And like, we’re giving up our autonomy. It’s not as mentally stimulating. It’s hard transitioning away from poker. It is very, very, very difficult thing to do.
Shannon: Yeah, it seems like there’s been so many cases of guys who’ve left poker like, because they felt like this compulsion to do something else. And then they’re just like, right back in, like a few years later, kind of. Something about this game and like you said, the autonomy and freedom is just, it’s, it can be matched in as many times as much as it’s like. I’m sure you feel the same way as much like pain as it’s caused us at times. It’s still like the dopest lifestyle, like
Brad: When you think about it, right? Like when you actually take the time to think about like, what we’re doing and how we have the flexibility and you know the autonomy to do what we want, and you compare it to other people, you’re like, yeah, this is actually pretty nice, even though sometimes I want to, you know, put my head through a wall, because I’m so fucking frustrated that I haven’t won money in like three months straight. The sweet side of it is much, you know, it’s, it’s very sweet when everything’s going your way. And you’re crushing. Like, again, going back to emotions, it’s still amazing how I started playing in 2004. And to this day, I can still feel horrible on a downswing and still feel euphoric on an upswing, after all this time.
Shannon: You’ll have emotions.
Brad: I do. I still have, I still have the emotions that but that’s a part of my humaneness, right? And I think I don’t want to be a robot. And because I think when you’re a robot, number, like it’s going to bleed to other areas of your life. And that, to me is not something that I want to have. I want to, I want to still experience joy in the moments where I should with loved ones and stuff like that.
Shannon: That’s where I think like having balance went the times that I am more balanced, like, I’d naturally feel those emotions and, and sort of like memory. I’m just more able to get in touch with like memories from my past and what makes me happy and stuff. I’m sure you feel the same way. Whereas when I’m on a grind, it’s like, you don’t, you’re pretty, like I said earlier, living one dimensionally, and you don’t have a whole lot else going on.
Brad: Just tunnel vision, you’re just straight up in tunnel vision. I hate quoting Fador so much, but he’s pretty smart guy. He said something else to you about removing emotions and like, part of the draw of poker is like the magic of it, right? It’s like winning these tournaments and experiencing that joy and having those emotions. When you remove those emotions, it goes both ways. It cuts both ways. You can’t take out the suffering without taking out the joy. And when you remove the suffering and you turn it into a robot, it really takes a lot of the magic out of why we love this game in the first place.
Shannon: It’s true.
Brad: What’s a, what’s a project you’re working on that’s near and dear to your heart?
Shannon: I actually just started kind of a new brainstorming project. I’m reading a book called, Bird by Bird, that’s a write, a book about writing. Yeah, I used to be quite, I used to write quite a bit, I kept a blog for several years. I’d like to like get back into doing some writing, because it really makes me happy. But just in the first like few pages she was talking about just like starting with, she’s like, start talking about how to start with your childhood, kind of. So I just started, like, pulled up a word notepad and just went back and put like, every year of my life, kind of like, you know, first grade, second grade, like all my sports, and I’m just having this like awesome flow of memories, you know what I mean? And just like, it’s given me the opportunity to like text and reach out to some old friends and stuff and ask them questions, do they remember this? And that’ll cue another memory. It’s been super exciting doing that. And I feel like I’ll get all like, it’s given me a good opportunity to like, get to know myself better.
Shannon: And just like relive some of these childhood moments. So yeah, I don’t know if it’s necessarily for like, the greater good, but it’s like a cool, cool personal project that I’m going to spend some time on.
Brad: I mean, solidifying or getting, reconnecting with people that are important to you. I think is, men told me like, who, who doesn’t light up when they get an unexpected call from a friend they haven’t heard from in a long time? Like, who doesn’t get happy from that? Right, like,
Shannon: It’s true. Yeah.
Brad: I think, is it Anne Lamott? Anne Lamar?
Shannon: Yes. Wow.
Brad: I think I remember. Writing for those writers out there. Let’s actually I don’t want to ask that question. I’m going to skip the question about what your accomplishments are going to be in 15 years in the spirit of the conversation, staying in the moment and having awareness and reducing expectations. Let’s close off and we’ll end it, where can the chasing poker greatness audience find you on the World Wide Web?
Shannon: I do some occasional tweeting on, on Twitter, @shannonshorr. S-h-a-n-n-o-n-s-h-o-r-r and Instagram, shannonshorr. I’m there also. Not, I don’t, I don’t do too much. But yeah, that’s about it.
Brad: They can find you in Vegas. When live poker resumes.
Shannon: Yeah. And in the park. If, if anyone wants to play frisbee golf, I’ll be out there.
Brad: I wish I were in Vegas. I would love to play frisbee golf. Like, you know, again, being poker players, right? It’s hard to find people that are on like our exact schedule. It’s like, what are you doing Wednesday at noon? Well, I’m at fucking work, you idiot. Like. That’s when the games aren’t very good. So, I’m free in the mornings, in the afternoon.
Brad: It’s been great having you, man. It’s been great getting to know you. Hopefully, we can do this again in a year. So, catch up with what you’re doing. If you have a, you know, a public blog or wherever you’re writing lead you, best of luck, getting married? I don’t know. When that’s supposed to happen. I assume it’s probably in flux, and the current state of things.
Shannon: Yeah, still trying to officially nail it down. We have a day, but I don’t know if it’ll happen.
Brad: Yeah. Better, better early than late, I guess. would hate to have had a wedding scheduled and like, you know, April, your
Brad: Just dunzo. Look cool, man. Take care. I genuinely enjoyed it. And let’s keep in touch.
Shannon: Thanks, Brad. Really enjoyed it.
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