Shaun Deeb was already a legend before the 2012 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) began. Deeb once retired, albeit briefly, at age 24, after suffering immense burnout from grinding it out on the virtual felt in excess of 100 hours a week. Prior to 2012, Deeb was widely considered the best online player who never won a major live tournament. He accumulated $5 million in career online tournament earnings with $3 million won on PokerStars (screen name: “shaundeeb”) and over $2 million at Full Tilt Poker (screen name: “tedsfishfry”). But for some peculiar reason, Deeb’s virtual prowess never translated to brick and mortar rooms, where he only collected $750,000 in earnings with a handful of disappointing runner-up performances.
Deeb made online poker history in May when he won four events during the 2012 SCOOP on PokerStars. Even in the wake of Black Friday, the 2012 SCOOP was the biggest tournament series in the history of online poker. In total, 2012 SCOOP included 40 events (with three versions of each event with varying buy-ins). PokerStars offered a $30 million guaranteed prize pool for SCOOP, but the actual prize pool (in excess of $65 million) smashed estimates. Players from 156 countries contributed 526,154 buy-ins to this year’s SCOOP. The winner of each event also earned a sleek and sophisticated Movado watch. Multiple winners were awarded multiple watches. Shaun Deeb earned four of them inside of two weeks. He now has a watch for each arm… and leg. Deeb won his first SCOOP event a couple of years ago, and officially holds the record with five career SCOOP titles.
Deeb’s sensational performance easily won him the 2012 SCOOP’s Player of the Series. Deeb is a virtual Iron Man, and played in 115 of the 120 tournaments. He cashed 27 times and advanced to eight final tables – both records – earning approximately $237,500 in prize money. Although a couple of players won two events in 2012 SCOOP (including Viktor “Isiludr1” Blom, “Drew M Scott”, “bleu329”, and “joacowalter”), Deeb doubled their accomplishments by winning four events. Deeb demonstrated his versatility as a card player by winning four non-NL hold’em events: $2,100 Seven-card Stud, $2,100 H.O.R.S.E., $2,100 Stud Hi/Lo, and $2,100 Triple Stud (Seven-card Stud, Razz, and Stud Hi/Lo). By winning those specific tournaments, Deeb has emerged as the premier Stud player among twenty-something pros. Deeb put on a magnificent display and embarked on one of the sickest heaters I have witnessed since I began keeping tabs on the online poker scene. Early in the series, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom made headlines with a pair of SCOOP victories. The mysterious Scandi is better known for his penchant for high-stakes, nosebleed cash games. Yet, he surprised a lot of folks when he won not one, but two SCOOP events. Unfortunately for Blom, his multiple victories were overshadowed by Deeb’s monstrous run.
Deeb is originally from upstate New York. His family owned several seafood restaurants, which inspired one of his online monikers “tedsfishfry.” His grandmother, Ellen, taught him how to play poker, and she is still a regular in games hosted at local veteran halls in and around the Albany area. Like many pros before him, Deeb got the itch to play online poker. He deposited $30, ran it up to a few grand, and got hooked. Finally, Deeb dropped out of college, and the rest is history.
Deeb didn’t let Black Friday stand in his way of making a living. He made the difficult decision to relocate to Mexico to pursue his passion for online poker. His stats as a live player never matched his ridiculous online results ($750,000 live vs. $5 million online), so it made sense to relocate south of the border to play online, instead of moving to Las Vegas, and/or traveling incessantly to play the international tournament circuit.
The legend of Shaun Deeb continues to grow. Maybe he’ll finally break through and win his first major live event this summer at the WSOP?
Paul McGuire is the author of “Lost Vegas”, which you can find at www.lostvegasbook.com. You can read his poker blog, Tao of Poker, over at www.taopoker.com.