ON THE BUTTON: With poker pro Shannon Shorr

January 28, 2013  

Shannon Shorr’s first major payday was a fourth-place finish at the 2006 Aussie Millions, banking more than $200K. In the 2008 World Series of Poker, Shorr finished runner-up in a $2K event, earning $349,141. The next month, he won a $3K Bellagio Cup preliminary event for $247,555. Today, he has more than $4.5 million in career winnings, plus $1.2 million in online winnings. Our Mike Owens recently caught up with Shorr to discuss his career.

Where are you from and where is home for you now? I’m from Birmingham, Ala., and still call the city home. Although, I’m rarely there as I’ve spent most of the last seven years traveling.

What is an average day like for Shannon Shorr? Nowadays, I’m very productive and focused. I generally wake up and get right to the gym then get anything pressing done that has to be done. Often, that means playing poker tournaments. In my free evenings, I love reading, sports, foreign films, partying and hanging out with friends.

What has worked best for you over the years in regards to improving your game? I happen to have a close-knit group of friends that are world-class tournament players. I tend to talk strategy with them. I also, of course, read forums and generally try to soak in as much knowledge as possible about tournament poker.

If you never got into poker, what do you think you would be doing for a living right now? I most likely would be a civil engineer somewhere in Alabama had I not discovered poker.

Your greatest poker moment? I have so many fond memories of my time playing this game. It’s hard to choose just one. I was really lucky to have a lot go right early in my career. If I had to pick I would say winning the Bellagio Cup for $650,000 (after cutting a deal) way back in 2006 was probably the highlight and most memorable. It was at that point that it became clear that poker was here to stay for me. 

Did you have a mentor when you were learning the game? I was mentored by two individuals at different points in my career: Jonathan Little when I was first starting to win at poker in 2005 and Eric Baldwin in late 2007-early 2008 when I was just really in a bad place personally and professionally. I will forever be indebted to them.

What do you do to keep yourself focused during a big tournament? I am a huge proponent of focusing at the highest level whenever playing tournaments. It’s not always possible in the smaller ones, but I have very little difficulty staying completely focused in big events. I prefer to totally isolate myself during big tournaments by turning off my phone and spending the breaks in the action by myself. I can only imagine what some of the other regulars on the tournament circuit must think as I can only imagine I look pretty standoffish at times.

Do you enjoy the World Series as much as you used to? I hate to admit it, but I don’t. That isn’t to say I don’t still love playing those events every day each summer, though. The truth is I’ve grown to really dislike just about everything about the city of Las Vegas. I’ve found it very difficult to have human interaction or make friends there as everyone is only interested in himself or herself.

Early in my career it was awesome because there were huge, huge numbers in the tournaments; I was partying really hard, and I was really out to make a name for myself. Now, it feels a little more like work and the summers can become long and very isolated if things aren’t going well.