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Vegas pro earns largest payday of WSOP career

25 Jun 2018

Shaun Deeb

Shaun Deeb (photo by WSOP)

Name: Shaun Deeb
Nationality: American
Birthplace: Troy, NY
Current Residence: Las Vegas, NV
Age: 32
Profession: Poker pro
Number of WSOP Cashes: 57 (54 WSOP, 2 WSOP Europe, 1 WSOP Circuit)
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 10
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 3
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 1st, 2015 WSOP Event #15: $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship ($318,857)
Total WSOP Earnings: $3,327,720
Personal Facts: Deeb briefly attended Bentley University before leaving school to pursue a full-time poker career. He learned poker from his grandmother, then played small games with friends in high school.

Shaun Deeb, a native of Troy, NY and a professional poker player now living in Las Vegas, has claimed the title in Event #42 of the 2018 World Series of Poker, $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller.

The win is the third WSOP bracelet victory for the 32-year-old Deeb. The veteran live and online pro won his earlier bracelets in 2015 and 2016, but the $1,402,683 winner's check here is the largest of his career, live or online. Deeb also cashed for the 54th time of his career at the summer WSOP.

Deeb's bracelet win here came at the expense of Las Vegas pro Ben Yu. Yu, another two-time bracelet winner, collected $866,924 for second, the largest payday of his own career. Yu, also 32, moved close to $2.3 million in lifetime WSOP earnings with this, his 63rd career cash in Vegas.

Deeb's win here was also a déjà vu tale of sorts; in 2017's Event #34: $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship, Yu topped Deeb during heads-up play for the win, with Deeb reversing the outcome here for a much larger payday.

Finishing third in Event #42 was Poker Hall of Famer Scotty Nguyen, who was on the hunt for a sixth career gold bracelet. The 1998 WSOP Main Event winner earned $592,875 for the near miss, the third-highest payday of his lengthy career. The big cash moved Nguyen over $5.9 million in WSOP career winnings.

Last year's champion in this event, Venice Beach, FL's James Calderaro, finished fourth for $414,134. Fifth and a $295,606 payday went to Vegas pro Jason Koon.

Deeb led for most of this event's Day 4 final but found himself trailing Yu as their heads-up duel began. Yu first pulled farther ahead, opening a nearly 2:1 gap, before Deeb moved back in front by taking down a series of contested pots. The last of those gave Deeb about 75% of the chips in play.

Yu's last stand came when the two saw the flop with a third of Yu's 7.5 million already committed. Deeb bet the pot, Yu called all in, and the two opened their hands. Deeb made aces up with the turn, and the river also missed Yu's draws, closing play in this high-roller event.

The $1.4 million is the largest cash of Deeb's poker career, topping the even million in cash he collected for taking the top non-seat-winning spot in an All In for One Drop satellite back in 2012.

“It's crazy to get here,” Deeb said. “A couple of years ago, I made two PLO final tables but got seventh and eight. I really felt like I got unlucky, but there's such variance – cracking aces, having aces hold, it's everything in this tournament at a final table. I got a great start to the day, got the chip lead, was really never in a bad spot. I was able to control the pot size the way I wanted to in almost every hand. It really helps to not get in an inflated pot with a marginal hand.”

Deeb also felt he had an experience advantage. “You know, not everyone was super-used to PLO. It's not a no-limit thing. Caldo [Calderaro] plays probably the most, Scotty plays not that much, Ben's new to PLO, Jason's just learning PLO. They're all not as experienced but they all played really well . . . . Everyone played their best game and I just ran the best.”

Then there was the matter of squaring off against Yu for the bracelet, as happened last summer. “It was so weird to get heads-up with Ben. I made a joke – we both missed the $10K deuce, the event we got heads-up in last year. I go, 'You know, we might be able to do it again, another game I'm a favorite against you heads-up.' Ben's a great poker player, but I've had so much experience playing mixed games for longer, playing heads-up, online, all these games.

“I've been in this spot before, not for so much money, but for playing heads-up. It doesn't matter; you have 40 [big] blinds, and you play 40 blinds as profitably as you can.”

Deeb wasn't quite sure what he'd do with the windfall, but “lots of toys for the kids” and “a new house,” not to mention celebrating with some of his close poker friends, were high on the list. Deeb also assured the WSOP that he'd be on the grind for the rest of the summer, eyeing the ongoing Player of the Year chase. The big win will move him high on the leaderboard, which will be updated overnight.

Action resumed on Saturday afternoon in this elite PLO event with a final table already shortened to six players, following the eliminations of Cluj, Romania's Bogdan Capitan (8th, $123,004) and prior bracelet winner Davd Benyamine (7th, $161,020) late in Friday's play.

That left Chicago's Ryan Tosoc on the shortest stack during six-hand play, and was the first to depart. Tosoc busted on the day's fourth hand to Ben Yu, with majority of the chips going in after the flop. All in, Tosoc showed, but he trailed Yu. Tosoc's outs to better hands, including a diamond flush, disappeared when the turn and river sent him to the rail in sixth for $215,718.

Jason Koon busted over an hour later, when he and Deeb tangled for the last of his chips on the flop. Las Vegas's Koon had re-raised from the blinds before the flop and started ahead. Deeb's flopped two pair, though, stayed ahead through the turn and river, leaving Koon to collect fifth-place money of $295,606.

This event's returning champion, James Calderaro, made it to fourth in his attempt to defend but could climb no higher, and his bustout hand was a crucial moment in Deeb's win. Calderaro raised to 500,000 pre-flop, Yu called from the button and Deeb also called from the big blind. The three saw the flop; Deeb checked, Calderaro bet 1,000,000, Yu folded, and Deeb check-raised the pot. Calderaro called for his last 3.1 million, and the players exposed their hands.

A chopped pot was the likeliest outcome, but Deeb picked up outs to a straight on the turn. Then came the river, filling that straight and sending Calderaro off in fourth. Deeb had led most of the day already, but the big pot gave him a commanding edge that allowed him to withstand later double-ups by both Nguyen and Yu.

Deeb talked about the hand later, saying, “I want to apologize to Caldo; I kind of fist-pumped in his face. But that's obviously a huge river card. We're going to chop that for all but five cards in the deck. I hit my one extra card freeroll but I had to turn that out [the four] first. He's only a slight favorite on the flop, but when we get it in, I'm just not going to fold with that stack-to-pot ratio. He could have a whole bunch of hands [in that spot].”

Yu looked set to depart in third, but instead, it was Nguyen busting out next. Yu first doubled through Nguyen in a hand where Nguyen whiffed big draws on both the turn and river, and then Nguyen missed more draws in his bustout hand, also against Yu. The last of Nguyen's chips went in pre-flop, and he showed. That led Yu's hand, but Yu spiked an ace on the flop and stayed ahead as the board ran out. The $592,875 payday was the third-largest of Nguyen's WSOP career.

Event #42, $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller, attracted 230 players and created a prize pool of $5,462,500. The top 35 players made the money, with a minimum cash worth $37,500.

Other notables
Among those cashing in Event #42 were Jason Mercier (12th, $77,107), Luis Velador (13th, $63,350), Martin Kozlov (14th, $63,350), Robert Mizrachi (15th, $53,391), Craig Varnell (16th, $53,391), Christopher Frank (18th, $46,190), David Prociak (20th, $46,190), Sam Soverel (24th, $46,190), Mike Leah (25th, $41,049), and Erik Seidel (26th, $41,049).

Final table payouts (POY points in parentheses)
1st: Shaun Deeb, $1,402,683 (1,236.44)
2nd: Ben Yu, $866,924 (618.22)
3rd: Scotty Nguyen, $592,875 (556.40)
4th: James Calderaro, $414,134 (494.58)
5th: Jason Koon, $295,606 (463.67)
6th: Ryan Tosoc, $215,718 (432.75)
7th: David Benyamine, $161,020 (370.93)
8th: Bogdan Capitan, $123,004 (340.02)

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)
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