Once the poster boy for a generation of online tournament stars who seemed to play live without a care in the world, a suddenly more mature Shaun Deeb won his first World Series of Poker bracelet at the 2015 WSOP Saturday night.
"Now I'm a family man, I'm a little calmer," said Deeb, who was recently married and has a one-year-old son. "I've always been known as a spazz and I've just calmed down a little. I'm a little tighter and I'm just enjoying myself more.
"I was never motivated to win a bracelet before. I was always just trying to win the most money. This year I came in a little more motivated. This will be the last full summer I do and I really wanted to get it off my bucket list and win a bracelet."
Deeb took down the 2015 WSOP Event #15: $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship for $318,857, besting a field of 128, including 2015 WSOP Player of the Year leader Paul Volpe in heads-up play along with a final table that included some of the top players in the game today.
"I really think this should go down as one of the toughest final tables ever assembled," Deeb said, referring to opponents that included 2012 WSOP Main Event champion Greg Merson, 2014 WSOP bracelet winner and 2015 $10,000 Heads-Up runner-up Volpe, online high-stakes grinder Jason Les, and other big names like Jason Koon, Sam Stein, Ismael Bojang, Kristijonas Andrulis and Dario Sammartino.
"Everyone at this table has won millions of dollars in poker and will continue to win," Deeb added. "I would never, ever sit at this table with those nine guys unless I was forced to in this tournament, but we had a great time. No one took it too seriously, everyone took some bad beats and some coolers, but it was just nice to play with a bunch of professionals who get it."
Deeb also final tabled the 2012 WSOP $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em event finishing sixth. This time around he said he ran well and despite some contention that pot-limit hold'em is a dead game and should be removed from the schedule, he hopes to see it at the WSOP again.
"Being such a tournament player I think I adjust well to this. I made a bunch of good decisions and obviously card racked a bunch of people and won all the key all ins and that's really important," he said. "I'm so happy to win a bracelet and that it was a World Championship event. Hopefully it's back next year. I need to be able to defend my title. They can't take it away from me."
Deeb got his start in poker hosting home games in high school. He went on to become an online poker legend, mutli-tabling MTT's, racking up a number of the biggest paydays in the online game and collecting multiple PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker and Full Tilt Online Poker Series titles. On the live felt, however, he has admitted his approach to the game was less serious.
A now more mature Deeb said he came into the 2015 WSOP looking to make a big mark, and despite plans to return East to spend some time with his new family in the middle of the series, added that he plans on maintaining that newfound focus.
"I was very offended I wasn't drafted in the $25K draft, so I came out here motivated to play tournaments," he said. "I remember when I was 16 or 17 years old watching the World Series, running home games every Tuesday night while it was on in the background. It's just great. When you grow up as a poker player this is the stage you want to be on. This is where you want to show your skill."