Shannon Shorr started making waves in the poker world early in 2006, before he'd even turned 21. He won a spot in the 5431 through an online tournament and away he flew from Alabama to Australia for his first live poker event.
Most people wouldn't have guessed he'd never competed in a live tournament before based on the level of his play. He ended up making the final table, 5758 and taking home about $205,000 for his efforts.
Shorr credits that win with boosting his bankroll and allowing him to play in more live tournaments, which turned him from an online player to a live tournament player by trade. Since that win he's played in tournaments all over the world, gaining experience and perfecting his game.
The Alabama native was born and grew up in Birmingham with his two sisters. His game of choice while growing up was baseball, which he has played for most of his life. He even turned down some scholarship offers to try to walk on to the team at the University of Alabama.
When he went to UA, he discovered poker and the rest is history. Like many people at the time, he and his college buddies were inspired by Chris Moneymaker's World Series of Poker success and started up a $5 home game they played regularly. Shorr also ended up checking out the online poker scene where he built up his initial $50,000 bankroll and won his seat in the Aussie Millions.
He still plays online at PartyPoker.com fairly often, but his main focus is on playing in live tournaments now. After the Aussie Millions he competed in the Canadian Poker Championships and achieved another final table finish, this time coming in second for $75,000. He then took on Europe at the 12th Vienna Spring Poker Festival in Austria and the World Heads-up Poker Championships in Barcelona, Spain, where he cashed in both, finishing fifth and ninth respectively.
On June 7, 2006, Shorr was finally old enough to play his chosen sport live in the United States. His first stop was the Harrah's Lake Tahoe World Series of Poker Circuit tournament, where he added more top finishes to his record in two different $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em events - he placed second and third for nearly $40,000 in total winnings.
Shorr wasn't quite as lucky at his first World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas one month later. He played in 22 events but only cashed in three of them, with 42nd in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event turning out to be his best placement.
Las Vegas didn't end up being completely unlucky for Shorr though. While he was there he decided to check out the Bellagio Cup II tournaments. He finished first in a $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event and won the $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em championship event as well, boosting his winnings up over the $1 million mark for the year and earning a seat in the World Poker Tour Championships.
So what's the secret to success for such a young player? First, he doesn't really prepare for tournaments. Shorr prefers to go into tournaments open-minded and flexible in order to play different ways depending on what his starting table looks like.
His youth also works to his advantage because most people just assume he's another "young Internet player." Shorr said if he's playing against an experienced player who thinks he's an online player, there are a lot of techniques, like giving off false tells, that he can use to manipulate his opponent into doing what he wants them to do.
Shannon Shorr: Not just "another young Internet player"
The flop is the key to his third secret for success. "During the Aussie Millions, I learned that I could really, really play flops well," Shorr said. "I had a good feeling I would excel in live tournaments."
That feeling turned out to be true, and as a result, Shorr has put his college degree on hold to pursue a full-time professional poker player career. He's about halfway through a civil engineering degree at UA, but he said poker is just too good right now to return to school. He's made more in eight months of playing tournament poker than he'd make in 10 to 12 years with his degree.
His parents are also behind him 100% in his decision to turn pro and put school on hold for a while. His mom even accompanied him on the PartyPoker.com Million V cruise, and his dad went with him to the WSOPC in Lake Tahoe.
"A lot of poker players are jealous of me," Shorr said. "I have an extremely supportive family that some of them don't have."
So far Shorr hasn't let poker go to his head too much. When he's not playing he enjoys kicking back with friends and going bowling or out to the bars like any other typical 21-year-old.
His advice to other potential poker players also reflects his level-headed attitude towards his profession: "Don't get too caught up in this if you're not doing it for a living. Even then, poker isn't much in the grand scheme of things. If you do get into it, you have to manage your bankroll. I've witnessed dozens and dozens of players go broke because they have no idea how to manage money."
Shorr's bankroll seems to be doing just fine, and you can be sure to hear more from him in the future.