This spring Deeb won an astonishing four SCOOP titles in a variety of different forms of poker. Fast forward to the summer and he has won over $1,000,000 in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) from four separate cashes. You wouldn’t think you could top that, but Deeb is having a right good go at it and currently sits on half a million chips in the WSOP Main Event itself. Can he finally win a WSOP bracelet in the biggest event there is? We will have to wait and see but in the meantime here is the man talking about his one true love…poker.
How long have you been playing poker?
I have been playing poker from a very young age. I used to play every Tuesday night around at my house with friends. We used to watch the WSOP on TV at the same time so it’s pretty crazy to be out here, let alone get all the coverage that I have been getting.
So you started with the good old-fashioned home game?
One day when I was 16 I sent a message out on instant messenger asking if anyone wanted a game of poker and that night 25-30 people turned up. It was pretty crazy including catching someone cheating so a pretty eventful evening. I ended up getting 2nd in the event and have been hooked ever since.
Who taught you how to play?
My Grandmother. I always spend a lot of time with her. She lived just next door to us and we all used to play dealers choice together. When we would be in Florida on vacation we would be sitting in the sun playing card games together. It was just a regular occurrence for my family.
How did you become so good at the mixed games?
I learned to play Seven-Card No Peek, Baseball, Criss-Cross…all those types of crazy fun home games. Gin Rummy was another game. I was playing Gin at eight-years old and telling the adults what mistakes they were making. People were making mistakes at Gin, for money, and I was laughing at them at just eight-years old.
Do you think a good poker player is naturally talented or do they grow their talent?
I think its a little bit of both. The top 5 or 10 best players in the world…nobody can just play enough hours to become them. There needs to be some brain work, some calculations, intuition…things that you cannot teach or practice. But to become a top 100 player? Anyone can study and become one of them. To become the best it’s more than just practice and perseverance. There are a lot of people who put in a lot of time and effort into sports and activities and do not become the best. But certainly if you want to be successful and you put a lot of effort in its going to work out.
Surely it is an advantage to be introduced into the game at such a young age. Take Tiger Woods in golf for example?
When I was 5-years old I wanted to open a casino. That was my dream job. So now I am in Vegas its funny how it has all worked out. When I started playing poker, my family all got it, they knew I would figure out a way of making a living at it.
But I would never have guessed I would have been so successful. I have run so far above expectation. There were so many times in my career where if I didn’t win this tournament, this didn’t go my way, didn’t meet this guy that I would just be an average broke poker player who left college too early.
It is still one of my biggest mistakes leaving college so early because I was not ready for it back then. I was not good enough and did not have enough money. I just delayed the inevitable of the nine to five. I love the freedom of poker. I could just sit on my computer all day and play poker. It seemed like easy money even though it wasn’t.
What was the biggest breakthrough for you?
I was playing at a tournament and met some kids from 2+2 and a few weeks later I started to play tournaments more frequently. One of the kids said they should pick me up for the TLB challenge and my team ended up winning the competition and the captain – who became my best friend for many years – took me under their wing and opened me up to the tournament world. I then started to play a ton and watch my friends all the time.
They were teaching me about ICM, telling me that I shoved too wide and they fixed a lot of my leaks. Now they come to me for advice, which is cool. So many people helped me out without having anything to gain. This is what I like about tournaments. People are always willing to talk strategy and that doesn’t exist in the cash game scene.
Who were your biggest influences when you moved online?
There are so many, Randal Flowers, Jimmy Fricke, Adam Junglen and David Baker are just a few, but there are so many. I owe everything to those guys.
Does the fact you have not yet won a live tournament major bother you?
I am not really worried. My live game was poor for a few years but I have improved a lot in my live game in the past two-years. I was lazy back then. Now I am focused and aware of what my table is doing. I am more aware where to be aggressive or patient.
There was so much feeling out of live tables that I just didn’t do back then. I just wanted to win every pot but these days I just let a lot of them go and save a lot of chips. I am a volume guy, if you look at the number of EPT’s, WPT’s or WSOP events I have played I have not played that many…what 150 of them? I have come close in a couple but a lot of shit needs to go your way for you to win.
When you were heads-up against Gus Hansen for the One Drop Mega-Satellite, did you want to deliberately lose and take home the $1 million?
I actually had asked Gus to play the tournament instead. I had not sold action and was not going to play a $1 million on my own. I do look back and I wish I played…after all it was a cool event. But I don’t think my edge is big enough to justify the charity rake and I had been up to for two days straight so I was content with the $1 million. So we reached a deal, I dumped my chips to him and it was all over in a few hands.