Shaun Deeb is a rare example of a successful online grinder with a genuinely interesting personality. While many other young players tend to act in a very reserved manner when playing at a live poker table, Deeb's demeanor is more akin to that of a seasoned live pro, with all the good and bad things that come with it.
Shaun is known for his controversial love of slow plays, but we also remember him as a good, jovial guy who bought his 91-year-old grandmother a spot in the 2011 WSOP Main Event. While Shaun has some impressive tournament results including 2 WSOP bracelets, his live tournament earnings are relatively small when compared to other top professionals.
That being said, Deeb's online accomplishments are significantly more spectacular including numerous WCOOP, SCOOP and FTOPS wins. A good mix of both live and online results coupled with many years of relevance (considering Shaun's young age) are the reasons why we should take a closer look at Shaun Deeb's poker strategy.
A History Lesson
If we considered what transpired in this hand without any information about the players and their history we'd most likely conclude that participants were either crazy or careless or worse.
While the squeeze play with JTs from a young aggressive pro is easy to justify (despite the fact that this particular hand might work better in the calling range) and calling a 4bet with such a good odds is fairly standard, shoving over the top of a flop cbet with a second pair type hand can't possibly be a +EV proposition in a vacuum. Shaun Deeb decided to take an extremely narrow line which is often a mark of an extremely good player.
Old School Pot-Control
Turns out that Shaun Deeb is a flexible poker player with both extremely narrow, ultra-aggressive lines and fairly mundane yet important pot-control patterns in his repertoire. In this particular hand, Shaun managed to restrain himself from betting the flop in a spot where many inexperienced players tend to overvalue the relative strength of their hand.
Deeb decided to play this hand like a way ahead/way behind situation and that allowed him to lose the minimum amount even with unlucky card hitting the river.
A Touch of Heroism
Another example of a disciplined and profitable play by Shaun Deeb. The hand started with a call that was no doubt +EV, and while the presence of a straddle might tempt a lot of players to go over the top Shaun went with a more conservative option that was most likely tailored to the specific table dynamic.
The flop once again showed that Deeb is great at correctly assessing the relative strength of his hand in multiway pots, which is especially important when one doesn't have the absolute position at the table.
Lack of aggression on the flop was a good enough of a reason for Shaun to value bet the turn and Alec Torelli decided to make the hand interesting by turning his hand into a bluff. While his intentions were good and his hand selection solid, the fact that he gave up the betting lead on the flop made it hard for Alec to represent a strong range with his turn raise and river follow up.
Slowplay You Pay?
Like we've already mentioned Shaun Deeb loves to slowplay his opponents. While this practice is frowned upon by the majority of the player population there are some legitimate strategic reasons for slowplaying. General wisdom suggests that in order to maximize profits one should try to keep the players at the table as happy as possible.
This might be the optimal approach for most players but Shaun Deeb is not like most players. His extremely aggressive playstyle can work even better when his opponents are on edge and a small sacrifice in popularity might well be worth the additional EV. That being said, it's also possible that there's no master plan behind Deeb's love of slowplay.