A Little About Me...

I’m 36 years old, married with two young kids, a boy and a girl.  Naturally, this has cut into my poker playing time, but being a night owl I still manage to log some serious hours after the kids are in bed. My nickname, "Steamin' Steve", was given to me in an ironic sense early in my poker career, due to my opponent's inability to put me on tilt. It wasn't intended to be a reference to Def Leppard guitarist "Steamin' Steve" Clark, but I do get asked that quite often.

Before poker, my first love was tournament chess.  I still love the game and my son is getting old enough to start playing tournaments too.  If given the chance I’ll often play the Smith-Morra Gambit as white and sometimes the (boring, I know) Slav Defense as black. 

I collect poker chips from every poker room at which I play (over 100 now).  My favorite is the Horseshoe chip with Benny Binion’s picture on it.  They stopped using those around the time they got bought out by Harrahs.  Also, my now-retired 25 cent chips from the Seminole Gaming Poker Room. Believe it or not, these chips were in play until just about ten years ago, since all pots were limited to $10 at Florida poker rooms. Thankfully, the laws changed.

Horseshoe Chip Seminole Casino Chip

I also play guitar and collect them a bit too.  Two of my favorites are my Black Fender Strat and my Bright Yellow Gibson Flying-V.  (Yes, in the hot pink case – circa 1989 – this was a popular item back in the days of hair bands). 

Fender Strat

Flying V

The next picture is my poker table, which was custom made for me as a gift from a friend who is an experienced woodworker.  It’s just a tabletop and in theory portable, although it weighs almost 100 pounds.  The green felt can be removed for replacing when necessary.  The border is one piece of vinyl, no seams.  I don’t understand why that’s a big deal but for some reason he is extremely proud of that part. Thanks Mike P! [Ed. Note: Somehow this picture disappeared...I need to take a new one]

Finally, I enjoy studying game theory, especially as it relates to poker, but also for evaluating other strategy games. If you like game theory, here's a "fun" puzzle I put together called Rock, Paper, Scissors for Advanced Players.

About My Poker Life...

I started playing poker in college in the mid 90s.  Back then no one I knew even thought about playing poker professionally.  We all knew Phil Hellmuth’s story, about how he dropped out of college and won the World Series of Poker in 1989, but “going pro” still just didn’t seem to be in the realm of possibilities.  There weren’t any poker rooms worth going to in Florida in those days, and of course there wasn’t online poker, so it was impossible to get any good experience.

Then all of a sudden, online poker happened.  In 2001-2002, when I first started to play online, Paradise Poker was huge.   I wasn’t married at the time, so I picked up a few poker books and started to log some serious hours.  It was mostly Fixed-Limit Hold’em back then.  Then in 2003 PartyPoker started to advertise on TV and attract all the fish.  Moneymaker won the World Series and No-Limit started its takeover.  If you didn’t play online back then, you don’t know what you missed.  Nobody playing online had a clue.  I was playing 8 tables at once and making more money than at my day job (and my day job as an engineer paid pretty well!). I took this now-historic picture the first time I 8-tabled (that's PartyPoker with a custom skin).

Eight tables at once

I started to make more and more trips to Las Vegas too, typically playing cash games at the Bellagio (and later the MGM Grand) for the entire trip.  When I wasn’t in Vegas, I played almost exclusively on PartyPoker until late 2006 when they closed their doors to U.S. players due to the UIGEA legislation.  This, of course, was the best thing that ever happened to PokerStars and FullTilt, and they started their reign, until Black Friday.    

As far as live poker, as of July 1st, 2010, an “anything goes” law passed in Florida, which means fewer trips to Las Vegas for me.  Although it only applies to a limited number of state-approved poker rooms, at least they can finally have real stakes.  (The previous law limited all buy-ins to $100).  Now, on a good night at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, you’ll find a couple tables of 5/10 No-Limit going, with buyins up to $2000, and sometimes even higher stakes. 

I continue to play *some* home games, usually Hold’em but occasionally Omaha as well.  The higher stakes home games tend to be Omaha so I had to step up my Omaha game a bit.  But Hold’em is still my favorite (and best) game.  (By the way, if you play home games, you'll definitely want to read my five critical rules for all home games, and also my rules for home tournaments.)