Shawn “shades927” Stroke has come close to a World Series of Poker gold bracelet before. Back in 2018, he finished runner-up in Event #10: $365 NLH WSOP.com Online for $94,265. This Monday, he’ll have a shot at redemption as one of nine remaining players in the 2020 WSOP Main Event; in fact, he’ll start play sitting second in chips with 5,250,000.
The 31-year-old Stroke, who was born and raised in Long Island, New York, is already guaranteed a bigger payday than that and slated to add to the $68,175 in live tournament winnings he’s amassed on HendonMob.
A middle child – he has a brother five years his senior and a sister three years his junior – Stroke has a BA in Business Administration and Economics, though he doesn’t currently utilize that degree at his current occupation as a cooling tower mechanic/technician with his Local 45 union.
As for poker, Stroke found the game in his late teenage years.
“I used to play on my brother’s partypoker and Full Tilt accounts,” he told PokerNews. “I remember vividly he would get pissed when I lost his funds without him knowing I was even playing. Then I used to round the Long Island home ring games, and travel to Richie’s Pizzeria in queens where I first saw tourney poker.”
“I wake up and remind myself that this is real and envision myself hoisting that WSOP bracelet.”
Eventually, Stroke met some poker friends including Sid and one nicknamed Ben “FACE” Geller. The former also gave Stroke the nickname “Shades,” while the latter taught him a ton about the game.
“Unfortunately, he sadly passed away roughly seven years ago, so any big tourney I would win after his passing would be dedicated to him, including this one,” Stroke revealed.
Stroke doesn’t consider himself a poker pro but does take the game seriously. The past few years, he’s ventured to Las Vegas to fire some WSOP events, and he always enjoys hitting the virtual felt whenever possible.
“I like poker in general so online verse live, makes no difference to me,” he said. For the WSOP Main Event online portion, that meant hitting up his friends – Hoffie and Mase – to utilize one of their rental properties in Union, New Jersey, about a 75-minute car ride away. He set up shop in the vacant basement and over a two-day period played his way to the final table.
“Feels nothing less than amazing, taking it all in each day,” he said of making it to poker’s biggest stage. “I wake up and remind myself that this is real and envision myself hoisting that WSOP bracelet.”
He continued: “My parents and sister love it; my brother was watching the stream and probably couldn’t breathe. He and I were on the phone for basically my whole car ride home after the tourney. We spoke about the tough spots I was in, the lucky-ass hands I won all in for my tourney life, and some of the coolers I took. My friends are all stoked, each day I get a random message from an old or new friend that are just finding out about the good news.”
Coming in second in chips, Stroke is feeling confident about his chances.
“I feel great being in any spot on any table because you just have to adapt and respond to whatever situation you are in, if you have chips you still have life, and life in a tourney at the end of the day is all that matters.”
Stroke is already in Las Vegas – he flew out and rented an AirBnB the day after making the final table – waiting for play to resume. Aside from the occasional run or walk outside, Stroke is quarantining and relying on friends to bring him necessary supplies as he waits for his next shot at a WSOP gold bracelet.
Action will resume on Monday, December 28 as the final table players down to a winner live at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. PokerNews will once again bring you live updates until the final table is set. Be sure to join us then to see who wins the WSOP.com portion of the 2020 WSOP Main Event!