As any tournament grinder can tell you, it’s the occasional ‘big scores’ that propel a career forward. And it’s every aspiring professional’s dream to parlay a small buy-in into a massive sum of money.
Last week, Upswing Lab member Shaun ‘shaundmaster’ Densmore did exactly that. With an outstanding run in the Pokerstars Sunday Million, Shaun turned a mere $7.50 satellite buy-in into a whopping $94,901.70!
We caught up with Shaun to ask about his career-best finish.
First of all, congrats on a tournament well-played, Shaun! You made the final table 8th in chips, but managed an impressive 2nd place finish. What was your strategy heading into the final table?
I remember telling myself, “this is just a 9-person sit-n-go now. All you have to do is keep playing solid poker and don’t let these guys push you around.”
I also was thinking that 8th place or better would give my biggest score to date—I was also kind of in shock at the time, lol.
I love that while you were heads-up with OMGRubCasco you wrote in the chat, “i’m in for 7.50.”
What thoughts were going through your mind at that moment? You were at a big chip disadvantage, but you must have been thrilled to have made it to the final two.
I remember being very tired at that point. The reason for telling him I was in for only $7.50 was to let him know that I was willing to get the tournament over with as quickly as possible, and I knew no matter what happened from that point on my life had changed.
Also, I wanted anyone who watched the replay afterward to know that a hobbyist had just turned $7.50 into at least $94k, that poker dreams can become reality.
Your run ended when your AQs ran into OMGRubCasco’s AKo—a pretty ordinary bust-out hand. Are there any specific hands that stand out from earlier in the tournament?
There were definitely lots of key flips that I won along the way.
One hand that comes to mind from early in the tournament: I had pocket tens on the button when villain open raised from HJ. I 3-bet, he 4-bet, and I flatted. The flop gave me middle set and villain made a pot-sized jam all-in with 77. I called, of course, and held. That gave me 3x starting stack and sizable chip advantage at my table.
Then, late in the tournament with 4 tables left, I called off a 20bb 3-bet shove in the HJ versus the CO. He had AT against my 77. Winning that one propelled me to 3rd in chips.
How long have you been an Upswing member? And what about Upswing’s training have you found most valuable so far?
I’ve been an Upswing Lab member since Dec. 24, 2016 (a Christmas gift from my wife). The most important thing I’ve learned at Upswing was that I was under-bluffing, and relying too much on premium holdings in order to gain chips (which we know doesn’t happen often enough over the long run to sustain a bankroll).
More specifically, I’ve learned how to recognize spots where I should be bluffing instead of just checking down, for instance, or checking and then folding to an opponent’s turn stab, etc.
What are your poker goals for the immediate future?
Right now I think I’ll take a little time to enjoy the score and soak it all in. I’m sure I’ll be looking to improve on my previous accomplishments (I’ll probably purchase the heads-up mastery course. I’ve been reviewing the cards up replay on PokerStars and see that my heads-up game still needs more improvement.) I don’t think I’m quite ready to pursue poker full time—I’m mostly hungry to learn and continue improving first.
Any advice for your fellow grinders?
My advice to anyone who dreams of achieving success in poker: Put your head down, work hard, and maybe someday, probably when you’re least expecting it, you’ll be at the final table of the Sunday Million on your way to a huge score.