Ian Steinman parlayed his recent success on WSOP.com into a profitable 2017 WSOP
July 11, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - In 2016, Ian Steinman dominated the WSOP.com online tournaments under the screen name ‘ApokerJoker2’. In 2017, however, he’s making his mark at the live tables at the World Series of Poker.
Last year’s WSOP.com Online Player of the Year made his way to Las Vegas from Carson City for the summer and continued the success that he had online in the live arena. He earned five cashes, made his first final table and bagged up nearly double his starting stack heading into Day 2 of the Main Event.
He comes down to play a few events every year, but this year was a little different. He made a deep run in the first event he played, The Colossus, and his good friend finished second in the same event. Watching Taylor Black finish second in the biggest field of the summer gave him confidence to stay and continue taking shots at bracelet events.
“Usually, I would come out, play four or five events, brick them all and then go home,” said Steinman. “This summer, I did the same thing. I came out, played four or five and had a deep run in Colossus. I was planning on playing four or five, but I ended up only playing Colossus, running deep in it and watched one of my best friends get second in it.
“And that was awesome, but we talk poker every single day. If he can do it, I can do it. I keep telling him if he hadn’t made that final table, who knows what would’ve happened. Because it did so much for my confidence to see someone that I really trust and we really trust each other in the game, to see him do so well was enough motivation for me.”
The newfound motivation to continue taking shots worked out well. Just a couple weeks after his Colossus run, he cashed in the Monster Stack and then found himself under the lights of the Thunderdome at his first career WSOP final table in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event.
The final table was streamed live on PokerGO and Steinman’s every move could be seen by everybody watching at home. It was an atmosphere completely foreign to someone who spends the majority of his day grinding in front of a computer, but given his personality and poker background, he was ready for it.
“I really credit playing before playing online because I started playing when I was like 16 and I just got all those skills before I got my fundamentals,” said Steinman. “Then I met some good players and I got some fundamentals because online, obviously, there are no live reads.”
Steinman ultimately finished seventh and earned $48,276, the biggest live cash of his career, but is looking to top that over the next several days, having bagged 95,000 after Day 1B of the Main Event.
It’s his second year in a row putting up the $10,000 to play in poker’s biggest event. He found himself in his comfort zone on Day 1 at what he considered the softest starting table he’s had all year.
“My table was great, for me at least,” said the Mountain View, CA native. “That’s pretty common in the Main Event. It’s crazy because of all my starting tables this summer, the Main Event might have been my easiest starting table. I played a few $1,500’s, a $3K, a $1K and everyone was pretty competent. Then you come to the Main Event and there are just so many players. There just aren’t enough good players in the world to be at every table.”
Steinman’s first taste of the Main Event came last year, where he made his first-ever Day 3. He came in with a healthy stack of 300,000 chips, but failed to cash. After the experience he had in his first Main Event, he knew he wasn’t going to miss out on it this year.
“I don’t have any regrets from last year,” said Steinman about his 2016 Main Event. “But I definitely tasted it. Because I made Day 3 and the Day 3 table still wasn’t that tough and I really felt I could make a run in it. And then this year, I was like ‘Yeah, I’m playing the Main Event. Yeah, I’m playing it.’ Even though I didn’t have any plans to play it, I knew I would play it ultimately.”
Steinman grew up all around the San Francisco Bay area and was in high school during the Moneymaker win and the initial poker boom. He has a similar story to other players his age who began playing after watching the Tennessee accountant turn $65 into $2.5 million in 2003.
“I’m the perfect age for the Moneymaker thing,” said Steinman. “I was like 14 when he won, so I started playing with all my friends back then. Every Friday night or whatever, $5 home games or whatever.”
Steinman was kicked out of one high school and then ended up getting his degree early at the second high school he attended. He left Northern California and started his college education at 16 years old in Santa Barbara.
It was during his time on the Central Coast that he began really putting work into his poker game.
“There was like an 18 and over casino, so at some point, I started playing there,” said Steinman about the early portion of his poker career.
Once he started grinding in the local card rooms in Central California, Steinman was showing up to the classroom less and spent more time on the felt. He switched his major multiple times and eventually dropped out of school to put his focus on poker.
“Like, I would make like $5,000 over the weekend playing cash and I would say ‘What am I doing going to class?’ Just your standard 19-year-old thought process,” said Steinman. “At this point, I’ll probably get my degree, but that is not for the summer time. My mind is not on that right now.”
He went back to the Bay area for a little bit, but moved with his girlfriend to Carson City, Nev. in 2015. The move was sparked by a a love for the mountains coupled with his significant other finding a job, but the move over the border to Nevada was what gave him his start on WSOP.com.
“We would always take trips up to Tahoe and we would snowboard and I would play poker and what not,” said Steinman about what he would do before he moved to the Silver State. “We ended up moving up there because she found a job and I was like 'Let’s do it.' Then I was like ‘Let’s check out WSOP.com.’”
He had heard rumors about how the action was, but once he jumped into the online action for himself, he realized this was how he was going to make his living.
“I had always heard that there weren’t really that many tournaments,” said Steinman. “But then I started playing and it was probably better for me because the field sizes are smaller. There is less variance and it’s much more consistent.”
He got to dabble in the games during 2015 and then took his volume to a new level in 2016, playing nearly every tournament at every stake en route to running away with the Online Player of the Year award.
“Last year was just so great,” said Steinman. “So consistent online because I was in the lead from like Day 1 until the end of the summer.
“Once I turn on and start clicking everything, I just fire everything. Last year, I was playing $1 and $3 rebuys, just for Player of the Year points is what I told myself, but at heart I’m just a grinder. Whatever. There is a tournament? Fire it up.”
He considers himself an online pro at this point of his career, but Steinman doesn’t fit the mold of what most people envision when you think of a 20-something online pro. Instead of putting his headphones on and his hood up, Steinman prefers to engage his opponents and try to lighten up the table.
“I haven’t worn a hoodie or headphones all summer,” said Steinman. “I just played 10 hours and I wasn’t quiet for more than 30 seconds. That’s always been my game. Talk to people, lighten them up. I feel like I’ve always had such a good live feel.”
He enjoys playing live poker. He’s excited to sit down at the table and spend the day battling wits with others.
“I love to come out here and maybe that’s why I did so well because when I get to play live, it’s like a treat to me, really,” said Steinman. “I play online and it’s grind, grind, grind. Here, I get to play with chips and talk to people. Maybe that’s why I do so well because I’m in such a good mood when I play live.”
His love for gab is part of the reason he started streaming his online tournaments on Twitch. He gets to talk out his thought process and interact with his followers during his grind. To those close to him, they could even see him doing it at his final table.
“Even my girlfriend told me, she was watching that PokerGO stream and she was like ‘You’re talking to yourself,’” said Steinman. “And then she showed me a clip and I was like ‘I think I am talking to myself.’ It’s just how I am.
“That’s probably why I started [streaming]. Because originally, I was like ‘Well, maybe I can make some extra money,’ but it would be cool to kind of have people to talk this stuff out with. It helps your game a ton to talk stuff out while you’re playing.”
Despite his success, Steinman doesn't want to be a lifelong grinder and hopes to eventually find a career that doesn't have him grinding out poker tournaments.
"I think this might be a common theme between people, but it's all about a means to an end," said Steinman. "Ultimately, I'd like to do something that's not playing. I love to play, but ultimately, I don't want to rely on playing for a source of income. Whether that is making connections through Twitch or maybe people like me on Twitch and I get enough followers that I could make some more money, but whatever it is, I don't see myself in like 10 years playing full-time."