Poker means different things to different people. For some, it is a form of escapism that also offers an opportunity to make a little money if luck happens to be on your side. For other people however, it is a full-time job that requires them to be at the top of their game and mentally account for literally every scenario that could happen.
For four-time WSOP bracelet winner, Shaun Deeb, the game of poker seems to be a little bit of both. Not only was that evident when he infamously missed the birth of his first child in order to participate in a poker tournament, but also by how he recently competed in an online poker tournament while in a hospital bed with Covid-19.
That’s right! The game of poker was so important to Mr. Deeb that not even trouble breathing, a heart-wrenching fever, and a fervent cough could stop him from doing what he loves. Of course, he did admit during an interview that he took cat naps during tournament breaks, which were only five minutes, but he still fought through the illness to keep playing.
If that didn’t sound crazy enough in the middle of the pandemic, Deeb was even playing multiple tournaments at one time, increasing his chances of winning somewhere. While the feat he accomplished from his hospital room was commendable and very brave, he wasn’t playing the game without at least a little fear in the back of his head.
The multi-time bracelet winner admitted on Twitter that one of the scariest parts of the whole experience was that he couldn’t decide whether to video chat with his family in case he got intubated. Although Deeb never did end up getting intubated and is recovering to a degree, this had to be a hard decision to make.
Interestingly enough, he was asked by a bunch of fans online to think about his health and to take a rest at some point, though he was hearing none of it. Instead, Deed tweeted his fans back claiming that playing poker was helping him pass the time and making him feel better. He even said that he felt the best when he was busy playing the game that he loved.
Deeb had traveled from his home in Albany to Mexico in order to compete in the Poker Stars World Championship of online poker, but contracted the virus about a week after arriving. For one reason or another, he tried to keep his illness a secret from his kids and his fans, who didn’t know he was infected with the virus until he tweeted about it.
Covid-19 has many people outright afraid of testing positive or even being hospitalized by it, and Deeb’s perseverance is endearing for that reason. He was willing to put his body, his mind and his future with his family all on the line in order to play a poker tournament. If nothing else, that’s going out on your own terms and can be commended to some degree, though I’m not sure his family and friends necessarily would agree.
Now, that is in no way an endorsement of what he did. But it a world of racial disparity, pandemics, a crumbling economy, and the overall weirdness of 2020, this story seems to follow along quite nicely with that trend. It also shows what the human body and human mind is capable of when put to such an insurmountable test, which is comforting during these tough times.
As for Deeb’s stats while he was in the hospital battling Covid-19, he made over 90,000 dollars over course of 57 tournaments, and notched a top-ten spot in four out of those events. Although that might not sound so great statistically, he did take home over 28,000 dollars in winnings from a 6-limit Omaha tournament.
In the end, Deeb was released from the hospital on September 24th and is reported to be doing very well. He is also using his Twitter to contact government officials about how to travel home safely after recovering from Covid-19. No word yet on when he will get back online and play a few tournaments, but he must be feeling lucky after surviving the virus and winning a few tournaments in the process.