On the final Sunday in May, Justin Arsonist88Shelton took second in the Full Tilt Poker$750,000 Guarantee. He banked a healthy $80,250 for his efforts, adding to an amazing month of May that also featured a win in the site’s $150,000 Guarantee for $52,600 and a third place showing in the Sunday Mulligan for $31,200. All told, Shelton piled up over $200,000 in tournament cashes that are tracked for the Online Poker Rankingslast month and sat down with PocketFives.com to rehash his run in the marquee Sunday Major.
Shelton is about as honest as it gets as an interviewee. Some players tell you what you want to hear or what will make for an interesting story, while others say what’s truly on their mind. Shelton explained that, while $80,000 was an excellent consolation prize, he was sorely disappointed not to have come out on top in the $750,000 Guaranteed: “I have mixed feelings. This year has been great as a whole and that topped it off. The only bad thing about it all is that it had to be a runner-up. Any poker player can agree with me that no matter how much you win, it’s never a great feeling to finish second, but it’s still pretty great when you look at it as a whole.”
The Full Tilt $750,000 Guaranteed score marked the largest of his online poker career. He admitted that coaching from some heavy hitters helped push his game over the edge: “This year has been my breakout year for sure. I used to do well in mid- to high-stakes tournaments, but switching to only high-stakes MTTs was a struggle at first. After living in New Zealand with Chris moorman1Moorman, Shaun mathclubGoldsbury (pictured), Neil Puggy82Stewart, and the beej, everything started coming together.”
Following his stay in the Southern Hemisphere, Shelton headed to the friendly confines of Michigan to spend a month learning the game with the likes of Mike telksTelker (pictured), Drinking Buddy, and Sean SirCraftyRipp. Since then, it’s been all gravy: “Ever since then, my game has been right on track and this year has been great. May has been my best month ever.”
Shelton took second in the UB.com $150,000 Guaranteed on May 26th for $24,000. He finished third in the Full Tilt $100 rebuy 18 days earlier for $11,000. Being exposed to so many of the game’s top minds did wonders for Shelton, who broke down the scene in the New Zealand think tank: “It was a pretty sick house for sure. There is no way someone could go there and leave without being a better player and you just couldn’t help but improve. A lot of people struggle with losing, but in that house, someone was always winning something. If you had a bad day, it didn’t affect your confidence because the mood in the house was always positive.”
The journey for Shelton has been anything but smooth. He recalled his first sessions on the virtual felts: “I was the guy who would load $50 to $100 at a time just to play MTTs and blow my money. Or, I’d get lucky and win a bit just to blow it in cash. I had no concept of bankroll management.” He joined PocketFives.com back in 2007 and is a Triple Crown titleholder. In addition, you can find him nestled at #60 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings.
What separates the men from the boys in poker? What allows players like Shelton, Moorman, and Stewart to succeed over highly skilled competition? Shelton speculated, “I see a lot of regulars just level themselves against other pros. I would say the biggest problem I see with mid- to high-stakes players has to be that people get content with their game because they win. They never try new things or work on their game, so they just fall behind and next thing they know, they are breakeven players at best.”
Finally, we asked Shelton to explain what makes Moorman(pictured) such a successful poker player. We’ve heard from the DoylesRoompro’s father, Simon MOORMAN2Moorman, as well as a host of other players who have said that the youngster’s brain is like a sponge. Shelton added, “Chris is just a maniac and no one really knows what to do. It’s hard to know what the right or wrong move is against him. Together with Moorman, we all just review hand histories, talk to each other, and figure out different lines to stay ahead of the curve. We’re always trying to find and plug leaks we may have.”
Shelton wanted to extend a shout out to his friends at Poker-Allies and congratulate Michael GrindTheRailLavin, Telker, Goldsbury, and Drinking Buddy on their big years so far. Visit Full Tilt Poker to sign up for this week’s running of the $750,000 Guaranteed.