When Ian Steinman sat at the final table of the World Series of Poker’s $1,500 buy-in No-limit Hold’em event Thursday, chances were the other eight players didn’t know what they were up against.
There’s a good reason for that.
Steinman, the 2016 WSOP.com Online Player of the Year, rarely plays live tournaments because of a fear of flying.
But the Carson City resident was savoring his first deep run in a WSOP event and more than happy to go unnoticed at the Rio Convention Center.
Steinman was in second place with eight players remaining prior to a dinner break at 6:45 p.m.
“My friends are telling me my face looks like I’m in pain, but I’m having so much fun,” Steinman said during one of the breaks Thursday. “Maybe I’m overly trying to not show it. I’m loving it. I’m just going to play my cards and see what happens.”
Steinman was eliminated in stunning fashion late Thursday when his opponent, Brandon Angeloff, flopped quad queens. Steinman earned $48,276 for his seventh-place finish, easily the largest live payday of his career.
Steinman grew up in the Bay Area and started playing poker with friends when he was in high school in Palo Alto, California.
Steinman built his bankroll playing online and in small-stakes tournaments at card rooms around San Jose before moving to Nevada in 2015 to play full time.
“I was going to take a shot,” Steinman said. “The online started being awesome and it was so consistent, and I was just crushing online, so I just started doing that.”
Playing under the screen name “ApokerJoker2,” Steinman finished atop the WSOP.com points standings last year and collected a $10,000 prize and ring.
Steinman has more than $350,000 in documented career online tournament earnings and currently is ranked the No. 4 online player in Nevada by PocketFives.com.
“I definitely tried. I really wanted to get it,” Steinman said of the Player of the Year honor. “I never wear the ring. I never show it off; I try not to talk about it. It’s really nice to have some sort of validation after all the years of playing.”
Steinman has played at the WSOP the past six years and made the money in four events — one of which was an online tournament — for a total of $14,287 prior to Thursday.
His largest previous live cash came in March when he finished second in a World Poker Tour DeepStacks event in Reno for nearly $12,000.
As a result, Steinman remained mostly anonymous Thursday to his opponents and media. Even the tournament updates kept Steinman’s online accomplishments incognito.
Steinman entered the final day of the $1,500 No-limit Hold’em event with one of the shortest stacks. But he doubled up against James Florence and eliminated Jack Allen in 12th place to put himself in contention.
“I only have a few close friends in the game, and we’ve had a second place, a third place and a ninth place so far this summer,” Steinman said. “Just to see my friends go that deep was enough for me. But look at this, I’m right here.”
Contact David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.