Friday, December 16, 2005

Interview: Shawn Gundrum a.k.a. BigGunX

How do I Improve My Game: Part III
An Interview With Shawn Gundrum a.k.a. BigGunX

The one question I hear asked more than any other is “How do I improve my game?” Well, thanks to the help of Adam, Cal and Riley, three people many of you have never heard of and their internet poker forum PocketFives, I am attempting to answer that very question. Over the past few weeks, I have been fortunate enough to talk with some of the best poker players on the internet, all of whom I got to know through the PocketFives forum. I have broken the information down into a 3-part series. This is the third and final installment of that series.

BigGunX, as he is know online, is known in real life as Shawn Gundrum. Shawn is not only a great poker player, but he is a member of our nation’s armed forces as well. At 29 years old, Gundrum is one of the “old timers” as far as online poker is concerned. But his age only serves as another way he rises above other players. Gundrum has only been playing online poker since 2004, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the hottest players on the net. Although Gundrum isn’t yet ranked, it is surely because his duty to his country comes before his love of poker. He has received numerous honorable mentions, been added to more than one “player to watch” list and, no doubt, would surely be ranked if he was able to play the volume of tourneys required for that goal. Gundrum has only been playing poker for a single year, but has netted himself well into 6 figures in that time. His largest online win is an impressive $13,400, but what is really astounding is that Gundrum has won $10,000 in a single day, multiple times in his short online poker career. Sound like someone you’d want some advice from? You got it!

Gundrum describes his overall game as “Controlled aggression”. Sound familiar? This theme of controlled aggression seems to resound through all 3 of the pros in this interview series. I have broken out the tourney into early, middle and late stages and asked BigGunX to explain specifics about his play in each stage:

Early Stage- Play tight, but not too tight. See flops cheaply with low pocket pairs and suited connectors. Hitting sets and straights are a great way to chip up early in tourneys. Avoid large coinflip pots early. Allow yourself to be able to outplay your opponents later, instead of risking your chips on 50/50 shots.

Middle Stage- This is the time to accumulate as many chips as possible in order to get a nice stack for the final table.

Late Stage- First try to make the money. Not because you want to sneak in, but because once you reach the money, smaller stacks drop like flies. Take advantage of that and move up the money ladder a few notches. “My play during this stage is most dictated by my relative chip stack at the table”.

I asked Gundrum what the best hand he ever played was and, surprisingly, it was a 7-card stud hand that took place in a CASH game. “I had pocket 7’s with an Ace door card [the “door card” is the first up card you get in a 7-card stud game]. The most aggressive guy at the table was the bring in with the 3 of clubs. After some raising, we went to 4th street. My card was a King and he paired his 3 to give him an open pair. He bet, I raised, he reraised, I called. 5th street brought me a 7, giving me trips. [We both made it 4 bets], we were at endless raising since we were heads up. 6th street gave me another 7, giving me quads. I bet into him and after a lot of betting, he got all his money in the pot. This was a 10/20 game, so the pot was pretty enormous. Turns out he has quad 3’s on the first 4 cards. I put him on trips, but no way could I put the maniac on quads. Turns out it was the worst beat I’ve ever put on someone and I took down a pot of about $1300.

Hopefully, this hand and the tournament breakout gives you a good idea of how BigGunX has had so much success. I asked Gundrum if he had any advice for the players out there who want to become like him: “Take in all the information you can. I learn more and move every day just by observing and Ive continued to improve my poker skills by doing just that.” Another key ingredient to being a successful player, according to Gundrum is “play like the money isn’t important. Don’t let bad beats get you down. Of course the money is great and ultimately that’s why we play, but my game has taken off in leaps and bounds since I stopped worrying about each bad beat and [started] focusing on the bigger picture, which is improving my game daily.”

Gundrum’s greatest poker accomplishment is not what you’d expect. He says his greatest poker accomplishment is “not letting it consume me. I love the game more than anything on earth, but I also realize it’s just a game. I’ve learned how to balance my Army life, my poker life and especially my personal life. Everything in moderation is the key to success and happiness.” Wow, is all I could say to Gundrum’s response. He is a Captain in the United State Army, he is a world-class poker player and just 5 months ago, Gundrum became a father. Shawn Gundrum is poker’s equivalent to Bobby Fischer. To his opponents at the poker table, he is Iraq’s equivalent to the United States! We should all thank Gundrum for his insight here, as well as serving our country, allowing the rest of us to sit back on our laurels and play poker all day. Thank you Shawn Gundrum, God Bless America!

I hope you enjoyed my 3-part series, interviewing some of the best internet poker players in the world. I know I had a great deal of fun writing it and talking with these poker prodigies. If you would like to get in touch with me, I would love to hear your feedback on future articles, improvements or suggestions. You can private message me on, screen name Supermoves or send an email to . Thank you for the opportunity to write and I look forward to putting out future articles.


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