In our new ‘Online poker legends: Where are they now?’ series, we’re going to look back at the storied careers of the virtual felt trailblazers, and take a peek at what they’re up to today.
There’s often a lot of revisionist history when poker players look back, but this we can say with a certain degree of certainty: Steve “Gboro780” Gross was one of the best online tournament players of his generation, if not the best.
In 2008, Gross was the runner-up to CardPlayer’s online player of the year title, which he then won in 2009. He was then runner-up again in 2010, showing his incredible ability to consistently put up big results.
“When I was in my college apartment atmosphere, I’d roll out of bed, jump in tournaments, play all day, order food in, and do it all again the next day,” Gross told CardPlayer. “It wasn’t healthy.”
Gross moved to Las Vegas in late 2009 and, despite already having had amazing success online, he decided a change was in order.
“If you’re living better, then when you do play you’re actually excited to play.”
Gross’ biggest career online score came in February 2009 when took down a $322 NLHE tournament on Full Tilt Poker for $275K–a colossal cash when you consider this event wasn’t part of a major online series.
He also has SCOOP and WCOOP titles, several big FTOPs scores, and multiple wins in the $109 Rebuy and Nightly Hundred Grand on PokerStars, which any grinder from back in the day can tell you were full of all the best crushers. In total, Gross has $6.2 million in online earnings.
Now, this might come as a surprise to those of you who play 10 to 15 tournaments at a time during your sessions, but Gross was never a big multi-tabler.
“I’ve never been one of the super crazy volume guys,” says Gross. “I’ve always tried to take five good tournaments and focus on that.”
This is something that BBZ coach Jonathan “apestyles” Van Fleet, a good friend of Gross’, vouched for in a recent interview with Adam22.
In order to reach Supernova Elite on PokerStars back in 2009, apestyles was grinding 16 tables of sit & go’s at a time–while on a downswing. “I was getting my ass kicked,” he says. He then went to stay with Gross in Las Vegas and noticed that Gross–who was the biggest winner online at the time–was only playing four tables on a dirty, old laptop.
“I was like, is this really where the magic happens?” says apestyles. “But what I saw was that he was super slow and he thought about everything. He would write shit down and was always super even.”
Apestyles decided to try what Gross was doing: slow down, play big buy-ins, think through every decision, and stop auto-piloting. “I started having fun again,” says apestyles. “Playing a more focused style, I went on a huge upswing.”
Gross admits he was never great at mechanically making decisions. “I wouldn’t be paying attention to the tables and the players, I’d just be looking at the cards,” he says. “I prefer to be more selective. Those guys might have better shots at the end of the day if they play 15 tournaments and go deep in two or three, while I might only go deep in one, but I think I’ll have a better shot at closing it out.”
Another interesting thing to note about Gross was that he wasn’t backed during his prime, even during the heyday of legendary stakers Bax & Sheets. “I would rather play lower stakes on my own money than higher stakes on someone else’s money,” says Gross.
“Some people feel the need to play high and feel that rush or whatever. But I’d grind my way up. If I didn’t have enough to play $100 rebuys, I would be playing $20 rebuys and grinding up a roll so I could play them.”
Gross has also closed out some big live tournaments in his time, too. In 2010 he took down a $5K 6-Max event at the PCA for $135K, and in 2013 he took down his first WSOP bracelet in a $5K PLO event for $488K, his biggest live cash to date.
Wowow can’t believe I won a bracelet! Always dreamt about this. Surreal experience thx so much 2 every1 rooting 4me! pic.twitter.com/cpze93auhl
— Steve Gross (@gborooo) June 26, 2013
Where is he now?
When Black Friday hit the poker world in 2011, it affected US-based online pros like Gross the hardest. He was at the peak of his powers, but with a serious girlfriend and two dogs at his home in Las Vegas, leaving the country to play online wasn’t an option.
“I decided to take a break and put poker on the back burner,” Gross told ESPN in 2012. “At the time [of Black Friday], I was so focused that I did not realize it, but I could have started to be burned out. It all seemed normal since the money was still coming in and I was doing well, but I was getting tired of the daily grind.”
Gross decided to leave full-time poker playing behind in favor of a more relaxed lifestyle.
In 2018, he told his Twitter followers he was working for Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas (albeit with a two-month ‘leave of absence’ for the WSOP).
A new kind of grind pic.twitter.com/W4N2Cprjst
— Steve Gross (@gborooo) April 17, 2018
Gross has played the WSOP just about every summer, including the recent online editions over the past couple of years. In July 2021 he took down a $1K WSOP circuit event for $39K and followed that up with a sixth-place finish in the WSOP Big $500 Kickoff for $18K.