On his first poker trip to Asia, highly decorated American pro Stephen Song, shared with Somuchpoker the early chapters of his poker journey, leading up to his incredible victory at the renowned World Poker Tour (WPT) Prime Championship in Las Vegas on December 2022.
SMP: What were you doing before poker?
Stephen Song: I was a student for about a quarter of a semester in college before I dropped out to pursue poker. Never had an official job but i did some tutoring and taught chess to grade schoolers to fund my poker bankroll.
SMP: What was your early exposure to the game?
Stephen Song: I learned poker from my dad. We would watch WSOP on TV. The first year i watched was Joe Hachem’s WSOP Main Event win in 2005. From there I found some of my school friends also played poker so we played a lot throughout high school.
SMP: When did you start seeing that you were more talented than people your age at poker?
Stephen Song: Honestly I owe a lot of my success to my friend group that I came up with. All of us have done very well so I guess I don’t really see myself as more talented since I compare myself w my peers. I’d say we all improved through sheer poker obsession and hours on and off the tables.
SMP: How has your family been a part of your poker journey as you started at a very young age?
Stephen Song: At first my family was not on board but as they met some of my friends and saw it wasn’t a game of just degeneracy they became much more supportive. The past 6 years they’ve been my biggest cheerleaders and are always rooting me on.
SMP: When you got your first win in Verona in 2016, how did you spend that instant money?
Stephen Song: That win was crazy! My bankroll at the time was around 2k before that win. The first thing I did was finish paying off my first semester in college but as far as spending goes it all went to poker. I saw the money as a pathway to play bigger stakes so I didn’t want to squander it on anything frivolous.
SMP: You went on a tear in 2017 and finally became a fixture in Las Vegas. Tell us about the transition from Connecticut to Nevada.
Stephen Song: 2017 was my first summer in Vegas as a 21 year old. I’ve always been on the fortunate side of variance during summers which is great because that’s when the biggest tournaments are. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to play the full summer after being fully backed so for that I’m super grateful. Had I not been backed, I imagine I wouldn’t have been there for nearly as long and might not be where I am today.
SMP: In 2019, you captured a WSOP bracelet, how much has that become a life-changer?
Stephen Song: My first WSOP bracelet was cool but at the time it was more about the money. Having that massive score and being fortunate to have all my own action led me to be financially free, which was my main stress for all the years coming up. Poker can be so stressful but at times like those can be so rewarding.
SMP: The WPT Prime Championship title last year must be the cherry on top.
Stephen Song: The WPT Prime was amazing cause I was surrounded by my friends and my mom who flew in to watch my final table. It’s an experience I’ll never forget and I can watch it online for the rest of my life.
SMP: What does your 2024 calendar look like?
Stephen Song: Honestly I’m not sure where next year will take me. I have always been a last second planner. I’ve been traveling internationally a ton this last half of the year, something I’ve always wanted to do. Being able to use poker as an excuse to travel to different countries in the world is incredible and I plan on doing that next year too but who knows.