Day 7 of the World Series of Poker Main Event had just started and Max had just called, for his tournament life, a four-bet all in from Daniel Negreanu. During most of Day 6, Max had amassed a healthy chip stack, even leading the poker’s biggest tournament at various times. But toward the end of Day 6, things didn’t go quite as well, and Max found himself less hopeful with just about 25 big blinds—not a great stack. He knew he needed some very good luck to make it through to the November Nine from the 27 remaining.
After his instant “call,” Max tabled AA and Daniel threw his head back and spun his body in disbelief. He then flipped over 88. Max’s 20-plus person cheering section went completely nuts. The cards ran out all “blanks," and Max doubled up to a really strong position in the remaining field.
In a tailored grey suit and tie with a DraftKings patch on the lapel that represented his recently-added second career, for the rest of the day he played the best poker of his already-stellar career. At 1:30AM that night, he took pictures with the eight other most famous poker players of 2015. On the 10 year anniversary of the beginning of his poker career, he had the accomplishment of his life—the final table of the Main Event.
In 2005, a 17-year-old Max Steinberg sat hunched next to his twin brother Danny. They were staring at a computer screen, having the kind of animated debate of which only twins–or life-long best friends–are capable. Their Paradise Poker “Cashier” was open, and the account balance read $6.
After their dad, Rob, had deposited $50 into an online account on their 17th birthday, they played $5, full-ring, sit and gos ($5 SnGs), and for a few months their account balance fluctuated between $100 and $2. They faced a dilemma. At this point, they seriously questioned the likelihood that Rob would shell out another $50 any time soon–what they had access to was the $6 in their account.
“I wanted to throw all $6 into a tournament,” Max says of that day. “But Danny said he would grind one-cent, two-cent [no limit hold’em (NLHE)] until he got the account back up to $50 dollars. He felt like he could do it.”
Around 17, Max and Danny shifted their attention from video games and sports to becoming exceptional poker players. They posted on forums and created a poker buzz in their hometown–the Transcendental Meditation (TM) community of Fairfield, Iowa–so they constantly had a game to practice in–and yes, Max has also been practicing TM since he was five. Max and Danny’s best resources, however, were each other. Having a twin to compete with, support and be supported by, and bounce ideas off of was crucial. Max gave Danny the confidence to beat $2 NLHE and then they were both good enough to crush the $5 SnGs—even a World Series of Poker (WSOP) Bracelet Winner has to start somewhere.
In 2006, Max and Danny were still playing low-stakes SnGs when they left Fairfield and moved back to their birthplace, Washington, D.C. to start school at American University. There they met Cylus Watson–a poker player who went on to get 22nd at the World Series of Poker 2012 Main Event–and Ben Sulsky–best known as Sauce123, one of the best poker players in the world. Then, Max switched to online cash games, and at the end of two years he had moved all the way up to $1000 NLHE .
By the summer of 2008, Max and Danny had moved their money into separate accounts and had enough to start playing in live tournaments. They both entered the first Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) event ever, in San Jose, Costa Rica. Danny busted early with AK versus AA, but Max beat out 396 players in the $2700 buy-in tourney to grab 2nd place and $144,773, an amazing amount of money for a 19 year old whose rent was $300 a month.
After the tournament success, Max decided to leave college. He realized he went to college to get educated in a field that he felt passionate about, but he loved poker more than anything. He committed to studying and playing poker as his fulltime job. He moved back to Fairfield and focused on online cash games. With his larger bankroll, Max took a shot at higher stakes games and moved up quickly. He also shifted his focus to heads-up and 6-max and really started to find his stride. He became a regular in the $5,000 NLHE games on Stars and FullTilt, often playing as high as $40,000 NLHE. For the next couple years, Max made his money playing online, as he was still too young to play in most live tournaments.
In the summer of 2009, Max moved to Oakland, California and continued to play online. As his birthday is in July, he would have to wait until 2010 to play in the World Series, and when the opportunity came, he took advantage.
Max moved to Vegas for the summer of 2010 and entered about 20 events in the WSOP. Huge success came early on when he got 2nd in Event 8—a $1500 buy-in tournament—for $352,916. He didn’t cash in any more events that time around, but it catapulted him further into a successful and still-young tournament career.
From 2010 to 2013, Max continued to climb in the poker world. He won a WSOP bracelet in 2012 in a $1,000 Hold’Em event and narrowly missed a WPT title by one heart on the river. In 2013, he made three WSOP final tables, including 2nd place finishes in both the National Championship and the $3,000 Mixed-Max.
Although Max had and continues to have an illustrious poker career, he and Danny also knew that because of their young age they barely missed the perfect time to be an online professional poker player. So they made a pact that if anything like it ever came along, they would jump on it immediately and invest as much time and energy as they could to capitalize. This new online poker came about in the form of daily fantasy sports betting (DFS), and in 2014 Max and Danny dove in.
The started playing on Fanduel and DraftKings and together with their childhood friend Nick Juskewycz started DailyFantasyWinners.com, a now prominent DFS strategy site. Max aptly parlayed his general strategical knowledge into this new field, and since beginning he has won some of the biggest tournaments offered in DFS. He even qualified for the Main Event, in which he is now a November Niner, in a $27 DraftKings satellite.
During the last year, Max has split time as a live poker pro and a professional DFS player and website owner. Aside from that, he lives with his dog Annie, spends time with friends, golfs, and travels. Right now, he is busy playing DFS and keeping up with his website in the midst of prepping for the most exciting event of his life. At the end of this year, he hopes to be the WSOP Main Event Champion.