On June 17, 2014, Dutch Boyd finished first in Event 33 at the 2014 World Series of Poker. He won a $1K NLHE tournament for $288,744 to collect his third WSOP gold bracelet.
Boyd is no stranger to being first in poker. He was one of the first players to be labeled as a “young gun,” a new generation of poker competitors in 2003 with aggressive styles and an abundance of confidence. He was part of “The Crew,” the first group of young players to study, live, and play poker together around the clock. On the opposite end of the spectrum, he was the first to face a true online poker scandal when his Pokerspot site failed.
It hasn’t been easy to weather the storms, but Boyd has done it, coming nearly full circle in his poker life. He has experienced highs and lows, but he entered 2014 WSOP on a bit of a high. He completed his book, Poker Tilt, just before the Series began, the authoring of which took him through a deeply reflective personal journey. He and longtime girlfriend Michele just moved back to Las Vegas, which feels like home again.
And the WSOP win allows him to settle a lawsuit with Two Plus Two owner Mason Malmuth, clear his makeup with backers, and start anew.
We talked to Boyd a few days after his Event 33 win.
CardsChat (CC): Let’s start with your WSOP in general this year. How did you feel coming in to it?
Dutch Boyd: I came in feeling really good. I’ve been focusing on living healthy this last year. I gave up all smoking, even the vape pen, which I was on for two years since I quit cigarettes. It’s been a year since I’ve had any nicotine, and I think that really changed my game quite a bit.
When you’re a smoker, about an hour and a half without nicotine made me a little fidgety. Not having that, it’s helped me focus on those last few minutes of every level much better. It’s a small edge, but it’s a good one.
As far as my mindset, I felt really good. I had been doing some online play, and I just finished the book. It was really therapeutic, and I also thought a lot about strategy when I was writing the book. Originally, it was going to be more of a strategy book than a biography, but the strategy part was going to take another year. We decided to cut most of that out, but the process of it all was really helpful for my own game. I got to think about a lot of concepts, what I had been doing wrong.
The book was also therapeutic in that I got rid of a lot of baggage that I was carrying around. I put it behind me. Coming into this Series, I felt free. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could just focus on poker only.
CC: You’ve talked to me before about some of your ups and downs in your relationship with poker. You’ve considered leaving poker and going back to law, so what changed?
Boyd: I still have a love/hate relationship with poker. I still feel like I want to do other things besides play poker. After the Series, I’m looking into possibly getting back into the tech scene, since I did some programming and web development in the last year. I’m leaving that open.
I don’t think I’ll ever not play the Main Event or some part of the World Series. I really love it. As much as there are aspects of poker that I can’t stand, I love playing and I love getting there.
CC: Do you play much poker other than the WSOP during the year?
Boyd: A little bit online. Every once in a while, I’ll play a Circuit event somewhere, like I did in St. Louis this year. I might go up to Soaring Eagle in Michigan in August. Since I just moved back to Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I might start playing around town more going forward.
CC: What exactly brought you back to Vegas?
Boyd: Michele and I tried to make it up in Washington and go a normal route. I applied for about 100 jobs up there, but nothing was working. We then went to Missouri, and nothing was working there, either. I felt like we were getting resistance everywhere.
Vegas can be pretty hard, but when we came back, it was like a great big hug. One of the first things we did was play video poker at the Golden Nugget and won $100. We don’t degen much at all, but it was a good machine. It’s been up and up from there. We understand this city better than other normal cities. People who don’t understand it, though, can go broke quickly.
Here’s an example. We win the bracelet last week. Before I understood Vegas, gambling, and poker, I’d take all of the boys to a table at Tao and follow it up with a strip club, and $10K later, I’m hung over for days. But this time, we went to the Loose Caboose by Palms, put up a $300 bar tab, and told everyone that they were on their own after that. It lasted until about 2am. That’s experience.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been broke and thinking I wish I had that table fee or lap dance money back. I don’t see myself being broke in the future thinking that I wish I had that $300 bar tab back from the Loose Caboose.
Poker players have to understand that there are long droughts when things just don’t go your way. When they finally do, you have to keep in under control. You can enjoy the moment but remember that there is more work to do.
CC: Talk a little about your final table a little. How tough was it?
Boyd: Did it seem tough? It wasn’t. It was a $1K event with 1,600 players. If you look at past final tables with players like Ivey, Mortensen, Hachem, Negreanu and Elezra, those are tough final tables. A final table is never easy, but the actual composition of this final table, I was the most decorated player at this final table. Usually, when you’re competing for gold, there are scarily good players at the table. Some of the players at my final table were good, like Will Givens was very good and Vinny Pahuja and Gabriel Nassif.
As soon as I got down to three-handed and knocked Paul out, there was no shot that I wasn’t walking away with that bracelet. No shot. With the live stream, I had a couple of spotters who were following the betting patterns and such. With that and my experience against Steve Nordic, I’m walking away with the bracelet 95 percent of the time.
Live streams change the game quite a bit and bring up the skill level. It’s not just about winning flips and getting lucky. It’s more about analyzing what other players are doing instead of just making educated guesses. Poker with live streams is a lot more like gin or bridge than blackjack. The skill level is coming up, and we’re seeing it more this year with all of the repeat bracelet winners.
CC: In your PokerNews post-game interview, you mentioned receiving something from Mason Malmuth with regard to your recent lawsuit loss right before the final table began.
Boyd: Yes. The Rio still hasn’t paid out. My lawyer is talking to them today, but Caesars is refusing to pay anything of the $288K. My backer isn’t super happy about that, and neither am I. I don’t understand why they can’t just hold the dollar amount in question.
That was really stressful. In one sense, it really tilted me. For the first hour of the final table, I tightened up and wasn’t really playing my A-game. I was thinking about Mason instead of the next hand. I think it was unfair of him to serve papers like that, but I understand where he’s coming from. We’ll see how it plays out.
I can’t comment too much about it until everything is finalized. I think it’ll be resolved very soon. It’s going to be really nice to get this whole ordeal behind me.
The Mason Malmuth and Two Plus Two dispute over that domain name has taken way too much time in my head over the last five years than it ever should have. I regret every day that I registered that domain. I put no thought into it, and it was one of the most reckless registrations I ever did. You live and learn.
CC: So it seems like you have closure on a lot of things. The book is done, the lawsuit is almost taken care of, and you won a third bracelet. What’s next?
Boyd: Win another one, I hope. I want to keep on moving forward. Michele wants me to write another book, one that focuses on strategy. A deep run in the Main Event here could change a lot of things.
I wanted to say something about the PokerNews interview. I watched it afterward and realized I talked about the $288K not being life-changing money for me. I didn’t mean that. I meant that I’m not getting most of this money, so it’s not life-changing for me. When Mason is paid for the lawsuit and the backer gets his part and my makeup, I’m left with barely a five-figure roll. And I have loans that I should pay off before I do anything, so I’m looking at four figures again.
It just feels like a fresh start, though. This happens so often in poker that someone gets a big score, and the money is just gone right away. People think you’re just rolling in money, but it’s not like that.
People who don’t understand that I’m only walking away with about $10K here might think it was a dick thing for me to say because $288K is a lot of money for just about anybody.
As I go forward, I just want to take this and go forward, move up, and keep doing productive things.
CC: And you had one special person on your rail and by your side through all of this…
Boyd: Michele’s great. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She’s very controlling about money, though, so the only thing she let me get after my bracelet win was these contacts I’m wearing instead of my stupid glasses!
She’s my teammate and partner. We won this tournament together, and that’s how I really feel. We trust each other completely and have each other’s back. It’s great to have someone like that. I feel so lucky and really don’t know where I’d be without her.
Editor’s Note: Cardschat.com reporter Jennifer Newell is on site in Las Vegas, and will be offering daily news recaps throughout World Series of Poker 2014. Check back here daily for a detailed accounting of events, exclusive interviews, and anything of interest regarding WSOP.