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Dutch Boyd: “There Are Things in My Book People Won’t Appreciate”
There are very few people who have experienced the highs and lows of the poker industry quite like Dutch Boyd.
During the early 2000s Boyd was a promising young player who got into poker after watching Rounders.
Boyd got to experience Chris Moneymaker’s game-changing win at the 2003 WSOP firsthand… because he finished 12th.
Despite missing a final table for the ages, Boyd became a successful poker player with two WSOP bracelets to his name.
Perhaps even more notable than his card-playing skills, however, was the creation of online poker site PokerSpot.
PokerSpot, which beat PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and other sites to the market, could have been a multi-million dollar company but instead failed and left customers without access to their funds.
Over the last year Boyd has been busy writing a book titled Poker Tilt, which he funded through Kickstarter, about his experiences in the poker world. It should be available to the public this weekend.
A no-holds-barred look at the poker world, Boyd is brutally honest as he writes about poker, life and everything in between. We interviewed Boyd earlier this week.
PokerListings: What was the experience of writing a book like for you?
Dutch Boyd: It was a tough year. I figured it would take two months and it ended up taking a year. It was gut-wrenching and hard. There were a lot of times I didn’t think I was going to finish it. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if it wasn’t for the Kickstarter. That kind of locked me in. When you have a couple hundred people who have paid for a book that you haven’t finished, well that motivates you.
PL: How did the writing process compare to playing poker?
It’s a lot different. It was nice. I felt like I was creating something for a change, rather than taking something away. That’s basically what poker is. One of the problems is that people lose. As a result we’re in an industry that’s all about taking and not creating.
In that regard writing a book was pretty refreshing. I felt like I was creating something that would be around a lot longer than I will be. Once you write a book it’s there forever. I’m not saying it’s going to stand the test of time but it’s still going to be there.
I love poker but there’s so much I wish I could change. I wish we could take it out of casinos and make it like bowling or chess, rather than black jack or video poker. Unfortunately poker has to compete with slot machines and gambling on a profit-per-square-foot basis.
PL: Did writing the book give you a new perspective on your experiences in the poker world?
Yeah it did. When you verbalize something or commit something to paper it makes you think about it. It made me think about where I would be if I didn’t play poker. It made me realize how dependent we are on random events. There’s no other career that’s so obviously tied to chance as poker but we’re all kind of slaves to it.
There was definitely a lot of self-reflection. It was a very personal book. I’ve gone through a lot in poker. The whole PokerSpot thing, the crew, going broke and just how different poker is than the public perception.
PL: It’s a very personal book. Do you feel like you may have burned some bridges in writing it?
I’m sure I have. I wasn’t really asking permission from people to write the book. It’s one of those things where I feel like it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.
I’m sure there are a lot of things in this book that people aren’t going to appreciate being written about. Not everyone comes out smelling great.
There’s a lot of things I don’t appreciate being written about myself!
I think it’s fair though. I try not to tear anybody down too much.
People are still angry about the way PokerSpot was handled. How do you view the situation these days?
I talk about it a lot in the book. It is something I’ve put in the past. It’s one of those things I’ll never be able to make right.
I feel like I’ve gotten a bad rap I suppose. If you read the book you’ll see there are some big differences between the failure of Poker Spot and say, UltimateBet, or Full Tilt Poker.
Sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes. I understand how effected people were. When Full Tilt went down I was hugely effected by it. I’ve been on both sides. I was also cheated by Absolute Poker.
I understand why people were so angry with something failing and losing money. I have talked to quite a few people who understand it wasn’t intentional and it wasn’t our fault that the site went down. There were a lot of things we should have done differently.
For what it was, it was very innovative though. We invented online poker tournaments and we were teenagers.
In the end I felt like we gave back everything we could to the poker community. We gave away our software.
Over the years I paid back a number of players out of my own pocket but it made no difference in people’s perception of me but it was too much to carry.
It will always follow me but honestly I think Black Friday did a lot to help. The PokerSpot screw-up was such a small drop in the pocket compared to all the other ones.
PL: You were one of the pioneers of online poker with PokerSpot. You were right there with PokerStars and Full Tilt. You could have potentially been a multi-millionaire. How does that make you feel?
It doesn’t make me feel good [laughs].
I talk about that in the book. When PokerSpot went down I was selling all my stuff just to get a bankroll on Paradise Poker. I was playing $2/$4 Limit and thinking how close we got to pulling it off.
It hurts. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a chance to make it that big again. But on the other side it didn’t turn out that well for the people that were successful. Would I be better off if I was in Howard Lederer’s position right now? I don’t think so.
All those sites were breaking the rules. Even the players knew it when we made a deposit on a site and saw golf clubs on the bank statement.
Everyone knew but it finally caught up with us.
I don’t get how guys like [Daniel] Negreanu can take such a strong stance when PokerStars did the same thing. The only reason PokerStars got through Black Friday was because they had so much money they were able to just pay everyone off.
PL: Do you think the poker industry is dying?
I think it’s dying for sure. It’s unsustainable because it’s basically a big pyramid. It all funnels up to the top-tier players and then the operators. The operators are the ones making the most money. And the media, who also take their share.
It’s dying and it has to die because of the massive negative-sum game that it is.
When I think of Annie Duke - I was one of those guys who qualified for the $1m free roll on Epic - it sucked to lose $40k basically in equity. It was basically a big fraud.
I didn’t really go off on Annie (even though she basically defrauded the top 200 players in the tour) because I think that her heart was in the right place and she was actually trying to make something work where poker could be positive-sum.
That’s what the game needs or it is going to die off. Eventually we’re going to run out of new players to put in. Up until this point we just advertised more but everyone knows about poker now.
Annie and Jeffrey Pollack at least tried to make something positive where corporate sponsors would be putting something in. We need Miller and Budweiser to be throwing money in. We need NASCAR sponsors.
PL: There’s the old school with all the TV pros and then there are the young online guys. Where do you see yourself?
I was right on the cusp. I was introduced right before the boom, just before Moneymaker. I wouldn’t put myself in the same category as the old-timers like Negreanu, Layne Flack, Phil Hellmuth and Huck Seed.
I was in that weird post-Rounders pre-Moneymaker era where online poker was just beginning. You didn’t really see a lot of money thrown in patch deals.
PL: TwoPlusTwo won its case against you for cyber-squatting on twoplustwopoker.com. Can you talk about the case?
It was definitely a downer. I actually lost the judgement two years ago though. This week they just turned down my appeal.
It wasn’t really a big surprise. It was really unfortunate. Mason [Malmuth] basically spent a lot of money just to prove a point and stick it in me.
It was for cyber-squatting but I didn’t really cyber-squat in the traditional sense. I registered it. I bought like 500 domain names and that one slipped through.
As soon as they approached me I offered to give it to them for free.
When the cyber-squatting law was written it was because people were demanding millions of dollars for domains.
I registered a lot of sites that could have been considered cyber-squatting but I gave them back to the people they belonged to.
twoplustwopoker.com wasn’t even worth keeping. They ended up suing me after it expired. They had the domain name back and they just felt like spending $40k to prove a point. It was basically a money grab.
I didn’t really do anything to Mason. I don’t understand where he’s coming from. I’d always heard he was a reasonable person. It doesn’t really make sense to me to put someone in bankruptcy for the fun of it.
It sucks. I don’t think anything positive came out of it.
I think there’s something wrong with Mason. I think that he’s got a persecution complex. I don’t really think he has a lot of friends because he thinks that everyone is out to get him. I feel sorry for him, really.
He has a reputation as being someone that doesn’t play well with others.
PL: What’s next for you? Will you play the WSOP?
Yeah I got a pretty big schedule. I’m going to play 25 events. Maybe more. I’m hoping to make some big things happen this summer. I want to sell all these Poker Tilt books. They should be in print in a week and a half. The digital versions will be for sale on PokerTilt.com by the weekend.
What’s next for me? I don’t know. This was a huge project. I’m going to take a deep breath and I’ve been doing a little bit of web design too so I might get right out of poker. I'm going to get ready for the WSOP and just try to focus on the next hand.
PL: Do you still like playing poker?
Yeah I do. And I’m good at it. I’ve gotten better every year. There’s quite a pleasure in sitting down at the poker table and knowing you’re not the sucker.
I do enjoy playing the game. It’s very challenging. I love the ups and downs. I like the grind. I’m actually moving to Vegas for good. I’m sure I’ll always be in poker in some way.