Devonshire knows the life of a poker pro is
a roller coaster ride. He was just one bad turn
of a card from giving up the poker life. Now he's
excited about poker again and hoping to cash in
on his WPT
final table appearance. He's also currently at
the final two tables of the WPT championship.
We talked to Bryan about the WSOP,
poker reality shows, and why poker is really work..
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You were in a prolonged slump for several months
and your blog made it seem like you
were very close to giving up poker? How close
was it, and why? What made you decide
to stick it out with poker?
I decided to answer this question in my blog:
From Bryan's Blog "Reflections":
“The other thing that I've been thinking
a lot about these last two weeks is how sick this
game is. Y'all know about my gnarly run from July
to December last year, losing 100k and breaking
myself. After the soul searching and everything
I did, I had decided in January that if nothing
good happened by the 25k next week I was quitting
poker. Why? I wasn't having fun anymore. I became
a professional poker player so that I would have
the freedom to do the things I wanted to do while
still having enough money to be comfortable. From
2003-2005 I did a great job at this. Granted,
if i had dedicated myself to poker more, I probably
would have made a ton more money in that period,
but instead I spent my free time exploring Colorado
and guiding whitewater in Colorado and California.
It was a super fun time and those memories are
priceless. I moved to Minnesota, was consistently
beating the 15-30 game, and met all those stud
players up there. I went to the 06 series, had
instant success, and had suddenly been bit by
the greed bug. I wanted to be famous. I justified
this with the value of fame (for example... $15k
to wear a patch at a final table). However, I
truly just wanted to be famous. I wanted people
to know who I was. I wanted to walk into a room
and be recognized, sign autographs, shake hands,
and be that guy.
The problem with that desire is that often
to be that person you need to think that you're
better than everybody. This attitude ruined me
until I got that wake-up call last August. I am
not better than anybody. I'm just me. I happen
to be good at poker. But so what? I was much more
famous when I was guy named Maverick that worked
at camps with kids. I was famous then because
I loved people, I cared for people, and I dedicated
who I was to serving others.
Now I am at a point where I have the opportunity
to blend the two. I have finally altered my attitude
to understand these facts and have been blessed
with the notariety and money that my success has
You can check out the rest of Bryan's blog at
PokerLizard: Was it a weight
off your shoulders to TV table the Reno WPT?
Bryan Devonshire: Only so in
the context of financial pressures and "what
will I do" pressures. I didn't feel any pressure
to make a tv final table or anything though.
PokerLizard: How did you like
the new Final Table structure?
Bryan Devonshire: I possibly
would have went apeshit at the old structure since
the "new" structure was ridiciculously
fast also. I think it is heavily advantageous
to the internet player though as stacks are shorter
and the internet player is significantly better
with a 15 BB stack than a live player.
PokerLizard: What is it like
playing on a wpt
TV table, is it super slow, hot lights, distracting...give
us no names the scoop.
Bryan Devonshire: It was a ton
of fun. I think that was assisted by my personality,
but I just soaked it all up and enjoyed myself.
I mean, seriously, what a sweet opportunity. I
was going to make sure that I enjoyed it. I suppose
if I was there and all I wanted to do was play
poker I would have gotten frustrated, but we were
there to make a TV show, and the money they paid
me to wear a patch more than made up for any complaining
I could have about tape change delays or 2nd takes.
PokerLizard: Any idea when the
show will air?
Bryan Devonshire: August sometime
is what I heard.
PokerLizard: . What do you hope
to gain with your TV time...fame? sponsorship?
Bryan Devonshire: Ultimate goal
would be a sponsorship deal which would make life
that much easier.
PokerLizard: Why was it so hard
to line up a sponsor for the final table...you
seem more well known than some of the other players.
Bryan Devonshire: I'm not really
sure. It sure was a pain in the ass though. Probably
the timing of the event and the fact that it was
the smallest WPT TV final table of the season,
thus there wasn't any reps on site.
PokerLizard: Anyone ask you
to stake them yet? wanna stake me...just kidding.
Bryan Devonshire: Yup. Prob
half a dozen poker players. I even got asked by
somebody that I haven't seen since July to stake
somebody that I met once in July in billiards.
He's got the best chance of procuring staking…lol.
So you missed last year’s WSOP
Main Event due to a family emergency?
Bryan Devonshire: Yeah.
PokerLizard: That sucks man,
you were playing good.
Bryan Devonshire: Yeah, I busted
out, like 14 straight. I got a little burned out
in tournaments anyways, and my backer went bust,
so he told me he’s not gonna put me in the
main. So I was, kind of, like, eh, whatever, get
out of here.
PokerLizard: So even though
you paid your backer back in spades, he didn't
want to front you in the main event? What's the
deal with that?
Bryan Devonshire: Well, yeah,
I mean, I cashed for second and sent the guy a
bunch of cash. I ask about the rest of the rest
of the series and he's like, "Well, we'll
talk tomorrow. I kinda wanna play bigger myself.
Yeah, he lost a lot and couldn’t back me.
Bad luck for me, huh?
Bryan Devonshire: I fully understand
though. I understand his situation, if I was backing
some kid and I ran bad. It's just kind of silly
when the guy you're backing hands you a hundred
thousand and you won't ship him 30 back just to
cover the rest of the Series.
PokerLizard: I noticed that
you mentioned that you'd like to see some TV producers,
or maybe ESPN,
add some money to the prize pool. I was at the
WSOP press conference and some guy from Europe
asked the exact same question: "How come
you're not adding any money to the WSOP
Europe, when other big events in Europe they
add money to the prize pool?"
Bryan Devonshire: It's just
pretty sick that we're paying to compete in this
event, and then they're making money off of us
playing. There are no perks, whatsoever, for the
player, and it's, kind of, sick that they take
advantage of us degenerate gamblers like that.
If we didn't play then there'd be no business
and nobody coming, so you can't get the money.
I would love to see some organization like the
buy the series, hold it as a non-profit and all
the money that Harrah's is making off of endorsements
go straight to prize pool, straight to the players.
Yeah, how good for poker would that be..
PokerLizard: That really would
be sweet. I've actually heard some rumors that
Harrah's is thinking about selling the World Series
of Poker. I don't know how serious they are though.
Bryan Devonshire: You can take
a bet on Harrah's
not owning the Series next year.
Bryan Devonshire: Most people
don't know it. So they're talking about –
like, Binnion is talking about buying the Series
in Rio, and I've heard that Harrah's is in the
final negotiations to sell out. Including the
series. But, who knows, there’s no guarantee
it will happen or be good for poker no matter
who they sell to.
PokerLizard: Yeah, it's like
that old Who song, Meet the New Boss, Same as
the Old Boss.
Bryan Devonshire: Yeah, exactly.
Poker's still on the cusp of becoming almost as
respected as a sport. Not in actual terms of a
sport but as far as the media, the public interest,
and the money involved.
PokerLizard: Right. So let's
talk about your WSOP second place finish this
year. Is it a situation where you're glad that
you did really well, or were you just pissed since
you came in second?
Bryan Devonshire: I did as well
as I possibly could've. At the final table there
wasn't a single thing I could've done different.
However, I could've played better on day two.
If I played like I should have, I would have had
probably double the chips coming in the final
table. It really would have made a difference
because when we playing heads up, there was only,
I think, 18 ½ big bets of play, and there's
pretty super gross considering that you're playing
for a bracelet. Like, two players with 8 bets
each, dead even, and – yeah, so, I mean,
we played one big pot where 2/3 of the chips in
play went in. He screwed me on that one. After
that it was pretty much game over, especially
PokerLizard: And you've been
pretty outspoken about how the structure at the
final table this year is, like, terrible and you've
been critical of the poker tent and some other
things. I mean, what changes would you make for
Series of Poker if you could?
Bryan Devonshire: Well, the
structure must be fixed. The first thing is easy.
They made the levels on the final tables go from
90 minutes to 50 minutes this year. And, you know,
the final tables, on average, are taking, you
know, 50 to 65% less than the final tables last
year. Now that's just ridiculous when you're playing
for that kind of money.
They skip a couple of pretty significant levels.
With the double stacks they've kept the same levels.
They took out the first one, but they've kept
the same opening levels, and they've taken out
some of the deeper levels to make it play faster.
Bryan Devonshire: It's too slow
in the beginning and too fast at the end. And
that's the first major change needed. Second,
I mean, they really gotta give priority to the
tournament players and just keep em out of the
tent, there's just so many problems they have
in there. To have tournaments in the tent when
got cash games and satellites going on inside,
that's pretty – not cool at all.
Other than that, I mean, I think the tent was
a pretty good idea, they just had never done it
before and kind of ran into problems. I just think
they could have handled the problems that they
had better. They also need to be open the day
before the events start, like they have every
Bryan Devonshire: You know,
that made all the huge crazy lines you have to
go through the first day or two. Yeah, I mean,
every other year they have a day before, and then
they had the employee event, and then they have
the first event. So there's a few days where you
can get in and register and don't have to worry
about huge lines This year they were trying to
register for 5K and the final round employee,
and everybody wanted to buy in for the 1500, and
cash games, it all started at the same time.
PokerLizard: Did they make any
Bryan Devonshire: I think they
did good by flattening the payout structure. And
yeah, when they have problems arise; they usually
did a pretty good job of correcting the problems.
Like, in my event, when they had this super hurricane
wind hitting the tent they went on break early
to make sure that they got everybody out of there.
PokerLizard: I noticed in your
blog you often call poker; “work”.
Whereas, other players seem to call it play as
in, "I went to play poker." You say,
"I went to work." Is that just typically
– a different mindset for you, as far as
Bryan Devonshire: Yeah, it's
definitely a mindset thing, because I'm one of
the few that actually treat poker like a business.
I pay myself hourly into a private checking account
in my bank, completely separate from the bankroll.
So, you know, win or losing, I am getting paid
per hour that I work. I go to work. Sometimes
I work overtime, sometimes I leave work early
just like a normal person. That's contingent upon
the game and all the other factors.
But it's just got to be a mindset because I've
seen so many kids that come into poker and gamble,
gamble, gamble, gamble and think there's no difference
between being a professional poker player and
being a professional gambler. But I think it's
much healthier, just for life. It's much healthier
just to consider it work – consider it a
job because it’s really tough to have any
sort of longevity in this game. Otherwise, the
lifestyle will burn you out. If you put so much
reliance on your results, it's just gonna drive
The psychology is really the only thing that
sets players apart at the table, since over the
long run everybody's gonna get the same cards.
And when you play at the highest level everybody
knows how to play ABC poker. So psychology is
the only thing that makes one player better or
worse than another and sometimes it's a long-term
thing and sometimes it's a short-term thing.
PokerLizard: Speaking of overtime,
a lot of poker pros say they'll play at the table
until the game doesn't become juicy enough for
them to play anymore. What is your longest session,
and what do you think about that?
Bryan Devonshire: My longest
session ever is somewhere in the neighborhood
of 20 hours. I've done that a few times there
was no way I was playing nearly as good as I should've.
So now I just won't play longer than 12 hours
PokerLizard: No matter how juicy
the game is?
Bryan Devonshire: Unless there's
a really, really, really, super, unusual circumstance,
but it's gotta be something, pretty unique for
me to stick around.
PokerLizard: So what do you
think helped you take it to the next level and
become a pro? Was it books, was it just putting
your time in at the tables? You actually worked
as a dealer for a while?
Bryan Devonshire: The best thing
for me was surrounding myself with players better
than me. That really happened for me in Minnesota.
I worked my own way up to the 15/30 level, and
was beating it consistently. And that's why I
believe that if you're capable of becoming a pro
then you can do that on your own with just the
regular ole study aid books, playing just a lot
of hands, all that kind of stuff. But to really
excel you need to learn from players that are
better than you, so I’d just hang out with
guys like that. All guys my age, you know, two
years ago they were all better than me. We'd play
and go over hands together. "Why'd you do
that?" Or I'd run hands by them, and be,
"What did I do well, or what did I do not
well here?" And they would talk me through
it. The next time I’d find myself in the
same situation I could go back to the advice.
You have to be open to criticism, you have to
willing to learn and willing to be taught, you
have to be teachable. You can only get so much
from a book. It's like trying to learn Spanish
from a book. You can't. The only way you're gonna
learn Spanish is by hanging out with people that
actually speak Spanish.
PokerLizard: So you were in
Minnesota couple of years. What made you decide
to just chuck it all and come to Vegas?
Bryan Devonshire: I got divorced.
PokerLizard: And you just said,
"Well, fuck it. I need a change of pace?”
Bryan Devonshire: Yeah, eventually.
The main reason was I came here at the beginning
of the 2006 WSOP my marriage was already gone
to shit and I wanted to live with the one person
that had been there for me my entire life, and
that was my brother. He wanted to get the hell
out of LA and I didn't want to go back to LA,
and leave the Colorado River, so we're thinking,
Laughlin. Laughlin kind of sucks for long term
work and social life so we ended up picking Vegas.
East side of Henderson, right by the lake.
PokerLizard: So has the life
of a poker pro been pretty much all you thought
it would be? You know, is it all it's cracked
up to be?
Bryan Devonshire: Better than
I'd thought it would be living in – as a
Vegas poker pro. I've been full-time for almost
four years now.
PokerLizard: So you played mostly
up at Canterbury, up in Minnesota?
Bryan Devonshire: Yes, but I
played online when I was living in Colorado. I
was actually honestly really worried about moving
to Vegas. Every time before I’d been it's,
like, "Hey, party time," you know.
Bryan Devonshire: All that kind
of good stuff. So one of the things we wanna do
– since we're small town boys. "Let's
just get as far outside of town as we can,"
so we're living at the second to the last exit
from the edge of town – right on the way
to Lake Mead.
Now I love Vegas so much. The people on the outskirts
of town are so great and we're 15 minutes from
everything. Whether it be the lake, riding a dirt
bike, going shooting, or, going to a club on the
strip. Everything is really, really close. Everything's
open late here, which is awesome. At the end of
the session, and you can go to a local 24-hour
bar and grill and you get steak and lobster for
twenty six bucks three blocks from my house.
Bryan Devonshire: You can't
beat that, I'm just sort of living the late night
lifestyle I guess. But also, you know, try to
live with some sort of sanity.
PokerLizard: You take the poker
real professionally, but are there any leaks to
your bankroll, do you go out gambling? Since you
already pay yourself upfront, you gotta go out
and have some fun. You're a young guy right?
Bryan Devonshire: Oh, of course.
Yeah, I mean, like, whenever I make a big hit,
like during the series, I always go out and blow,
some money. Buy myself a toy as a positive reinforcement.
But I'm actually pretty dang good about protecting
my bankroll. It stays in lock boxes. I try not
to carry that much cash around.
When I first came to town I had a problem gambling
just cause, you have to have a gambling spirit
to be a professional poker player. But as soon
as my brother and my other roommate moved in together,
we made a $5,000 side bet with each other that
if you gambled more than $100 in the pit you would
lose the $5,000.
It was really good just to keep us from losing
discipline and teach me to realize that you can
still have fun at the craps table for a hundred
dollar buyin instead of a $2,000 buyin.
PokerLizard: Right, so anybody
lose that bet yet?
Bryan Devonshire: No.
PokerLizard: Oh wow. Not even
a drunken fit of rage after you get knocked out
on a bad beat?
Bryan Devonshire: Nope. Five-K
is pretty good motivation tool to not go off in
PokerLizard: Are you a quasi-part
of the crew with Dutch and Scott Fischman?
Bryan Devonshire: The crew doesn’t
really exist anymore but I am friends with all
of them, I’ve known Dutch for a long time,
but, as I wasn’t around when the crew was
PokerLizard: I know Dutch was
trying to put a reality show together…
Bryan Devonshire: If he didn’t
get sick it was going to go off this year. It
was going to be a pretty sweet gig. All of us
were going to live in a house and we were going
to play a satellite for the event that was going
on at the WSOP the next day. So we would have
poker with recognizable faces on a consitent basis
playing good poker.
We had the table lined up, the TV outlet line
up…it would be poker/reality/bunch a guys
in the WSOP. I think it’s a great concept
and could still take off and fly. You’d
have some consistency in the players and people
could root for who they like. Since we are all
so eclectic in our personalities the mix should
appeal to a lot of people. It would have been
fantastic, a bunch of young idiot sharing a house
and all the shennanigans that go along with that…
PokerLizard: Do you think the
poker world will ever forgive Dutch for that PokerSpot
Bryan Devonshire: I do not believe
the internet poker world will forgive him. I believe
it will fade over a few years. No one liked Stuey
when he was alive but now he’s considered
a legend. I don’t think it will be quite
on that level but I know the story from his point
of view and I know the story from the outside
point of view, a lot of people got screwed out
of money and it’s hard to forgive that.
They need to understand that it occurred at
the very beginning of internet poker and it was
a very high risk venture. I definitely don’t
think the internet poker community will ever forgive
him. He didn’t do a very good job businesswise
or in covering his ass.
PokerLizard: So did you catch
a decent amount of shit when you asked for a WSOP
backer in your blog last year? Was it nice to
have a good sized cash to shove back in people’s
Bryan Devonshire: It was pretty
fun to do that. Some people said things like,
“you just want people to give you money”.
It’s nothing like that, it cost $61k to
play the entire series and that’s a lot
of change for anyone to plunk down. Almost everyone
is backed in one way or another. It was definitely
a great pleasure; I had two guys who were going
to back me at $30k each and they bailed on me
the Thursday right before the series started.
So it was fun to laugh haha (Nelson
PokerLizard: You had a cash
in the casino employee event a couple years ago,
were you a dealer?
Bryan Devonshire: No, I was
a prop in a casino for awhile.
PokerLizard: What’s it
like being a prop?
Bryan Devonshire: BEST…JOB…EVER
for being a poker pro. If you’re not a high
stakes pro you should be a prop. It is so much
easier for taxes, psychology…they give you
health benefits even. If I wasn’t good enough
to make it as a high stakes pro I’d be as
happy as can be living in the Colorado mountains
being a prop. It paid $10/hr. to start and they
tack on full benefits after 3 months. I played
and beat the $2 to $5 spread game for $18 per
hour; so I was making $28 an hour. I was making
about $56k a year, health benefits, only worked
4 days a week, you get to drink a beer on the
job if you want, get to wear regular clothes,
you hang out with nice people…it was a fine
life. Not everyone would be able to beat the game
for $18/hr. but I guarantee you let me train someone
for three months and they could beat it for at
PokerLizard: I played some low
limit at the Gold Coast, which is a toilet, during
the WSOP, and the highest they spread is $4-$8
limit. The players are so bad it’s hard
to believe. It’s a bunch of old geezer’s
playing any two suited etc…at what point
does ABC poker become unprofitable?
Bryan Devonshire: Never. You
always hear things from bad players like, I can’t
beat that $4-$8 game, there’s no fold equity.
You tell them, Idiot…quit trying to make
them fold. The worse the opponents, the better
ABC poker is. Basically, just pound away when
you have the best hand and hope it holds up. It
only becomes unprofitable at the higher stakes
where everyone knows ABC poker.
PokerLizard: So at what level
does it become unprofitable? $5-$10? $15-$30?
Bryan Devonshire: It’s
a coin flip at $30/$60, if you have good game
selection you can play ABC at $30/$60, in Vegas
even. Especially if you’re playing in Arizona
or Minnesota which are great for limit poker.
You can even play ABC at the $60/$120 and beat
the game for $100k a year EASILY. They played
so bad last night, I lost 3 pots over $2k each
and won 1 pot over $2k, lost another over $3k
and still walked away up $3,200 for the night.
It’s hilarious how bad they play.
PokerLizard: You mentioned buying
something nice when you make a big score, what
did you buy after the Reno final table?
Bryan Devonshire: Yeah, an 05
Mustang GT Convertable
PokerLizard: One last question,
If you were Mike McDermott in the movie Rounders…how
long would it take you to get with Famke Janssen
after being dumped?
Bryan Devonshire: Same night…haha.
PokerLizard: Thanks Bryan.
Bryan Devonshire: Thank you.
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