law school at the age of 18. Decided to pursue
his real passion, ala Matt Damon in Rounders.
Now, Dutch Boyd is a household name in the realm
of poker, and between running with The Crew and
building a new website, he graciously took a few
minutes to answer some questions...
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PokerLizard: How did you first become interested
in poker? When did you first become serious about
Dutch: I learned to play poker from my Grandma
Sue when I was about ten years old. She taught
me and my little brother Bobby how to play five
card draw one night when we went to visit. Bobby
and I played heads-up for tootsie rolls all night
long. A few years later, when I was about twelve,
I was a huge Nintendo fan. I used to love this
game called Uncharted Waters (published by Koei).
You'd play this hero who'd have to sail the world
and establish trade routes and such... it wasn't
a very popular game, but I really dug it. Anyway,
there was this bar that you could go to in the
game where you could try and make money playing
blackjack and poker. I was making more dubloons
playing poker than I was setting up trade routes.
After making so much money, nobody in the bar
would play you. It was a crazy cool game.
I started getting serious about poker a few years
later. I was in my second year at law school and
me and two other law school buddies went to go
see Rounders. That movie sucked me in so hard.
It was the first time I'd ever heard of holdem.
We went back to my place and played a little three-person
freezeout for a dollar each. The next day I went
to the library and checked out Thursday Night
Poker by Peter Steiner and read the whole thing
in one sitting. I started playing online for free
at a site called 2 AM. You'd play for free and
you'd have to click banners once you ran out of
chips. They'd start you off with a thousand chips
and once you ran it up to a million they'd actually
give you a $100. I played every night after law
school (and sometimes during the day if I decided
poker was more important than class). I ran up
my thousand up to a million about a dozen times
that semester. They finally had to change the
rule that you could only win the cash once because
me and a few other players were so consistent.
Once I had a few hundred, I switched to real money
on Planet Poker.
PokerLizard: In the 2003 WSOP, you finished in
12th place. How has your life changed since receiving
all of the ESPN publicity? How strange is it being
recognized on the street?
Dutch: I don't think my life has changed that
drastically. One big change that comes to mind
is the way that poker is perceived by my family.
Before I was on ESPN,
I think my mom was pretty disappointed that I
had given up law to be a poker player. On top
of that, my mom is pretty religious and she looked
down on gambling.... that changed though, because
after I was on ESPN the pastor of her church asked
if I'd play in her home game.
As far as being recognized goes, that's pretty
strange. One thing that being on ESPN has done
is shown me that the poker stars of the world
are just people. I used to really idolize guys
like Johnny Chan, Layne Flack and Daniel Negreanu.
I remember the first time I ever saw Huck Seed
at a poker tournament... it was at the Grand Slam
at the Hustler club in LA. I was so star struck.
A few years later and I'm the one getting recognized
outside of Jamba Juice. It's a very weird paradigm
PokerLizard: This year ESPN did several pieces
on you and "The Crew". How did the crew
come about and how has it helped your poker? Do
you guys all have stakes in one another or is
it just a 100% non-business relationship?
Dutch: The crew started last year in 2003 right
after the WSOP. I had met Brett and Joey a year
before. We were all in Vegas, all pretty much
broke, and all ready to make something happen.
So we decided to combine our bankrolls and find
a cheap place to live. A few days later I had
won my seat to the main event in a satellite and
cashed for $80k... so instead of a cheap place
in Vegas, we went out to Los Angeles. I brought
in my little brother Rob and another buddy named
Deirdorf. We picked up Scotty and Tony a few months
We all shared winnings for the first part of
it... we'd put in about 5000 hands a week online
each and we'd read and analyze each other's hand
histories. After we each had enough to stake ourselves,
we stopped sharing bankrolls and winnings. I definitely
feel like that period accelerated our learning
curve pretty drastically. Having a good group
of poker players to bounce ideas off of and play
against is pretty important... you're only as
good as the people you play against. We still
trade pieces of each other, though, if we're in
the same tournaments... but now The Crew is mostly
PokerLizard: Also at this year's WSOP
you made the final table of the Razz tournament
finishing 2nd to TJ Cloutier. What advice would
you give someone interested in learning to play
Razz? How frustrating of a game is Razz? It seemed
to even make Howard Lederer a bit angry.
Dutch: Well, I had never really played Razz before
that tournament... but it's basically played about
the same way as stud hi-low. You just forget about
the high hands. So for someone interested in learning
the game (and I'm not sure why you'd want to become
a Razz specialist), I'd recommend reading the
stud/8 books and playing as much stud/8 as you
can. As far as the game being frustrating, I guess
any thing is frustrating when it doesn't go your
PokerLizard: Any news on your online poker site
"RakeFree.com"? I noticed that another
site seemed to take your business model. What
did you think about that other site?
Dutch: RakeFree.com is still a very live project.
I recently moved to just outside of Fresno to
work on it. We've got an office now and we're
doing some development. I really think that a
model like the one described on the RakeFree website
is the future of online poker. The online poker
sites are just taking too much money from the
players. It can't last. They justify it by pointing
to how much it costs to run these things... but
it doesn't cost all that much at all. The biggest
cost by far is marketing. It really gets to me
every time I look at my online bankroll at one
of these sites. They take so much from us players,
and we just let it happen because we don't have
I was pretty sorry to see that the other site
you mentioned failed, as I would have liked to
see it do well even though I feel like they ripped
off my idea. It doesn't matter how low your rake
is, though, if your software sucks and you don't
market well enough to get a few tables running.
An empty cardroom is going to stay empty. But
I feel confident that RakeFree.com, once it's
launched, will be a success. We're working hard
right now to develop a player base. Right now
I have thousands of people who've joined the list
to be notified when the site goes live. All of
the marketing value that we got from wearing the
visor on ESPN was priceless. We're still in the
beginning stages, but I'm very excited about the
PokerLizard: Which is your favorite Poker game
to play and why?
Dutch: Razz, since the only time I ever played
it I won $40k. Besides that, though, NL Holdem
tournaments is my favorite... nothing in limit
events can really compare to the rush you get
PokerLizard: How often do you play online? Does
your style of play vary significantly from your
live action play?
Dutch: I play almost every day online. I've pretty
much stopped playing any sort of ring game and
I focus strictly on tournaments. I think one of
my strengths at the table is my ability to quickly
pick up on poker tells, so that aspect of the
game is very different. In live play, you can
get an awful lot of information about an opponent's
hand if you know what to look for. Online, you
can't tell much at all about what a person has
in their hands except by keeping notes of their
betting patterns, and also maybe the time they
take to act. BTW, I've got a few essays that I've
written about reading players on PokerTells.com.
PokerLizard: Which poker books / software have
you found to be the most beneficial?
Dutch: For books, I'd say the one that most advanced
my game was Thursday Night Poker by Peter Steiner.
I haven't read it in years, though, and I'm not
sure if I'd agree with everything in it. Besides
that, I'm a big fan of Super System. I like Caro's
Book of Tells, Sklansky's Theory of Poker, and
Lee Jones' book.
As for software, one thing that I feel improved
my game was playing Masque's World Series of Poker.
It's a really old title and the AI isn't that
strong... but it's kind of cool. The other one
that I'd recommend is the Wilson tournament software.
PokerLizard: Do you use headphones at the table,
if so, why and what are you currently listening
Dutch: When I propped, I used headphones every
shift. It'd be a way to make the grind go a little
bit quicker. Now, I don't play live ring games
much any more... and most of the tournaments ban
headphones (which I think is pretty lame). But
when I'm playing online I'll usually listen to
some music. The album that I'm really into now
is by The Streets and it's called Original Pirate
Material. I'm a huge fan of that album. Also a
fan of Eminem, Coldplay, and Massive Attack.
PokerLizard: You worked as a prop for a while
in the California casinos, what is a typical day
like for a prop, what exactly dos a prop do and
how do they get paid? How difficult of a job was
Dutch: Well, being a prop is a really tough job...
but it's also the best way, I think, to build
up a bankroll if you're a winning player. When
you prop for a cardroom, you are an employee.
You have to get your license to work in the casino,
pass a drug test, and then you get your shift
assignments. I worked graveyards from 2am to 10am
at Garden City in San Jose. The pay is good. You
get $500 a week after taxes if you prop the 6-12
and under level. I propped the 20-40 level, which
meant I'd sit in anything up to 20-40. Propping
the bigger games brought in $1000 a week after
taxes. Anything you win or lose is on top of that
(or taken away from it if you have a bad week).
So basically, propping is just like playing on
your own except that you have a boss who tells
you what to play and where to sit. You still play
with your own bankroll, and if you lose a lot
and you can't afford to play then you're of out
a job. To tell you the truth, though, I didn't
really like propping. The whole point of playing
poker for a living is so that you can come and
go as you please. And when you prop, you often
get stuck in some pretty shitty games.
One thing about propping that is nice though
is that it's actually a job, so you have benefits
like health insurance. It's a good gig if you
have a family.
PokerLizard: For those that don't know, you graduated
from Law School at the age of 18. How did your
family react when you decided to eschew your legal
training to play poker? Any plans to return to
Dutch: My mom wasn't too thrilled, but like I
said up above... once I got on ESPN
she came around. I still might go back to law
for awhile... I'm thinking of taking the California
bar in 2006.
PokerLizard: How was your mother able to raise
two children, on her own, who both attended college
in their early teens?
Dutch: It beats the hell out of me. Anytime I
feel like my life isn't going so grand, I think
about the hard times that my mom faced when we
were growing up. She worked as a cake decorator
and we were on and off welfare for years. It was
really hard for her. But she pushed through it.
All growing up, my mom was really pushing education.
It was really important to her that my brother
and I read a lot... she taught us to read when
we were 2 and 3 years old. She's a very strong
woman and I owe her everything. She wrote a book
a few years back about how we got to college so
early. It's called About Face. It's out of print
now, but you can buy it on my website at DutchBoyd.com.
PokerLizard: Do you still have fun playing poker
or is it just a business to you now?
Dutch: Well, I often get sick of it (especially
when I'm not doing well). Once you've played as
many hands as I have, nothing really surprises
you anymore at the table... so it kind of becomes
repetitive... the "grind". But even
though I get sick of poker sometimes, I still
start jonesing for it if I don't play for a few
PokerLizard: If you were Matt Damon in Rounders,
how long would it have taken you to kick your
girlfriend to the curb and get with Famke Janssen.
Dutch: Not long. I'm a sucker for a hot girl
who can play poker.
Check out DutchBoyd.com
to keep up with Dutch.
this and other interviews in the Lizard Lounge
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