2008 WSOP Day 1: Grand Canyon

I’m so psyched right now. I just landed an airplane for the first of many times in my life! Quite a hairy feeling and definitely the most difficult part of general flight. I took off on my own after my initial one hour flight, but it took me until today at hour 7.5 to perform a landing on my own. So freakin cool.

So, today I woke up at 11, grabbed some lunch/breakfast, and headed up to Boulder City Municipial Airport where I have been doing my flight school out of. Doug was with me for his third and last flight in the back seat, and between that and as a semi-reward for the hard work thus far, we decided to fly to the Grand Canyon. I was super stoked on this because this is the first time that I have gotten to do what I got into flying for. I know going up in the air and practicing maneuvers is cool and everything, but, meh… not really interested unless it’s acrobatic maneuvers know what I mean? That’s obviously a long way off, so flying the plane to cool places is what I’m stoked on. Snakes and sparklers is what I like.

Went into the FBO (Fixed Base of Operations.. basically the central building where everything is run out of), checked out and dispatched the plane, did my preflight check, and taxied to the fuel pumps for engine run-up. Everything looked good, we taxied to runway 09L via Delta, everything was in the green, and we lifted off for a straight out departure headed to the Grand Canyon.

I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon before. Pretty ridiculous I know with all the traveling that I have done in the Western United States, but I’ve always wanted to do the Canyon right when I go there first… I want to get down into it with a backpack on for a good long period of time. I haven’t had the opportunity or spontaneous motivation to do so yet. This is the next best thing in my opinion. We gradually climbed from our runway elevation of 2200′ to our cruising altitude of 10,000′ which we reached somewhere around the end of Lake Mead. From there we basically followed the river up the canyon, checked some stuff out, took pictures of Grand Canyon West Airfield and the 40 mirron dollar skywalk that the Indians built, turned around, and then Ron (my flight instructor) gave me a challenge. He said, “Get us back to Boulder City.” I responded, “Would you like me to use VFR, instruments, or both?” He said, “However you want.” I pause, look around, look back at the canyon, the river, and say, “So, that means,” he interrupted me, “Yes.”

“Sweet! We’re flying to Boulder City via Denver.”

That got a chuckle out of everybody, but it really signifies how stoked I was to be up there. I had an opportunity to show off my creativity by inputting Boulder City (61B) into the GPS as our destination, and then I started messing with the autopilot to maintain our heading and altitude. That much I knew, but this got is into talking about all that sort of stuff which is a bit beyond where I am at in lessons for the moment. The autopilots on these little Cessnas are damn incredible. They fly the plane better than Ron can. On the heading indicator is what is called a “heading bug”. If you twist that to show a certain heading, the plane will slowly bank toward the new heading, maintaining altitude, and return to straight and level flight when the new heading was reached. Cool. Around this point we needed to begin our descent. Turns out the autopilot will do this too. With the twist of a knob and the push of a few buttons I can set my new desired altitude and how fast I want to get there in vertical feet per minute. Way cool.

We cleared Indian Pass which is just south of the Narrows on the Lake and began our final descent into Boulder City. Instead of taking a straight-in approach, we decided it would be a better play to head to the South and enter the traffic pattern by making my 45 degree into downwind, base, and final before finally landing. We had some time so decided to do some touch and go’s. I completely botched the approach on final and never really made the runway, and Ron basically brought the plane down with me on the controls. Flaps up, throttle in, and we took back off.

This time was going to be different. I set myself into the traffic pattern well this time, made the runway, and brought the plane down together with Ron for another touch and go.

The third one, I had the plane the whole way as Ron talked me through it. His hand never touched the controls. They were there just in case, but he never needed to, and it was a damn fine landing I must say. It has been such a long time since I was so stoked and proud of an accomplishment like this.

So, I have logged 8.3 hours in the logbook. It’s exciting that I’m getting there down the road and into the bread and butter of aviation. I’m still definitely in the market for an airplane and pretty excited about that.


I went down to the Rio last night to distribute some money to the horses and register for my first event tomorrow. I must say that I am impressed. If you know anything about me, I’m pretty vocal and critical, and honestly I have zero complaints. Obviously the race hasn’t even started yet, but so far everything is greatly exceeding expectations.

Every blog that I’ve read in the last day or so referring to the WSOP so far has basically said the same thing about that sweet tingle that you get walking into the room. It really is an awesome feeling standing in the Amazon room before everybody else is there, enjoying the tranquility before the insanity that is going to begin tomorrow and last for seven more weeks.

I’m excited to pursue player of the year. I’m obviously a longshot at 28th and almost 2k points behind Erik Seidel, but there are going to be (umm… like 24?) a lot of opportunities to close that gap this summer!

Here’s to World Series glory.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

Return to the “Normal” Life

Aight… here’s first blog!

Greetings Pokerroad!  I have to say that I’m pretty stoked about blogging here.  For those of you who don’t know me, I have been blogging on pokerpages.com since the summer of 2006 and am generally known for not holding much back and being pretty honest about the life of a 20something professional poker player living in Las Vegas.  Every once in a while I will take 2nd in some tournament and write about it, sometimes I write about adventures in personal life, and sometimes I might bitch about running bad.  If you would care to catch up with my blog you can find it at devopoker.net and I think it will be archived here eventually.

Anyways, off to blog land, eh?  For most of the year I have been planning on taking the month of May off for the most part just to R&R before the series.  That changed into spending more than half of the month “working”, where Gavin Smith, Lacey Jones, and myself cruised up to Canada to host the first ever WPT Canada series at the River Rock Casino.  It was more of a working vacation really since I was slated to play four tourneys, but two were small and I was a $1k bounty in a third.  In the two small ones I started drinking within an hour of the cards getting into the air, and somehow luckboxed my way into winning the first $500 NLHE event piss drunk wasted.  Life is good when you run good eh?  They also got me saying ‘eh’ up there which has become the point of much needling around the house these days.

So, while on that “vacation”, I got the jonesin to do a random road trip to the Caribbean.  I wanted to put three islands into a hat, draw one, buy a plane ticket, go there with a backpack, get off the plane and say, “Now what?”  Unfortunately, I’m not too good at knowing which day it is much less when holiday weekends are falling, and I assumed that Memorial weekend was this coming weekend and I had an extra week of life in there.  So, since there are two annual trips that I always find myself on in the last two weekends of May, I chose to do those instead.  I got back from Canada on a Friday, left for the lake for a houseboat trip on Saturday, got back Tuesday, chilled for a few days and neglected responsibilities, and then left for the river house on Friday.

The river house is always a debaucherous disaster in some delightful way.  It is the home of sense killers, “Jose” the beer bong, Jenny boat, and many other traditions that have carried through my core group of friends since high school.  This trip was no different, nothing was hurt except for heads in the morning, and I met some great people in the neighbors next door.

One story.  Monday night we leave the house via the “Piece of Ship” around sunset and booze cruise up river to the Avi Hotel and Casino just south of Laughlin, pretty much on the southern tip of Nevada.  The cast is myself, my brother Jared, Jackie, my roomie’s brother Shaun, his friend Dooner (who are participating in “moustache May” and showed up at the river with snorkeling gear, a harpoon gun, spears, and spearfishing licences.  LOL), my friend Doug who is an old friend on vacation from LA, and “Girl on the Couch” Amber.  When we pulled up to the dock I noticed some blonde chick wandering down the dock to the boat, and I’m wondering who in the world this is, and it’s my friend Lindsey who is probably the most spontaneous traveler I know.  I met her when I moved to Minnesota in the fall of 2005 and we have been friends since.  She works for a travel agency owned by Northwest Airlines and one of her perks is free travel.  Friday she left Minneapolis, flew to Anchorage, drove to Denali to meet a friend of hers up there, it was raining so said screw this, drove back to Anchorage, flew back to Minneapolis, decided she wanted to go whitewater rafting and called me since she knew that I used to be a guide.  I gave her some recommendations, also told her what we were up to in case she wanted to come down here.  Long story shortened, she got to Vegas, left cell phone in MN, drove to the river house, and the neighbors directed her to the Avi where she found us.  Nice!

We end up heading to a nice dinner, realized that the fireworks store was closing soon (on these booze cruises we float back down river after everybody has had enough and turn the boat into a fireworks launching platform), and played spin the bottle to decide who was going to get the fireworks.  It landed on me which is really a good beat for everybody except my wallet and laziness because I don’t really mess around at the fireworks store.  As we were standing in line we ended up behind an off duty fireman still in his fire pants, and I ask, “So how much does this make you cringe?”  He turns and looks at Lindsey and I and our overflowing basket of fireworks with multiple 38″ skyrockets sticking out of this standard grocery hand basket, and says, “Nah, I’m jealous actually.”  LOL.  “Every fireman was a pyro as a kid.  Have fun out there!”

I love the Avi.

We drop the toys off at the boat, return to the casino, I accidentally drunk dial somebody that I haven’t talked to in forever and that was cool, and we have a fireworks show for the next hour.  We make it back to the house, and the throttle breaks.  This is bad when the river is flowing past your house, your boat somehow still floats after $200 worth of black powder was just exploded from it in various manners, and the only tools you have are golf clubs, beer cans, a charcoal starter, lighters, a spatula, and lifejackets.  MacGyver aka Jared mounts the 35 horse Johnson outboard like a bull to control the throttle manually and uses a beer can bent into a prying device to do so while Doug steers.  Somehow make it back to the dock.

It was a good night :-).

So, I’m pretty fired up for the series now.  I’ve played two online sessions and two tournaments seriously in the past month, so it’s been a great much needed break.  I’ve been killing it this year and would like to end my string of 2nds this year with a nice shiny gold bracelet, but regardless I am going to make sure that I am in prime condition to play well through the grueling schedule.  I have scheduled myself for 24 events so am going to have to make sure that I take care of my mind and body throughout the next couple of months.

Thank you for welcoming me Pokerroad!

Peace and good luck,

Devo

The Last Page

23 months and a zillion blogs…


In late June of 2006 I came to the World Series of Poker for my third time. This time I had about $5k to my name but had been “staked” $10k by Jared’s father. I was wide eyed with excitement, and you can read my first blog entry here. I was a limit hold-em specialist living in Burnsville, MN. I wasn’t very good. I was married and that was failing. I somehow was able to play the employees event even though I was not a casino employee. I held a Colorado gaming license that had not expired yet and that was good enough. I thought that the $10k stake that I had was sufficient to carry me through a few weeks of WSOP. I was planning on playing five events and a ton of 30-60 LHE. Day one’s play was a 16 hour long grueling affair, and I ran hotter than the sun. I just read my blog from day one and realized how much I sucked. Example – Blinds are 50-100, I have 1100 with starting stacks of $1k, I open to 400, get re-raised all-in, and I wrote in my blog that “I was in a quandry.” LOL at so many aspects of that entry in that trip report…

Regardless, I will never forget that moment. My friend Genaddy had just walked up behind me, I was on my way out the door with him, and then BOOM, eight ball in the river to suck out on aces, and from that hand forward I was off to the races. I held the chip lead for most of the day, and it was that day that I met my favorite hippie journalist, Justin West. At some point between day one and my 2nd place finish in day two Justin had googled me and found my original blog, Campfire Stories. It dates back to 2004 when I ran a high school ministry at a church in Colorado. Justin invited me to blog here at pokerpages.com, and I gladly accepted.

The journey since then has been an awesome one, bringing me to this point that I am at today. I honestly believe that it is due to pokerpages that I have had the last two months that I have had. The exposure that pokerpages gave me were a big influence on my ability to secure backing agreements. I even had a backer for the fall of last year that I to this day have yet to meet.

Today marks the last blog that I will be writing for pokerpages. It is with great sadness that I leave pokerpages and was not a decision that I came to lightly. Thank you Justin for believing in me from the very first second – you were right, buddy. Thanks for being my friend. Thank you Mark and Tina, even though I have never met you, for giving this nobody a shot on your front page. And thank you Konan for making transitions as smooth as possible and for being the good man that you are.

It has truly been an incredible journey. I feel so blessed – thank you pokerpages for being a large part of that.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

From here on forward you can find my blog here and at pokerroad.com.

The Incredible Journey, Days Fifteen, Sixteen, and Epilogue.


Last Thursday Rick Fuller left the hotel room early with out a room key, waking me up as he left, and waking me up again twelve minutes later when he knocked on the door. Fine… I’m up. We actually had a nice morning though looking at the solo seagull flying laps over the parking lot. Guy looked lost. It was a beautiful morning though and it was nice to sit and have a cup of coffee early on a balcony. Then I realized that our vehicles were the last ones left in the parking lot, and a had a quiet laugh to myself about our concepts of “morning”.

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From there we left to take the scenic route. Some locals in town said it was “about the same time” to Reno. Well, after riding West for 45 miles (which was a very beautiful ride), we pulled into this little town called Adin. I didn’t think there was any way that this was a small detour since we needed to go South and East not West. We had to get Rick to the airport by 3pm and I felt like we were going to be cutting it close. I wanted to make sure he got on a plane and couldn’t hang out with us anymore. As we’re slowly cruising through this small town, Gavin says, “I’m thirsty.” We are literally right in front of a general store and immediately stop. As I’m getting off my bike I spot this kissing booth with nobody in it and a sign that reads “Kisses $100 (crossed out) 50 (cent sign).” Before I can say anything, I notice Rick quietly sitting in it, and by the time I get my camera out this happens.

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The Incredible Journey, Days Thirteen and Fourteen… The Road Home

Vancouver -> Portland -> … Alturas?!?


Tuesday morning we packed up everything in Vancouver and hit the road in rain. Sigh. Moments like this is when I hate the pacific northwest. We made it to the border in about 45 minutes, parked in line, and the rain stopped. Sweet.

After about ten minutes of waiting, I saw a bird flying from the Canada side to the United States side, on a course to head directly over the Peace Arch. I then began this monologue:

“Hey, check that out. Wouldn’t that be cool if that’s a bald eagle? Wow! I think it is a bald eagle! How sweet is that? A bald eagle flying over the Peace Arch? OMG it is! Look! No… no it’s not. The head just looks white. Tail’s dark. Damn. No! (It turned right back to the Canadian side) It is a bald eagle! That’s so cool!”

After watching it, we realized that probably nobody in their cars around us saw it, then we realized that there are probably very few people alive that have seen a bald eagle fly over the peace arch, and we just witnessed it. Read More…

The Incredible Journey, Days Eleven and Twelve

and nine and ten…


After the great island and Asshole adventure, Friday came around which marked the start of the $3k main event. I made it through day one wih average chips, got a double-up to a really big stack (2nd on my table), raised the next hand won, folded, raised the next hand won, raised the next hand with kings to 5k, got rr’d to 15k by the only guy that covered me, I ship it for 75k, he has aces and for the third tournament in a row I get it in really bad vs. AA but fail to suck out for the first time, gg me like 80th place. What a sick setup cooler. I was pretty disappointed to be honest, but I have zero room to complain lately.

After days one and two of the main event, however, I played cash games and won $2500 each session. That was pretty sweet.

Sunday was a fantastic day. I chilled for a while, and around 6pm we got a jonesin to go to Stanley Park. This place is Vancouver’s version of Central Park but bigger and cooler. Lacey, Lyndsay, and I decide that we’re going to have a sunset stroll on the Seawall as the sun sets. Good times, right?

So we acquire a car and things start getting wierd immediately. On the way to the park I ask him what the blinking green lights mean as compared to the non-blinking green lights (traffic lights obv). He gives quite possibly the worst explanation ever that went something like this:

“Uhhh, yeah, well, ummm… they blink because……… well, you know……………

I almost say, “No, I dont’ know.” That long enough of a pause.

“They, uhhh, they tell you that a car might be coming, and that, ummm, you should be careful. Yeah a car is coming soon.”

Four seconds later we cross the intersection, and all three of us look left and right twice down the same street with the blinking green light over the intersection. There was not a car in either direction. We all raised some eyebrows, do our best not to bust out laughing, and then Lacey offers up this gem:

“Did you know, that San Diego is German for whale’s vagina?”

Well played. However, at this point I say something like, “Did you know that it’s actually Spanish?” The girls give me a funny look and I’m like whatevs. Don’t think anything about it, cause it’s Spanish obviously.

So, we pull into the park, and fly right past the Seawall, and take the first left to turn inland and drive for about 200 meters. I don’t say anything cause I don’t know jack about the area and understand that cabbies generally know wtf they’re doing. This one was a special case. He drops us off far from ocean, I try and protest and tell him that we’re not at the ocean, he blurts out some incomphrendable babble and Lacey prophetically states, “It’s okay. Maybe we were meant to be dropped off here.”

She was right. I immediately spot a black squirrel, which I think is fascinating. They look just like a standard American brown or grey squirrel, but have been spray painted black. While I’m being way too excited about black squirrels, I notice this in the distance, shot at 10x zoom:

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The Incredible Journey, Days Eight thru Ten

All kinds of shenanigans.


Before I start, I need to catch up on a few stories that I have neglected to include for whatever reason on this trip.

While we were about to leave Boise, ID, Gavin proposes a bet to me as he has done many times before. He says, “Devo, I bet you one hundred dollars that that guy has a tattoo on his johnson.” I almost call blind but I decide to investigate at least a little bit. I see the guy that looks like Willie Nelson and say, “Bet.” Then people move some more and I actually see the guy we’re betting, and he’s covered. Earlobes are tattooed. He has a bald spot – it’s tattooed. Everywhere. Apparently my face communicated, “Oh, I might be a dog in this bet…” This made Bobo laugh hard. Anyways, thank goodness that his johnson is “one head that doesn’t get tattooed”, I win $100. Read More…