For some, life is an open book. For Russ “Dutch” Boyd, his poker life is more like an encyclopedia. The polarizing poker pro from Missouri who now resides in Las Vegas has endured some epic ups and downs over the years, many of which were chronicled in his recent biography, Poker Tilt.
However, even Boyd couldn’t have dreamed of writing the perfect blockbuster follow-up chapter to what’s been a make-believe life -- a victory in the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament and a third World Series of Poker gold bracelet. He collected $288,744 in prize money, and, perhaps just as important, enjoyed a joyous moment of personal and professional redemption in a game that has dished out just as many defeats as victories.“It feels good, it feels really good,” said Boyd moments after the victory. “After this, I might have to write a whole new book.”Boyd was certainly a prodigal talent from the beginning. He graduated from high school and then college years before most of his peers. He finished college and then law school by age 19. Then, in a curious twist and turn of fate, Boyd ended up working in the poker industry.“It's not like this win is going to change my life, or anything. It’s not life-changing money for me, but it’s good to come here in the summer and prove to everyone over and over that you’re a relevant player again," Boyd said. "Three bracelets is a pretty big accomplishment. There really is a difference between one and two, and two and three.”Boyd arrived at the final table second in chips, but the road to victory wasn’t easy. It rarely is. Although the chip lead remained within Boyd’s grasp most of the way, it wasn’t until Paul Cogliano was eliminated in third place that Boyd truly seemed to be in the driver’s seat and going full blast, destined for what would be a gold bracelet trifecta. Making the victory even sweeter, his victory was cheered on by a diverse gallery of supporters, united by a shared appreciation for Boyd’s personal struggles and professional triumphs.“It’s funny because people are always talking about how poker is an individual thing,” Boyd said. “But at a final table, the fans who are cheering really are a reality. Your support really helps you from ten players down to the end. I can tell you for sure that there were some plays that I made on the way to this third bracelet that I would not have been able to make without some people helping me out.”Boyd initially burst upon the poker scene back during the 2003 WSOP Main Event, where he finished 12th. Over the years, he’s posted many deep runs, with his breakout win occurring in 2006, when he won the $2,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event. There were plenty more final tables and bragging rights, but the next victory didn’t come until 2010, when Boyd prevailed in the $2,500 Six-Handed Limit Hold’em event. True to form, it took another four years for Boyd to return to supremacy, which took place at the midway point of this year’s series. To date, Boyd now has three gold bracelet victories in 28 career cashes. He has more than $1.7 million in WSOP earnings.He's also managed to change along with the times, and that means adapting to younger players and new technology. For instance, Boyd took advantage of the livestream, which was broadcast with a half-hour delay. He occasionally went to the rail during breaks to consult with supporters, and even watched the action at times
.“The livestream is really changing the game quite a bit,” Boyd explained. “With the 30-minute delay, you can go back and see how they are playing. You are really able to balance your strategy and come up with an idea of how to get to the end. You have to figure out how to zig when they’re zagging.” This was Boyd’s first final table of the year. However, this was his fourth time to cash in 2014 so far, including a deep run in the $1,500 HORSE event, where he finished in 11th. He is also the 11th repeat bracelet winner so far in 2014.
Boyd was the only gold bracelet holder at the final table. At least one other player could boast of having previous final table experience. Gabriel Nassif, who finished in eighth place, was making his fifth career WSOP final table appearance. Quite impressive is the fact he has now made exactly one final table in five of the last eight years. Nassif's most recent final table appearance prior to this was a runner-up finish to Michael Moore in last year's $5,000 buy-in Limit Hold'em event.
Runner-up Steven Norden, another gambling industry savant, collected a consolation prize totaling $178,490. Norden was among the first consumers to figure out how to make video poker into an advantage game. He's quietly operated under the radar of notoriety for many years, before finally turning to live poker, which he occasionally plays as a diversion. This latest $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event drew 1,688 players and generated a prize pool of $1,519,200. The top 171 players all earned prize money, including Alex Masek (161st), Jason Koon (138th), Martin Stasko (112th), Tony Gregg (97th), Matt Glantz (71st), gold bracelet winner Joe Ebanks (36th), Dan Kelly (22nd), Martin Finger (17th), and Faraz Jaka (11th).Here are the final table results from the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event:1st: Dutch Boyd - $288,7442nd: Steven Norden - $178,4903rd: Paul Cogliano - $117,4644th: Will Givens - $84,6805th: Kim Pok - $61,9836th: Christopher Sensoli - $46,0317th: Vinny Pahuja - $34,6688th: Gabriel Nassif - $26,4749th: Chad Dixon - $20,463