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Card Player Profile: Bryan Devonshire

Devonshire Talks About His Recent Win, Getting Staked, and Whether Online Player or Live Players Are Better


Bryan Devonshire at the World Poker ChallengeBryan Devonshire’s first big tournament cash occurred during the 2006 World Series of Poker. He captured second place, and $66,500, in the 1,232 entrant no-limit hold’em casino employees event. Since then, Devonshire has made the money in 12 major tournaments. During last year’s WSOP, he once again made it to a final table, this time in an Omaha eight-or-better event, and once again he finished second. Devonshire’s biggest payday yet came last week; he was the runner-up in the World Poker Tour World Poker Challenge in Reno, Nevada. For besting 259 of the 261 entrants, Devonshire earned $271,625.

Lizzy Harrison: You have not played in many big events recently. What prompted you to head up to Reno?

Bryan Devonshire:
I got some new backers, and, therefore, I was able to re-enter the live-tournament circuit.

LH: How does a player go about acquiring backers?

BD: That is a tough question to answer, because it is different for every individual. Backers and players have all types of different relationships. The way that I became involved in this relationship is that I met the parties involved last summer. They offered me a deal then, and I said no, because it was right after my big score at the ’07 World Series of Poker [second place in event No. 9, a $1,500 buy-in Omaha eight-or-better event]. Then, things did not go very well this fall. A lot of my friends are backed by the same parties, and they suggested I call the backers back and get set up. So, I did, and I went through the process, and two weeks later I was running under them. I won a tournament for them on my second day under them, which was pretty sweet.

LH: Can you tell me who the “parties involved” are?

BD: Sheets [Eric Haber] and Bax [Cliff Josephy].

LH: How does your play change when you have backers?

BD: I think that there is a change in my confidence level, and that impacts the way that I play my hands. When you look at the empire of horses that Sheets and Bax have, you can see that every one of them is really good. I started with them in late November 2007. Before I was running with them, I was on a $100,000 downswing, and it had really beaten up my confidence.

LH: What process did you have to go through in order to run with them?

BD: They asked for the transcript of a tournament that I had recently played online and they plugged into their PokerXFactor software. Basically, they just watched me play a tournament. Obviously, they were critical of my play because they were about to stake me in some high-stakes stuff. When they looked at my game and said I was good enough for their stable, it gave me a huge boost of confidence.

LH: Who else is in their stable?

BD: There are a lot of players, but I don’t think I should disclose them. I know it is somewhat public information, but still. Let’s just say that Sheets and Bax have had a really good week on the WPT [laughs].

LH: Let’s talk about the World Poker Challenge. How were you feeling going in?

BD: I actually just went over my e-mail from before the tournament, and the last e-mail that I sent to Sheets and Bax said that I had a really good feeling about the tournament in Reno. A month before the tournament, I told them that I would final table it. It is weird how much confidence affects the game of poker.

LH: Did the tournament go well right from the beginning?

BD: The tournament went as well as a tournament can go. I didn’t run hot, and I didn’t run cold. My timing was right, though. Every single break of the entire tournament, except for one, my chip stack went up, and I was really proud of my play. On day 1, I did not play a single big pot. On day 2 I called this guy’s all-in with an A-6, and he had a 9-3 offsuit; that was the first big pot I played. I was picking my spots really well. If you were to look over the hand histories, you would notice that I was reraising a lot, and, if you know anything about distribution, then you know that I obviously did not have a hand every time.

LH: What did you think of the lineup when the tournament combined into a 10-handed final table?

BD: I was stoked. I came in with the chip lead, which is always pretty exciting. The structure was great, and Jimmy [Sommerfield] really ran things well. The final 10 was definitely a who’s who of poker players. One thing I did notice was that Phil Ivey, who is a sick hand-reader, is not good at playing a short stack. He played one pot wherein he opened in middle position, and The Grinder [Michael Mizrachi] reraised. Ivey folded pocket queens, which is something that I am never going to do in that spot. I think that most poker players would not fold there. Ivey let himself get down to about 15 big blinds, and then he kind of withered away. I was not really impressed.

LH: What was your opinion on the play of the other players?

BD: There is a constant argument about which players are better; is it the live players or the online players? Well, after playing this tournament, where Ivey took 10th, Pat Poels, who has two WSOP bracelets, took ninth, Chau Giang took eighth and then Michael Mizrachi took seventh, I have to say something about that. This isn’t me being cocky, it is me being honest. All of those players made mistakes on the short stack. After witnessing this, I have to say that Internet players are probably better with a stack of 25 big blinds or less, while live players are better with a bigger stack. At the final table of 10, I watched these guys make basic, fundamental mistakes. The only reason they were mistakes, though, was because they were short-stacked. Playing on the Internet, you end up short-stacked 10 times a day, but live players are not in that situation as often.

LH: The lineup for the sixhanded WPT televised final table had to have been welcome, given the possible alternatives. What were you thinking going in to your first final table with lights, cameras, and an audience?

BD: Man, it was fun! It was perfect for me, because I am such a goofball extrovert. I fit right in.

LH: Were you playing to the crowd?

BD: Oh yeah [laughs]. I am excited about seeing the show. I think that it will be entertaining, but not over the top. There was one really loud celebration when it was down to two tables. I got it in with 10-10 against 5-5 on a 9-7-6 board. The turn was an 8, so the guy hit a gutshot for the chip lead. I was pissed until the river came another 8, and I won.

LH: Do you think you could have done anything differently to beat Lee Markholt once you were heads up?

BD: I could have not overplayed one pair [laughs]. That is all I can say, because we only played two hands. The first hand of heads-up play, he had me 2.4 [million] to 1.6 [million], I folded on the button and gave him a walk. The second hand, he limped on the button, and I looked down at 8-4 offsuit. I checked, and the flop was 4-3-2, with two spades. I bet, and he called. The turn was a jack. I bet, and he popped it. I shoved it all in, and he called within 0.7 seconds [Markholt had J-4].

There was a lot of behind-the-scenes information that made me think he was going to try to outplay me quickly. Also, I used to be a limit [hold’em] player, and I am never going to fold a pair heads up. Basically, I overplayed my hand. It felt right at the time, but, looking back, it was clearly not correct. This is my third major final table, and it is my third major second-place finish. I’m sure some type of silver-medalist nickname is going to come out of this soon. The other two times, I was really disappointed, because I thought I should have won, especially because I was playing for a bracelet. This time, though, Lee was definitely a better player than me, and he was definitely playing better than me on that day. He deserved to win; I was beaten. I am proud of Lee, because it makes me happy when someone earns a victory instead of luck-boxing their way to it. Lee got it in good every time, and he was calm, cool, and collected. It was a pleasure to play with him, even though he whipped me.



13 years ago

Interesting that he says Ivey made a mistake folding queens to a reraise in that spot from Mizrachi, when he pointed out Ivey's a sick hand reader, and then he talks about shoving against Markholt with second pair, on a 3 card straight board, with an 8 kicker, in a hitherto unraised pot, and he's talking about knowing how to play a short stack.


13 years ago

I agree. The cockiness is unbelievable, when Grinder, Ivey, and Giang have all proven that they are great players over and over. I'd like to see him play anyone of them in a HU cash game.