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A misunderstood Dyer opens up after third-place exit at WSOP Main Event final table

15 July 2018

LAS VEGAS – Maybe it was the just-rolled-out-of-bed hair. Or was it the black-rimmed glasses and monotone manner in which he continually answered reporters’ questions? Oh, and let’s not forget the now infamous sky-blue sweatshirt with a dinosaur holding a bouquet of balloons.

Whatever the case, Michael Dyer was clearly not a fan favorite the last few nights here at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino at the World Series of Poker Main Event final table.

Don’t get me wrong. Dyer wasn’t a villain of any sorts. Heck, with this group, there was no bad guy. But it was painfully evident that Dyer, who ultimately finished in third place and collected $3.75 million for his efforts, was not the preferred choice to assume the mantle of Main Event champion for the game of poker over the next 12 months.

John Cynn wins World Series of Poker Main Event after epic heads-up battle vs. Tony Miles


And if there were any doubts, WSOP Vice President and Tournament Director Jack Effel extinguished them just before the ESPN lights went on Saturday night for three-handed play when he went around the table and announced each player’s name and asked the jam-packed TV studio who was cheering for them. Of course, the baby-faced Tony Miles, who has overcome a long list of adversity, and John Cynn, the likable chap with the perma-smile, received rousing ovations from their rowdy rails.

For Dyer there was, well, crickets.

Undaunted, the 32-year-old Houston native, who has lived in Las Vegas for the last six years plying his trade as an online poker pro, showed a sense of humor by laughing at the lack of response, before giving himself a polite golf clap.

“I had some people here, but I told them I preferred they stay quiet because I’m used to playing poker at home by myself,” said Dyer after his bust out, explaining that his parents and aunt flew in earlier this week.

Another one of the few people on Dyer’s rail was Jonathan McMichael, a fellow poker pro, who also got a kick out of the obvious lack of support for his good friend.

“He’s a quiet kid, he doesn’t play too much live poker, so he’s more of an introvert,” said McMichael, who has four WSOP cashes to his name. “Trust me, he doesn’t mind. He’s trying to make life-changing money. He was more focused on that, instead of trying to be accommodating to other people.”

McMichael added that Dyer’s image has been a bit misunderstood over the last few days because of his reticent personality. During a brief interview in a side hallway away from the ESPN cameras, with Casino City and two other local reporters, we got a quick glimpse of what McMichael was talking about, when Dyer showed us his hole cards and was actually quite witty.

Yes, that’s right. Witty.

When asked about his $3.75 million haul, he shot back with a giggle, “It’s going to be a lot of taxes.”

When asked what is was like to be a semi-celebrity over the last few days, he said, “It kind of felt like The Truman Show out there for a minute. I figure it will get back to normal soon. People don’t really remember the guy who finishes in third place.”

And when we poked fun at his sweatshirt and asked exactly what the heck was on it was and why in the name of John Hesp he would actually wear it on national TV for three straight nights, he didn’t bristle or get offended.

Instead, he laughed at himself.

“Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said with a wide smile. “I actually don’t know what it is. Looks like a comic with a dinosaur holding balloons. I think it’s a reference to (the movie) Up. Anyway, I just thought it was kind of funny. I wore it on Day 2 and did pretty well, so I figured, why change?”

All kidding aside, Dyer’s poker skills are no joke. He’s been playing online as a professional since 2005, and according to McMichael, has done quite well for himself.

“He’s kind of been an unknown quantity in the poker world, but I’ve known how good he is for a while,” McMichael said. “He’s a really smart kid. I thought he was a borderline poker genius. To be honest, this run he’s gone on doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s kind of just on another level than anyone else.”

What makes him so good?

“Trial and error, meaning he’s not scared to lose money and test things out,” he continued. “I think a lot of other players are more conservative when trying to figure out the game. He’s willing to make mistakes and learn from them. He doesn’t look at mistakes as a bad thing. He looks at them more as something to learn from. He’s not scared to mix it up.”

Dyer admitted as much when he discussed his play at the final table. He owned up the fact that he cost himself dearly on Friday night, when he entered six-handed play with a commanding lead, holding more than twice as many chips as his nearest rival, only to cough it up and enter Saturday as by far the shortest stack, with just 16 big blinds.

“I ran into some weird situations and I saw some things that weren’t there, and I was wrong,” he admitted. “But my poker is built on mistakes . . . I don’t worry about the mistakes I make. I make a decision, see what happens and then evaluate that decision.”

Before this year, Dyer had only played in one Main Event, when he said he “busted out super early” in 2016. He has just three previous WSOP cashes, and one of them — an eighth-place in a $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em event for $65,905 in 2009 — accounted for the majority of his career live tournament earnings ($95,020).

Clearly, Dyer’s bailiwick is the online game.

“I’m used to playing a whole bunch of tables online at once,” he said. “The live game really slows down, so you can be much more specific and target people. Online, you play broad strokes. At least I do.”

Dyer said he expects to take a couple days off before getting back playing, but chances are poker will still heavily be on his mind. He admitted that over the past few years he hasn’t done much else but try and improve his game, calling himself a “student of the game,” and admitting that he thinks about poker “a lot.”

“Not lately,” he answered, when asked if he had any hobbies. “I’ve been working on poker for past couple years, a lot more than I was before. I’ve kind of buckled down. And, I mean, I can’t complain with the results.”

Added McMichael, “He’s very quiet, very friendly and very generous. He’s not one of those top poker players who doesn’t want to divulge his secrets. He’s willing to talk about the game. Honestly, he’s the ideal poker friend.”

A misunderstood Dyer opens up after third-place exit at WSOP Main Event final table is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor. He also manages new business ventures for Casino City.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor. He also manages new business ventures for Casino City.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT