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Between the Motos: Dana Kellstrom

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A longtime financial backer of the Wonder Warthog Racing program, Dana Kellstrom had a unique experience this past week as he played in the Main Event at the World Series of Poker. We heard he had some nice plans for the money, and we got a hold of him in Cabo San Lucas, as he hung out on vacation, for this edition of Between the Motos.

  • Dana Kellstrom, AKA DanaK, hanging out by the Warthog rig.
Racer X: So, we heard you played in some sort of poker tournament...
Dana Kellstrom: Yeah, I played in the Main Event at the World Series of Poker. Every year, I play in that Road 2 Recovery Poker Tournament, so this year a bunch of us decided to go to the World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas. The Main Event is a $10,000 entry fee, with 7000 players. You can play your win in, though, and I played a $500 satellite Texas Hold ‘em tournament, and I won a seat in the Main Event, which meant I turned $500 into $10,000 [because of the cost of the entry]. So I got into the main event with all the big pros and played 48 hours – 12 hours a day, four days in a row – and was good enough to make it all the way down to the last seven or eight percent. It’s really hard to make it into the money positions, but out of the 7000 players, they pay the top 700, and I finished 620th and got $22,000! Not bad for 500 bucks, huh?

No, not at all. I’m a poker player myself...
Well, if you’re a poker player, then you know that this tournament is like every poker player’s dream...

Yeah, for sure. Obviously, in poker, you can play well and still lose.
Yeah, you can have one bad hand and be out in five minutes. The last 48 hours with all the best people in the world, I played great. There really isn’t a big difference between 600th place and 300th place. It’s like $2000 difference. So that’s when you have to gamble with your chips. In other words, you want to push all-in, because if you double up and double up and double up, and you’re lucky enough, that’s how you might win. I pushed all in with pocket Queens and the guy had Ace Jack, and he caught an Ace on the flop, so what are you going to do? But if I win that hand, I might have enough to make it down to the top 400, and if I win another one, then maybe down to the top 200, and you really start to make money once you get to the top 100, but it takes luck, skill, discipline... Me and some friends last night were talking about how poker is a lot like racing: You’ve got to pick your spots, know when to hang it out and when not to. Look at Mike Alessi. I thought he was going to win the title this year, but instead he made one mistake and that was it.

  • Dennis Jonon is getting help to finish out the Nationals.
I heard you had a good plan for some of your winnings...
I give the Warthog guys money and I have a fondness in my heart for the privateers because when I was a kid, I rode dirt bikes with Kehoe and Holley and all them, but they always had support, while I just had a little, beat-up XR75. My parents didn’t have any money, so because I’ve done pretty good in the world, I like helping out the guys who are struggling – the privateers. So I’m going to take a portion of those poker winnings and give it to Dennis Jonon to help him make it to the last five outdoor nationals.

That’s really cool. Dennis Jonon’s a buddy of mine, and it’s a big thing for him having just scored his first-ever AMA National point and having gone through hip reconstructive surgery just prior to this season...
Yeah, he’s a good kid, and the one thing about helping out with the Warthog guys is that you get to meet a lot of good kids. Chris Blose wouldn’t be out there today if I didn’t pay for that intern ride because he didn’t have the money or the experience. Or look at Jonon; even though he might’ve scored his first point, he’s really getting his experience at the top level right now. He needs to be able to go home and train real hard if he wants it and then be able to go when the race comes around. There’s a big jump from the amateurs to the pros in terms of mental preparation and physical preparation. I’d like to give Jonon the opportunity to put it together if he can.

Well thanks for the time, and have fun in Cabo...
No problem.
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