By Sean Chaffin
Some have described piloting a jet off an aircraft carrier as getting shot out of a cannon. With such a small amount of space to take off, the speed and intricacy involved brings plenty of adrenaline for the man in the cockpit. Landing can be even trickier. An aircraft carrier can move with ocean waves and a pilot has to adjust as he guides the aircraft in. There’s just not much room for error.
Scott Gier (pictured) knows the experience first-hand. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, the 71-year-old spent six years as a Navy pilot and intelligence analyst.
“There are no better toys than Navy jets,” he says, “and there are few adrenaline-pumping routines on this planet that can match landing on or taking off from an aircraft carrier.”
Beyond his life in the military, Gier is an award-winning science fiction author and lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he spent much of his time growing up. It’s been quite an interesting life for Gier. And that now includes becoming a recent ClubWPT tournament winner – giving him a shot on Day 1B at the Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open.
Pilot in the South Pacific
Much of Gier’s Navy service came aboard the USS Handcock in the South Pacific during the end of the Vietnam War. He spent two years on the aircraft carrier and the scene in the late stages of the war made a major impact on him.
As the communist north moved into the south and took over the country, thousands of South Vietnamese fled the country (including some well-known poker players like WPT Champion Scotty Nguyen) as the U.S. pulled troops out.
“We were there for the evacuation of Saigon,” Gier says. “It was a crazy time. You don’t often get to see a whole country and culture fall apart like that. We brought about 2,000 Vietnamese aboard the Hancock. It was very sobering seeing all these people losing their freedom – or actually keeping their freedom by losing their country. I don’t think our nation really understood what was going on.”
Bridge was the game of choice for sailors aboard the Hancock, but Gier learned to play Seven Card Stud growing up. His father was a Marine and played a lot of cards with other military men. Gier learned to play at an early age, but didn’t really take poker too seriously until the poker boom of the 2000s.
While he’s certainly a recreational player, he’s hoping some of that nice run continues here at the Seminole Hard Rock.
Silicon Valley and Back to Hawaii
After spending six years as a Navy man, Gier moved on in 1975. It was off to Silicon Valley where he worked in the growing computer industry. That included a career in computer manufacturing, software, training, and laser innovation.
Gier retired in 2003 after 25 years and then moved back to Hawaii. His parents were still living in the same house where he grew up in Ewa Beach, just outside Honolulu. Gier later bought the home for him and his wife, who’ve been married for 52 years and have two adult children.
“I’m living in the same house I was basically born in,” he says.
That early life in Hawaii included plenty of outdoor activities. He enjoys hiking and hit the trails all over Oahu growing up.
“We did a lot of wreck chasing,” he says. “We went up and found all these World War II wrecks on Oahu. There were a couple wrecks I was the first to visit since the war. They were way out in the boondocks. It’s hard to imagine on an island as small as Oahu that we found two wrecks that didn’t look they had been visited before. Some are real hard to get to.”
He still enjoys the outdoors, but mostly sticks to the golf course.
Poker and Publishing
Those days of adventure on an aircraft carrier and around technology may have served as some artistic inspiration. Gier began writing science fiction novels and eventually releasing his first, Genellan: Planetfall, in 1995. The book was published by longtime science fiction publisher Del Rey/Ballantine and was the first in a four-part series and he also released another book titled Daystar in 2007.
In 1996, Gier was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer for Planetfall. The novel was also selected the Del Rey Books Discovery of the Year that same year. Writing still remains an interest, but mostly for himself.
“I still write but I don’t try and get published,” says Gier. “In fact, I have two or three books going. Writing is one of the best measurements I’ve ever had for my brain because I used to write four pages a day. Every once in a while you’d get 10 or 12 and other days one or two. I still have the escape but I don’t have the effort anymore.”
What about a poker-related novel?
“That would be insulting to poker players because I know there are elements of poker that I may never capture,” he says. “I just didn’t start playing early enough.”
At the poker table, Gier began playing more online as Texas Hold’em became popular. After Black Friday, ClubWPT seemed like a nice option. The site is the tour’s sweepstakes poker site and offers players a chance to win as cash and prizes for a monthly fee.
“I think the very first ClubWPT tournament I played in I went to the final table and I said, ‘This is going to be really easy,’” he says. “That was the last final table I saw for years I think.”
After a few years away from the site, a recent return yielded big results. Gier now makes his way to the Seminole Hard Rock after topping a field of more than 1,700 players online.
“It was so out of the blue,” he says of the win and trip that came with it. “It was jaw-dropping when I won it.”
Gier played in the Colossus with his son at the World Series of Poker this summer, and also plays some at Talking Stick in Arizona when visiting him. ClubWPT has been good for his game and there’s a good chance he’ll be back in action online when he returns to the Aloha State.
“It’s a good place to learn and good place to train,” he says, “and it keeps my mind active.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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