New Hyde Park Pokemon whiz Devon Roth takes a cool, calculated approach to the complex card game, maintaining a poker face as he sits playing the game at his parents’ house.
After competing in three state championships in the past two years and placing fifth or higher in each, Roth sounded relaxed as he was asked if he’s feeling confident about taking on a new challenge in the Pokemon National Championship in Indianapolis this week.
“Yes, but not overconfident,” said the nine-year-old, who finished second in the New York State championship of the popular card game last March.
Roth won a $1,500 scholarship and a free trip to the Indianapolis competition with his family after being the top player out of 46 of in a recent regional competition in Philadelphia.
That was particularly good news to his father, Christopher, who said the family, including his wife Erica and their daughter Caroline, age five, would have been making the trip to Indianapolis anyway.
The regional Pokeomon credited his ability at mathematics, honed in his third grade classes at the Manor Oaks School, with his facility to overcome his Pokemon oppnents.
“I can do math in my head,” said Roth.
He said he spends two hours a day playing the game daily, frequently with his father, Christopher, who he said is a tough opponent.
His father also assists him by printing many of the 1,200 Pokemon cards that make up the full complement of a deck of the cards, which depict different characters, assigning different point values to the cards in various categories. Like an adept chess player, Devon said he’s accustomed to staying several steps ahead of his competitors “pretty easily.”
“It’s tougher than poker by far,” the elder Roth said.
His entire family, including his mother Erica and younger sister Caroline, age five, will accompany him on the trip to the three-day Indianapolis competition on July 8-10.
The young Roth, currently ranked 18th in the world based on points scored in previous competitions, said his goal is to be invited to the Pokemon world championship. His father said this is likely if he achieves a winning record at the competition in the Indianapolis Convention Center.
Roth’s in the youngest competition category for the sport, including kids 10 years or younger. Competitors in the tourney are as old as 18 years.
He’ll play six matches on the first day of the national tournament – up to 30 minutes each – calculating his tactics and capturing opponents cards to get to the next round and advance in the field of more than 200 competitors expected to be there.
Asked if competing in tournaments drains him mentally, he said, “No. I want to play more.”
Apart from competing with his father, Roth regularly plays in a Pokemon League at The Game Table in Mineola.
But Roth isn’t a one-trick pony. Along with Pokemon, he enjoys playing defense on his New Hyde Park Wildcats soccer squad – and video games.