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  1. When the details of the Rich Alati bathroom bet first emerged two weeks ago, many of the armchair quarterbacks at home decided that Alati was going to do serious damage to his mental health or his vision - and potentially both - over the course of the 30-day prop bet. As a reminder, Alati is attempting to spend 30 days in a bathroom in complete darkness with no contact with the outside world. If he makes it, Rory Young has to pay him $100,000, but if for any reason Alati leaves the room, he loses the bet and has to pay Young the $100,000. Even Young admitted to being worried about what the impact of this bet might be on Alati's vision. "I have a bit of concern for his eyesight, but we're taking all of the necessary conditions," Young said. The actual contract that Alati and Young signed to make the bet official even protects Young from any legal action if Alati suffers "blindness, diminished vision, loss of any eye function" as a result of the 30 days. It turns out, he may not have anything to worry about. "There's really no risk to his eyes. The eye is a really, really interesting organ, and it has both light-adapted and dark-adapted states, and it can function perfectly fine in either state," said Dianna Seldomridge, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and an ophthalmologist at Duke (University) Eye Center in North Carolina. Spending up to 30 days in that dark-adapted state may not have any negative impact on his eyes, but Seldomridge believes that Alati's circadian rhythm could be in for a rough ride as it's actually regulated by the release of melatonin that comes from light stimulation of the retina. There's also little reason to believe that when he leaves the room after 30 days that any exposure to light, natural or otherwise, could harm his vision. Seldomridge emphasizes that just like the eyes adjusted to the dark-adapted state, they'll revert back to normal once he returns to the real world. "He may be a little bit light sensitive the first time he comes out into the light, just like you may notice that if you go from a dark room out into the bright sunlight, you may put your hand up to shield your eyes, because you're a little bit more sensitive to the light," said Seldomridge. "But there's no danger to his eye, but he just may be a teeny bit light sensitive as his eyes readjust to going back to the light." One of the items Alati was allowed to take inside the room was a Rubix Cube. Seldomridge believes he'll have a hard time being able to use it, though. The complete absence of light means he won't be able to see any of the colors. Dr. Joel Dvoskin, a clinical and forensic psychologist now teaching at the University of Arizona, is an expert on the impact that solitary confinement has had on prisoners' mental health. While the conditions that Alati is under for the 30 days may seem harsh, Dvoskin believes there's a key factor many people are overlooking. "It probably matters that he chose this, rather than having it done to him," said Dvoskin. "To say that there's a risk of psychological harm, while you can't prove it, I agree with it. But how big that risk is, nobody knows." Having studied and spoken to prisoners who have found themselves in solitary confinement for longer stretches, Dvoskin stresses that there is no standard here for how an individual will deal with that level of isolation. "Some guys in prison don't ever want to leave their cell," Dvoskin said. "They don't want to work. Their meals get delivered. They don't mind solitude. They regard it as their preferred way of doing time, probably because it's safer. Some people hate it. I think the point about you never know how you're going to deal with something until you experience it is probably true." The main issue for Alati could be not knowing how much time has passed. His food deliveries are randomized and he's not allowed any device which tells him the time or date. "Some people have a better internal clock than other people do, so that might matter," said Dvoskin. "For some people, it's like, 'Hey, I got this. I'm 15 days in. This is a piece of cake.' For other people, if the stress is cumulative, it could get worse as time passes." Dvoskin also believes that Alati's chosen career - professional poker player - could play a factor in how he deals with the stress of the bet. "[Poker players] are different than other people," said Dvoskin. "Most people don't choose to do that for a living. If you're a professional gambler, if you're gambling against other professional gamblers, you could lose. The real professional gamblers aren't gambling. They know they're going to win because they're that much better than everybody else. But the people in the World Series of Poker … I'm not an expert in that world by any means, but you have to be able to handle some stress. If you know there is a million dollars riding on the next card that comes up and you have no control whatsoever of what that card's going to be, not everybody would choose to do that." Young and Alati have decided to limit the amount of updates from the bet. For Alati to win the bet, he needs to stay in the room until December 21.
  2. The World Poker Tour heads back to fabulous Las Vegas on Monday, March 11, for the first of three consecutive final tables at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino. The three final tables to play out are, in order, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, WPT Gardens Poker Championship, and WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. The WPT L.A. Poker Classic is headlined by four-time WPT champion Darren Elias and has a $1.015 million first-place prize up for grabs. What Are They Playing For? The winner of the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic will take home $1.015 million in first-place prize money. That includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. As this event is a televised WPT event, the winner will also score a luxurious Hublot Big Bang timepiece. 1st Place: $1,015,000 2nd Place: $646,930 3rd Place: $473,280 4th Place: $346,550 5th Place: $267,400 6th Place: $201,650 Click here to read about how the final table was set. [caption id="attachment_623033" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] HyperX Esports Arena (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] How To Watch the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Final Table The final table for the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic takes place March 11 starting at 4 p.m. PT at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The event will be filmed for broadcast as part of the WPT’s televised schedule of events. You can wait for that airing on FOX Sports Regional Networks, or you could tune in live to the stream of the events that can be viewed on PokerGO. If you don’t have a subscription to PokerGO, sign up today using the promo code "POCKET5S" for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan. Now, let’s meet the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table. [caption id="attachment_623037" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Jean-Claude Moussa (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 1: Jean-Claude Moussa - 1,250,000 Jean-Claude Moussa is a 36-year-old player from Massachusetts, who entered this event with $516,544 in live tournament earnings. He has two prior WPT Main Tour cashes on record, including his career-best live tournament score of $321,840 when he finished fifth in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic back in Season VIII. Other notable results for Moussa included a deep run in the 2011 PCA Main Event for $45,000 and two cashes in the World Series of Poker Main Event for $25,027 and $24,808. Moussa enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table in fourth chip position with 1.25 million. [caption id="attachment_623039" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Matas Cimbolas (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 2: Matas Cimbolas - 4,675,000 Lithuania’s Matas Cimbolas seems to be becoming more and more of a fixture on the World Poker Tour by the day. The 25-year-old already has one WPT title to his credit thanks to winning WPT Nottingham in Season XIII for $313,327. At the end of last season, he made his way to the WPT Tournament of Champions final table and ultimately finished second for $265,590. Those are the two biggest scores of his live tournament career. Interestingly enough, when Cimbolas made the WPT Tournament of Champions final table, it was played out at the HyperX Esports Arena in Vegas. Whereas the enormity of the arena might cause some players to feel a little less comfortable, Cimbolas has the experience of playing there already under his belt. Another interesting note is that Darren Elias, who leads the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table, finished third in the WPT Tournament of Champions event that Cimbolas took second in, so these two have a bit of history on the very stage they’ll be competing on come Monday. Cimbolas entered the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic with just shy of $2 million in live tournament earnings. A third-place finish or higher would move Cimbolas ahead of Dominykas Karmazinas and into second on Lithuania’s all-time money list. Cimbolas enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table second in chips with 4.675 million. [caption id="attachment_623038" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] John Smith (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 3: John Smith - 895,000 John Smith is by far the oldest player at the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic. He’s also the shortest stack remaining. Don’t let those two things fool you, though. Smith packs plenty of game that’s received a popular following in recent years due to his success in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship at the WSOP. In that event, Smith has results of 11th place in 2014 for $26,584, second place in 2016 for $198,192, and second place again in 2017 for $208,154. As Sean Chaffin wrote for the WPT, Smith served in the U.S. Army when he was younger. He was in Vietnam in the 1960s when a tank he was in hit a landmine. Everyone in the tank died, but Smith survived. He would later receive a Purple Heart for his service. Ahead of this event, Smith had $1.256 million in live tournament earnings. He has five prior WPT Main Tour cashes, with his best being a 20th-place result in the $25,000 buy-in WPT World Championship in Season III for $75,485. Smith enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table as the shortest stack with 850,000. [caption id="attachment_623034" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Darren Elias (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 4: Darren Elias - 9,070,000 A four-time World Poker Tour champion, Darren Elias is "Mr. WPT." No one has won more WPT titles than Elias and on Monday he could better his record by scoring an unprecedented fifth. Elias’ first WPT title came in the Season XIII WPT Borgata Poker Open. There, he topped a field of 1,226 entries to win $843,744. Less than a month later, Elias beat a small but tough field of 118 entries in the WPT Caribbean for a score of $127,680. Elias’ third WPT win came in Season XV when he scored first place in the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic for $346,776. He then won the final event of Season XI, the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, for $387,580. In addition to a victory on Monday being Elias’ fifth World Poker Tour trophy, he’d earn the largest live tournament score of his career. As mentioned above, the 32-year-old Elias has experience playing at the HyperX Esports Arena. On Monday, he’ll start the final table with a sizable lead on the other five. His stack of 9.07 million in chips in 41.5% of the chips in play and nearly double anyone else. [caption id="attachment_623035" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] David Baker (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 5: David Baker - 4,760,000 David Baker, better known as "ODB" to many in the poker world, has put countless hours into poker. In 2012, he finally won the elusive WSOP gold bracelet. Now he has a chance to win his first WPT title and a huge score of $1.015 million. https://twitter.com/audavidb/status/1103776743091953665 Baker has one previous WPT final table on record, coming back in Season V when he took fifth in the WPT Festa Al Lago tournament for $125,240. Money-wise, this is his best WPT result, but he’ll need to jump up two more places to make it his top finish. Second place or better will give Baker the largest tournament score of his live poker career. A win would mean his first World Poker Tour title and first million dollar tournament payday. Baker comes into the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table second in chips with 4.76 million. [caption id="attachment_623040" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Steve Yea (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 6: Steve Yea - 1,205,000 If you’re a diehard follower of poker, you’ve heard the name Steve Yea. For casual fans, his name might not be so common, but Yea has been around for quite some time. Yea has live tournament results dating back to 2007 and he’s amassed more than $630,000 in live tournament winnings entering this event. He hails from South Korea and is making his first WPT Main Tour cash. Yea’s largest live tournament score came from a second-place finish on the Asian Poker Tour in 2008 when he won $250,000 in an event in Macau. He also placed second in an APT event in 2009 in Manila for $100,000 as the second biggest live tournament score of his career. Yea enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table fifth in chips with 1.205 million. [caption id="attachment_623036" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Hublot WPT Player of the Year and Baccarat Crystal (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Hublot WPT Player of the Year Implications With a prize pool of more than $5.1 million, the maximum amount of points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race are up for grabs in the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic. The winner gets 1,400 points, with the rest of the point earnings for the final table as follows. 1st Place: 1,400 points 2nd Place: 1,200 points 3rd Place: 1,100 points 4th Place: 1,000 points 5th Place: 900 points 6th Place: 800 points As it stands, Ping Liu is the man to catch at the top of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year leaderboard. He has 1,900 points thanks to six cashes and two final tables in Season XVII. For the six players at this final table, the points would mean the most for Elias, as he’s the only competitor remaining with points entering this event. Elias has 150 points on the season and could shoot up to 1,550 with a win. That would put him in fourth place overall on the Hublot WPT Player of the Year leaderboard. For the other five, a victory would place them in sixth place on the leaderboard. Despite all of his success on the World Poker Tour over the years, Elias has never been crowned WPT Player of the Year. He has had some close calls, though. Last season, Elias finished third in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. In Season XV, he finished sixth. In Season XIV, he ended up in 12th. In Season XIII, he finished second to Anthony Zinno, who also won two WPT titles that season. At the end of Season XVII, the Hublot WPT Player of the Year will win a $15,000 WPT Passport that can be used as buy-ins to any Season XVIII global WPT event and a Hublot watch. Second place in the race earns a $7,500 WPT Passport and third place gets a $2,500 WPT Passport.

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