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Found 6 results

  1. In an undisclosed location somewhere in Las Vegas, Nevada right now, pro poker player Rich Alati is hard at work trying to win another $100,000. Friends and family are tuning in from home. He’s not sitting at a poker table working his way through a tournament or grinding a cash game against some tourists, though. Alati is locked in complete darkness in a bathroom where he has to stay for 30 days without any communication with the outside world. It’s the latest crazy prop bet that has the poker world talking. If Alati finishes the 30 days, he’ll profit $100,000 - but if he quits, fellow poker pro Rory Young pockets the cash. The bet came together a few months back at the Bellagio poker room where Alati and Young are often playing cash games. This isn't a basic run of the mill game of global poker with a bunch of newbies. “One day, there was this young dude sitting at an empty table with like $40,000 in front of him and I sat down and we started playing heads up,” said Young. “We started getting along okay and then over the next couple of days we were talking at the table and stuff. I play a lot of Lodden Thinks and this is one of my go-to questions, ‘How long do you think you could last in a dark room, with no human interaction?’” Young has heard all kinds of answers and believes most people often overestimate their own abilities when answering. Responses are usually in the 20-25 day range, but Young says Alati surprised him with his answer of 30 days. “I was like, ‘Oh, that's interesting - would you ever consider putting any money on it?’ and he said, 'Yeah, but it would have to be a large amount to make it worthwhile,’" said Young, who found out that amount meant somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. “We talked a little bit more and within an hour we had something booked.” Each of them escrowed $5,000 with somebody they both knew and trusted. Alati had six months to attempt the bet. If either of them decided not to proceed with the bet, the other took home the $10,000. If the bet went forward, they each got their $5,000 back. “The conditions are complete darkness, so no electronics, no light-emitting devices, no drugs of any kind,” said Young. “He is allowed any type of food that he wants. He has a bed in there, he has a shower and a bathtub. He has pretty lavish toiletries like Epsom salts, sugar scrubs, that kind of stuff.” Along with food from Flower Child (a Las Vegas restaurant), some sliced fruit, almond milk, cereal, and Pop Tarts he has in his fridge, meals are being delivered to Alati during the 30 days, but not on a regular basis so as not to give him any indication as to how much time has passed. “Food is delivered every three to six days and we've randomized what days it'll be delivered and we'll drop off six days worth of food so he doesn't know how long it's been,” said Young. “It could be three days, it could be six days. He'll have no idea of how long it's been, so no watches or clocks or things like that.” There are five night-vision cameras broadcasting around the clock and the only privacy Alati gets is when he’s in the shower or the toilet cubicle. Alati’s family and a few select others have access to the feed. Young thinks that he’s getting by far the best of it - especially at even money. “I don't think he ever thought to ask for odds,” said Young. “He just kind of wanted to do it. He didn't think about it. I guess I was lucky in that regard. I feel like the true odds are between 5- and 10-to-1. His hourly throughout the whole thing, if he wins, is only $140. That's a good hourly, but it's not a good hourly for this and he loses a decent amount of the time.” When they were finalizing the terms of the bet, Young included a clause that subjected Alati to a cavity search before entering the bathroom. Believing that would deter Alati from even attempting to smuggle something into the bathroom he shouldn’t have, Young felt he didn’t have to enforce that clause. Alati does have to provide urine samples throughout the 30 days for drug testing, though. With six figures on the line, Young thought Alati would do some advance research and prepare himself for the prolonged isolation, but that’s not at all what happened. “He spent, I believe, 10 minutes in a dark bathroom,” said Young. “He was in the Bahamas for the partypoker event, flew back, and within 24 hours he was in the bathroom. He hadn't prepared any of his food, he hadn't gotten anyone to bring his food in, so I've had to do it. I think he's done zero preparation.” The around-the-clock footage is being recorded and Young and Alati are hoping to turn it into a reality show and find a home for it once all is said and done. One of those watching the live feed is Alati’s sister. Young has talked to her on a near-daily basis since the bet started on November 21. Not surprisingly, his sister, a lawyer, tried to get him to back out and just give up the $5,000. “They tried to get him to not do it but he doesn't listen to anybody but himself. She tried very hard to get him to pull out and he wasn't having it. She's pretty worried,” said Young, who admits to having some worries over potential health issues for Alati during and after the bet. “I'm a firm believer in that there are two consenting adults and if it doesn't do any harm to a third party, then it's morally justifiable,” said Young. “I don't have any hangups about the ethical side of this. I think it's different if it was a freeroll. I think I can have some ethical concerns there. “I have a bit of concern for his eyesight, but we're taking all of the necessary conditions.” Young likes his side of this prop bet so much that the terms for him to be in Alati’s shoes would be quite different with a much, much bigger payoff. “It would have to be a freeroll or crazy odds like 50-1 where it's essentially a freeroll,” said Young. “My number on a freeroll would be $5,000,000. I'm pretty comfortable, I enjoy my life as it is and I don't think my life would change that much if I had an extra $5,000,000. I'm not crazy wealthy or anything, but I'm already pretty happy and I don't think it would improve my happiness enough - it's torture.” With word of the prop bet making its way through the Las Vegas poker scene, Young heard from somebody else wanting to take on the challenge, but for far more money. “The other night, I get a phone call from a random number and it's Huckleberry Seed. Long story short, he wants to do it for a million, but he wants much tougher conditions,” said Young, who said he’d consider taking the former WSOP Main Event champ up on the offer if a broadcast partner or other third party put up some of the money. “[Seed] said he wants to do it with no bed, no food for the first 21 days, he'd do it for a total of 40 days, and just water. Also, he said I could put some cockroaches in the bathroom.”
  2. The prop bet that has been the talk of the poker world for the past three weeks has come to an early conclusion according to Rory Young. The $100,000 bathroom prop bet between Rory Young and Rich Alati ended late Monday night with Alati taking home five figures. Just 20 days into what was supposed to be a 30-day long bet, Alati and Young agreed to an early buyout that paid Alati $62,400. Young initiated negotiations with Alati during one of the scheduled meal deliveries. Young also agreed to pay Alati's expenses. Just over a week into the bet, Young confirmed on Twitter that he had hedged his initial $100,000 wager and stood to lose just $85,000. This puts Young'sactual loss at roughly $42,000. The original terms of the bet called for Alati to spend 30 days in a bathroom with no light and no interaction with the outside world. While some of the initial reaction from the poker community was focused on concern for Alati's health, experts indicated this week that there was little danger to his eyesight or mental health. This story will be updated.
  3. 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.
  4. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters are back for another episode of The Fives. This week they discuss the early end of the Rich Alati bathroom prop bet, the record turnout at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio and talk about Dylan Linde's huge win. They also recap all of the action from the European Poker Tour stop in Prague and talk about Dan Smith's Double Up Drive. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  5. November was a big month for attention-grabbing poker headlines. There was a hard-to-believe $100,000 prop bet that generated incredible buzz, the return of a high-profile lawsuit between a WSOP Main Event runner-up and the largest online poker site in the world, and the conclusion of a handful of prominent live poker tournaments that found winners. Here are PocketFives' top five stories from November 2018, plus a look at who won the PocketFives Monthly PLB title. Rory Young Reveals Details of $100K Pitch-Black Bathroom Prop Bet Poker players can be known to make wild prop bets, and that was certainly the case for Rory Young and Rich Alati. The two grabbed more than just poker headlines in November when their $100,000 bathroom prop bet was featured in headlines from several mainstream media outlets. It was one of the craziest prop bets we've ever heard of and will be one that is remembered for years and years to come. The bet was made to see if Alati could live in a pitch-black bathroom with no human contact and no electronics, among several other stipulations, for 30 days straight. Soon after the bet was made and began making its way around the poker world, PocketFives spoke with Young about the details of the bet and how it came to fruition. READ: Rory Young Reveals Details of $100K Pitch Black Bathroom Prop Bet Vayo Dismisses PokerStars Lawsuit; Stars Counters Alleging Forgery Back in May, it was made known that Gordon Vayo, runner-up in the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event, was suing PokerStars for the winnings the online poker site withheld from him from a 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker tournament that was worth nearly $700,000. That story made headlines everywhere within the poker world, but it made even bigger news in November when a November 12 California court filing revealed that Vayo had voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit. What really kicked things up a notch, though, were two things. First that the lawsuit was dropped amid accusations of forgery committed by Vayo. Second, PokerStars was seeking repayment of their attorney fees for nearly $300,000 - quite the tipping of the scales. READ: Vayo Dismisses PokerStars Lawsuit; Stars Counters Alleging Forgery Jack Sinclair Beats Laszlo Bujtas to Win WSOP Europe Main Event A former eighth-place finisher in the WSOP Main Event in 2017 for $1.2 million, Jack Sinclair was back in the World Series of Poker spotlight in November 2018, only this time in Europe. Sinclair made his way to the 2018 WSOP Europe Main Event final table and emerged victorious atop the 534-entry field to win the €1.222 million ($1.277 million) first-place prize. To claim victory, Sinclair had to defeat one of online poker's toughest players in heads-up play, Laszlo 'omaha4rollz' Bujtas. The victory earned Sinclair the largest payday of his poker career and first WSOP gold bracelet. READ: Jack Sinclair Beats Laszlo Bujtas to Win WSOP Europe Main Event Patrick Serda Wins WPT Montreal for C$855,000 The World Poker Tour was in action in Canada in November for the Season XVII WPT Montreal. The event attracted 792 entries, and it was Patrick 'prepprepprep' Serda who came out on top after entering the final table with the chip lead. Serda defeated the first female winner of an open WPT Main Tour event, Ema Zajmovic, in heads-up play to take home the C$855,000 ($652,801) first-place prize, denying Zajmovic her second World Poker Tour title. READ: Patrick Serda Wins WPT Montreal for C$855,000 Big Titles Won at partypoker Caribbean Poker Party in the Bahamas While the WSOP and WPT were busy dishing out titles in colder climates, partypoker LIVE was down in the Bahamas for the much-anticipated partypoker Caribbean Poker Party tournament festival. The series was full of big buy-in events, notables faces capturing huge sums of cash, and nine seven-figure prizes awarded. The first big tournament of the series to find its winner was the $25,500 buy-in partypoker MILLIONS World. The event generated 394 entries and fell just short of its $10 million guarantee, but enormous prizes were still to be had, including the $2 million first-place prize that Roger Teska took home after he defeated Steve O'Dwyer in second place. O'Dwyer scored $1.3 million for the runner-up result, and third-place finisher Charles La Boissonniere also took home seven figures, winning $1 million. READ: Roger Teska Battles Back to Win partypoker MILLIONS World for $2M We then saw a $3.685 million winner come from the partypoker $250,000 Super High Roller Championships event, and it was Steffan Sontheimer earning a new career-best score. The event generated a field size of 34 entries for a prize pool of $8.235 million. Sontheimer beat out Sean Winter in heads-up play, and David Peters finished in third place. Winter and Peters took home $2.43 million and $1.42 million, respectively. READ: Steffan Sontheimer Wins partypoker $250K SHR Championships For $3.68M In the $5,300 buy-in Main Event, another $10 million prize pool guarantee was on the line. The event fell short of the guarantee with just 1,815 entries, but the top three spots still gave out a million dollars or more each. Winning the event was Portugal's Filipe Oliveira, taking home the $1.5 million top prize. Craig Mason finished second for $1.2 million, and Marc MacDonnell took third for $1 million. READ: Filipe Oliveira Wins 2018 partypoker Caribbean Poker Party Main Event Sweden's 'lena900' Wins Another Monthly PLB Title in November Sweden's 'lena900' stayed hot and won another PocketFives Monthly PLB title in November after cashing 191 times for a total of $585,250. It was a dominating performance for 'lena900,' who racked up more than 4,900 points. The closest competitor was 'girafganger7' with a monthly point total of less than 3,900. A couple of the notable November scores for 'lena900' included a third-place finish in the PokerStars Sunday Million on November 25 for $80,555 and 569.39 points and a win in the partypoker Sunday Super High Roller: $100K Gtd on November 18 for $41,480 and 387.30 points. READ: Top-Ranked ‘lena900’ Wins November Monthly PLB Title
  6. If you’ve seen the likes of Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, NBA great Paul Pierce, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, 90210 star Jennie Garth, former UFC champ Tito Ortiz, or Star Wars star John Boyega at a major poker event over the last few years, you’ve seen the result of the hard work of Traci Szymanski. Unlike those celebs, Szymanski isn’t a household name but that’s mostly by design. She’s spent the better part of the last decade working behind the scenes, matching up Hollywood heavyweights with poker tournaments and expanding the reach of charity poker tournaments at the same time. She was working in Hollywood managing talent when one day her phone rang. “By chance ten or eleven years ago, I got called to work on a couple poker events, celebrity charity poker events, and I had absolutely no idea about poker or how the game was played or any connection to poker at that time,” Szymanski remembers. “Now I understand the game and now I know how to play. I think it's just a perfect match." It was 2008, Szymanski was working for a talent agency in Los Angeles and PokerStars was hosting a party at the World Series of Poker and wanted to have some celebrities in attendance. She booked that event and has held on to PokerStars as one of her core clients ever since. She’s become the go-to person that can bridge the gap between the poker world and celebrities for anybody looking to do it. Black Friday created a period of uncertainty with one of her biggest clients, PokerStars, but she saw actually saw it as an opportunity to increase the amount of time she was spending working with poker events. “There was that lull with the poker companies and I thought, ‘Wait, I like this and I think poker's a great tool to combine with the different charities I support and helping them to raise money’,” Szymanski says. Over the next few years, she coordinated numerous charity poker events for some of her clients, including one with Sopranos star James Gandolfini. Now she says she’s busy answering calls instead of making them. “I'm in a really good place in my career where I'm not really contacting anybody,” Szymanski says. “The majority of the time companies are coming to me looking for partnerships with celebrities or looking to bring attention to something or build their brand or whatever and then I'm pairing the celebrities with it.” Her time working behind the scenes has also introduced her to some of her closest friends and opened up business opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been there. She’s working with Kevin Hart on a TV poker product that she thinks could debut later this year. Being able to consistently deliver a quality product to the companies or charities that hire her, while also keeping celebrities happy, is one reason Szymanski believes she’s been so successful. “People just like to work with people they can trust, for one, and two, that they enjoy being around, Szymanski says. “It's about the experience and the people you're around and being positive and being fun. And there are so many heavy things going on in the world, the last thing you wanna do is bring somebody out to anything that's not gonna be enjoyable” That’s not to say there aren’t challenges though. Often times Szymanski will hear from a company or event with unrealistic expectations about what’s possible. “There are very few, at this point, A-list celebrities that are passionate about poker, that absolutely love the game, that are willing to put their name and face on it and promote the game,” Szymanski says. “So that's one obstacle when people are coming to me and everybody wants Brad Pitt to play poker and I'm like, ‘Brad Pitt's not gonna come out, he's just not, he's not unless there's a reason for him to come out’." Another issue is budget. Celebrities always come with a cost attached and Szymanski finds people often don’t realize that there’s more to getting talent out to an event that just an appearance fee. Making sure her clients are happy makes it easy for her to book them again and again. Then there’s the issue of making sure the celebrity can actually play poker. “I have had celebrities that are just worried about making a fool out of themselves because they aren't that strong of a player and it's new to them,” Szymanski says. “So I think it’s just confidence level, somebody feeling comfortable to go and sit down, especially if there's gonna be press covering it, nobody wants to look dumb.” After working in the industry for over a decade, Szymanski believes she can help the game grow by allowing her celebrities to introduce the game to as wide of an audience as possible. “I do think poker does have room to grow,” Szymanski says. “I still see the doors opening to a wider demographic and that's something I think the poker world needs to work on.”

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