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Found 3 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. 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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