Throw in two gamblers and a crazy idea in Vegas and anything can happen. How much would you sit in the dark for 24 straight hours? How about a week? Two weeks? 30 days? The average person would think it's insane. The edge-seeker would try to find a way to make it happen. Rory Young bet Rich Alati $100,000 that he couldn't last 30 days. Alati, without any training, felt confident he could pull it off.
Sometimes things get a little weird in Las Vegas. It happens. It's the nature of the beast. Sometimes, poker players do a lot of shit to pass the downtime. And there's tons of it. But if you mix two professional gamblers and come up with an interesting prop bet, then you have a formula for a compelling story. Or in this instance, compelling click bait.
If you have not heard the news today, oh boy, this one is a doozy. For a jaded vet like me, the headline would read: Degen poker player bets another degen poker player to do degen things.
Or perhaps: Another Day, Another Prop Bet.
If I worked in the UK, I'd gladly write, "Americans Will Do Stupid Shit for Cash."
And if I worked somewhere else in one of those millennial havens with a basketball court, Soul Cycle class, and a juice bar, then I'd scribble out: Man Sits in Dark for 30 Days to Win $100,000! You Won't Believe What Happened Next?
This is not the first bathroom bet. Andrew Robl popped up on the radar of the poker world when he bet Jay Kwik that he could not live inside the Bellagio bathroom for a month. That didn't last long for Kwik.
Dmoongirl initially posted something on Facebook about the wager and Chainsaw started a 2+2 thread. Aussie pro Rory Young is a chatty fellow. He plays Lodden Thinks to kill time at the tables. One of his go-to questions is about living inside a dark room for thirty days.
Young met Rich Alati at the Bellagio while playing cash games. The two got to chatting and the subject of the dark room came up. Alati didn't waste time or mince words. He would totally do it. After all, he survived a silent yoga retreat, so what's 30 days in darkness really?
Betting in the Dark
The two hammered out the details for the wager. $100,000 to the winner. No odds. Total darkness. No clocks or watches. No human contact for 30 days. It's like being thrown in the hole in prison, but for cash money and no fears of being shanked.
Alati would have to pull off the feat with zero electronic devices. No drugs either, so he couldn't knock himself out with valium for 30 days. He could take vitamins and legal supplements. He got plenty of food and water, including Pop Tarts. Food deliveries from Flower Child would happen at random intervals every three to six days.
Alati wanted to do it before the end of the year and Christmas, so he headed into darkness shortly before Thanksgiving.
Young set up a location inside a Vegas house. Alati would live inside the bathroom inside a master bedroom. The area was childproofed and soundproofed. The door was altered to allow food and provisions to be passed through. He also had a mini-fridge (no light).
Night-vision cams were set up to monitor the activity. Alati had privacy in the shower and toilet area. Aside from that, the cams tracked his every move. The cams were set up for multiple reasons. For one, it was to keep tabs on Alati to make sure nothing bad happened. The main reason was to make sure he didn't cheat. And of course, the event would be recorded for potential reality show or documentary film purposes.
Hey, if you gonna do something crazy like this, you might as well cash in on your fifteen minutes of fame. Right?
Once word got out about the prop bet, both the poker community and normals weighed in on the topic. There was the usual responses from the squares like: "Poker players are crazy!" and the "This guy could die!" Moral implications came into play. But mostly those were shut down because both parties seemed to "have their shit together" and were not total mental cases looking for a quick buck.
Poker players were mostly perturbed by the lack of odds that Alati should have been getting. 3-1? 4-1? I think he should be getting at least $250K and then some.
Of course, this darkness prop bet also sparked a scientific debate. There have been no shortage of stories shared about light deprivation, studies on solitary confinement, and overall lack of human contact. Like those Japanese soldiers on deserted islands in the Pacific who thought they were still fighting WWII.
Prop Bet City
Some bets are fun, but harmless. Former Bluff Magazine editor Lance Bradley wore the same shirt every day for a year to win $8,000. I once bet a fellow reporter named Chip Bitch $20 to eat a flower. That's the ordinary madness that happens in the press box while following around the circuit.
Poker players have an affinity for prop bets. Others are renown for them, like Huck Seed. The former WSOP Main Event Champion won and lost his fair share of prop bets. The "Stand in the Ocean" wager was a hysterical one and probably the first time I heard about a Vegas pro doing crazy shit for cash.
Hellmuth and Seed were always trying to come up with wacky wagers. Hellmuth bet Seed he could not stand in the ocean for 24 straight hours for $50,000. Seed gave up after three hours.
Ted Forrest ran a marathon to win a prop bet. He and Mike Matusow were involved in numerous weight-loss wagers. One of the stipulations was “no amputation” which goes to show the extremities some folks would possibly go through to win a sizable wager.
Long-time vegetarian Howard Lederer ate a cheeseburger for $10,000 to end his non-meat phase.
Sam Abernathy, Brian Rast, and Dan Bilzerian all rode bicycles from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Abernathy pulled off the feat first. Bilzerian's ride became an event. And Rast wanted to prove that he could do it. And he pulled it off thanks to a couple of Vicodin to help him through the intense back pain.
Johnny World tried to live in Iowa for 30 days and gave up after... two.
Erik Lindgren almost died when he won his infamous golf bet in the blistering Nevada heat. Gavin Smith and Phil Ivey bet Lindgren he could not play four rounds of golf and shoot under 100 on each one, while carrying his clubs. Lindgren stayed up drinking until 4am the night before and pulled it off to win $340K.
By the way, Seed is totally interested in doing a similar prop bet. But he wanted to do it for a longer time and in harsher conditions. Of course, he wanted a cool million for his utter degeneracy. Maybe he should at least wait to see how Alati looks and feels after he emerges from solitary confinement.