Alex O’Brien Versus Vanessa Kade Would Be a Fairytale Ending to Poker’s Unfortunate Bilzerian Chapter

  • Alex O’Brien won the $100,000 Dan Bilzerian Birthday Freeroll on GGPoker a year ago
  • Her win gave her a shot at Bilzerian heads-up, but he has not honored his end of the bargain
  • O’Brien suggested to GGPoker that they donate money in her name to charity
  • Americas Cardroom has since offered her a heads-up match with any of its pros
  • O'Brien has chosen to face off against Vanessa Kade 
Two women watching a sunset in the mountains
Alex O’Brien will play Vanessa Kade heads-up for charity on ACR after Dan Bilzerian didn’t come through on the heads-up match promised to O’Brien for winning a GGPoker freeroll a year ago. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

O’Brien chooses Kade 

Alex O’Brien spoke with VegasSlotsOnline News earlier today to convey her displeasure with Dan Bilzerian and GGPoker after a year of being left on tenterhooks about a promised heads-up encounter. Within minutes of that article’s release, the canny people over at Americas Cardroom (ACR) swooped in to make things right for her, offering a $10,000 heads-up freeroll against anyone from their roster of pros. 

Would she choose Chris Moneymaker? Maybe it would be Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet? Both would certainly be robust adversaries. Both would make for engrossing encounters. There was, however, another option and one that felt right in an almost fairytale sense. 

without a moment’s hesitation, O’Brien named poker superstar Vanessa Kade

Without a moment’s hesitation, O’Brien named poker superstar Vanessa Kade as her desired opponent, another person who has had unfortunate dealings with Bilzerian. The details of the match are yet to be finalized, but expect it to take place in the very near future. 

Happy Birthday Dan Bilzerian?

Despite positive early dealings with GGPoker, O’Brien has been frustrated throughout the latter half of 2021 as time wore on without any definite plan in place for her hotly anticipated encounter versus Bilzerian. There were long periods of non-communication which made O’Brien feel like the match was “hanging over [her] like a cloud.” The point of a poker promotion is to create excitement for the winner. Instead, this became the cause of stress that made O’Brien feel disregarded. 

Yesterday, with her patience wearing thin, exactly one year to the day since she won the GGPoker $100,000 Dan Bilzerian Birthday freeroll, O’Brien fired off a tweet:

Or perhaps if GGPoker couldn’t get their brand ambassador to live up to his commitment then maybe they could make a charitable donation in lieu. From O’Brien’s point of view, either would suffice and draw a line under the saga. 

Speaking exclusively to VegasSlotsOnline News, O’Brien expressed no regrets about going public with her issue. “Here’s the thing – women in society, even if the most modern of societies, are always fighting to be heard, to be seen and to get the validation they deserve. That’s why this has been so particularly disappointing. Even as the recipient of a prize, I have had to fight for my place at the table. I don’t wish to antagonize GG but there is also no way that I’m going to be a pushover.”

Certainly no shrinking violet, O’Brien was absolutely right to fight her corner. GGPoker finally responded to her tweet, saying that they would be happy to discuss a charitable donation.

All that matters now is how much good this match never being played is actually going to do!”

“I am so pleased that GG has pledged to donate money to charity,” said O’Brien, “This will make a huge positive and much needed impact to a lot of people in need especially this year. All that matters now is how much good this match never being played is actually going to do!”

Enter ACR 

While credit is due to GGPoker for their charitable intention, this came hours after their competitor had pounced on the opportunity to do right by her. One can only imagine how O’Brien’s tweet sent the wheels spinning at ACR HQ, who earlier today made her an offer she couldn’t refuse:

O’Brien didn’t hesitate. 

When you consider the disgusting treatment of Vanessa Kade by GGPoker and Bilzerian himself over the past year, it’s hard to believe the happy ending that came when she got signed by ACR and then shortly after won the PokerStars Million

When you consider the indolent treatment of promotion winner Alex O’Brien by GGPoker and Bilzerian himself over the past year, it’s hard to believe the happy ending that has just come thanks to ACR’s generosity. 

it’s impossible to say if Bilzerian has a specific aversion to the likely result of losing to a female”

Speaking to VegasSlotsOnline News, Kade offered her opinion on Bilzerian’s decision to renege. “A year on, it’s impossible to say if Bilzerian has a specific aversion to the likely result of losing to a female after his public comments about how women can’t play poker – something I suspect he feels would be a big public embarrassment that he wouldn’t live down – or if it’s unrelated to this and he’d have welched either way.”

A happy ending

O’Brien is in the final stages of writing a poker book called The Truth Detective and, far be it from me to prompt, but books need endings. The fact that O’Brien and Kade, two great poker role models, will now face off against one another in a celebration of what’s good about poker beautifully brings their stories full circle.

I sincerely hope she wins.”

“I’m glad ACR has agreed to step in and give Alex a match in the interim, and I’m honored that she chose me to play,” said Kade, “I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but I’m not specifically a heads-up pro by any means and although I’m not going to soft play her, I sincerely hope she wins. I think that result would make the most people happy, especially Alex, which would make me happy. She is clearly a very intelligent woman who has put in a lot of study time and I think it will be a tough match.”

This also, hopefully, closes the chapter on Bilzerian and his pretend contributions to our game. The only real poker skill he ever had was bluffing. All façade and braggadocio, he has told the tallest of tales about where his money came from. Given an actual role in the game for the past year, all he did was blowhard and bluster while presumably cashing a big check. Then, on cue as the year was almost up, there’s a $100m heads-up match in the works…yeah sure. 

Let’s hope this is good riddance to the trust fund baby who spoofed his way into the poker world. Let’s hope this is the last time his ilk pull the wool over the eyes of a major operator.