O’Brien ghosted by Bilzerian
Dan Bilzerian once tweeted: “My greatest fear is that someone will break in and I won’t be able to decide what gun to shoot them with.”
It appears that a similar indecisiveness has paralyzed the barrel-chested, gun-toting, bomb-making, porn star-throwing, face-kicking, trust-fund baby as he ponders the particulars of a much-anticipated heads-up match versus talented science writer Alex O’Brien.
a ghost when it comes to fulfilling his obligations
Bilzerian had committed to playing a heads-up match against the winner of GGPoker’s special $100,000 Dan Bilzerian Birthday Freeroll on December 7 2020. The tournament was won by O’Brien but exactly a year on, the GGPoker brand ambassador has been a ghost when it comes to fulfilling his obligations.
An initially positive experience
O’Brien spoke exclusively to VegasSlotsOnline News this week to explain the situation in full, and she confirmed that her experience with GGPoker was initially very positive. “GG were amazing at the beginning,” she commented. “They were very supportive and seemed to be pushing it in all the right ways.”
The science writer took to Twitter at the time of her Freeroll win to thank GGPoker for the event:
Commenting on the preparations made for the match-up, she said: “We agreed to play the match in a live setting and I was very excited. I actually put a lot of time into learning the particulars of heads-up because I really wanted it to go well. In the first three months of this year, I got lots of coaching.”
it wasn’t the match-up I wanted, nor the one I’d been promised.”
GGPoker put O’Brien into the Online WSOP Heads-up bracelet event, a nice gesture in the interim while the operator tried to lock in a date for the match. “That was of course very generous,” she said, “but that was a stacked field of the world’s best players. I did my best in it but it wasn’t the match-up I wanted, nor the one I’d been promised.”
In May, O’Brien wrote about her experiences in an excellent article for BBC Future that went viral.
After the Freeroll victory, a stellar team of poker pros including heads-up specialist Olivier Busquet committed to being in her corner. Through this experience, O’Brien discovered how a deeper understanding of poker is transformative to a person’s worldview. From all these new insights into deduction, probabilistic thinking and risk grew the kernel of ‘The Truth Detective’, her new book which will be out in mid-2022.
“I always thought that my match versus Dan would be part of the book, maybe even provide an interesting ending, win or lose,” said O’Brien. “Now I’m not sure that it will happen at all.”
Hanging over me like a cloud
Throughout the latter half of 2020, long periods of non-communication have understandably frustrated O’Brien. Yesterday was Dan Bilzerian’s birthday, marking exactly one year since she won the right to play him heads-up.
“It’s hanging over me like a cloud,” said O’Brien, “The last time I communicated with GG, I told them that I could be available from the second week of January. I really hope they can make that happen.”
If they can’t, O’Brien has another idea:
A litany of flops, bad press and disappointment
It seems from the outside that Bilzerian’s tenure so far has been a litany of flops, bad press, and disappointment, not to mention an exercise in fire-fighting for GGPoker. His only social media post about his signing was his now infamous dyslexic attack of Vanessa Kade.
After his signing, Bilzerian said: “I’ve battled guys from the $2 buy-in to the $200,000 buy-in tables at GGPoker, and will be working with GG to make cash game tables even better for the average player.” It was a wish-washy statement but, a year on, there has been no concrete evidence of any contribution made by Bilzerian to improving the site’s cash games.
the lobby for that game quickly became tumbleweed
In June, GGPoker made Bilzerian the face of their ‘Battle Royale’ format. After a brief flurry of interest in the new variant, the lobby for that game quickly became tumbleweed.
Then there was that Tiffany Michelle Pokernews interview from GGPoker’s WSOP party when he unenthusiastically said “I’m part of GG,” agreeing that he was only there because his contract meant he had to be there.
To be fair to Bilzerian, he did appear ‘patched up’ on a couple of Poker After Dark episodes. Then there’s all that ‘influencing’ he does. Perhaps when you remove all the Instagram playboy’s bought followers, there are enough real ones left over who take an interest in poker. Maybe a few of them even have some money left over each month after paying for beard care products and porn site subscriptions to make a deposit to GGPoker.
In early December 2020, GGPoker brand ambassador Daniel Negreanu hailed the decision to bring Bilzerian onboard, telling us to watch this space for “sick promotions”:
He was right in one sense. Alex O’Brien is certainly sick of waiting for this promotion to be fulfilled. After all, it is a very real possibility that Bilzerian has intentionally run down the clock. If your brand is built on misogyny and you have stated publicly that ‘women can’t play poker,’ it’s very likely that you wouldn’t want to risk losing to a woman. Vanessa Kade certainly shares that sentiment.
If organizing the match is no longer on the cards, perhaps O’Brien’s suggestion of an appropriate donation can make things right. Otherwise, this all feels like a metaphorical kick in the face for her. Although, given who we’re dealing with, perhaps she can count herself lucky that it’s not a literal one.