Casino chain owner Eric Persson and his muscle shirt hit Los Angeles to play some high-stakes poker on livestreams at both the Hustler and the Bicycle casinos this weekend, and things didn’t go well.
Persson has popped up on several poker shows and streams over the past 18 months, bringing his abrasive and bullying style to not only Live At the Bike and Hustler Casino Live, but also the PokerGO shows “No Gamble, No Future” and “High Stakes Poker.”
He vaulted to the top of the poker news cycle in April when he verbally stripped Phil Hellmuth down to his gutchies at the $25K PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown.
While many poker fans relished watching Hellmuth wilt while facing a player who was both running hot and gleefully abusive, Persson’s behavior, which included shooting Hellmuth the double-bird, put him on the shortlist for poker show producers.
And why wouldn’t they want a whale with a short fuse and penchant for trash talk to appear on their streams? Because this is what they get when it happens.
Pocket aces brought the matches
While Persson has had some success playing for high stakes on camera, he had two days that, even for a man who’s shooting to become a billionaire, had to hurt more than the giant dragon tattoo and logo of his casino someone recently needled onto his shoulders, chest, and back.
Persson first got cracked across the teeth during the Hustler Live Casino stream on Friday.
Playing $200/400/800 with a stack of $300K, Persson looked down at two red aces, waved his hand, and raised to $2,200. Both Alan Keating ($287K on the button) and Jean-Robert Bellande ($348K in the BB) called. Keating held 8-7o while JRB sat with 9♦6♦.
Bellande, who talked to another player the whole hand, hit gold when the flop came 7-6-6. He led out for $5K, Persson raised to $15K, and Bellande, with an “oh fuck me,” called.
Bellande checked a jack on the turn, and Persson, possibly sniffing something out, checked back. A five on the river prompted Bellande to bet $45K, which was quickly called by Persson who glumly watched the $127K pot slide away.
With a grimace, Persson grabbed a rack and began preparing his remaining $238K for a trip to the cage while Bellande laughed and bumped fists with his tablemates. Persson’s looked as tired as a guy who spent the evening tearing phone books in half for peanuts.
An ace and a lady lit the fuse
The next hand, with a double straddle to $3,200, saw Persson wake up with AQo in the big blind. When it folded to him, he raised to $18,200, most likely hoping to steal the pot right there. Keating made the call with two black fives. Persson had $237K. Keating, $284K.
Immediately after Keating called, Persson threw in a $20K blind bet.
But Keating flopped the set and insta-called.
Persson made another blind bet of $50K before the turn card was revealed. Keating called as the announcer said: “You can see the steam coming out of his head!”
The river paired the board and Persson, after about 90 seconds, moved all-in by pushing forward the rack with four stacks of $1,000 he had just started to fill. It may have been the punt of the year so far. Of course, Keating called.
And then Persson, down $600K for the night, made that walk all poker players have made — a bit dizzy, a little punch drunk and confused — away from the table and into the night, the bile pooling deep inside, wondering what the hell just happened.
Hustler Casino Live posted the clip, and it already has nearly 200K views
Dead at the Bike
The next day, Persson headed across town to the Bicycle Casino to appear on Live At the Bike. His bad luck and haphazard play would continue.
Playing $100/200/200 in a hand that was straddled, Eric Hicks woke up with pocket aces. He raised to $1,100 in a brand-new Maverick Gaming hat that Persson’s surely handed him earlier.
Persson already had $400 in the pot, so what’s another $700 for a man who owns 27 casinos, even if he’s holding K♠ 2♠ and is out of position? He also sat behind a huge stack of $407K. Hicks had $143K.
The flop came with the A♥ and two spades.
“OK, Eric. This is going to be on YouTube, my friend,” said Persson. “There’s no fucking way you can get off of this hand.”
Boy, sometimes it hurts to be right.
Persson bet $3,100, all the while Hollywooding Hicks, who popped the action to $10K and instantly was called.
The A♠ hit on the turn and Persson, still convinced that he’s facing Ax against his now nut-flush, fired $31K. Hicks’ called after re-checking his hole cards.
The seven on the river barely hit the felt when Persson shoved all in. He chuckled when he saw what he was up against, but the pain was obvious as the dealer continued the game while Hicks stacked $290K.
In that session, Persson voluntarily put money into the pot in nearly half the hands he saw (48%). To compare, Phil Hellmuth saw one out of three flops during the five-hour, mostly six-handed session.
Persson is down $96K total playing on Live at the Bike.
Don’t feel too bad for Persson’s, though. He’s the founder, CEO, and majority stakeholder of Maverick Gaming, which owns 27 gambling properties across Nevada, Washington, and Colorado. It takes the cut from 1,800 slot machines, 350 table games, 1,020 hotel rooms, and 30 restaurants, as well as about 100 additional restaurants and gas stations. He expects his company will soon have a market value worth $5 billion.