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Patrik Antonius Gets Crushed as Bally's Big Bet Poker LIVE Launches at Tropicana

June 30, 2023
patrik antonius big bet poker

The launch of Bally's Big Bet Poker LIVE, a live-streamed show at Tropicana in Las Vegas, has already produced some loose action, big names, and is providing poker fans with another entertainment option.

During Thursday's six-hour session, the pros had a rough go of it, while one player — Santhosh Suvarna — whom most in the mainstream poker community likely hadn't before seen, was smacked in the face with the deck repeatedly.

Patrik Antonius and Nikhil "Nik Airball" Arcot, on the other hand, well, let's just say it was a night to forget. The game was $100/$200 no-limit hold'em with a $200 big blind ante, along with frequent straddles. But there were some additional rules incorporated that spiced things up a bit.

Dubbed "Nut Up or Pay Up," the game, more or less, forced players to either play somewhat loose or to pay for it. At the end of every dealer change, those who were VPIP'ing below 35%, meaning they weren't playing many hands, would be required to put $200 into the pot prior to every hand for a full round. Shaming of the "nits" was also highly encouraged.

"I think I stay above 35-percent almost always already, especially a game like this where everybody's having fun," Ben Lamb, who competed in the game, told PokerNews prior to sitting down at the table when asked if the gimmicky game would force him to change up his strategy. "I don't personally feel like I have to find more hands. Maybe I will, as obviously there is some variance."

Brutal Session for the Poker Pros

Lamb, who VPIP'd at 37% for the night, would have a rough go of it and finished with a $242,000 loss. If there's any consolation for the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner and high-stakes legend, he wasn't the biggest loser in the game. That title goes to fellow pro Antonius, who lost $300,000 and then called it a night about 30 minutes before the stream concluded shortly after losing a $400,000 pot to Santhosh when ace-queen couldn't crack pocket queens.

Airball, who showed up dressed in a Hustler Casino Live hoodie, also had a brutal session. Moments after the monster pot Antonius lost, Santhosh was all-in preflop with pocket kings against Airball's ace-king for a $202,000 pot. They agreed to run it twice, and both times the kings held up. It was that kind of day for Santhosh, and also for Airball, but on a different end of the spectrum.

At the end of the stream, Santhosh was far and away the biggest winner at a $361,000 profit. Other big winners included Keir Sullivan ($148,000), Brian Green ($138,000), and Eric Persson ($136,000), who is part of the Big Bet Poker show creation. Nik Airball finished down $260,000 in what was a frustrating session for the young high-stakes grinder.

What is Big Bet Poker?

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The 3,000-plus concurrent viewers who watched the Big Bet Poker stream throughout the six-hour session may have noticed some similarities to Live at the Bike, the O.G. of poker live-streams. That's because ownership and much of the production team and staff from LATB are now running the new show, which launched for the first time at Tropicana on Wednesday.

Houston Curtis and Rick Mahr produce Big Bet Poker, which will be edited for cable television on Bally Sports regional networks. They shared with PokerNews their vision for the show going forward.

"We see Big Bet Poker as not just another stream, but as a brand that is going to expand into multiple cities, multiple casinos," Curtis explained. "As Rick said, this is just the beginning. There's a lot to come with both television, different formats, not just live-streaming, but new TV formats and the expansion of Big Bet Baccarat, Big Bet Blackjack, Big Bet Craps."

Curtis said that poker isn't going to be the only form of gambling he'll be covering. As he mentioned, inside the studio at Tropicana, there are multiple table games set up, "and they're there for a reason."

As for Live at the Bike, which first launched in 2004 at the now Parkwest Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, is no more. Curtis, who took over the LATB stream a couple years ago, gave some details about what happened with the iconic poker brand.

"We did run a Live at the Bike is History month, where we paid homage to Live at the Bike," Curtis said. "So, Live at the Bike, the contract was up. They had new ownership, and they had great guys, but they came from more of a table gaming background and it just made sense to segue out."

The transition, at this point, seems to be going smoothly. Viewership through the first two streams have been strong, especially considering the show is in its infancy at Tropicana.

Mahr, who grew up with Curtis in the wee-bitty town of Centralia, Illinois, is passionate about the product they're putting out.

"We're all about delivering content that is friendliest to our customer," Mahr said. "Our audience has their preferred platforms that they watch poker on. Some are television, some are OTT, and probably no surprise, our audience probably skews a bit older on television. But we're all about serving up this content in whatever format fits our audience the best."

Curtis and Mahr anticipate the live-stream will attract viewers to the cable television show and vice versa. It's early in the game, but if the start is any indication, this is the beginning of what might become the next big thing in poker streaming and television. Big Bet Poker will again air on Friday at 5 p.m. ET with an even bigger game that is headlined by Doug Polk.