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September 2022

Scarlett Alexis
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HUSTLER Casino Live: High Stakes & Huge Pots
Featured Article

HUSTLER Casino Live: High Stakes & Huge Pots

Larry Flynt’s flagship card room presents exceptional livestream poker with prime-time production values.

Tucked away in the opulent high-stakes Crystal Room, chips and cards are being laid out for a $100/$200 No Limit Texas Hold’em game where nine players will be buying in for a minimum of $20,000 on up to $100,000. The unique cast of characters includes a start-up investor, a Hollywood movie producer, a beautiful brunette who calls herself Poker Bunny and a crypto whale who just started playing three weeks ago. Recreational grinders working the $2/$5 and $5/$10 tables get up from their seats to watch the spectacle.

Henry Guttman, a finance professional from Miami, raises to $500 with a pair of twos from Seat One. From the small blind, Kane Kalas, an accomplished poker talent and the son of Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, three-bets to $1,900 with pocket rockets. The other players get out of the way, and we go heads-up to a flop of four-Jack-deuce with two hearts. Henry hits trips and barely bats an eye, but is delighted when Kane lays down $2,200. After a smooth call, the turn is an eight of spades, blank. Kalas continues to lead out for $4,500, and Henry again matches it. The river is the prettiest card in the deck, the Ace of spades—a two-out miracle and the ultimate action card. With $17,600 already in the middle, Kalas milks his time before shoving in $6,400. Henry raises all in, and Kane almost beats him into the middle. Kalas shows his winning set over set and drags a huge pot of over $74,000. Welcome to HUSTLER Casino Live, the hottest poker show on the internet.

Livestreaming poker is not a new concept. The pioneer program Live at the Bike! first aired in 2005 and is where Ryan Feldman, a former sports researcher at ESPN, got his start organizing poker games in 2016. Combining the knowledge he’d acquired working on NBA Countdown with his ability to group together the best big-money games on the West Coast, Feldman realized his calling. “Once I started…it became my passion. The idea of combining organizing, poker and TV production and just working with people.”

A year later Feldman met Nick Vertucci, a successful entrepreneur and real estate investor. Vertucci had honed his game for years, starting with five-card stud at the Commerce Casino. “I was 18-19 years old. I had a fake ID so I could play poker more than anything,” Nick remembers fondly. From there he made the rounds at Southern California card rooms, working his way up from $5/$10 limits to $20/$40. Eventually he became a regular on Live at the Bike!, and despite grinding for years, it was his appearances on the livestream that encouraged him to improve his game. “That’s when I started realizing that I did not know how to play poker properly. I took my licks. I was the guy that sat there and the game was built around. But it was the best thing that happened to me, because it literally educated me and drove me to start studying, researching and training.” Vertucci and Feldman became fast friends and eventually formed the partnership that would become High Stakes Poker Productions. When Feldman’s time at the Bike officially ended in 2020, he and Vertucci decided to combine their connections and insight to, as Ryan says, “Put together the best poker livestream anyone’s ever seen.”

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