I reported my first World Collection of Poker (WSOP) Important Occasion for PokerNews again in 2010, and for greater than a decade, I’ve both reported on or performed every Important Occasion since. Nonetheless, this summer season my 12-year streak got here to an finish after I left Las Vegas early.
The day the 2022 WSOP Important Occasion started, I flew again house to Wisconsin for a 48-hour recharge earlier than heading out to compete in Season 9 of Survival Problem, one thing I’d utilized for and been forged on again in February.
Survival Problem is a Reside Actuality Recreation (LRG), which is outlined by Reside Actuality Video games as “a gaming expertise the place gamers meet in actual life, normally sequestered away from their regular lives, enjoying in video games that are normally social, strategic, and/or bodily in nature, however all the time aggressive.”
To place it in poker phrases, if the precise Survivor TV present on CBS is the WSOP of actuality video games, then Survival Problem was the equal of a mid-major. It was the identical recreation, simply not on the identical stage when it comes to publicity and size. Even so, it was a authentic expertise, as a trio of precise former Survivor contestants – Donathan Hurley, Missy Byrd, and Denise Martin – informed us as they have been among the many most up-to-date Survival Problem forged.
Beneath are some highlights from my journey, which really proved to have some surprising connections to the poker world.
Survival Problem Season 9 Tribes
Chad Holloway (Reedsburg, WI)
Mike Allbright (Wilmington, OH)
Jhorden Tennyson (Marcos, TX)
Jacob Knepp (Bettendorf, IA)
Baltazar Benavides (Philadelphia, PA)
Jason Szczurowski (Linthicum Heights, MD)
Donathan Hurley (Survivor Ghost Island)
Callie Bearden (School Station, TX)
Missy Byrd (Survivor Island of the Idols)
Makenzi Berg (Central Sq., NY)
Kailey Maurer (Encinitas, CA)
Alex Crooks (Omaha, NE)
Matthew Brinkley (Los Angeles, CA)
Isiah Kidd (Davenport, FL)
Matt Kulper (Cranford, NJ)
Molly Gallant (Tempe, AZ)
Javin Drake (Greenwood, IN)
Frances Hawes (Chippewa Falls, WI)
Michelle Might (Louisville, OH)
Denise Martin (Survivor China)
Cameron Daniel (Somerville, MA)
Lauren Martino (Alta Loma, CA)
Julie Andrews (Peachtree Corners, GA)
Melanie Bartlett (Philadelphia, PA)
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Hiding My Career
Myself (second from far proper) on the Aponi Tribe.
Pregame I made just a few strategic selections concerning the recreation. First, I used to be going to shave and as an alternative of showing I used to be 5 months shy of being 40, I used to be going to inform everybody I simply turned 30 (my babyface allowed me to run that bluff). I did this as a result of in previous seasons the older people have been first to go, and in Survival Problem very similar to poker, 40 is previous when competing in opposition to 20-somethings.
Second, I wasn’t going to inform anybody about my poker life, as an alternative opting to inform my tribemates that I labored at a Wisconsin comedian e-book retailer. My lifelong fandom of comics, together with a number of tattoos promoting as a lot, was sufficient to promote one other bluff. It’s not that I used to be ashamed of my poker life, fairly the opposite, it’s simply that historically poker gamers haven’t fared effectively in Survivor and many individuals view the sport as one thing it’s not. I simply needed to keep away from it altogether and are available off much less threatening.
Coincidentally, on the primary night time of the sport, I used to be camped with Makenzi, Jacob, and former Survivor contestant Donathan. As we talked and bought to know one another, 19-year-old Jacob revealed that he labored in on line casino banquets and his father performed numerous poker. Hmmmm.
Chad camped out the primary day w/ Makenzi, Donathan, and Jacob.
Then, Makenzi revealed that her dad was really an expert poker participant and he or she had dealt a few of his house video games. It was about this time I used to be shaking in my boots. Do they know poker effectively sufficient that they’d know PokerNews and probably myself? Did the producers deliberately put some people well-versed in poker on my tribe to attempt to sniff out my bluff? That may make for compelling tv.
Luckily for me, my fears have been quickly relieved because it grew to become clear they didn’t know poker to the purpose the place they’d know me, and as I realized after the sport there was no producer conspiracy, it was pure coincidence.
Title Dropping Ronnie Bardah
The good Ronnie Bardah, a former Survivor contestant.
Talking of poker gamers and Survival Problem, there was a roundabout connection due to former Survivor Islands of the Idols alum Missy Byrd, who performed in the identical season as well-known poker professional Ronnie Bardah, a buddy of mine.
Fast story – years in the past on the WSOP, when rumors circulated that he was going to be on the upcoming season of Survivor (which had already filmed at that time) Bardah was exhibiting two of his feminine buddies across the Amazon Room. Upon seeing me, he launched me to Elizabeth and, you guessed it, Missy.
Given they’d by no means been to the WSOP earlier than and didn’t appear to know poker, I deduced they have been in all probability castmates of his from Survivor, a suspicion that was confirmed when the season aired months later. It was a small connection, one she little doubt had no recollection of, however after I noticed Missy was in the identical season of Survival Problem as me I hoped to make use of the “Ronnie Bardah Connection” to my benefit. Oh boy, did that plan backfire!
After our tribe, who needed to go to Tribal Council and vote somebody out that night time, gained a pair of tarps in a reward problem, some negotiations started with the opposite two tribes. Missy’s tribe, Wabazo, had gained two flints and needed to commerce considered one of them for considered one of our tarps. That they had additionally gained the privilege of giving one member of our tribe immunity on the upcoming tribal council.
Normally buying and selling a tarp for a flint can be a good commerce, however given it had been raining for twenty-four hours and there was no dry wooden available, the percentages of beginning a fireplace have been akin to hitting a one outer on the river.
Chad Holloway on Survival Problem
On the flip facet, it was obvious an enormous thunderstorm was brewing and it was going to be an extended, moist night time. Buying and selling away considered one of our tarps didn’t make a lot sense on a sensible stage (we have been by no means going to get a fireplace with that flint), however on a human stage maybe it might be a goodwill gesture, or so some on my tribe thought.
Lengthy story quick, Missy pulled Makenzi apart and supplied her immunity to conform to the commerce. She then, in full public view of all tribes, made the identical supply to all of us, primarily, “Whoever agrees to the commerce first we’ll give immunity.”
I used to be none too happy, viewing the general public supply as a tactic to divide our tribe. Issues bought a bit heated and we exchanged some phrases that went one thing like this (I’ll have to attend to see the footage to know the precise phrases):
Missy: You guys are going to endure with no fireplace.
Me: Effectively, we’re already struggling as we have now to vote considered one of us out tonight and your tribe has been profitable all day, so now you may as effectively endure too.
It wasn’t probably the most diplomatic transfer, however I used to be shutting down the negotiations figuring out full effectively the Wabazo tribe can be sitting within the pouring rain all night time lengthy. For sure, I efficiently pissed eight folks within the recreation similar to that!
The Wabazo tribe I stranded with no tarp. Sorry, all!
In a lame try to assist soothe the scenario – bear in mind, I hoped to work with Missy later within the recreation if the chance arose – I made a decision to name-drop Ronnie Bardah. I didn’t suppose anybody else within the recreation would choose up on the poker connection, however Missy may acknowledge we had that frequent thread.
“It’s what Ronnie Bardah would do,” I stated.
It was like pouring gasoline on a fireplace.
“Ronnie wouldn’t try this,” Missy shot again. “I’ll name him.”
A lot for working with Missy!
The “tarp” negotiation would finally be considered one of my defining moments within the recreation, arguably a villain second I suppose, however I do know that on the finish of the day if we didn’t have each tarps, half our tribe would’ve been soaked and moist that night time. I nonetheless suppose it was the precise name on our half, I simply want I’d have declined a little bit extra gracefully.
Nick Petrangelo Story
With greater than $24.3 million in lifetime earnings, Nick Petrangelo sits twenty seventh on poker’s all-time cash listing, and second on the Massachusetts all-time cash listing behind Daniel Colman. Given Petrangelo is from the Northeast, and Survival Problem originated in Maine because the Durham Warriors Survival Problem (it modified names in Season 6 upon relocating to central Illinois), there was a coincidental connection.
As I realized after the sport, one of many producers, Andy Baker, really knew Petrangelo.
Survival Problem’s Andy Baker
“I used to be an English instructor and dorm mum or dad at Loomis Chaffee, a boarding faculty in Connecticut,” Baker informed me. “Nick lived on my corridor and was considered one of my advisees. He began enjoying poker again then — and was getting very, superb. He was headed to Skidmore after commencement — his mother and father, each who hadn’t gone to varsity, didn’t need him to throw away his instructional alternative (he was additionally a golf participant — hockey, too, I feel).”
He continued: “So he went — however was conflicted about poker (his mother and father didn’t approve). He was good, although, and on his approach to nice. When he requested me what he ought to do, I informed him he wanted to string the needle: honor his mother and father, but additionally honor his items. I feel he did simply that — graduating from faculty… and changing into among the finest gamers on the planet.”
Certainly, Petrangelo went on to develop into a significant pressure within the poker business, and whereas Baker and his spouse have been and stay “very keen on Nick,” we now know what they knew again then – that Petrangelo is each sensible and humorous.
Nick, when you’re studying this, do each Andy and me a favor and apply for Survival Problem! It’d be enjoyable and provides me one thing else to write down about!
The Chapa Tribe
How’d I Do?
Finally, episodes of Season 9 will develop into obtainable on the Survival Problem YouTube channel, although it could be some time because it’s a prolonged modifying course of. I stay up for seeing the way it all comes collectively. Within the meantime, I’ll share some highlights from my expertise:
I carried out higher within the bodily challenges than I anticipated (I suffered a Grade 2 hamstring tear simply two weeks prior). I had some “hero” moments if you’ll closing out just a few challenges, but additionally one large fail the place I price our tribe a win. Like a poker match, Survival Problem was stuffed with some highs and lows. Michelle, my closest ally, I’ll always remember our time up on these slippery barrels or how we swiftly crossed that balancing beam.
Our first problem because the Aponi Tribe!
My favourite problem was after we needed to get out your entire tribe throughout a pond on two unstable floating barrels whereas grabbing rings alongside the best way. I used to be final to go and deathly afraid I used to be going to battle and let my tribe down, however as an alternative, all my kayaking expertise paid off as I instantly discovered my stability and cruised throughout.
Collaborating in my favourite problem!
I competed in a nasty meals problem that consisted of sardines coated in sizzling sauce, oyster crackers, and a mix of dried crickets and mealworms. It wasn’t as unhealthy as I anticipated (I managed to get a plate and a half down), but it surely was removed from good.
The nasty meals problem.
I deduced that one member of our tribe had discovered a hidden immunity idol and efficiently turned my tribe in opposition to her to execute the sport’s first large blindside.
I used to be part of an unprecedented 1-1-1-1 tie vote, although it finally led to my demise and I did not make the most of a transparent GTO spot (what can I say, making the arduous selections isn’t as straightforward with no meals and a scarcity of sleep. You gave me an opportunity to get you Molly, however as an alternative you bought me!
The Aponi Tribe at Tribal Council
Our tribe misplaced loads out of the gate so we have been pressured to play quick immediately. I ended up being the eighth particular person voted out of the sport, albeit the fifth on our eight-person tribe. In consequence, I survived extra tribal councils than anybody else within the recreation pre-merge. I used to be additionally the primary particular person within the recreation to forged a vote in opposition to the final word winner (who performed nice and actually deserved the victory – I don’t need to spoil who gained for many who might watch at a later date).
My flame didn’t burn so long as I’d have preferred within the recreation, however I really feel it burned vivid whereas I used to be there. I wasn’t afraid to inform a lie, make some strikes, and do what I felt wanted to be accomplished.
The good John Vataha snuffs my torch.
I need to say that it was a pleasure to get to play with Makenzi, Jacob, Michelle, Matthew, Molly, Lauren, and Donathan, and to play in opposition to the opposite 16 contestants on the opposite tribes. It was my honor to be part of such an incredible journey with you all.
Equally, a particular thanks to Andy Baker, Kathiu Dubar, Hannah Fleming, Jenn Gallagher, Bobby Hunter, Evan “Shrugs” Johnson, Ryan Kaiser, Justin MCCoubry, and host John Vataha, together with the handfuls of different volunteers. I can’t even start to precise my gratitude for what you all did to permit me and the others a really fantastic expertise.
Shout out to the Survival Problem Season 9 volunteers!
Survival Problem was merely unimaginable, one which I’ll cherish for the remainder of my life and would completely do once more if the chance arises. It ranks proper up there with profitable my WSOP gold bracelet, and I’m not exaggerating. Whereas I’m used to competing on the poker felt, it was a blast to get out within the components and play a unique kind of recreation. When you’re thinking about making an attempt out for Survival Problem, applications for the upcoming season are expected to open in early 2023.
To all my fellow Season 9 opponents, the manufacturing crew, and volunteers I’ll merely say to you a standard poker phrase – “Good recreation!”
The Survival Problem Season 9 forged & host John Vataha.
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Govt Editor U.S.
Govt Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.