Meet the Players of Hustler Casino Live’s Million Dollar Game

Twelve players were officially announced to take part in the upcoming three-day $1 million buy-in cash game at Hustler Casino Live, including Eric Persson, Rampage, Nik Airball and Rob Yong.

Tim Fiorvanti
Apr 12, 2023
Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau, Eric Persson, and Nik Arcot (aka ‘Nik Airball’) will be included in Hustler Casino Live’s Million Dollar Game.

The long-rumored, highly anticipated Hustler Casino Live $1 million buy-in cash game is official. As announced by Ryan Feldman and Nick Vertucci on Joey Ingram’s YouTube channel Wednesday afternoon, there will be three long days of $500/$1,000 with a $1,000 big blind ante from Saturday, May 27 through Monday, May 29.

The next question, naturally, is which players will take part in a game that seems likely to crush several livestreaming poker records over those three days. While the specific lineups are yet to be locked in, Feldman revealed 12 players who have committed to playing at least one day, and as you might expect, it’s a combination of some of the most familiar faces seen weekly on the HCL streams and a handful of wealthy poker enthusiasts in the mix.

Eric Persson

It’s clear that Eric Persson is the centerpiece for the Million Dollar Game and, as mentioned by Feldman, he was one of (if not the) very first people that was offered a seat at this livestreamed table. It’s basically taken just a year for Persson to go from poker unknown, to flipping the double bird at Hellmuth in the PokerGO Studio, to becoming one of the biggest draws in nosebleed-stakes poker.

The casino owner and leader of “Maverick Nation” mixes it up with his no-holds-barred personality, his incredible VPIP numbers, and a willingness to put in heaps of money in potentially dangerous spots. When he talks trash, he backs it up with cash, and love him or hate him, Persson makes for a compelling viewing experience. Outside of his involvement in recent poker drama, Persson made headlines while playing on No Gamble, No Future and being on the losing end of the biggest pot in televised history.

Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau

Few players have had as meteoric a rise in poker in such a short time as Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau. He’s become a regular on the HCL streams, and his swings on the stream the last few months have been well-documented. Rampage’s successes in poker have happened in parallel with his popular vlog, which earned him a pair of Global Poker Awards earlier this year.

Rampage has enjoyed success in both cash games and tournaments, with his biggest result to date coming in December. As part of the WPT World Championship festival at Wynn Las Vegas, Rampage won the $25,000 buy-in High Roller event for $894,240. It’s been a big week in general for Rampage; in addition to the announcement of his inclusion in this cash game, he was announced as the newest WPT Global Ambassador.

Chamath Palihapitiya

While Chamath Palihapitiya is largely known in poker circles through his connection to Phil Hellmuth, the venture capitalist, and early-days Facebook executive has enjoyed some success of his own in the poker world. In addition to a deep run in the 2011 World Series of Poker main event, in which he finished 101st, Palihapitiya has four other major cashes in WSOP and World Poker Tour events.

Beyond tournaments, Palihapitiya has popped up on a number of high-stakes cash game streams over the years, including appearances on both HCL and High Stakes Poker.

Brandon Steven

Brandon Steven has been involved in high roller tournaments since they started popping up regularly on the poker calendar, from $25Ks at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to the $111,111 One Drop High Rollers at the WSOP and beyond. He first appeared in the poker mainstream with a deep run in the 2010 WSOP main event, where he finished 10th, and has since final tabled both the 2013 WPT World Championship (5th, for $223,203) and the 2022 WSOP $250,000 Super High Roller (2nd, for $2,820,581). He has appeared on HCL cash games several times in the past, mixing it up with potential opponents to be Nik Airball, Prince Charles, and J.R., among others

Away from the tables, Steven is a billionaire entrepreneur who owns car dealerships in Kansas and California, a pair of hockey teams in the ECHL, and the Genesis Health Clubs fitness chain.

Nik ‘Nik Airball’ Arcot

It could be said that, in terms of star power, no one has benefitted more with the absence of Garret Adelstein on Hustler Casino Live than ‘Nik Airball’. Airball, as he’s commonly referred to, has been on a rocket ship of poker notoriety thanks to his on-screen mind games at the poker table, seemingly infinite bankroll, and razor-sharp speech play. Even more recently, for those not paying attention, he’s been the catalyst for one of the biggest HU4Rollz challenges in recent memory after picking a poker fight with Matt Berkey.

All of that aside, Airball should make for some great TV; will he go full Airball with so much money on the table, or will Arcot keep his eye on the ball when taking a shot this big? According to Feldman, Airball claimed that when he sits at the table, with some of the wealthiest people in poker as well as business, he’s planning on covering the table.

Rob Yong

The second casino owner on this list is seasoned poker industry veteran, former PartyPoker exec, and owner of the UK’s Dusk Till Dawn cardroom, Rob Yong. A million-dollar buy-in is a big deal for just about anybody, but as a rumored longtime mainstay in some of the biggest cash games in the world (a “cash game legend,” according to Nick Vertucci), including the recently streamed No Gamble No Future Million Dollar Cash Game, this will by no means be the first time Yong has played this deep with so much money on the table. It might be Yong’s first time on the Hustler Casino Live stream, but according to Feldman, he’s planning on playing and splashing all three days and, if we’re lucky, he might just bring his friend Tony G (Antanas Guoga) along with him.

  • Six other HCL regulars were confirmed to be playing at least one day of the $1 million buy-in game.
  • Stanley Tang, the DoorDash co-founder who is up about $200,000 over the course of nine appearances on HCL.
  • Justyn “J.R.” Howard, who previously held the record for the largest pot in the history of HCL against Alex Keating.
  • ‘Double M’ 
  • Benjamin ‘Blank Check Ben’ Lee
  • ‘Prince Charles’
  • Mikki Mase

Once the 12 names were announced, other potential players for the game were discussed. Tony G, who made his name in poker trash-talking in cash games and tournaments alike, is a possibility thanks in part to his connection to Rob Yong. The aforementioned Keating was also discussed as a strong possibility. And while Ingram’s stream was running, Doug Polk took the opportunity to throw his hat into the ring as well.

More surprises and player announcements are yet to come. What we know for sure, aside from these players, and a commentary team of David Tuchman, Bart Hanson, Billy ‘DGAF’ McNulty, and Joey Ingram on the call, is that the action is certain to draw a lot of attention.