On Friday, the viral poker show Poker After Dark: Game of Gold aired its finale, with Maria Ho walking away with the $456,000 champion’s prize.
But Ho was far from the only winner coming out of Game of Gold. Johan ‘YoH ViraL’ Guilbert flexed his heads-up skills when he swept all three of his team’s Round 2 matches, and outmaneuvered Andy Stacks in a game of wills to secure his spot in the six-handed finale. While his hot run came to an end in third place, Guilbert, like most of the cast, was thrilled to have taken part in the show and volunteered for Season 2 before he left the set.
The poker community has been equally enthusiastic about Game of Gold, judging from the reactions that YoH ViraL has received since he landed in Las Vegas.
“It’s amazing,” said Guilbert. “I’ve been in Vegas a few weeks already, and people keep coming up to me in Vegas, telling me that the show is so great, that they loved to watch it. I have people from all different countries of the world coming up to me.”
His time on Game of Gold is the latest step forward for Guilbert, who has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years. He’s a social media standout, with 169,600 followers on YouTube, 155,000 followers on X (formerly Twitter), and 83,000 on Instagram. He has his hands in a variety of different entities in and out of poker, including his role as founder and CEO of Pokerpro.fr.
Guilbert made a lot of noise in tournaments in 2021, banking over $1 million at the Super High Roller Bowl in Cyprus and finishing second in the 2021 WSOP Europe Main Event. He’s taken part in a variety of high-stakes live-streamed cash games as well, including WPT live streams on Saturday and Sunday nights during the WPT World Championship festival.
But in terms of true impact beyond his home country of France, few things have come close to providing the kind of spotlight that YoH ViraL has received from being a part of Game of Gold.
“At a certain point of my life, I was making mostly French content,” said Guilbert. “It was mostly French-speaking people coming up to me. But today it’s way above that, and I realized that it’s way bigger than that. And it’s amazing because I think these shows, especially Game of Gold, are really, really good for poker because it gets so many people excited about the game.
“The players who are watching Game of Gold now can be the pros of the future, and that’s great.”
With so much poker content available in 2023, Game of Gold had a few different elements working in its favor. For the first two rounds, which make up well over half of the episodes, Game of Gold utilized a team format that was more successful than many previous attempts for a couple of different reasons. Those team dynamics were on clear display for Guilbert on his first team, with Fedor Holz, Nikita Luther, and Charlie Carrel, and again when he drafted Dan Cates and Kyna England for Round 2.
“The team aspect is crucial because it builds a lot of tension in every one of us,” said Guilbert. “Because we are not only responsible for our success in the show, but we don’t want to be responsible for busting our teammates out. I think this is way bigger than just thinking about yourself in a poker tournament where you can just spew and feel like it’s just me.
“You can even see that people like Fedor, who are super used to big money and an environment where they play for huge amounts with a lot of stress, even they could feel a bit of stress at some points.”
Should there be a Season 2 of Game of Gold, Guilbert only has a few notes for what could make for an even more compelling show.
“My favorite part actually was when they told us that we were going to play Indian poker and that the last three get eliminated in a heads-up match of Indian poker,” said Guilbert. “That’s so sick, but I actually think that’s great for the show, and there should be more twists like that in the future. I want even more reality TV. I’m a poker player, but I am totally fine with less poker.
“Overall they did like a straight-up amazing show and congrats to Spunky [Hwang] for making this show.”
With his season of Game of Gold wrapped, Guilbert is enjoying an extended holiday in Las Vegas. He’ll be here through the new year, enjoying everything that Las Vegas and the Wynn, in particular, have to offer. His early impressions of the WPT World Championship festival have been overwhelmingly positive, and Guilbert has enjoyed mixing it up on the WPT live streams thus far.
“It’s a huge success,” said Guilbert. “So many players. I love the fact that WPT and Wynn are paying attention to the details. I like the fact that we can order food from five different places directly at the table, it’s insanely good. The player experience is way better. I love this place, and I think it’s the best Casino in Las Vegas. And I think that the World Championship will be great, and I’m gonna play it.”