During last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP), a rumor began to circulate that GGPoker ambassador Dan Bilzerian would take on billionaire Alec Gores in an unprecedented $100,000,000 heads-up poker match.
Bilzerian has since said Gores is stalling, so the future of the match remains in doubt. If it does actually happen, Bilzerian could find himself squaring off with an NFL owner.
The 69-year-old Gores, an Israeli billionaire who founded the private equity firm The Gores Group and made much of his fortune through leveraged buyouts of technology firms, is apparently in the market for a sports franchise.
According to several mainstream news outlets, such as The Los Angeles Times, Gores is a candidate to purchase the Denver Broncos alongside business partners Dean Metropoulos, 75, and Mat Ishbia, 42. The trio is partners in an investment group with a combined net worth of $10 billion.
The Broncos, who recently hired Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach, was put up for sale at the end of January and has been valued at $3.8 billion by Sportica. That is considerably more than the last sale of an NFL team – the Carolina Panthers sold for $2.3 billion in 2018.
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Alec Gores & a History of Poker
According to gores.com, Alec Gores holds a degree in computer science from Western Michigan University and “is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Gores Group, a global investment firm focused on acquiring controlling interests in mature and growing businesses which can benefit from the firm’s operating experience and flexible capital base.”
With a portfolio that includes over 20 companies around the world with combined annual revenues of over $7 billion, Gores’ business accomplishments are well-documented. Something that isn’t is his affinity for poker.
Gores allegedly beat Texas banker Andy Beal, the subject of the classic poker book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time, out of a purported $50 million. He was also a frequent player in “Molly’s Game,” a high-stakes celebrity poker game that included Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Houston Curtis.
Gores was eventually caught up in the fallout from that game when hedge fund manager Brad Ruderman used money from defrauded investors in a $25 million Ponzi scheme in the game. Players in the game, Gores included, won some of that money, so when the law got involved they came looking to recoup the illegally-obtained funds.
Among those sued were Gores and actor Tobey Maguire, who allegedly won $445,000 and $311,000 respectively. While Maguire fought the case, Gores settled for a rumored 45 cents on the dollar while admitting no wrongdoing.
“It’s not worth Alec’s time,” a source told GQ Magazine in a 2012 article. “He’s running funds with $4bn under manage¬ment, so it’s not worth the legal fees.”
In his book, Bilzerian said he first met Gores when the billionaire reached out on social media about facing each other for massive stakes. They initially met up at the multibillionaire’s $50 million Bel Air home for a $2,000/$4,000 no-limit hold’em battle, both buying in for $500,000. Bilzerian claimed to have won $1.6 million in that first match, which would be their first of many.
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In his autobiography, The Setup, Bilzerian outlined a long history of playing poker against Gores for vast amounts of money. The latter apparently took exception to being publicly named, and Bilzerian shared on various podcasts that the billionaire was so upset he challenged him to a heads-up match.
“That guy Alec [Gores], he saw my podcast and he text me, I said I beat him for like $40-$50 million, and he’s like, ‘oh, the number wasn’t that high,’” Bilzerian said on the podcast. “He’s like, ‘I wanna play you heads-up, let’s see who has the bigger balls for $25 million apiece.”
Bilzerian wanted to up the ante to $50 million each, and Gores apparently agreed. Bilzerian immediately wired the money to ARIA, and since late 2021 has been waiting on Gores to do the same. In his book, Bilzerian claimed to have taken for more than $40 million over the years.
Whether or not the match actually comes to fruition is anyone’s guess, but with a potential NFL buy looming, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Gores steer clear of anything controversial, such as the largest heads-up poker match in history against “The King of Instagram.”
Here is Bilzerian talking about the proposed match on the IMPAULSIVE Podcast:
If Gores, whose spokesman declined comment to media requests, does buy the Broncos it wouldn’t be his family’s first foray into professional sports. His brother, Tim, currently owns the Detroit Pistons of the NBA.
However, Gores’ path to becoming an NFL owner won’t be easy. Reports indicate NFL legends and former Broncos Peyton Manning and John Elway are interested in becoming at least minority owners, while Byron Allen, a comedian-TV-host-turned-media-executive, issued a statement he is hoping to become the new owner, which would make him the first black owner of an NFL franchise.
Here’s more on the story from CBS Denver:
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