PCA 2014: Zach Hyman wants a smoothie
Let us meditate a moment--for a moment is all the working class like us can afford--on the men for whom it's impossible to buy a gift. They are the kings of industry, the Midas Men, the living gods, and the hyper-rich. They are men you don't dare approach for fear you might sully their golden aura or sneeze on their cash. They are a sub-subset of the so-called Super High Rollers, the people who can afford to pony up $100,000 to play a game on a sunny afternoon.
One of these men, Zach Hyman, wants a smoothie. One with a lot of vitamins in it.
If you've just tuned in, this is the first day of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure's $100,000 Super High Roller tournament. Anyone can enter, as long as they can afford to pay $100,000 for a seat.
It's a heady amount even for people with little regard for the value of a dollar. A hundred grand can get a long way toward buying a modest home or a really, really nice car. Or, it can put you in a seat against some of the best poker players in the world with a chance of losing that seat in a matter of minutes. So, it stands to reason, one of these people could have anything he wants, right?
Wrong. Zach Hyman wants a smoothie, and he can't get one.
"We have frozen island drinks..." the table server ventures. Hyman seems to space out a little bit, as if the idea of a pina colada has sent the fit 30-something man into a sugar coma. He eventually shakes his head against the force of the tableside massage therapist's hands. (She charges by the minute, and Hyman's neck is red from the time he's spent in the woman's grasp.)
Hyman is a tech start-up entrepreneur (and one half of identical twin brothers who both play poker). He's been finding ways to make money since before he was a teenager. Back in those days, he and his brother sold candy door-to-door. Since then, they've gone on to create SpotOn, a customer loyalty service, among other companies. He and his brother are millionaires, and with that designation comes the right to have a damned smoothie when they want. Or so one would think.
There is something about this particular tournament. It, of course, draws the top-earning professional poker players, but it also draws people like Lawrence Greenberg, a hedge fund manager who has at times had control over multi-billion-dollar accounts. He's eating a banana at the table and being careful not to drop the stringy bits of the peel on his chips.
Then there's Guy Laliberte, the man who gave the world Cirque do Soleil, a dude worth billions, a man who spends his loose $100,000 bills on poker tournaments.
So, what then of the Smoothie Conundrum. It's something you might see studied in business schools or, more likely, in the Vegas trenches. After some tense moments, the solution appears from the ether. Someone, like a mythological siren, suggests there might be a smoothie place in the marina shops. It's a 20-minute round-trip walk.
That's when Hyman's real talents kick in. He turns as much as he can against the therapist's hands, and looks at the server.
"If you go get me a smoothie, I'll give you $50," he says. "With as many vitamins in it as you can find."
The deal is sealed before another word gets spoken.
While it may be cheap assumption on my part, it seems Hyman's table neighbor Noah Schwartz is inspired.
"Get me one, too," Schwartz says. "I'll give you $50."
There's something very uplifting about it all. Two men, both of whom can afford to own a smoothie store, in desperate need of a waiter's service. That guy made $100.
And I learned something, too. What do you get a man who has everything?
Vitamins, my friends. A smoothie with vitamins.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging