According to several outlets, including James Guill at PokerUpdate, Tony Miles – the man who came up just short at this year’s World Series of Poker Championship Event final table – has picked up another impossible challenge: reality television.
Yes, It Involves a Prop Bet…
Miles, who earned $5 million by finishing second to John Cynn this summer in Las Vegas, apparently entered into a proposition – or “prop” – bet with WSOP Player of the Year Shaun Deeb. Deeb challenged Miles to get onto the popular reality show American Ninja Warrior and, if he was able to get on the program, that he would advance to the second round of competition. Allegedly the stakes for the are on a sliding scale; Miles has put up $5000 and, if he’s able to complete the challenge in one year, he then would get $125,000 at 25/1 odds.
If it takes two years for Miles to get on the show, then the odds go down to 20/1, still presenting a rather nice $100,000 return on the bet. Finally, if Miles is able to complete the bet within a three-year time frame, then Miles stands to earn $75,000. If he doesn’t get on the show within that time frame, then he forfeits the $5K to Deeb and the bet is done.
Guill does some calculations and has determined that the first task – getting on the show – is arguably going to be tougher than the actual competition. Guill reports that more than 70,000 apply to be on the program in a given year and, of those applications, fewer than 1% actually make it onto American Ninja Warrior. The program is based on a highly successful Japanese program where combatants take on an insane obstacle course on three different degrees of difficulty, with the final step being to take on Mount Midoriyama, a nearly 100-foot tall steel structure that a person must conquer to achieve “total victory” and be crowned “Ninja Warrior.”
Long History Between Poker and Reality Show Competitions
There is a long history between poker professionals and reality show competitions. Arguably the first to make this connection (although his poker might have come after the reality show) was Rob Mariano, who basically has made a life out of reality show competitions. He started with arguably the Granddaddy of them all, Survivor, back in 2002 and has since appeared three more times on the program (and twice on another popular show, The Amazing Race). Mariano has cashed for more than $144,000 in his poker career.
That seemed to start the trend of poker players using reality shows for exposure. In 2009, Tiffany Michelle and recent Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee Maria Ho were a part of The Amazing Race, where they finished in sixth place. In that same year, Annie Duke took part in the NBC reality show The Celebrity Apprentice, where she would finish second despite raising more money in a charitable endeavor than her opponent, the late comedian Joan Rivers. Jean Robert Bellande, Vanessa Rousso and Daniel Negreanu (among others) have all taken their shots at reality television, with varying degrees of success.
So, what makes a poker player a good choice for a reality show? On average, the poker player of today is rather intelligent (for example, look at Liv Boeree, who has a degree in astrophysics from the University of Manchester on the wall and, yes, experience in reality television), which becomes important in the strategy of the different reality programs. If they are female, they are often quite telegenic, something that reality programming is always looking for. And, on a final note, they often can use their chosen profession of poker and its skills to be able to read their competition, something that the Average Joe on a reality competition often simply stumbles into rather than uses from the start.
Whether Miles makes it or not, it is going to be interesting to see how he prepares himself for the challenge. Miles, who has made known that he wasn’t always the healthiest person in his past, has attacked the challenge with vigor, knowing that it will take all his strength and abilities to come out on top. The challenge of American Ninja Warrior is NOT for the couch potato and, if all Miles does is gets even healthier from the training, then he will be better off for it – and who knows…it might help his poker!