Los Angeles Times

Building a $1 million poker game for 'Live at the Bike'

LOS ANGELES - One Friday last December, behind the glass doors of a studio inside the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens, a well-mannered but strategically disruptive professional gambler named Matt Berkey reached for a pouch beneath his seat at the poker table.

High-stakes players harbor a curious relationship with money. Those who excel at accumulating it often become inured to its significance. Berkey wore an aloof expression as he upended the bag. A rush of lavender splashed across the felt, 40 chips in all, each worth $5,000, a sudden six-figure infusion into a rarefied no-limit Texas hold 'em game.

The table of seven already had more than $700,000 on board. The additional investment sparked an immediate reaction. A pro named Garrett Adelstein fished $100,000 in chips out of his own bag, raising his own stack to nearly a quarter-million dollars.

Inside a makeshift control room about 60 paces from the studio, Ryan Feldman's feet tapped beneath a poker table that had been converted into a broadcast station. It had taken weeks of planning and seven hours of play, but with the extra $300,000, his vision for this night appeared before him on the monitor.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Feldman told more than 8,000 viewers watching the streaming broadcast through YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, "we officially have $1 million on the table. Not something we've ever seen before on 'Live at the Bike,' or here at the Bicycle Casino."

The game represented the culmination of a marathon of texting and cajoling from Feldman, the 33-year-old co-owner and producer of "Live at the Bike." His task was sizable yet delicate: Persuade players to

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