Luke Vrabel
'Slaymerica' Speaks His Mind About the 2017 Colossus Controversy!
Full audio of this interviewHERE

It’s what dreams are made of, the winner turning a measly $565  into a million bucks? Only in America right? More than 18,000 ponied up that $565, including our guest today, who managed to navigate the field and make the final table. What a feat! It should have been one of the happiest day of his life but somehow it turned sour and now he’s quitting the WSOP for good! A Colossus Controversy. Our guest today has more than 500k in live tournament earnings, he’s won the largest ever Sunday Million for $700k and a Lamboughini, and he came oh so close to a WSOP bracelet the other night. Luke Vrabel, the Prince of Degens & @slaymerica on twitter, welcome to the show man. Thanks for being our High Roller today.

LV: Thank-you, it's good to be here.

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Luke Vrabel Interview

High Roller Radio has interviewed some of the greatest gamblers, casino insiders, sports bettors, authors and poker players. Here, our interview with Luke Vrabel, who has $500,000 in live tournament earnings and won the largest ever Sunday Million. Vrabel made the final table of the 2017 WSOP Colossus but it all turned sour!


Q: Okay before we talk about what happened at the Colossus final table, congrats by the way, a ridiculous feat at the end of the day, you’re obviously an accomplished player and a good player. I'm wondering how you would describe yourself as a poker player? What are your strengths & what games do you play?

LV: Well, I always played online tournaments back in the good old days when poker was soft and easy. Recently I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal issues, so I wouldn’t say that I’m a grinder to the max, like I used to be, but I’ve tried to embrace it and I’ve tried to rediscover my purpose and passion for the game. I’ve been really trying to do that the past couple of years, mostly this year honestly, where I’ve found my love for the game again and discovered more success than I've had in other years.

Q: Running down the Hendon Mob database, your last few scores have been substantial. You just won $80,000 from the Colossus, your largest live score ever?

LV: I’m thrilled about the score. I’ve always struggled in live poker. I don’t know why. The anxiety in my head maybe? So it was great to make a run in a WSOP event for once. It’s just too bad that it was ruined by a floor man with a vendetta.

Q: You’ve been on fire on twitter the past few days. You got 9th place in the Colossus, most people can only dream about the kind of showing. You win 80k. It was an amazing run and you should be over the moon but that’s not the case. What happened man?

LV: With 10 players left in the tournament a big rail had amassed. Everyone was watching. There were tons of people in the room. This floor man was about as unprofessional as you could ever imagine. He cusses at the players and won’t do his job if you ask him to. There's a litany of issues, I’ve read about, that other people have had with him. He had never given me an issue in the past. I’ve seen him around and I really didn’t know what his problem was but he never fucked with me so I didn’t really have a problem with him. At the beginning of the day, I said to him, "This is very important. There are 41 players left and at 36 there is a pay jump. We all need to know how many players are left in the tournament?" You ask him that question you’d think he’d say, ‘Oh sure, no problem.’ He was instantly combative. He said, ‘I’m freaking busy. Wait til I’m done with this and then I’ll update the clock.’ So, that was the first issue I had with him. The rest of the day went smoothly. I was having the time of my life. I never had that much fun playing poker, live or online. It was a thrill that I can’t even describe. I love poker. I love the WSOP. I love playing the WSOP every year, and every year I lose. This was going to be my freaking moment, you know. In live poker you only get so many shots. Online you can fire 10,000 tournaments a year. In live poker you’re limited to one a day and you’re not going to play everyday, so you have very few opportunities, especially to win $1 million. As we got down to 10 players a bunch of people on the rail had started being a little loud. I was getting distracted by them so I politely asked the TD, ‘Can you please tell these people to be quiet.’ He said, ’No problem.’ He went up to them and asked them to be quiet and I thought that would be the end of it. About five minutes later they were being loud again. I simply said, ‘Listen, you guys need to quiet down. You’re distracting me at this very important moment in my life.’ These people continued to antagonize me saying ‘You’re loud.’ I am a very loud guy. I am also 80% deaf in one of my ears. I don’t yell for fun. I yell because I can’t hear myself. There’s a little back-and-forth and I say, "I’m allowed to be loud. I’m playing in this fucking tournament. You’re on the rail, keep yourself quiet." If you look at the rules of the WSOP, and I’ve been that guy antagonizing someone from the rail, okay, I know the rules. If you antagonize someone form the rail they give you one warning and then they kick you out. So, I finally sit back down and think that’s the end of it. Nope! Matt Affleck’s girlfriend continues trying to antagonize me. She was making comments about me. I said to the TD he should have these people removed. "Have these people removed!" You now what he said to me? He said, ’They did nothing wrong, you need to sit down in your seat and deal with it. I’m not kicking anyone out." At this point, I’m appalled. I stood up and started giving a speech about it. If I was freaking Daniel Negreanu, or whoever the hell else, there’s no way they’d be treated like this. There’s no way i should have to listen to this woman speak to me that way as I’m trying to play hands. She continues to make noise with her friends. At some point, I ask her to stop speaking to me. "Do not speak to me." The floor goes on his own personal rampage and says, "You sit down. I’m calling security on you." He flanks me with two security guards. I’m sitting there, at what should the most joyous moment in my life, with two security guards flanking me. I was so happy the whole day, anyone can attest to that, it was the happiest I’d ever been. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there surrounded by two security guards just so this woman can continue to antagonize me. She’s on the rail continuing to make comments. I said to security, “Are you going to stop her?” They do nothing. I got up and said, "Please be quiet." They tell me to sit down in my fucking chair. While I’m playing for a million dollars? I’m seething with rage. I go on break.  When others on the rail stuck up for me telling the floor man, "Hey, why don’t you do your job?” He said, “I would but that guy is an asshole.” He said that within earshot of my own friends. My friends heard this from him. As the day progresses, people keep doubling up, my stack dwindles, but we do make the final table. With nine left I’m happy but I’m also disgusted by how horribly I’ve been treated. I’ve never felt so sad in my life. There’s a picture of me and I look miserable, like all the fun and happiness had been drained from me. I asked the floor man  if he was going to call me an asshole to my face. One on one, I didn’t say it in front of people, I said, “Are you going to all me an asshole to my face?” He says to me, “I didn’t say that, you’re a liar. If you speak to me again I’ll put a penalty on you for the final table.” Imagine? This is when play was already done for the day and he’s threatening to give me a penalty just for speaking to him. He is the only floor man there was there. How is that fair? How is that equitable? I just sat there and played because I knew the moment. I wasn’t going to let someone tilt me in that moment. Given the situation though, I can’t imagine that I played my ‘A’ game, not even close, with two security guards flanking me and this guy making it about him and turning everyone against me. He was playing favourites with the field basically, fucking with my life and my equity in a moment that I’ve been waiting ten years for. I find out more things about this guy later on, that he was texting with people and showing other players at the final table his cellphone. He was getting text messages from I don’t know who. It’s a major violation of gaming board regulations and he took a huge abuse of power just to fuck with me because I’m loud, I speak out and I don’t take people’s shit. It’s a horrible violation of the ethics of the game. The last few days, I have been filled with most emotions. I’ve been angry. I’ve been sad. I’ve been happy because I have eighty-grand in my pocket, I’m in Vegas and I don't have to work. I can’t play there anymore, not with the way I was treated. It was truly disgusting. I don’t even think my description was good enough to really explain how awful it was and how awful I was treated.

Q: The juxtaposition seems incredible. Here you are, you’ve navigated a field thousands and thousands strong, and you’re for a million dollars, a bracelet and you’re at the final table of the Colossus. You’re in the biggest moment of your poker life and you’re distracted the crowd. It seems like the rail turned on you and what you’re saying is the floor man played favourites?

LV: It’s preposterous. Even if I’m the worst guy in the room no spectator should be allowed to say a single word to people at the final table. These are the rules they had for nightly events. I’ve been on the rail before. I get drunk, I get a little loud, they tell me to please be quiet and I respect that. I apologize. If I do something again? They kick me out. That’s how it works. This isn’t rocket since. When it comes down to the WSOP they don’t even have anyone above him running the show and it’s a complete disrespect to all their customers. I asked to speak to Polansky. I asked to speak to Effel. This floor man laughed in my face. He said, ‘You think Polansky is here for this? You think Jack Effel is here for this?” Like we’re just a bunch a freaking pieces of shit there to pay the rake, like our tournament doesn’t even freaking matter. It’s disturbing stuff and I won’t play there anymore.

Q: I’m surprised too, because it is one of their marquis events. The WSOP promotes it heavily. It wasn’t on the feature table or the PokerGo live stream as it was last year for free. You’re telling me the space they allotted for the rail was quite small. It was tight quarters?

LV: There was no introduction at the final tabs. There was no ‘Congratulations, you made it!’ You know? We made it through 19,000 people. It was sit the fuck down and play. There was 20 seats available for nine players’ rail so Daniel Negreanu could film his freaking TV show. We had no seating. Everyone flew their people out, they had all their people there, and nobody even had a place to sit. It was disturbing man. 

Q:  You posted a link to your Facebook page and on twitter. Quote: "WHY IM QUITTING THE WSOP.  From my heart. Luke posted about it not slaymerica ... thanks to anyone who reads." I read it man, a lot of passion. Why the need to lay it out there for all to see?

LV: Yes, because it’s not about me. It’s about every player that goes to the World Series of Poker every year and does’t get a fair shake. I’ve been that player in the past, not to this extent, but you show up and they treat you like a number if you’re not big time. If you’re ‘Big Time’ they bow to your feet. It’s not about me. I already knew about the WSOP, that it was scum. It does’t matter. But, it had never come and bit me in the ass like this before. The reason I made that post is because I feel strongly that I can’t play there anymore. Sure, there’s a damn good chance I’ll cave and play the main event but I will not play another event this summer under any circumstances. Even if they fire that guy. Even if they beg me to come back. There’s no shot I’m playing. It’s not about me! It’s about all the other players who have been disrespected in that event because everyone at that final table agrees with me; the WSOP treated us like shit. Everyone is too scared to speak out because they think they’ll be blackballed.

Q: Let me quote from you Facebook post, you write, 'My enjoyment of the moment and my equity was ripped away in the biggest spot of my life. WSOP had about 20 seats for the fans of people looking to watch their friends play for 1 million dollars because they had the main stage occupied to film a TV show for more profits. The world series treats all players NOT ONLY ME like shit, unless you have a big name or were a big deal in live poker in ’05!’

LV: That speaks for itself. I agree with every word and I speak from the heart. I’ll double down on it. 

Luke Vrabel Thank-you!