After a long hiatus we’ve decided to pick up where we left off with the Bryan Micon story.
Make sure to read the first part before diving into this story. Micon is a man of many traits and he does not count on just his poker skills. Some might find him strange, aggressively outspoken and perhaps just another degen. The contrast could not be any bigger, even though he still likes to hide behind his degen stories.
Micon, a contrary to Martin Bradstreet who called himself a scatterbrain, has tremendous focus if something catches him. Poker caught him a while ago, but currently there are new things broadening his horizon. In the second part he tells us more about his own play, the 2006 WSOP and a little lead up to what's to come in Part 3.
Micon is now a husband, father, an early Bitcoin investor and never afraid to speak his mind.
In part 1 we ended with Micon selling NeverWinPoker to Tony G. This took place in 2008 and a lot has happened since. Nowadays NeverWinPoker is a dead website and Micon’s friend and business partner Dustin Woolf is in the process of recovering from a serious drug addiction.
“I was happy to shed Dustin (Woolf) after Tony G had acquired NeverWinPoker. It sounds harsh, but in the mid- to late 2000s he was a ridiculous addict, and he will tell you this himself as well,” Micon started.
“The deal was private, so I can’t discuss the amount we got for it, but Dustin and I were very happy about it. Also, Tony made more money with NeverWinPoker than we ever could. They are SEO and affiliate masters over at PokerNews and I can’t give Tony enough credit for how fast and how good he built his business,” Micon said.
Dustin Woolf, with a very serious photo bomb by Micon, interviewed during the 2007 WSOP
“He’s really one to learn from. I know he has this boar-ish asshole image at the poker table, but when it comes to business; he is all business. I learnt a lot from him. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Tony. Being able to talk to him for over a year, that was just great,” Micon says about the poker player who’s currently in the process of starting a political career in his native Lithuania.
For the people who weren’t a part of the poker industry back when this all went down Micon recalls what the NeverWinPoker brand was.
“The NeverWinPoker brand, or as it’s hosted now under DonkDown, was a very brash TMZ meets 4Chan. It’s very dirty, even though I feel like I cleaned it up. The things that TwoPlusTwo deletes go to NeverWinPoker, that’s how it was originally used,” Micon said.
“It’s not actively managed, but I’m sure it still carries PokerNews.com trackers. The content that users are looking for are on DonkDown, with the articles, podcasts and forum. The site has existed in many forms and now it’s back to being a good platform again. I used it just as a podcast website for about a year, but I’m working with a new designer now and I’m very happy about his work. The reason why I took the forums down for a while was because the traffic went down and I focused a lot more on SealsWithClubs. Now, after my wife’s pregnancy, I think I can give it the right amount of attention again, and that’s why I re-launched DonkDown,” Micon said recapping the NeverWinPoker/DonkDown timeline.
Micon’s own affiliate program attempts from the early, and most juicy, days came to a screeching halt when the UIGEA passed in 2006.
“I ran some very interesting affiliate programs back in the days, and I went all in on PartyPoker. In 2006 my affiliate revenue was demolished. I made an error not diversifying and only going with PartyPoker. They were the biggest they were the bellwether. I gave out the free $50 to everyone with a .edu address from my NeverWinPoker flock on a very continuous basis throughout 2005. I built a sick affiliate program by 2006, and that year in particular was awesome even besides that,” Micon said referring to his poker success in 2006.
“I was a live guy, and since I moved to Atlanta I became more of an online player. I played years live before the boom happened, but in 2006 I decided to play out a big trip to the WSOP,” Micon started his own poker story.
“In 2005 I told the GoldenTee world champ, Chris Aebersol, while I was watching the WSOP coverage that I would be on that television next year. Of course he tells me I’m fucking crazy, but at that time I could say that very reasonably. They were filming even all the Stud8 events, and I knew I was going to play a lot. I told him I was going to make a scene down there so they had to put it on TV. He told me I’m crazy, but at that time I had been beating up PokerStars and PartyPoker pretty good at the MTTs,” Micon said.
“Since the first WSOP satellite was available on PokerStars, which was towards the end of 2005, I grinded those every day. I won $1,500 seat after $1,500 seat, my $10k Main Event seat and in the end I had a total of $30,000 worth of WSOP tickets for that year. During that summer I used up every single Harrah’s comp I had every collected and stayed at the Rio for a month and a half for $800. Eventually I ended up getting the biggest part of that comped off as well. So I played this out perfectly, months and months in advance. Winning those seats was so important, but the first four weeks I only cashed once,” Micon said as the first part of the series did not go well at all.
“I started to run low on money and then I final tabled a $2,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament. The first place prize was $830,000 and the bracelet, and I was ready for it. On Day 3 I had a huge drunken rail and get it in kings versus ace-king for 30% of all the chips. Yes, ICM was not a thing back then,” Micon laughed.
“I lose the hand and cash $74,000, which is obviously a great score for someone running low on money in Las Vegas. That final table was filmed, so I was sure I was going to be on TV already. I called him and said, “Motherfucker! I final tabled a tournament, I took a huge beat and I had a big drunk rail. They have to put me on TV” Micon said recalling his excitement from that experience.
“It turns out that this final table was never shown. They decided to show two hours of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. and my final table is probably on the floor somewhere in Matt Marantz’s office right now,” Micon said, clearly a bit disappointed he never got to see himself in action.
“From that $74,000 I ended up wiring $50,000 back home into my bank account. I already had the $10,000 Main Event seat from qualifying online, so there was no need to keep all the money there. In the Main Event I had a very deep run and finished 63rd for a quarter of a million doing the Thriller Dance on national TV. All my friends texted and called me when they saw that on TV, that was awesome,” Micon said with pride and joy still clearly present in his voice.
Bryan Micon performing his Thriller Dance during the 2006 WSOP Main Event
Things were a lot different back in 2006 and Micon compares what he went through back then with the current state of this event.
“They know how to run the WSOP and they even know what type of crowds their getting. In 2006 they didn’t know what the fuck was going on. Nobody knew, the floor men didn’t know, and the same goes for all the other people. In some tournament all of a sudden there were two million extra chips, and nobody knew how that happened. During the Main Event 8,000 players showed up and people were playing next to Buzios (A restaurant in the Rio, far removed from the Amazon Room). I think PokerStars shipped 2,000 players towards the Main Event that year, and it was a shit storm. I remember there being a picture of Norm McDonald passed out in a hallway somewhere with a NeverWin hat on. That’s how crazy the 2006 WSOP was,” Micon laughed.
“There was definitely a sense of, “What the hell is going on here?” when you were in the Rio. Even ESPN had no idea how to film the tournament. In that year people were screaming in Level 1, dressed up in clown suits, and one in every nine players had the holographic Fossilman glasses on. I guess I didn’t have much to compare it to, but if the same shit that happened back then happens next year I would have so many SnapChats, Vines and podcasts to do,” Micon added.
“The best shit that happened at the tables on those first days in 2006 was not captured. There were $50,000 bowling matches that year, and ESPN went to players’ houses to shoot crazy items,” Micon said.
“In that year there were so many drunken nights that just ended in complete craziness. I used NeverWin, at that time, to tell some of those stories because there was no Twitter, Vine or Instagram to instantly share all your shenanigans. I remember all the stuff surrounding Brandi Hawbaker, Mark Newhouse losing tens of thousands of dollars at shuffleboard and our Russian friend Eugene who could drink a tall glass of Vodka, like 8 oz., in one shot. He could do that shit, and people would always bet against him,” Micon said as his mind clearly drifted back to those days.
During those years more and more poker players became sponsored by the big websites but Micon never wore a patch other than his beloved NeverWinPoker.
“I thought that there was equity in being a zany guy on TV playing poker. The way that I saw is that in 2001 I tried to play poker in order not to work, in 2002 it didn’t go so well and in 2003 I was like, “Holy shit, look at this,” when the Moneymaker thing happened. I was still just skanking around online, but after that I realized that poker was it,” Micon said about the financial opportunity poker created.
Bryan Micon during the 2006 WSOP Main Event
“After seeing the 2004 and 2005 coverage I realized that they were just slapping the sponsorships on you if you did something on TV. PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute, UB, there were a lot of entities that you wanted to show for back in those days. I’m not sure exactly what the status of Absolute and UB was in those days, but I know that PokerStars and Full Tilt were paying out huge in those years. For that final table I made, that ended up not being broadcasted, some guy from Full Tilt offered me $20,000 to wear their patch. I denied it because I really wanted to make something happen with NeverWin and I wanted to show off my website. I was already guaranteed to make $74,000 at that final table and $20,000 didn’t sound like much to me, as I wanted to promote NeverWin. I wore the patch, but unfortunately it never aired,” Micon sighed as he missed out on some free money but he also felt good trying to market his own website.
A sponsorship never happened and as time went on Micon stopped traveling the poker circuit. Where many players consider themselves tournament grinders Micon is probably better off considered a WSOP grinder.
“Now I only play the WSOP, that’s the only real thing to me. Now that my wife and I have a kid and I’m also working a lot for SealsWithClubs it has become even more of a thing to just play in Vegas. If you add up my ROI post 2006 I’m up a lot, so I’m happy with that. In 2009 made a H.O.R.S.E. final table and in total I have quite a few cashes,” Micon said about his list of results that might look bleak to some of the world traveling poker players out there.
As we all know the life of a poker player comes with big swings and a constant battle for independence. Micon sold some shares of his own and still does.
There have been times when I was completely staked, like in 2010 for instance, in 2006 I traded some pieces and this year I sold some action. Every year now, when I sell pieces, I put up a public sheet so everyone can see what I’m selling for and how much. I like to call it, “The Anti-TJ law of 2006,” because there are stories of him (TJ Cloutier) overselling at the WSOP that year,” Micon said taking a jab at six-time bracelet winner.
“In 2013, with the baby and my SealsWithClubs work, I decided to put up $20,000 of my own money and played 27 events and buy-ins totaling around $60,000. I had three cashes this year for $10,000 total and no mixed game cashes, which was very disappointing. Next year I think I’ll do a similar thing and especially since a lot of people in the Bitcoin community like to bet some coins that could turn into US dollars. I’m totally addicted to the World Series, I’ll fully admit that, so if I can fire more next year I’ll do that for sure. I’m a degenerate gambler,” Micon closed out with.
On Thursday, in the final part of this interview series, Micon speaks very openly about his Bitcoin success, SealsWithClubs poker and his fued with Bitcoin mining company Butterfly Labs.
Frontpage photo credit: PokerNews.com