Ryan Feldman needs no introduction to anyone who watches streamed cash games. He is the producer, organizer, occasional host, and poker player at the helm of the Hustler Casino Live. Plenty of people might wonder, who is Ryan Feldman, and what did it take for him to get where he is today?

While he is mostly known for his work on poker streams, Ryan also has about $170,000 in live tournament earnings.

We'll start with his first experience with poker in college, then his time at ESPN, and finally, his time at LATB and Hustler Casino.

Early Life

Ryan first learned how to play poker in his fraternity at Temple University, Philadelphia in 2004. He lives in Los Angeles now, on the West Coast, but Ryan is from the East Coast.

First, he saw some friends playing a live game, but later he saw them playing poker online. Ryan eventually joined them for cash games and $20 Sit & Gos, playing poker throughout college.

Temple campus in Philadelphia

This continued when he left in 2007, but it wasn't stable.

"I'd play for a month or two. Run some money up, lose it all, quit. Three months later, try it again."

Ryan left Temple with a degree in Broadcasting Communications, choosing to focus on basketball after college. He began coaching and ran a league in the summer, plus some freelance writing. It seemed like a lot was going on, but Ryan remembered this time as "barely surviving."

Parx Casino opened up in 2010, a town over from where Ryan lived. This became his main spot for cash games, especially when he wasn't working a lot. He started at $1/$2, eventually rising to $2/$5.

Parx Casino poker room – with COVID screens

In 2011, facing some pressure from losses, Ryan began looking for a full-time job and more stability. He took an internship at CBS Sports, which landed him his next opportunity.

Rising Through ESPN and Quitting

With Ryan's connections, he parlayed his way into a researcher role at ESPN in Connecticut. For the first year, poker stopped completely. His work spilled over into the evenings, but it was a choice he happily made.

"Even when I was at home, I was working on ideas because I really wanted to get ahead and be the best researcher. I always want to be the best."

But slowly, Ryan began to play more poker and his passion for the card game grew. His circle also expanded as he rubbed shoulders with pros, which helped with his mindset.

In 2014, Ryan was bored, but an opportunity opened up. A researcher of NBA Countdown in LA was promoted, leaving a vacant spot for Feldman to fill. The position suited his skills and the LA manager even said he would be their first pick.

And so, Ryan moved to LA.

ESPN's West Coast headquarters

By 2015, Ryan had been joined by many of his poker friends from the East Coast. They all moved into a Pasadena mansion together, complete with a swimming pool.

Ryan was the only one working, but he soaked up a lot of poker knowledge from his housemates. Eventually, he felt their skills were comparable, though he lacked the discipline.

Jealous of the freedom his poker-playing friends had, Ryan was thinking twice about his career.

"Over the years, ESPN had a lot of layoffs. So, they laid off the better managers, the managers I liked more and it became more corporate.

It was a feel that was different. It wasn't as fun anymore. They asked for different things. They didn't care as much about the actual product I was putting out.

So, I got less into it, less motivated, and more into poker."

Mind made up, Ryan left ESPN in 2016. Despite supportive parents and ambition, things didn't go well for the first few months afterward. Still, he was about to rebound in a big way.

Ryan Finds Live at The Bike

In 2015, Ryan was playing $5/$10 and $10/$20. He began playing on Live at The Bike, even commentating a few times. Just like at ESPN, a position opened up within the organization before long. Nicole, a commentator, was leaving the show.

It was a lightbulb moment for Feldman. His production knowledge from ESPN, poker experience, and networking skills were aligned perfectly for the job. He immediately knew he needed it, but to increase his chances even more, he took a job as a prop player. The table time would be a perfect way to stand out to employers, who'd come to recognize him at the $40/$80 Limit tables. It was also a freeroll, as he could keep an income from prop playing if things didn't work with the live stream.

"They're always going to see me here, I'm always going to see the person I need to talk to, and I'm going to show them how bad I wanna be at The Bike. "

Whatever he did must have been GTO because Ryan was offered the producer title, along with an ownership stake later on. Ryan purchased Nicole's stakes in Live at The Bike. When he did, their average viewership was an average of 600-700, maxing at 1,500 during big streams.

Ryan Feldman with Wayne and Dan Zack

Feldman took the reigns right before Doug Polk Week in 2017, which turned out to be a great stream. It produced many highlights, like a hero call from Alec Torelli facing Doug's river shove (shown below).

Torelli makes the call here after a lengthy tank

Live at The Bike produced the first regularly scheduled streamed cash games. It has been running since 2005, long before Ryan arrived, but the content was not perfected yet. With LATB's revitalized mix of engaging commentary and lineups, the show transformed. Behind the scenes, Ryan was pulling a lot of the strings.

Things Go Sour with The Bike

Friday night shows started to get around 5,000 viewers and it was clear that Feldman was a driving force for the show's success. He says that playing wasn't important to him, instead, he thrived from putting together the best games. Meanwhile, he was also handling social media and a slew of other tasks beyond the lineups. He started to question whether his workload and passion were being matched by the other owners, who were far less involved.

"I gradually got frustrated, when I was doing so much work, and now we had more people in the group who were limited in their contributions."

"I was getting less, because we get paid in distribution of shares."

On top of this, certain owners assumed they could hop into his meticulously designed lineups.

"Other owners wanted or thought that by being an owner, that means they get to play in whatever games they want – and I would say no because I cared about keeping the games juicy. All of the games were peaking, they were so pure, and I just said, 'No, I can't do it. If you're a good tight player, I can not put you in the game.'"

Even though Ryan thought he'd be good action at the table, he didn't play much. To him, these lineups were his job to create. They were fragile too. The wrong type of player could affect the action, the viewership, and the way the players felt about the show.

Ryan Feldman on the Nick Vertucci Show

As he was trying to keep owners from entering the games, Ryan says a lot of arguing was going on behind the scenes. In his eyes, as he grew the show's popularity and profits, these owners should "step up and do more." This theme was the main cause of Feldman's discontent at Live at the Bike.

Pulling a lot of weight and not getting what he thought he deserved, Ryan made a request to the other owners. He wasn't clear about exactly what his terms were, but he says it was either salary, ownership stake, or more assistance from owners. After offers and negotiation, Ryan received a final offer, which he didn't even respond to.

"They just basically decided that "Whatever, we'll be fine without Ryan if he leaves," or they just thought I was never going to leave. I don't know."

He says that they had sent over a worse final offer than their first offer, without realizing it.

"That was it. I walked away."

A few months passed and Ryan sold his shares to the company, who resold them to another owner.

However, the story didn't have a clean-cut ending after his shares were passed on. Feldman stuck around to organize lineups off and on camera, saying he'd been promised a certain compensation off the record. But, after a few months, Live at the Bike allegedly went back on their word. At the time, he was still earning money for being their prop player, but his mind was on the next opportunity.

"During quarantine, Hustler reached out to me and we started talking. They were really interested."

While most of us were probably online poker-only, unable to get around, Feldman was dreaming up a new cash game stream.

Player Rating
4.5
Players online
2,400
Deposit bonus
100% up to $1,000
Mob. client
Auxiliary software
Other
Regular rake races
Overlays in tournaments
Playing with Americans
Bonuses from the GipsyTeam
Bonuses for active players
Player Rating
4.9
Players online
3,500
Deposit bonus
100% up to $600
Mob. client
Auxiliary software
Other
High rakeback
Daily Leaderboards
Satellites to worldwide tournament series
Bonuses from the GipsyTeam
Access to exclusive promotions
Bonuses for active players
Player Rating
4.5
Players online
500
Deposit bonus
-
Mob. client
Auxiliary software
Other
Play in USDT
Regular rake races
Bonuses from the GipsyTeam
90% rakeback

Starting Hustler Casino Live

The GM of Hustler Casino, Shaun Yaple, reached out to Ryan Feldman early in the quarantine. He was excited to use Ryan's talents and they began to discuss a new project, which they announced in 2020. Nick Vertucci became Ryan's partner in the venture. He was already a well-known player on Live at the Bike and had an income from businesses and real estate investments. Vertucci also founded a real estate training company that brought in an average of $50 million in revenue each year (it's now shut down).

"I was a player at Live at the Bike, I had a lot of great times there. Loved playing there, but as a businessman, and I got to know Brian and we became friends – I'd just bring up some things, like "Hey man, why aren't you doing this or why aren't you doing that, because there's so much meat on the bone here. Just things that automatically come to me and Ryan let me know that there were a lot of decision-makers and it was hard to get things passed through Congress over there.

That was just kind of how it started, and you know, Ryan made a life decision to kind of excuse himself. Because, it wasn't going in the direction his vision was. I give him a lot of credit for that.

Ryan and I have gotten together and decided to really go forward and do something in poker."

Speaking with David Tuchman before the launch, Feldman was optimistic and seemed to have found what he was missing at The Bike.

"We are going to sacrifice and do what it takes to create a good show. Not only are me and Nick putting in a huge amount of effort, the casino is so behind us and they're investing so much into this – they're going all-out. That's the biggest thing that makes this so much easier for us to do this successfully. They going to do what it takes."

The first Hustler Casino show was streamed on Aug 4, 2021, and featured many Live at The Bike stars. The production quality was significantly higher than the predecessors and was commentated by David Tuchman and Bart Hansen.

For their premier event, the lineup was:

  • Nick Vertucci – Owner/Producer of Hustler Casino Live
  • Big John – Regular LA live stream player (favorite hand is )
  • Denis – Tiktok comedian and LA regular
  • Eli Strickland – Real estate investor and broker, also a regular
  • Mike Nia – Owner of an insurance company
  • Pablo – Action player who claims to sell ammunition and hand sanitizer
  • Israeli Ron – Possibly the only player with tattooed on his arm. Ron is a beloved LATB regular.
  • Bear Jew (Eldar) – Another fan favorite of LATB, turning up in many of their highlight reels.
  • Jack Schulman – Arrived at the #7 seat an hour into the stream and owns a sheet metal company.

Everyone held champagne and stood with Nick Vertucci as he gave a speech (including the dealer).

The dealer was cleared by management to have a sip or two of champagne

"This is the first show of Hustler Casino Live – I want to say a few things. To the players, thank you for supporting us. You guys have been great the last few weeks and there are a lot of good times ahead. I wanna say this – and I am not a blow smoke guy – you guys know that right?

Nick gave a heartfelt speach, with casino management, players and online viewers watching

This casino. I want you to look around right here, all of the management is here. Mrs. Flynt is here. Shaun Yaple, the GM, is here. I'm going to tell you something. Without the vision of these people this would have never happened. I've never seen more support for something, such vision. We couldn't appreciate you guys more and I'm going to tell you guys something right now. Everything you see in this casino and this stage and everything – Mrs. Flynt's breath's in this. Her husband Larry Flynt wanted to see this, God rest his soul, but his thing was, he wanted to see white chip games.

I'm going to tell you right now, you're going to see a lot of white chip games, in his honor."

White chips are an LA term for $100 chips.

There was a huge buildup to this show, and game started 8-handed, but the empty seat was filled before long.

The first hand was won by Denis with , beating Eli's on a board. The pot was modest for this historic first hand of Hustler Casino, just $3,103.

In the last hand, Pablo leads the river with a bluff shove, holding on a board. Jack Schulman, the latecomer, had hit top pair on the river with . He tried a bit of an angle-shoot, exposing his cards and staring at Pablo for a reaction.

The last hand of the first Hustler Casino Live Stream

The pot was $27,690, a huge amount for the first Hustler Casino stream. With about $13,000 to call and $22,000 behind, Jack made the call, ending the 6-hour session up $40,215. Nick Vertucci, the new owner and producer, walked away with an extra $3,435 in the Hustler Casino's first-ever show.

Since then, Hustler Casino has been synonymous with the biggest streamed cash games, mostly focusing on Texas Holdem, but getting into other formats from time to time. The show has fantastic line-ups, blending high-stakes poker players with amateurs, streamers, and celebrities. The list of personalities is long and illustrious, just a few years into the show's existence. Instead of keeping the game within the poker community, Feldman and Nick have been filling seats with a really diverse range of players. This includes chess legend Magnus Carlsen and Youtuber Mr Beast, but also big poker names like Daniel Cates and Phil Ivey from time to time. Of course, Tom Dwan, Doug Polk, Phil Hellmuth, and even Feldman have made appearances on the show.

Ryan wins a large pot with an Ace-high river call

One of their recent games featured Neymar, Bilzerian, Ryan Garcia, Jimmy Butler, and a few others, including Alan Keating.

Football, boxing, and basketball legends, a founder of a failed marijuana empire, an influencer, a streamer, and a pro punter sat down for a poker game.

Read

The show also produced their second Million Dollar Game recently, which is another of their famously large games. We covered some of the highlights, including an alleged hit-and-run from a player up about $5 million.

Hustler Casino has had its controversy. The Jack-Four scandal will probably be etched in the minds of every poker player for years to come. While it may have just been a misread from a player who was too embarrassed to say so, some alleged cheating, including Garret Adelstein, the supposed victim. It's a scandal without a truly satisfying end, though the consensus seems to be that lack of skill caused the call, not cheating.

Garrett Adelstein returned to streamed poker, this time playing at the rebranded LATB, Ballys Live.

The world-famous American live regular answered questions from Doug Polk about the scandalous hand, being excommunicated from the Hustler casino, and his future in poker.

Read

The hand threw Hustler Casino security into question for some time. After some PR repair work and investigations, it seems that any negative effects are behind Hustler.

At the moment, Hustler Casino has over 350,000 YouTube subscribers. After far longer in the industry than HCL, Live at the Bike's channel was rebranded to Bally Live Poker. They have around 220,000 subscribers.

Left is the Bally Live (LATB) and right is Hustler Casino