Every so often the world presents an opportunity for change and in the poker world that can come by way of ridiculous prop bets. Poker lore is rich with insane bets – living in a Caesars bathroom for a month, staying in a pool for 24 hours or running 70 miles in 24 hours.
Poker players do insane things, not for the money – but for the challenge. Could you lose 100 pounds in four months? Could you totally reprogram your life just to book a win?
Will “The Thrill” Failla won a weight loss bet but more than a hefty score, he won his life back. The formerly barrel-chested New Yorker has a new lease on life and outlook moving forward.
Failla has a second home at Borgata, with six overall wins and his WPT title coming inside the building. He’s been in and out all week playing events during the 2024 Borgata Winter Poker Open.
Uncomfortable in his own skin
“It felt good to become a human again. I was tired of being big – I hated the feeling of being a big fella,” Failla said. He’s shed close to 130 pounds since the bet was booked, “I was always an athlete and now I’m feel like I’m back again.”
“I had a big bet, around $75,000, where I had to lose 100 pounds in four months,” Failla stated matter of factly. “I had some run good in life where I just got serious. I won the bet and kept going.”
Failla looks ten years younger and beyond outward appearances, he’s felt positive changes inward. “My head is a lot clearer,” said Failla. “It’s almost like you get puffy when you’re big. The big people out there will know what I’m talking about when I say puffy.”
“You feel like you’re retaining water, feeling like you’re being squeezed all the time,” he said. “It’s a claustrophobic feeling; I never got used to that – I hated that feeling. Now I don’t have any of that anymore. Life is smoother and much clearer.”
Change begins like being pot committed
Failla used intermittent fasting to jump start his weight loss. “It became easy – real easy,” he said. “People ask me if I don’t eat breakfast and the easy thing about fasting is that I get to eat breakfast every single day – but at 3 pm. That’s all you got to do.”
“I literally didn’t diet one iota, not one bit,” he explained. “I was eating ice cream, candy and cookies; I’m a sweets guy. But because I ate in a short window, I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I kept in that four-to-six-hour window.”
“The weight literally fell off me,” Failla said. “I did some working out and cardio too, it wasn’t just an accident. I changed my whole lifestyle and it’s perfect for me.”
Failla also added cold plunging to his weekly regimen. “I started a year ago and it’s a stone-cold life changer,” he said. “I highly recommend it to anyone that can handle it. I do 6.5 minutes at 35 degrees at a minimum five days a week.”
Fatherhood in midlife
Failla needs the energy of a young man. At north of 50, he has a seven-year-old daughter that keeps him honest with his fast. The proud father is quick to pull out his phone to show a commercial she recently shot for a restaurant chain.
“She was so funny in it,” he said. “I told her to stare at the lady and really give her the Manson lamps. She really leaned into it.”
Failla is focused on putting up positive results in 2024. “I got do something – we’ve been on a dry spell since Covid,” he said. “The last big event I won was the Borgata summer main event a few years ago. I need to be back in the winners’ circle.”
“You never get used to winning,” he said. “I have my fair share of wins under my belt, which I feel honored to have, but I give winning now so much more appreciation now than I did a few years ago. It used to come so easy.”
“I appreciate it more now that I can’t win. I shouldn’t say can’t, I should say haven’t won,” he followed up. “I was winning once every three to six months, you know? Now, I haven’t touched a trophy in three to five years.”
“It hurts, it hurts a lot.”
The hurt drives Failla. The hurt keeps the old pro playing ten-hour, 4pm flights against players 30 years younger. The hurt of being big keeps him on track.
“It will change your life. It gets easier,” Failla said. “I don’t want my kid looking at me like, ‘Ugh that’s my dad.’ I have pride; it means a lot to me.”