For Cirque du Soleil CEO Guy Laliberte High Stakes Poker is Out of This World – Literally

From a Canadian street hustler who would do anything to make a buck, including walking on stilts, eating fire and playing accordion, to billionaire CEO of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte has just about seen it all. When he brought a successful circus troupe from Québec to Los Angeles in 1987, he was making a huge gamble. He did not even have return fare for the company, but his bet paid off. That original group would go on to Las Vegas, where they would become the world famous Cirque du Soleil. Guy is also a high-stakes poker player, and he has taken his game to levels that are truly out of this world.

Guy Laliberte spent an estimated $25 million to purchase some time on the international space station, and the photographs he took can now be viewed online. He calls himself a professional poker player and space tourist, and is worth roughly $3 billion. And truth be told, if you judge a “poker professional” by his ability to earn a living simply playing poker, the clinical term may not apply to Laliberte. But his love of poker both online and off is such that he created the Big One for One Drop tournament, with profits going to his non-profit organization devoted to global water equality and conservation.

Last July the eclectic Guy finished fifth in his very own Big One for One Drop tournament, raking $1,834,666. With winnings totaling approximately $2,607,986 in live tournaments, and more online, he has posted very pro-like numbers. Sales of his out of this world experience all go to benefit One Drop, and his journey into outer space definitely makes him the first online “professional” poker player to head into orbit. He has recently hinted to a return to outer space, stating that his musings about the heavens began when, as a child, he would lay on his back in an open field and see images in the clouds.

Laliberte said, “It’s ephemeral art in motion. You see something. You look at it. It lasts a few seconds, and you’ll probably never see it again.” He did not mention if he and his fellow space travelers took any time for a few hands of poker. Glancing out a small window, the billionaire CEO and online poker player captured photographs more than 30 miles above the surface of the earth using a Nikon D3X camera. 40 of those photographs were used to publish a book entitled “Gaia”.

Purported but never confirmed as the online player hitting the virtual felt under the name Esvedra, if that is actually Laliberte, he has shown online losses as high as $2.7 million on HighStakesDb. And professional poker players can have massive swings in their bankroll. Whether you consider Guy Laliberte a professional online poker player or not, his contributions to the sport on the World Wide Web and off are considerable, and he will always be remembered as the first “out of this world” online poker player.

Wednesday 02-20-13

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