Tyson Apostol has become a Run it Up Reno staple. He's served as a special guest for the regular viewing parties of the hit reality TV series "Survivor," of which he has been a part of three different seasons and the winner of one. He's been a boisterous and vibrant member of the community and the tournaments he's entered. And of course, his positivity and demeanor make him one of the most approachable millionaires you'll ever meet.
Millionaire? Yes, it's been three years since unassuming 37-year-old won Season 27 of Survivor, which earned the Utah native $1,000,000. But the seven-digit cash has not changed Apostol, who is just as crazy and cool as he's ever been. Being a Utah resident, Reno is a short trip away and he's found a second home with the Run it Up Legion.
"Oh yeah this is definitely my home turf. I know all the dealers, I know most of the players, I know Jason [Somerville] well. And last year, I don't want to brag, but last Run it Up I had a cash for $400. So if you Google 'Tyson Apostol poker,' you'll see that result."
Apostol has become a reality TV icon, with over 30,000 Twitter followers and three appearances lifetime on the CBS show. And he has been keeping up with the current season of Survivor as well.
"I love watching Survivor. I like [this season]. So it's Millennials versus Gen-X. The story is kind of about the struggle between the two mentalities. And that story has actually played out better than I thought it would. They chose some interesting Gen-Xers. Because I'm a Gen-Xer, but I probably have more of a Millennial attitude. But the Gen-Xers, so many of them are so physically weak, I'm sure they did that on purpose to show the generational divide."
So if he were a betting man (which everyone at RIU Reno is, of course), who would he place the chips on right now?
"Odds on favorite? I don't know, there's a lot of people. I'm gonna say it's gonna be a millennial. That's as far as I'll go. So if you bet on only every millennial, hedge your bets a bit, you should be good."
As a man with the world in the palm of his hand who could do anything and be anywhere, why does he love Run it Up so much? For Tyson, it's simple:
"The friendships. I like the relaxed atmosphere. Sometimes when I go play at other places, it's not like that. I mean, I like to talk. More serious places, it's different. Here, there might be one or two old guys who don't like it. But mostly it's cool. This is a festival. I come here for the friendship, to see the people I've met before and make new friends. And maybe win stacks of cash too, if I'm lucky."
Poker players have been killing it on reality TV recently. 2004 WSOP Main Event runner-up David Williams scored a runner-up on Top Chef, and PokerStars' Vanessa Rousso made the finals of the most recent Big Brother, just to name two. Tyson, interestingly, came to poker from reality TV, as did fellow Survivor Run it Upper "Boston" Rob Mariano. Clearly there is a correlation between success at the poker table and success on reality shows.
"The overlapping skill is they're both games of strategy. All reality TV is a game of strategy. Even if it's not a strategy-based game, like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. I watch that show and I'm like, 'dude, if you incorporated my strategy you would win 99% of the time.' It's all games of strategy. Even life is game theory! Even like driving to the grocery store, I try to make only right turns so I don't have to wait as long at lights."
Tyson Apostol is still in today's Day 1B of the RIU Main Event, and with the blinds at 200/400 he is sitting on 13,000 after making a pretty impressive river call with [qxjx] on [5hks2h4sad] to take out his opponent's [qh8h] missed flush draw river bluff.
"Are you going to put [my chip stack] on the website? Tell them I'm way up."
Ladies and gentlemen, Tyson Apostol is way up!