Inside the Room: A Q&A With Rich Alati, Winner of the $62K Solitary Confinement Bet

Dec 18, 2018 5:30 PM EST
Credit:

Courtesy: Rich Alati

  • Rich Alati won $62,400 from fellow professional pro Rory Young after surviving 20 days in a pitch-black room with no contact to the outside world.
  • The original bet was for $100,000 and 30 days, but the two came to a settlement on Day 20.
  • Alati granted The Action Network his first in-depth interview after the bet, openly discussing his hallucinations, what he learned, how he kept from going crazy, and much more.

Sometime in mid-September, Rich Alati sat down to a poker table with fellow poker pro Rory Young, who he met a week before. The two engaged in a conversation that ended up in a very interesting place.

Young asked Alati how long he thought he could survive in complete darkness in a confined space. When Alati responded a month, Young wanted to make a bet. Within an hour, they had it.

If Alati could stay in a room for a month with no lights and almost no human interaction, he would win $100,000. Anything short of that, Young would be declared the winner and Alati would owe Young.

The Action Network interviewed Alati’s father Richard about two weeks into his stay. We also obtained the contract for the stunt between the two players.

On Dec. 10, Young — shocked at Alati’s confidence on Day 20 in solitary confinement — got Alati to agree to a buyout of $62,400, a story we broke on The Action Network. Expenses from the stunt will cost Young another $10,000 or so more.

Thirty-six hours after coming out of seclusion, Alati remarkably played in a poker tournament. But he didn’t share his experiences until he agreed to talk to The Action Network for his first in-depth interview six days later.

Darren: So it was said that this place where you stayed was in Las Vegas. Where exactly was it and what type of room were you in?

Alati: I was in a bathroom in a house in Henderson, Nev., which we rented on AirBnB. We took the bathroom and had a contractor come in to build the room so it was boarded up, soundproofed and blacked out.

Darren: How big was the bathroom?

Alati: It was your standard master bathroom coming off a bedroom in a nice place.

Courtesy: Rich Alati

Darren: On Nov. 21, you entered the room. Something that I didn’t get is, if it was completely dark and there wasn’t a light in the fridge, how did you see what you ate? How did you know where things were?

Alati: So I flew in two days prior from the Bahamas and spend some time familiarizing myself where things were — the faucet and the bath. I’m really good at memorization, so I then arranged the room and remembered where things were. I set up the clothes in one place, my food in another and the toiletries in another.

Darren: And walking around?

Alati: The first couple of days, I pretty much crawled. I was feeling around a lot. But then I got accustomed to it and got cocky and bumped my head a couple times. Nothing major.

Darren: How many cameras were in there to monitor you?

Alati: There were four to five cameras. Some of them were going 24/7, while others were motion detected. Then there was a testimonial camera. That’s where I could talk and it could be heard. If Rory wanted to talk to me, he could talk through that, as well.

Courtesy: Rich Alati

Darren: I know your father and your two sisters had access to watch the camera on a closed circuit feed. Did you ever talk to them?

Alati: My family wanted me to talk to the camera like three to four times a day and I was initially OK with that. But on what I think was around Day 3, I started hallucinating and I was so focused from that day until what was probably Day 10 because I didn’t want to lose my mind.

Darren: What type of hallucinations are we talking about? Because that’s one of the things that people said would make the bet so much of a challenge?