Mike Svobodny is one of the most well-known international backgammon players and one of the few true celebrities in the game. In addition to his significant tournament play history, he is considered the most successful money and proposition player in backgammon.
Mike Svobodny is a citizen of the world who travels around to play. Over the years, he has sponsored the development of dozens of promising players. As a director/promoter, he has been involved in events in Cancun and other exotic locations. He is one of seven Diamond Founding Sponsors of the American Backgammon Federation. He is one of the most personable and popular players of all time.
Mike didn't limit his gambling to backgammon. He bets on sports and life with some of the biggest gamblers in the world, as well as some of the most outrageous propositions. For example, in one of the wildest bets ever made, Mike lost $100,000 to a man who had breast implants surgery.
A lot of people have heard the story of the man(Brian Zembic) who won a $100,000 bet by getting breast implants. Since you’re the man who lost the $100,000, I’d like to get your version of the story
Brian is very cheap and extremely funny. Ten or fifteen years ago, I’d bet him ten dollars he wouldn’t do this or twenty bucks he wouldn’t do that. One night in New York, it’s three or four in the morning and we’re walking down the street. He was saying that it’s good for me to get rich, because there’s a trickle-down effect—he gets upgraded from the floor to the couch or to a spare bedroom. I said, “Yeah, look at all the crazy bets we could do now.” He says, “How much would you pay me to eat that turd right there?” I said, “Five thousand, but if you puke you don’t get any money.” He was really tickled to death by this. I said, “Any time you want to eat a turd, you get $5,000. But if you puke you get nothing. Well, you get a hundred bucks for trying.” This really happened. He said, “That’s great. If I ever go broke I know I can make $5,000.” Then he threw up. Just the thought of it made him vomit.
I’m serious. He has a very weak stomach. Then he said, “What would you give me to get breast implants?” So I picked a number that I didn’t think he’d do it for. I said, “I’ll give you $100,000, but they have to be bigger than Martha’s, my girlfriend at the time, and you have to keep them for a year.” He started laughing. He thought that was really funny. He didn’t do it for a long time. But then he lost money in the stock market. In the book it sounded like I was doing something crooked in the market, which wasn’t true. I touted him on a stock, which he bought. It went way up, and I told him to sell it. But instead he bought more. Everyone has different things they’re suckers at. He ended up losing money.
For Brian, the choice between his mother dying or losing $50,000 would be very tough. Let’s see, $50,000 or your mom, hmmm. At $100,000 there would be no question. Goodbye mom.
Anyway, he lost all this money, and when he loses money he goes into this depressive state where he’ll stay in his room and can’t talk. Money is the dearest thing in his life.
So a friend tells me, “You’d better call off that thing with Brian. I think he might do it.” I said, “He’s not going to do it.” If you offered Brian $1 million to bungee jump, he wouldn’t do it.
He’s afraid of cars, if a taxi driver drives too fast, Brian gets really scared. So I figured there was no way he would go on the operating table. My friend said, “Remember, he had all those plastic surgeries for his face.” I’d forgotten about that. He’d ridden a motorcycle into a wall and his face was disfigured; he had plastic surgeries to correct it.
So I went to Brian and told him I was going to call it off. He said, “You can’t call it off.” I said, “What do you mean I can’t call it off? You’re not betting me anything. I was offering you this as a free roll. Does this mean when you’re ninety-three years old, you can come to me and say, ‘Look, I’m going to put on titties?’ Or have them put on after you’re dead, so I’ll have to pay your estate?” He said, “You can’t call it off.”
So we decided to have it arbitrated by three backgammon players. We were going to go to dinner and have the arbitration. Before hand, I was talking to one of the arbiters. I said, “I think this whole thing is a joke. How can I lose this?” He said, “Well it’s not clear-cut to me at this point.” I said, “Why wouldn’t it be clear-cut? If you offer a guy a free roll, it’s fill or kill. It doesn’t sit up there forever.” And he said, “Brian told me that you said you wouldn’t call it off.” I asked Brian if I’d said that and he said I did. So I said, “Okay then, you can do it if you want to. I don’t need any arbitration.” I like to stick to what I say. I still didn’t think he would do it.
The market went down more and more and more. He was in agony.
One day he walked into the Coterie in New York and he was wearing a sport coat. He opened it and showed me he had on a bra with big tits. It was weird. You’re tied up in your own male sexuality, and it seemed so bizarre, it made me sick to see that. It was like seeing a road accident or something. It also made me sick that I lost the $100,000. I offered him $60,000 and he could take them out. He said no. Then maybe I offered him $70,000. He said no, so I said, “Okay, you’re stuck with them. You have to wear them the whole year.” He still wears them. He doesn’t care.
My understanding is the year was up eighteen months ago and he still has them in. Yeah, and Brian is very heterosexual. He gets girls all the time. I heard that he never got laid so much as he has since having the implants. I’m sure that’s true.
The first month he comes over to my hotel room about three in the morning. I’m sleeping and he throws a girl on the bed, takes her clothes off, then he takes his bra off. They both have tits there bouncing together. Brian is not shy. He just got married.
He got married with breasts? What’s his excuse for keeping
them now? The attention?
I don’t think that’s it, because no one realizes he has them. My mother and my aunt sometimes took him on vacation, and they didn’t know until I finally told them. He hides them.
Last week was my birthday and they threw me a surprise party in Las Vegas. Some belly dancer was performing and Brian got up with her and started dancing. He took off his top. It was so bizarre. They’re talking about making a movie about it, so he might make a score.
Source: Gambling Wizards: Conversations with the World's Greatest Gamblers