We don’t kid when we say NFTs provide an interactive space for any community or interest imaginable. Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Josh Wilson wanted to bring traditional poker into the NFT world. This led to the creation of the first live no-limit Texas Holdem NFT community, Crypto Holdem. Josh joins Jeff Kelley and Eathan Janney to share how he used this as a platform to blend NFTs with the live poker community and unlock a plethora of benefits. Listen in and learn more as they tackle the interesting fusion between art, poker, and NFT.
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Josh Wilson Of Crypto Holdem – NFTs & Art Meet Live Poker Community
I’m Josh Wilson of Crypto Holdem, the first-ever playable poker NFT on the blockchain. If I were a betting man and I am, I would bet on Edge of NFT for the most awesome content in NFT. Keep reading.
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This sponsored spotlight episode features Josh Wilson, Los Angeles-based entrepreneur and Cofounder of Crypto Holdem where NFTs meet live poker community with Crypto Holdem digital art and playing cards are carefully blended to create unique NFTs that unlock a plethora of benefits. Josh, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me.
Crypto Holdem brings together great things like art and poker. It seems like an interesting fusion. Can you tell us a little bit about the origin story of this project? Who, what, when, where, why and how did this come together?
My business partners all grew up playing poker and got into it in the late ‘90s to early 2000s. Around there is an error like a lot of people did. Life happens on 43. When I started working, it was harder to find time to play. During COVID, a lot of people are Zooming and hanging out virtually and so forth. I have invited to a home game by a friend and we started playing every Thursday. I fell in love with the game. I had not played in quite a while. Living in Los Angeles during the pandemic was my only real source of social interaction. It’s a personal project in that way. My business partners and I became obsessed with the NFT space. The adoption rate of the poker community of crypto and NFT is high so it was a natural segue. We went from being customers to creators. We thought that this would be a great space.
We are seeing a lot of customers to creators. That is the spirit of Web 3.0. I love this theme of as we get into each new level of tech, people get to be more engaged and involved. I love turning from consumers to producers. A lot of people are getting that opportunity. We used to have TV and radio. You sit there and listen. We get the internet, you can engage and interact a little bit, maybe make some comments and stuff like this. I love that that is part of how this all came to be, the impetus to be a producer.
There is this Venn diagram where there’s this meaningful chunk of poker players and crypto intersect. There is something there. We do not talk about it a ton but there is something there that is probably a meaningful chunk from folks that were involved in the cannabis industry or the PPE space and all this stuff. Something is going on there around these communities. It’s very cool. I love poker, the community behind it and all the fun things happening in the space. Poker is pretty straightforward as far as the rules are concerned. The different games are relatively rigid with it. Are you doing anything on that front differently same? How are you handling that aspect of what you are introducing to the world?
Crypto Holdem: The biggest misconception about Crypto Holdem is that it’s a gambling project. But it’s actually a subscribe and sweepstakes project.
The traditional rules of poker have not changed forever. There are 1,326 possible starting hands you can have in a 52-card deck. Our game is played with seven decks. You got 9,282 and then we have 10 additional instant win final table entities. 9 final table and 1 that is our diamond hands, 1 of 1 and prizes and things associated with those as well.
I love that you can incorporate unique crypto lingo and culture and come at it your angle. What about NFT gameplay rewards and utilities? What stuff can we get into?
The utility is everything for us. Every NFT project talks about community and utility. Our most important jumping-off point was making sure that we are delivering a project that had massive utility. To start, we have three core tenants in our company at access, prizes and education. We want people to have access to some great real-life events. We want to give people the opportunity to win some amazing prizes and then also be able to help make folks better poker players. The education piece going in reverse order, we partnered with a masterclass. Every community member will get a one-month complimentary membership to a masterclass. It’s funded by the project.
We used masterclass because I’m a big fan of their brand and platform in general but there are two poker classes topped by Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu. If sitting through a couple of hours for Phil and Daniel does not make you a better poker player then you probably are already a professional. They are two of the best poker players in the world. As far as prizes, from the launch date, we are going to have a massive prize full. We have $7,500. Our ten final tables NFTs are going to be instant wins. If you are lucky enough to mint 1 of the 9 final tables NFT, you should win $7,500 instantly. If you are looking to mint the 1 of 1 diamond hands NFT, you are going to win $50,000.
We are super excited about that. We are going to be sending one of our holders to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, all expenses paid, entry fee, flight and hotel. We are going to be doing that for the next years. We are going to send one player each year. About half of our community is international so we have a ton of Aussies, Brits, the Philippines and folks from all over the world. We added to an online entry so we are sponsoring somebody to play the main online event because a lot of our international folks were like, “That is a cool perk but even if you paid for it, I cannot fly from the Philippines to Las Vegas to play in a poker tournament. My wife will kill me.” That is something that we added as well. As far as access goes, we are going to be following the NFT calendar. We will be having different events surrounding the NFT calendar. We will be an NFT LA, which is going to be amazing so we are super excited to participate in that event.
What is an NFT LA? Can you tell us about that?
They are putting together this pretty cool conference so it’s going to be sweet. Check it out online. NFT LA and NFT New York. We will be out of Denver so that should be pretty cool. We are going to throw our events surrounding the World Series of Poker as well. We will have a massive real-life event. 2022’s event will be in Vegas, tentatively scheduled for the second week in July 2022. There’s a ton of utility and chances to win, gather and learn.
I got to take a step back and geek out on the poker dynamics and strategy implications of the game. Seven decks, on its face, to me, it feels like the NFL protecting quarterbacks. Scores are going to be higher. You are making the game a little more exciting and hitting more big hands in a world where there are more big cards floating around in the deck. It changes the odds meaningfully of different situations coming up. There are a lot of interesting aspects that will make the game more exciting. Is that part of the equation there as we think about those rules modifications?
The biggest misconception about Crypto Holdem is that we are a gambling project. We are not. We subscribe to and sweepstakes project. Monthly, we are going to have a board reveal. If you have ever done a case break, which most NFT guys are case break. The idea is that we are going to be doing these case break style reveal. We will deal out nine starting hands and flip. When we flip those nine hands, you will be able to see, let’s say you have ACE Jack of clubs. If ACE Jack of clubs is one of the nine potential winning hands then you are going to have an opportunity to win in this particular game.
The board has run out so flop, turn, river. We play the handout and the best hands are going to take down a portion of the prize pool. Everybody who has a winning hand is going to be qualified for a prize. There will be purchasing windows. Let’s say, seven-deuce comes up, universally regarded as the worst hand. For sure, there are going to be some seven deuces floating around in OpenSea because that is not a great hand. When we do the reveal of the nine potential winning hands, you will have an opportunity to go to OpenSea and purchase that if you want to get the game.
We will run the flop, the three-card flop will happen, another purchasing window. The turn will happen, another purchasing window and then the river. What we will do to add a different layer of randomization to make sure we are stirring clear of any gambling or anything like that is then those will all go into a randomizer. One person will take home the lion’s share of the pot and then everybody else will split the rest. We are still tweaking exactly the price distribution but it’s going to be pretty epic.
Crypto Holdem: You want people to have access to some great real-life events.
All the core tenants of hand combinations and all that fun stuff in poker but with different structures altogether.
You do not have to know how to play poker either. That is another important part. If we got NFT people that are stoked and coming over and then we have got poker people, the most humbling thing that has been said to me in the Discord is, “This is my first NFT project.” That is so awesome to hear that people are choosing to get into this game, this crazy Web 3.0 world with us. We are there for those projects. You got to match your hand up to the winning hand and you do not need to be present to win either. We will do a wallet snapshot at the end and whoever wins, will get airdropped their Ethereum and then be good to go. If you are a passive investor, you want to buy a bunch of these and sit on it, we want people to be active in the community. It has something for everybody. I’m excited about it.
We feel like to a large degree, the meta-purpose of so many projects is to bring people into the space. Fun and exciting games that bring people into the space that might not otherwise even be in crypto. It could be their first exposure to crypto. It’s making it super easy buttons to allow people to come in and have some fun. In many cases, they do not even realize they are doing something on the blockchain. Top Shot when it came out unless you knew it was blockchain-based, you did not experience that.
You are putting the credit card down and buying straight up. There is a lot of fun goodness in there that will lay the foundation for exciting things to come in the space. When you look at it, how do you see this project influencing the NFT gaming ecosystem? What do you want its impact and legacy to be in the future?
The hardest thing about playing poker is getting a game unless you want to go to a card room or somewhere. We have been growing our Discord organically and avoided big chill channels and things like that. That is not our style. It’s amazing to have people come in. We were playing a ton of poker and used ClubGG as our platform. People are coming in and excited to get into our games. The blind structure and all that is set up. These are all free to play, with no gambling involved. You could win some cool prizes NFTs, weightless spots and things.
We have the blind structure and the tempo set up so that the tournaments run about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. It’s not a six-hour Odyssey. People have lives, kids or work. Our legacy is that we can build out a project for years to come as a home for people. When they have a quiet moment, they will be able to come in, shoot the breeze with other people about poker, play and have some fun.
You have alluded to some specifics that you have baked into this around gambling, sweepstakes and things like that. There are so many things to pull together with a project like this. From hopping around in the Discord, we got all kinds of fans of the show. They want to put together their project. It’s a participatory community. You got together with some friends and built this but can you speak a little bit about taking this on and getting there to a place where you are going to launch a project? It’s a lot. It can be intimidating to quite a few.
It’s a street fight. I never dreamed it would be a third as hard as it is. The NFT customers’ expectations, this ideation process started during the real PFP bull rush with all these crappy PFPs with no utility. Everything is selling out in five minutes. In the due diligence process, we had our affairs in order, knew what the customer’s expectations were and what they wanted. By the time we got closer to hitting the go button and working with our devs, artists and people that come together and make a project, the landscape had shifted entirely.
The good thing for us is we were focused on being utility-heavy so lots of stops and starts. It is not for the faint of heart but it is unbelievably rewarding to pop into Discord and be like, “This is our project and community.” Having people from all over the world come in there is one of the coolest things I have ever done. We got into it through NBA Top Shot. It was our gateway NFT. When I bought it, I was playing poker and a buddy of mine, Stapleton was like, “There is an NBA Top Shot drop.”
We were doing a lot of case breaking and buying all the cards because we are stuck at home and I got into it. I started learning about NFTs and space. The sweat of opening a pack hits all those nostalgic points for me. I did not even know we were buying NFTs. My business partner, Joe and I spent a small fortune on NBA Top Shot, which is sitting terribly but that is okay. Kenny May is a professional BMX athlete X Games guy. He’s a cool guy and has been in the crypto NFT space for quite a while. Kenny, Joe and I started talking.
It feels like riding a wave. You hop up early, you would wipe out. You hop a little bit late, the wave is gone. You got to play it by ear like that. It sounds like you are doing a good job with that. Given that, we have to play it by ear but it’s also great to have a roadmap going forward. Can you tell us a little bit about what your roadmap is going forward like exciting partnerships or anything that we could keep an eye out for?
Crypto Holdem: The NFT community is not for the faint of heart, but it’s unbelievably rewarding.
It’s part of the other pinch-me moments that we have had. Other creators, taking a liking to our project and reaching out, wanting to get involved. We signed. The process of finalizing a long-term strategic partnership with the Ethereum Towers. It is what we are super excited about. We are doing quite a bit with CryptoDads, Secret Society of Wales. Ethereum Tower is going to be huge because we focus on a lot of real-life utility, meetups, prize pools and things like that. The idea of the metaverse in digital real estate, even as a creator in the NFT space, still blows my mind a little bit.
With this partnership with Ethereum Towers, we are going to be doing some cool things. We have a ton in the pipeline with that. Look out for that. That will be the play-to-earn metaverse. That world is not something that was on our 2.0 roadmap but with this partnership, you will see that accelerated because they are an awesome project, great team, ton of utility there and they are getting into the whole economics piece and all that stuff. We could not be more excited about that partnership, the other ones with CryptoDads and some of these other projects. We were fanboys in the beginning and then we get to work with and it’s so cool.
I could see CryptoDads playing Crypto Holdem. It seems like a perfect fit with their crypto cigars and crypto gin and tonics or whatever.
Dads love to play poker. As far as the roadmap goes, our big focus is on these monthly poor run-outs and making sure that we are providing our holders with some great opportunities to play poker regularly, gather, win some cool prizes and things like that. We have a three-year roadmap so the community fund will fund this project for three years. We are taking the approach with that so eventually, the money runs out. That is the three-year life cycle but if we are lucky enough to get some type of sponsor or something to that effect, that could go on and we hope it does. We already had good discussions with PokerGO and GGPoker. We had a two-hour meeting with their corporate office in Korea. They are great and big fans of the project but as most sponsors do, they want to see cranes in the air. Once we get live, we will revisit a lot of those conversations.
Talk to us about the timeline for a full launch and everything. What can our readers anticipate there? What steps should they take to make sure they can get in the mix?
We mint out on February 22nd, 2022. Come up here and hang a week in a day.
Our original NFT LA date. Seems like a distant memory.
It’s so hard, especially in Southern California running events. I’m sure he experienced that in detail. 02/22, we have a bunch of different ways to participate in a project and price points. We start at 0.20 east so we already are a premium project. We are in the interest of funding that community for that amount of time. There is a bit of investment there. That is our white list price and then it goes up from there up to 0.65, if you want to purchase a VIP role. The VIP role is going to come with a lot of additional added benefits, first right of refusal on the VIP area for our live events, other partner events and opportunities. As we move into Ethereum Tower and start to move into the metaverse, that will come with a whole host of added benefits. We have different collab prices and things like that.
You mentioned the launch date and how to participate, I’m sure we will be lining up. You did hop in the Discord. Our readers that are in that Discord and have a little bit of a leg up, know what is going on with that. The last question I have for you, which we love to get smart folks like your insights, no pressure here. What other NFT projects do you think are inspiring?
I have a few. On a formal level, Ethereum Towers are like paper. It’s unreal. The thought and effort that goes into any project are staggering. If you are creating this space, credit to you. Ethereum Tower is something we are stoked on. CryptoDads, the longevity that they have shown in their community, how unbelievably active it is and how loyal they are is cool. I’m a big fan of Deadheads too on what they are doing, leveraging IP, the different spin that they are taking on sculpture person and the way they continue to innovate with burning, staking and doing a lot of other cool stuff.
I have learned so much from them. Shout-out to those guys. They are great at jumping on Twitter spaces and learning so much from them. We have seen a bunch of these projects that have good utility. We have seen support from different charities and causes. I’m a big fan of any project that is delivering utility and gathering a community. There is one project called NFT Hearts where a lot of that money goes to a hospital that specializes in children with congenital heart defects. NFT Heart is a good one to check out. The money goes for a great cause. The arts and creators of that space are great.
We got those guys through a collaboration with Dapper Dinos, another great project we are working on. I love learning. Each project is unique. Gone are the days of these scrappy PFP projects that are not worth a darn. It’s what people are doing for their communities in ways that are leveraging the space, using tokens as access cards and things like that. It’s awesome to see. It fires us to help continue to iterate and make sure that we are presenting as much value as we can.
I’m looking forward to this thing coming into life and getting some momentum. Our readers are going to keep an eye on it and get in the mix. I’m excited to do that. I know we will as well. Thanks for sharing all that with us. I appreciate it. I wanted to shift gears a little bit and get your take on some questions that we like to call Edge Quick Hitters. They are ten questions looking for a short single word or fewer responses but we can dive in a little bit on some if we get the urge. Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
Crypto Holdem: Many NFT projects deliver utility and gather a community that supports different charities and different causes.
The Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill album.
Question number two, what is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
A bike when I was a kid and I got a different bike.
Question number three, what is the most recent thing you purchased?
Tickets to Super Bowl.
Question four, what is the most recent thing you sold?
I sold Doodles NFT for a pretty good profit. Shout-out to Doodles. That was a good one.
Question number five, what is your most prized possession?
My wife got me a nice watch when we got married. The wedding watch is number one. It’s a Rolex Yacht-Master. She picked it up before the watch market went crazy. It’s a watch that I have bought my whole life.
Are you wearing that now?
I have a different overpriced watch that she purchased, a Panerai Luminor Marina. I’m big on watching. Part of the reason she got me this is because of the wedding watch, I do not wear it every day because it’s my favorite thing. If I lost it or it gets stolen, I would be devastated. This is an everyday watch. I’m lucky and spoiled.
If you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service and experience that’s for sale, what would that be? What do you get your eye at?
It would be Tahiti. I want to want it to take my wife, Claire, to Bora Bora and do that whole overwater villa thing. We looked at it for our honeymoon and it’s expensive because it’s far away. When we go someday, we want to do it right, stay at a nice place, fly first class and all that. We went to Cancun instead. That would be the number one. We will do that one day.
Question number seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would that be?
I’m a pretty empathetic guy. I try to be a decent listener and be able to empathize.
Commonly found in books around attributes, traits and values but not found as frequently in practice. I appreciate that.
If you can cue in on other people’s state and their emotions that well probably makes you a pretty good poker player.
I refer to myself as a tolerable poker player because the people that I play with are professionals. It’s more experiential for me but to be fair, my buddy, Scottie, won the main event. For a hot second, he was the best poker player in the world. My good friend, Maria, was in the Hall of Fame. I cannot hang with those guys.
Question number eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would that be?
My squirrel brain. I’m one of those guys that starts six projects at home and never finishes one. I wish I could be more focused. If ADD was a thing when I was a kid, I’m sure I’d be on whatever that medication is.
Question number nine, what did you do before joining us on the show?
Conference calls. After a long day of a Super Bowl rivalry, it was a jam-packed day as we are getting ready for launch. It’s hectic.
Question ten, what are you going to do next after the show?
Go to lunch. I’m going to go to the Hermosa Beach Pier and get some lunch with my brother who is in town for the game.
That was quick hitters. Thanks for indulging us there. I appreciate it. We are running out of time here on the show but we do not want to break without giving our readers a good idea of how they can follow you and the project and how they can get in the mix. Where should they go to do that?
Word on the street is we got a little giveaway we are cooking up for our readers as well. Keep an eye out on our socials for the deets on that. It would be some fun stuff. I want to get you in the mix on this one.
Crypto Holdem: It’s about what people are doing for their communities to leverage the space.
We have reached the outer limit of the show. Thanks for exploring with us. We have space for more adventures on this starship so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all better. Go to iTunes or Spotify. Rate us and say something awesome then go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Remember, we always invite you to co-create and build with us at the show.
We will unlock in a whole new way to connect and collaborate with us through our NFT drops, Spirit Seeds, leading the Living Trees NFT which light the way to our event, NFT LA, a one of a kind, immersive and unforgettable experience at LA live in Los Angeles, March 28th to the 31st, 2022. Check it out at NFTLA.live. Move quickly on our tickets as they are live and moving quickly. Also, hop on the EdgeOfNFT.com/Discord for the latest details. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks for sharing this time with us.
- Crypto Holdem
- iTunes – Edge of NFT
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- NFT New York
- NBA Top Shot
- Secret Society of Wales
- Ethereum Towers
- NFT Hearts
- Dapper Dinos
- Discord – Crypto Holdem
- Twitter – @CryptoHoldemNFT
- Instagram – @CryptoHoldemNFT
- Last Prisoner Project
- @CryptoGrowNFT – Twitter