888poker’s new 888Ride podcast invites Ali Nejad into the hot seat. Most people recognise Ali as an accomplished poker TV commentator and personality with several WSOP appearances under his belt.

In this 888Ride, we delve into the man behind the camera and learn what gets him up in the mornings. He shares how a tragedy early in life has shaped his gratitude for all things—good and bad.

We also get insight into his “side jobs” of hosting private games and day trading and how he got his start in poker.

Check out the full-length Ali Nejad podcast HERE.

Living an Absurdly Good Life

Ali may be 45 going on 46, but the single life with no kids has afforded him the ability to act like “a goofball, like a kid at heart”.

The private jets and "self-indulgent, look at me while my life's so great" are primarily the result of his foray into day trading. Having been highly leveraged in Draft Kings' stock, he recently decided that he'd made his money on it and that it was time to move on.

But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses when he first hit the trading floors:

“I put $50K at a time, like six different times, into my account. And I ran it down to $18,000. I was like despondent. I was like, it's rigged. It's whatever. And then I turned the corner. And that's when things kind of, the green candles started going my way.”

Enough Pie to Go Round

When it comes to the poker commentary side of his multifaceted career, Ali has been hosting in front of a camera somewhere since he was 17 years old. 

It’s a massive part of who he is. However, when people try to pit and compare his style partnered with Nick Schulman to the excellent WSOP tag team of Norman Chad and Lon McEachern, he “doth” protest.

“You know, I don't drum up or incite any of that rhetoric every time the World Series comes around…You know, we're gonna be deeper into our careers, and maybe there will grow some distaste for the brand of comedy or approach to commentary that we have.”

“And by the way, that's not a unilateral sentiment towards Lon and Norm by any stretch of the imagination. There are a lot of people who are all about what they do and are not at all about what Nick and I do. And we're very different.”

“But you know, like there's enough pie to go around in terms of opportunities thankfully for all of us, and also, like it's important for us to have diversity.”

Getting a Head Start

Ali admits that he got lucky at the start of his poker adventure. In 2003, he was Erick Lindgren’s guest on the Paty Poker cruise. Erick ended up heads-up with Daniel Negreanu, so Ali took advantage of the opportunity to rub shoulders with the big dogs.

Admittedly, as Ali knew he was going on this trip, he came prepared. He had his VHS demo reel and resume at the ready.

Erick puts him in a few tournaments, which he promptly busts out of, but then he ends up in a $75/250 Hold’em game. Mori Eskandani is there, and he mentions how he intends to get into broadcasting – talk about, right place, right time!

Ali seized the opportunity:

And I'm like, hey, listen, I've got my stuff if you wanna take a look. Mori, of course, [is in a] balcony, outward-facing suite. We go up and I pop my VHS into his little entertainment setup in his [Mori’s] cabin, and midway through the demo reel, he looks over and he's like, "This is you?"

“And I'm like, "Yeah". He goes, "I've been looking for you." Like, this is unbelievable. And basically, grabbed my hand and dragged me with him onward and upward, you know, through the Center of Poker Productions and NBC and ESPN and all of that.”

Playing vs Play-by-Play vs Emceeing

Ali has a love for both disciplines, although he believes he belongs on the play-by-play commentary side of this three-sided desk. It's his passion and something he loves to do.

Now, actually playing poker, on the other hand…

Despite his protestations, Ali is a good poker player. And he has been a winning player every year since moving to Vegas.

What does tickle Ali's fancy are the private games. They are a big part of his poker life, and he is a fan of the casino invite-only private games.

The Real Reason Ali Got into Poker

Believe it or not, Ali was once a dealer! But a tragic event changed all that and sent him down a path that led to poker.

A college girlfriend passed away in a car accident and sent him spiralling out of control. After a lifetime of teetotalling and cigarette-free, he discovered another vice to numb the trauma.

At the casino, he could gamble anonymously and in a self-destructive manner. That is until he hooked up with Prahlad Friedman and Erick Lindgren. They took him under their wings and made him a more spiritual/philosophical person.

“And I think if you're lucky, you will go through some tragedies… some adversity, and you will have challenges and hardships because, dude, if it was sunny every single day, I wouldn't appreciate it.

“But thanks to the fact that it does rain and gets cold, and there are seasons and it gets shitty out, like, you know...”

Check out the full-length Ali Nejad podcast HERE.

Hyacinth Swanson is a part-time live and online poker player who enjoys writing and editing poker content. She currently runs marketing firm PurpleGob.com.