Tony Miles Takes Second Shot at American Ninja Warrior for $100K Shaun Deeb Prop Bet
Remember that bet between Shaun Deeb and 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up Tony Miles, where the latter had three years to make it through a course on American Ninja Warrior? Well, it’s still on and Miles is back at it after failing in his first attempt last year.
“For our bet, the odds started at 25-to-1 and will decrease yearly over the three-year period to 20-to-1 and 15-to-1 respectively,” said Miles, who now stands to win $100,000 from his $5,000 wager. “Getting the call is an extremely exciting part of the process. You have to understand that a lot of people, around 100,000 I've heard, apply to be on Ninja Warrior so it is considered an extreme honor to be chosen to actually compete on the show.”
He continued: “People wait months after applying and spend thousands of dollars creating their application videos so the time between applying and hearing back from the producers is a very tense time in the ninja community. Getting the call means that a producer from the show will call you personally to let you know that you've officially been selected. A lot of ninjas will record themselves receiving the call and completely lose it with joy and excitement.”
For Miles and others who ultimately get on, the road to American Ninja Warrior begins with an online application process that requires a three-minute audition video. It’s during this point that the applicant shares details about their athletic ability, family history, personal influences, life experiences and things of that nature.
“The show really focuses on inspiring and motivating people so they really want to know what kind of obstacles have you overcome in your life and how that drives you,” Miles said. “Then there's the video submission, basically this part is the most critical component of the process. Along with your online application, you're required to create a video highlighting your ability, showcasing your personality, and selling yourself on why you deserve a chance to be on the show.”
In 2019, Miles was selected to appear on American Ninja Warrior but stumbled fairly early in his course run to fall short.
“Last year I kind of got a late jump on training," he explained. "The producers had contacted me when they heard about the bet and I had applied early but I was going through some personal things after the Main Event, dealing with some depression and feeling a bit lost so I actually didn't start training until January.
"I have a pretty good natural aptitude for learning the sport based on my background in gymnastics and wakeboarding."
“Even after getting a late jump I felt really confident about my ability to win the bet and complete the qualifying course. I have a pretty good natural aptitude for learning the sport based on my background in gymnastics and wakeboarding. When I arrived in Atlanta for the filming we were allowed to see the course a day before we competed and based on seeing the obstacles I thought there was about a 70% chance of getting through.”
The part of the course that ultimately derailed Miles was the spinning blocks, six different shaped boxes with a pole that goes through the center allowing them to spin. A ninja is expected to run over the top of them all.
“I've been watching the show for years and I know how much variance there is in that obstacle,” Miles continued. “I've seen it take out the top ninjas time and time again over the course of the years. After completing the first two obstacles I approached the spinning blocks. I thought to myself an old poker adage ‘think long, think wrong,’ and flung myself as fast as possible over the top of the blocks but on the second one I got a little outside of the center of the axis where I was supposed to step and the block spun and it threw me off balance and I fell one block before reaching the next platform.”
A Second Chance
The good news is that the show allows competitors to try multiple times, so Miles opted to double down.
“Since competing last year I've really dedicated myself to this endeavor," he said. "As soon as I was home from playing WCOOP and EPT Barcelona I hit the ground running. I've been training four to five days a week and I've also given some of the guys who are stars of the show a freeroll (2%) on the bet so they've been coaching me and we're working hard.”
While he’s always enjoyed watching the show with his parents, the biggest motivating factor is the money.
"I wouldn't be being honest if I said the money wasn't a huge factor,” he said. “Training and applying for Ninja Warrior has turned out to be 10 times harder than I ever anticipated and I don't think there's any way I would have stuck with this and been as committed as I have without standing to win $100K and bragging rights from Shaun.
"With that said, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the challenge and how much training helped me in a time where I was really lost. It gave me purpose again.”
While Miles was originally slated to compete on American Ninja Warrior Season 12 in Washington D.C. April 11-12, the coronavirus pandemic has altered those plans.
“The show has been temporarily postponed due to the outbreak of the virus," he said. "While we're doing interviews and submitting footage of our training so they can hit the ground running when they're allowed to, for the moment we are waiting.”
"I have a lot of money in the market and it's taken a substantial blow as a result of corona."
Miles elaborated on the unprecedented times in the United States.
“I've been pretty fortunate thus far. Nobody I know personally has contracted the virus but I've been impacted in other ways. My girlfriend lives in London and is out of work currently so it's hard not being able to be with her through all of this craziness.
"Also, our local card room has shut down recently so I'm not able to work the way that I normally do, but I've shifted to playing some tournaments online and have been having some success lately. But I think the biggest way I've been impacted is financially. I have a lot of money in the market and it's taken a substantial blow as a result of corona. In regards to that, I would say that I'm so grateful that I'm a poker player and have experience navigating the waves of variance.”
For more on Miles and his future American Ninja Warrior endeavors, follow him on Instagram at @Lost_Fr33quenCz.
Images courtesy of Tony Miles.
Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.