Meet Instagram’s viral ‘blackjack guy’ Tim Naki

Entrepreneurs

It’s Sunday afternoon and Tim Myers has his headphones on as he paces back and forth across his Calgary apartment. He’s on edge – but it’s not your typical Sunday scaries that have him a bit rattled. No, the 31-year-old is about to bet north of $195,000 in online blackjack.
Tim Myers, better known as Tim Naki. Images: Supplied

Why, you ask?

Because three months earlier the foul-mouthed New Zealand dairy farmer took to Instagram promising he would bet 10 cents for every follower he received – an idea inspired by a recent social media trend.

Myers, better known as viral video blogger Tim Naki or “the blackjack guy”, had no idea what he was getting himself in to. After all, he had just 15,000 followers when he kicked off the series in February. A far cry from the 1.3 million he has right now.

“Day one was $1,500 dollars for 15,000 followers,” Myers tells Forbes Australia. “From there, the first four days won. I don’t know if I would have made it to day nine let alone day 90 if we had started out on a big losing streak.”

It didn’t take long for the expletive-riddled videos to take off with followers from around the world tuning in for daily updates. Even pro-surfer Kelly Slater had reached out to extend his support. The US made up the largest portion of Myers’ following at 30%, followed by Australia (22%), UK (17%), New Zealand (8%) and Canada (7%).

“I have no idea why it’s been as popular as it has… Half the NRL, half the AFL and most of Super Rugby has jumped on board,” Myers said. “There’s a few famous people who I won’t name, they don’t want to be associated with this degenerate gambler.”

By March 28, the former blacksmith had racked up 320,000 followers – resulting in a $32,000 bet. By mid-April he had grown that to 810,000 followers – an $81,000 bet. By May, the wagers had reached six figures and as Myers explains “the blackjack gods were on my side”.

He had hit $971,000 in profit and was contemplating walking away should he hit that $1 million mark – or alternatively if could make it to day 100. That’s when things took a turn. A $111,000 bet went the way of the dealer. The next few days went then same.

Day 90 would be the final bet and the pressure was on.

“I could be on the cusp of losing a house deposit here.”

Tim Myers

“I certainly would never compare myself to a pro athlete but it’s akin to that high adrenaline 90 second burst,” Myers said.

With the video camera rolling and sporting his trademark black cap with a silver fern, Myers logged onto his online gambling website to “hail mary” $195,000 on a single hand of blackjack.

It did not go as planned.

“Losing that hand the way I lost it was the gut wrenching the part. Going from the ultimate high, to taking the most statistical unlikely of beats,” says Myers. “The last seven days was a loss of $565,000.”

Walking away with a $500,000 profit, Myers describes his 90 day run as a “statistical anomaly” and one that should not try to be replicated.

“It’s almost a good thing for people watching to understand just how quickly things change with gambling. You do it for entertainment and fun. You should never do it to make money because you won’t make money.”

“A lot of people forget [gambling] is just meant to be fun. I was taught that from a very young age. Don’t expect to win and don’t expect it to spit anything out the other end.”

Tim Myers

50,000 bots

While most content creators would only dream of picking up their phone to find they’d gained an additional 50,000 followers, for Myers it was a nightmare.

One month into the series, he was spammed by fake accounts and had to make a decision whether or not he would bet for them.

“I was in Mexico when my phone just started going off. It was going up by 1000 followers every minute but I had to go in there and manually remove about 25,000 of the bastards,” he recalled.

Ultimately, they would not be included in the bet despite some colourful feedback from his critics.

What next for Tim Naki?

Set to tie the knot to his partner in December, Myers said the half-a-million-dollars won’t change his life but will “whack a fair bit off the mortgage”. He will also use a portion to buy his parents out of a race horse they share back in New Zealand.

“I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but $500,000 is not what it once was. It certainly doesn’t get you freehold,” he said, adding that it will allow the couple to extend their Canadian adventure for at least another two years.

With 1.3 million followers to his name and a new blackjack series kicking off, Myers said he is cautious about “selling out” for a lucrative gambling partnership – but would entertain the right opportunity.

“A lot of gambling partnerships came forward wanting to promo stuff… From day 21 I could have had it sponsored but it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable. I have to be a bit careful.”

Gambling a problem? Here’s where to get help

Gambling Helpline: 1800 858 858

Lifeline: Phone: 13 11 14

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