“When I’m excited about an idea, the first thing I say is: I’m all in!”- this coming from the creator ofAll In” World Poker Tour Table, Axel Yberg, who designs to “inspire and provoke”. Fifteen species of exotic wood were beautifully manned to shape an elegant and imposing poker table. The sculptural shape it eventually took is part wooden wonder, part gold-painted plumbing pipes and fittings. Staying true to re-purposing materials, Axel and his team imagined the exotic wooden top adorned from below by Edison reproduction light bulbs. Symbolizing both the designer’s appreciation for everyone who took part in his success and the way he commits to something “mentally, physically, and emotionally”, the “All In” name will seem even more suited if you knew that it took over 600 man-hours of labor to create.

You’ll never guess how Axel built the Poker Table

Reaching out to a marketing VP at the World Poker Tour to present his Pingtuated Equilibripong ping pong table project and asking if they would be interested in a collaboration, Axel didn’t know how it will all magically come together. He couldn’t fund it himself, so turned to his avid poker player friend, Matt Gai, to ask if his home game player friends wanted to all chip in and fund it. Little did Axel know that Matt was already thinking it was such a great idea, he had to fund it himself! The rest became history: “We inked the deal without me even telling them anything about the design. It was a bit of pressure — but that’s what I love.”

Axel continues: “There’s a side note: after we finished the mini-documentary on the creation of the piece, I sent it to one of my old friends who was living in Las Vegas. He forwarded it on to a childhood friend of his who was a pro poker player. That friend, Matt Salsberg, ended up winning the Player of the Year, so Matt Gai and I flew out to Studio City, CA to present it to him. Matt actually stayed an extra night to play in a cash game with Salsberg and his friends. Needless to say, Salsberg took all of his money — but he feels like the experience alone was worth the minor butt-kicking.” Now that’s inspiring.

Photographed by Robert Lowell and donated to the World Poker Tour‘s Season XI Player of the Year – Matt Salsberg – the table reminds me of the “In Vino Vitae” project by showcasing a different perspective on strong human connections. As American writer Mary Austin once said: “People would be surprised to know how much I learned about prayer from playing poker.” We’re All In for something.

Collect this idea

(left to right): Axel Yberg, Player of the Year Matt Salsberg, and Axel’s business partner Matt Gai.