Rest in Peace, Alan Meltzer

Nov. 1, 2011, Posted by Brandon.Adams

Rest in Peace, Alan Meltzer

Amy Lee, the lead singer of the band Evanescence, had never been on a plane before she flew to New York, in 2001, to discuss a record contract with Alan Meltzer's company, WindUp Records. A year later, Alan suggested that the early recordings of "Bring Me to Life" lacked a little juice in the middle; he recommended injecting a male vocal and brought in Paul McCoy for the job. The electrifying song and video that resulted made Evanescence one of the most successful bands of the decade.

In April 2007, Alan flew to Vegas to attend an Evanescence concert at the brand new Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms. At around 3pm on the day of the conference, he sat down in a no-limit game in the high limit section of the Bellagio. This was the first time I met Alan. Alan joked around with Nick Schulman and me, and we took an immediate liking to him. By around 6pm, the game had moved to Bobby's Room. On one hand, I had bet a flush on the turn and Alan called. On the river, the board paired. Alan shrugged, bet a large amount, and then just sat there, very still. I called and he turned over a full house. At midnight, we were still playing and joking around, and Alan had missed the concert, the after-party, and whatever other obligations he had at the Palms.

Later the same month, we played again in Bobby's Room and I lent him $50,000. On the flight home, he read my poker novel, Broke, and liked it. That was the start of our friendship.

Alan Meltzer

Alan had an infectious joy for life and an incredible sense of humor. He never tired of life – but he was world-weary. By the time Alan found poker, he'd seen a lot. He loved poker players because there was a minimum of bullshit involved; or, rather, once you got passed the obvious hustle components – stuff he had seen his whole life – you had a group of people who valued truth. Alan liked strong personalities with a tragic view of life. You also had to be a little sick; a poker player without a strong element of gamble in his personality was no use for Alan.

I once had dinner with Alan at Masa where the bill was $2700, a personal record (I paid). Indulgence was part of his personality, and almost all of his friends shared that trait. Alan's live-for-the-day mentality was driven by two main factors. First, he thought that, in a macro sense, the world was likely completely fucked. He had cashed in on the Dotcom bubble, and, even before the success of Evanescence and Creed, he was in the stratosphere of wealth. What he saw there mostly disgusted him. He was talking about an upcoming crash in bank stocks in April/June 2007. He was one of the most astute financial observers I've ever met; he was ahead of the curve on every issue. He had a deep distrust of government, and saw the Bush administration as evil incarnate.

The other factor driving Alan's live-for-the-day mentality was more complicated. He viewed human nature as fundamentally weak and prone to self-delusion. He thought people were almost comically ill equipped to be happy. The strange things people did in their attempts to be happy for short periods of time entertained him. He made a study of sorts of people engaged in strange, hedonistic pursuits; the poker world, with its week-by-week changes in fortunes and personalities, was a perfect fit for him. In the music business, he repeatedly watched people achieve success beyond their wildest dreams and then blow themselves up.

Alan felt that the dominance of celebrity culture, and its rapid spread through society via Facebook and other social media, was a societal disaster. Alan believed strongly in a theory espoused by a Cornell psychiatrist Robert Millman called Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN). ASN is a form of narcissism that develops in late adolescence of adulthood, brought on by wealth, fame, and other trappings of celebrity. Alan viewed downfall after celebrity as an inevitability rather than a likelihood, and he was shocked by how often the downfall was accompanied, in musicians he'd observed, with substance abuse.

Alan's death is a devastating loss for me, and ten to twenty other poker players around the globe who came to love him. I'll miss you, Alan.

Originally from New Orleans, Brandon Adams entered the Doctorate in Business Administration program at Harvard Business School in 2001 (he went ABD in May 2004).  Brandon taught eighteen courses at Harvard, including twelve sections of “Behavioral Finance” and two sections of “Fun and Games” (game theory).  Most recently, he taught four sections of “The US in the World Economy,"in 2009 and 2010. 

He’s been a regular in the biggest poker games held over the past five years.  He's played on High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and numerous other televised cash games and tournaments.  Adams is the author of the self-published Broke: A Poker Novel.  He is also the Founder of, a digital business that uses the internet’s sweet spot – disintermediation – to connect experts in all fields with those who need consultation services.

What Others Are Saying

3 Comments about Rest in Peace, Alan Meltzer

DaveCydell says:

2nd of November 2011

One of my High Limit favs. Loved his style, demeanor, presence. He will be missed.

Listening says:

3rd of November 2011

Fans liked him, too, and I was sad to hear of his passing. I loved watching him play and he seemed very dear. God bless you Mr. Meltzer.

Pete says:

3rd of November 2011

Great insight into an obviously very interesting man. If you were to write more it would be read eagerly.

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