Nova Scotia

In the cards? Newlyweds score $40K wedding gift from poker-playing friend

Alex Livingston had promised his friends one per cent of his winnings as a wedding gift. He ended up winning $4 million US.

Halifax's Alex Livingston won $4 million US at the World Series of Poker main event

Alex Livingston promised his friends one per cent of his winnings at the World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas. (John Locher/The Associated Press)

At first, it seemed like a typical wedding gift.

Rob and Tonya Taylor were opening their presents after their wedding last fall in Shediac, N.B., when they came across a seemingly ordinary card from their friend Alex Livingston.

Enclosed was a long message and a promise: one per cent of his winnings at the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas.

They didn't know it at the time, but the gift would end up being worth $40,000 US.

Livingston, of Halifax, finished third in the tournament earlier this week, taking home a whopping $4 million US.

'A great choice'

Tonya Taylor described their portion of the winnings as "pretty crazy."

"I never would have expected that," she told CBC's Maritime Noon, in a phone interview from Riverview, N.B.

Taylor said her husband is also a poker player, and while he immediately recognized the unique opportunity, she was oblivious.

"I was reading it casually, and Rob was like 'What? That's crazy!' And I was like, 'Yeah, I guess'," said Taylor.

"(Livingston) made a note in the card that said if we wanted, we could redeem it for $100, and I said 'Oh, ok. I guess we won't redeem it. We'll wait and see'.

"It turned out to be a great choice."

Husband attended tournament

Months had passed, and Taylor said she had forgotten about the wedding pledge.

She said halfway through the tournament, she commented on a photo on Livingston's Instagram, wishing him luck.

"He replies back, 'Don't forget, you have one per cent of my winnings'," she said. 

"I called Rob and was like, 'Oh my God, Rob, we have one per cent of his winnings. I totally forgot.' And Rob was like, 'Well, I didn't.'"

Meanwhile, her husband was in Las Vegas, cheering on his friend. 

Couple to buy patio furniture

As Livingston progressed through the competition, the newlyweds saw their gift grow. Eventually, all of their friends and family were watching with bated breath.

"I was online watching the stream and looking at all the stats and it was so crazy to watch," said Taylor.

Taylor said they just upgraded their backyard, so she plans to buy new patio furniture with Livingston's gift. 

Livingston, 32, was beaten at the final table by Germany's Hossein Ensan, who pocketed the $10 million first-place prize. Italy's Dario Sammartino was second and won $6 million.

Livingston is a former chess champion who studied economics at Tufts University outside Boston. 

He finished 13th in the 2013 World Series of Poker and now has $4.65 million in career earnings in the event.

With files from The Associated Press