Besides selling furniture, Mattress Mack is famous for placing massive, multi-million dollar wagers on sporting events. The Houston, Texas, native and businessman is making his mark in a different sector of the entertainment industry: the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
This summer at the WSOP, Mattress Mack is sponsoring a poker team. When one person or entity backs multiple poker players, they are said to form a poker stable. Mattress Mack is the only investor in his stable, and he’s going to foot the bill for the players’ tournament fees.
Mattress Mack agreed to the deal after being impressed by Will Leffingwell, a professional poker player from Houston. Leffingwell explained to PokerNews at the WPT Choctaw Main Event in mid-May how this made him think about making a financial commitment to poker.
For example, “(Mattress Mack) told a friend of mine he wanted to meet me, so I ended up meeting him and he told me he wanted to put some people in the Main Event this year,” Leffingwell said. According to what he shared with me, “I need a Cowboy to find me some horses to go out there (to Las Vegas) this summer.”
For the 14-man team, Leffingwell recruited 13 more players from the Houston area. In 2022, the team will compete on Mattress Mack’s dime under the moniker “The Poker Stallions.” Under the funding agreement, they will each be eligible to keep 40% of their individual profits, with additional incentives available based on individual and team performance.
Thus, Mattress Mack will have a sizable summer presence at the WSOP, though that won’t be the only time he’s famous.
Who Is Mattress Mack?
Jim McIngvale, a successful businessman in the Houston area, is known as “Mattress Mack.” Gallery Furniture, which the 71-year-old started in 1981, is now one of the largest furniture stores in Houston.
After appearing in an ad for Gallery Furniture in 1983, McIngvale became a household name in the area. According to the store’s website, he made up the “save you money” slogan while improvising a fast-paced monologue about the establishment.
Mattress Mack has put in a lot of time and effort into Gallery Furniture, but he has also pursued other opportunities in his field. They worked as executive producers on the 1992 Chuck Norris movie “Sidekicks” alongside his wife, Linda.
He published a memoir/business guide titled “Always Think Big” with a business partner in 2002. He’s also done some good deeds for the community by investing in Houston and opening his stores to those in need after natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Ida.
Lately, Mattress Mack has made a name for himself as a major sports bettor. He has made massive, seven-figure wagers on events like the World Series, March Madness tournament, the Super Bowl, and the Kentucky Derby.
Former Gambler Knew As “Mattress Mack”
This is made possible by the vast sums he has amassed from his furniture store’s successful advertising campaigns, such as the one featuring his beloved Houston Astros. To offset a potential $20 million loss on a promotion that offered a refund on any mattress purchase of $3,000 or more if Houston won it all, McIngvale bet more than $13 million on them this year.
Some customers who participated in the promotion hedged their bets, and the Astros still lost in seven games to the Washington Nationals.
Holly Matkins, 35, a native and resident of Houston, explained that she and her husband recently purchased a Tempur-Pedic mattress, which they found to be “excellent,” but that they had high hopes that the Astros would win the World Series. We gambled $1,000 on the Nationals in the seventh game, winning $1,500.
Matkins took her young children to Club Westside, a large family fitness and tennis facility owned by McIngvale and managed by his wife.
“Mattress Mack is a big part of our lives,” she gushed. He’s a real asset to the neighborhood. When Hurricane Harvey hit, he came through for Houston in a big way. Simply put, he’s fantastic.
Mack has already implemented a “Win It All Get It All 2020” promotion, which will again refund any mattress purchase of $3,000 or more if Houston wins the 2020 World Series and the Astros are the 5-1 favorites to do so.
According to Mack, “it’s all about the customers having a good time,” so he does it because of that.
Safe Haven During Thunderstorms
McIngvale has a big heart, and the old adage “Everything is bigger in Texas” certainly applies to him.
McIngvale, a devout Catholic with an unwavering faith, first welcomed victims of Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,200 people in 2005, in his stores.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people left New Orleans for the safer city of Houston. According to Mack, “Louisiana residents sleep free here” on our billboard. After opening it up for Hurricane Katrina, it wasn’t a big deal to do it again for Harvey.
There were about 400 people who sought refuge at Gallery Furniture during the 2017 hurricane’s catastrophic flooding; they were given free lodging, food, and showers there for several days.
Prior to the storm, Mack rented a fleet of heavy-duty trucks to help rescue victims. After the storm, he made public offers of assistance and safety through various outlets. Due to the absence of regular drivers, he made use of willing volunteers who held CDLs to operate his trucks.
We disregarded the potential risk. As he put it, “we didn’t care about nothing.” Those people were important to us.
After their 12-year-old daughter, Elizabeth was diagnosed with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, McIngvale and his wife became passionate advocates for mental health. She eventually found ways to cope with it and established the Peace of Mind Foundation to do the same for others.
McIngvale backed a Houston-based mobile stroke unit after he suffered several mini-strokes. McIngvale has donated millions over the past few years to the study and development of a total artificial heart in memory of his father and brother, who both passed away from congestive heart failure.
Linda joked over dinner with renowned Houston heart surgeon Dr. Bud Frazier that she would need the first artificial heart if Dr. Frazier kept betting on the Astros. Dr. Frazier is working toward making an artificial heart available to humans within the next year.
Mack has also enlisted NASA’s assistance in ensuring the safety of the artificial heart.
McIngvale usually uses bets to offset the costs of his in-store promotions. As a precaution against having to issue refunds to customers, he has, for example, bet the Astros to win the World Series on multiple occasions.
Mattress Mack uses gambling as a substitute for insurance. Whether it’s through increased store sales or increased betting winnings, he usually comes out ahead when he takes this tack. Nonetheless, he occasionally places bets for fun, and the results have been a bit of a mixed bag.
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