In the world of poker, aside from winning a WPT event or a WSOP bracelet, there is nothing… NOTHING… more satisfying or entertaining that a good prop bet.
Poker is the meat and potatoes of our world, but pro bets are the spice that makes the meal just a little tastier.
For those few that don’t know, a prop (short for proposition) bet is simply a wager on a projected outcome. Simple.
And yet the world of prop betting is never short of fascinating and wild wagers, some of which are the stuff of legend.
Huck Seed standing in the ocean up to his shoulders for 18 hours in a $50K prop bet with Phil Hellmuth (Seed quit after just 3 hours). Howard Lederer (a vegetarian) eating a hamburger on a $10K prop bet with David Grey (Lederer won). Doyle Brunson’s famous scooter race with Amarillo Slim at the ’09 WSOP. All great prop bets, but just scratching the surface of the wacky world of wagering.
Most great prop bets share some ingredients. First of all, they can’t be run of the mill. SOMETHING has to make them stand out. It could be the proposition itself, or perhaps the stakes.
Last longer bets in a tournament are quite common, and not very interesting. However, if the loser of the prop bet has to get the winners name tattooed on their body, well… NOW you have something of interest. And yes, it happened: Gavin Smith was forced to tattoo Joe Seebok’s initials on his shoulder after losing a last longer bet with Seebok.
And if the stakes aren’t what makes it interesting, then the bet HAS to be. And most great prop bets grow out of silly offhanded comments. A few years ago, in the Bahamas, I was standing with a couple of people looking at the absolutely massive hammerhead sharks swimming below us in an enclosed lagoon. Someone remarked how terrifying the creatures looked. Someone else mentioned that they wouldn’t want to be in the water with those sharks.
The only limitation is imagination
Approximately 5 minutes and some haggling later, I was swimming across the lagoon frantically, hoping the giant sharks would ignore me long enough to allow me to get to the other side and collect my winnings. They did, and I collected. Foolish? Yes. Dangerous? definitely. Fun and lucrative? Ab-so-lutely.
Some of the most entertaining nights in the poker world are those off nights, with a bunch of players hanging around, and prop betting everything under the sun. Not long ago, I spent an evening in Toronto with Gavin Smith and Greg ‘FBT’ Mueller. In a 3 hour span, we made about a hundred prop bets, ranging from whether or not Mueller could stand on one foot for 2 minutes (he could) to whether or not our waiter played hockey and was an out of work actor (he did and he was). The amount of money that changed hands was almost irrelevant to the joy we took in making the bets.
The only limitation on prop betting is imagination. If you can dream it up, you can bet it. Brian Zembic, a legendary vegas gambler, once got breast implants for a year to win $100K. partypoker’s own Tony G loves a good prop bet too. The G once ran a midnight footrace against an ex-pro basketball player. Tony got to run forward, while the athlete had to run backwards. Tony lost. Perhaps if he had taken his bike he might have had a better shot.
But my favourite prop bet of all time was one involving the lovely and very talented Kara Scott. A couple of years ago, Kara was playing some excellent poker, and she was looking forward to an upcoming event, an event in which she felt she would do well. I decided to make her a little wager. If Kara could simply cash in the event, I would appear on television wearing a bunny suit. Yes, a fuzzy bunny suit. If she missed cashing, then SHE had to do a TV appearance in the bunny suit.
I must admit, I was simply THRILLED when she missed the money. I know, I’m a bad human for that. Kara, on the other hand, is an honourable loser, and she did indeed don the aforementioned bunny suit on television. It was, quite simply, a magic moment. And THAT is why we prop bet….