The Poker World Has Gone Prop-Bet Mad

  • Doyle Brunson remembers the shenanigans of legendary gambler and hustler Titanic Thompson
  • Fintan Hand and Patrick Leonard committed to bets of the more novelty variety
  • Brandon Cantu claimed that he wants to play Daniel Negreanu heads-up for rolls
  • Jason Koon is willing to bet $2m that he can run 100m in 10.9 seconds
  • Dara O’Kearney is looking for action on running ten sub-4 hour marathons in a fortnight
poker chips on green felt in the shape of a smiling face
VegasSlotsOnline News looks at the latest prop bets and novelty bets featuring high-profile poker players that captured the attention of the poker community. [Image:]

A tale of five wagers 

A 30-year-old Twitch star who thought he could eat 10,000 calories of chocolate. A 32-year-old online poker beast who thinks he can win 23 out of 40 soccer matches in 60 days. A 40-year-old two-time bracelet winner who says he will play Daniel Negreanu heads-up for rolls. A 35-year-old high-stakes poker pro who thinks he can run 100 meters in 10.9 seconds. A 56-year-old Irish poker legend who thinks he can run ten sub-4-hour marathons in 14 days. 

While some pro poker players will insist that they are not gamblers and are instead mind-sportsmen playing a rich strategy game, others will freely acknowledge the gambling aspects of their profession. They will also acknowledge the allure of the prop bet. 

Most gamblers do it for ego.”

To quote snooker legend Jimmy White, “Most gamblers do it for ego. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about challenging your ego and showing your mates you’re fearless and will bet on anything.”

Titanic prop-bets

A proposition bet, also known as a prop bet or side bet, is a wager made regarding the occurrence or non-occurrence during a gambling game of an event not directly affecting that game’s final outcome. However, over the years, the phrase has come to encompass any novelty bet made between two or more people.

Some gamblers have an insatiable appetite for action. Props can fill in the quiet moments between hands at the poker table, or make the more mundane moments of their lives brim with significance if the stakes are high enough.

This week on Twitter, Doyle Brunson told some stories about his friend: the legendary gambler, ambidextrous golfer, marksman, pool shark, and all-round hustler Alvin Clarence Thomasbetter known as Titanic Thompson. One of the stories was a deft hustle disguised as a prop bet:

Another was a sneakily concocted freeroll:

Allegedly, American writer Damon Runyon based the character of Sky Masterson, played by Marlon Brando in the movie version of the musical Guys & Dolls, on Thompson.

With hustles like those recounted by Brunson, he didn’t need luck to be a lady. 

Hand tried to eat 10,000 calories of chocolate 

Whether it’s the lockdown, the buoyant cryptocurrency markets in 2021, or just coincidence, it feels as though there are more high-profile prop bets flying around the poker community right now. 

A few weeks ago, Irish Twitch star Fintan Hand hit 2,000 subscriptions, a number he believed impossible when he casually threw it out a few years ago as a goal that would trigger an unfortunate forfeit of sorts. After his phenomenal SCOOP win, the subscriptions piled in. And thanks to a few particularly generous people who bought subs for others, Hand crossed the magic number. 

Please don’t try this at home.”

A bet is a bet. So, with a heavy heart and much trepidation earlier this month, Fintan had to eat 10,000 calories of chocolate, mostly in peanut butter-laden Reece’s Pieces, live on his stream. He failed miserably, tapping out at around the 3,500-calorie mark, but not before he made himself quite sick.

Hand admitted to VegasSlotsOnline News: “Uuugh, I can still taste the peanut butter. That was the dumbest thing I ever did,” adding: “Please don’t try this at home.”

Pads on soccer 

Another bet that certainly fits into the ‘novelty’ category is one made several weeks ago by British high-stakes poker pro Patrick Leonard:

Leonard insisted that he was offering value to anyone who wanted the action:

There was plenty of uptake for the bet as Leonard committed to an undisclosed ‘maximum’ amount before closing the book. The first soccer game was on April 29, so Leonard will have to play 40 games by July 1. 

You can follow Leonard’s progress via his Instagram. 

Cantu offered to play Negreanu heads-up for his net worth

2:0 down to Phil Hellmuth in the High-Stakes Duel, and with the media narrative shifting to his 13 straight heads-up defeats in eight years, the embattled Daniel Negreanu is laying anyone who wants it 3-to-2 on the last match versus “The Poker Brat”. 

Out from the woodwork came Brandon Cantu, who said that nobody took Negreanu’s heads-up game seriously anymore and that it had become “painful to watch”. Negreanu responded by saying that he’s willing to book a bet on the third Hellmuth match with Cantu for “as much as [he] can borrow.”

The Kid Poker also had a few choice words for Cantu in private, at least until Cantu made them public:

Cantu bestowed the nickname “bridesmaid” on Negreanu and said he would prefer to play the GG ambassador himself, claiming his “big money” crew would put up $12m:

With numbers like that, it’s hard to believe that this is a serious offer. It’s also a steep and frankly unattractive price for Negreanu to lay. Sometimes, prop bets of this nature are pure bluffs, flung around in a show of bravado. 

Then again, sometimes those bluffs get called. 

Koon in 10.9 seconds 

Jason Koon is a former college sprinter, and it is fair to say that he has kept himself in terrific shape throughout his adult life.

On Monday, he took to Twitter to post some news from the world of sprinting. He got embroiled in a back and forth with a random Twitter account claiming he would bet Koon $5m that he couldn’t run a 10.9-second 100-meter race, even with a year to prepare:

Koon did not back down:

Whether that particular bet manifests itself remains to be seen. But as is often the case when poker prop bets are flying about the poker world, Bill Perkins got into the mix: 

At VegasSlotsOnline News, we have on good authority that Koon intends to seek out more action if it is available for what would be an extraordinary achievement, if he were to do it. 

This prop bet was probably best weighed up by EPT champion Ben Wilinofsky:

Marathon Man O’Kearney calls out the gambling world

As if all that wasn’t enough, Irish poker player and former ultra-runner Dara O’Kearney threw out an athletic prop bet of his own on the most recent episode of The Lock-In:

While giving his best punditry on the chances of a Koon success, O’Kearney addressed a challenge that was initially made to him on Twitter:

Speaking to VegasSlotsOnline News, O’Kearney called out the gambling world on their unwillingness to take him on down the years. 

He said: “Since I came into poker, the poker world has shown a disappointing lack of gamble when it comes to giving me action on anything like this. I’ve tried to get a number of different prop bets. My latest is that I have to run ten sub-4-hour marathons in two weeks. To be honest, I have no idea if I still can. I retired from competitive running 13 years ago and I’m 13kg heavier, so it seems like a challenging line to me.”

It must be said that both Koon and O’Kearney are two of the most determined, hard-working, and dogged people in poker, so take them on at your peril. On the other hand, both men are proposing audacious feats, neither are in their prime, and the strong likelihood of injury would certainly torpedo their chances.  

To quote the great writer Hunter S. Thompson, who loved a gamble himself: “Remember this, folks – I am a Hillbilly, and I don’t always bet the same way I talk. Good advice is one thing, but smart gambling is quite another.”

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