Put up or shut up

‘You lose a big pot in
poker and order a pizza’ –
Russ Hamilton

1. THE WEIGHT LOSS BET

Over the years, Doyle Brunson has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on bets that he’d shed some pounds. But he made up for it in 2003 when a consortium of players offered 10/1 on a $100,000 wager that he would not be able to get below 300lb. Thanks to Weight Watchers and Atkins, Brunson shed the fat and cleared $1m in winnings. Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow was not so lucky. Just before the 2005 WSOP, he and fellow pro Erick Lindgren wagered $20,000 on who could lose more. ‘I dropped 17lb and still lost the bet,’ gripes Matusow. ‘He lost an extra 2lb, but he sandbagged me. He told me he couldn’t lose any more weight – he looked like a fat pig and I believed him. It was bullshit. He admitted it later. But I don’t care.’

2. THE THREE-CLUB GOLF BET

World Series champ and betting legend Huck Seed once took a sixfi gure bet that he could break 100 on a desert golf course, four times in one day, using just a five iron, sand wedge and putter. To make it even tougher, the other guy was able to pick the day. Naturally, he waited till the Vegas mercury spiked up to 120 degrees, but Seed ran the course all day and made his scores after six rounds.

3. THE BURGER BET

David Grey once bet vegetarian Howard Lederer $10,000 that he couldn’t eat a cheeseburger. Lederer insisted he could – and promptly wolfed one down. Then, knowing Grey had a strong aversion to olives, he offered him a chance to win his money back by eating some of those. Without a moment’s thought, Grey tossed Lederer the $10k and kept the green things out of his mouth.

4. THE ISOLATION BET

John Hennigan once made a six-figure bet that he’d be able to spend six weeks living in the ultra-quiet city of Des Moines, Iowa – a place where, at the time of the bet, there were no casinos. Hennigan figured he’d work on his golf game. The other guys knew that Johnny couldn’t stand to be away from the action one week, never mind six. He lasted two days.

5. THE OCEAN BET

During a day at the beach, Phil Hellmuth bet pal Huck Seed that he couldn’t stand in ocean water, up to his shoulders for 18 hours. The amount at stake was $50,000 and the lanky Seed – who once made a tidy profit by learning to do a standing backflip – figured he could hack it. How wrong could he be? The former World Series champ managed three hours before paddling in to shore.

6. THE BOWLING BET

A favourite gambit of Amarillo Slim was to steer a conversation toward bowling. He’d recall a fellow he once saw bowling blindfolded and the poor guy’s inability to break 100. Sure enough, someone would always pipe up, insisting they could do it. And Slim would reel in a fish, knowing that a blindfolded bowler gets way too disorientated to hit the pins, and usually has problems finding the lane.

7. THE BREAST BET

Brian Zembic, a backgammon/ poker/Blackjack player of note, was offered a wager by his fastgambling friends: $100,000 if he had breast implants. Zembic must have needed the dough because at the 11th hour he went under the knife and got some 36C tits. He won the bet, but the kicker to this story is that Zembic still has the breasts, which, word has it, serve as a total babe magnet.

8. THE IVEY VERSUS LINDGREN GOLF BET

We’ve heard of long odds, but this is something else. Apparently Erick Lindgren is so good at golf (and Phil Ivey so bad) that the two poker pros have made a bet. Ivey fancies his chances so much that he’s bet Lindgren $500,000 that he can beat him over 72 holes sometime in the next eight years. Rumour has it that Ivey has started to take cash off him at match play. Watch this space…

9. THE BEARD BET

Prop-betting Iron Man Huck Seed once wagered good money that he would be able to go an entire year without shaving. He hung in there just fine, until there was an unexpected death in the family and Huck had to shave for the funeral. Ironically, these days he’s often seen sporting the kind of chin-strapping facial hair that’s normally associated with Abraham Lincoln and/or the Amish.

10.THE FIGHTING BET

Back when Johnny Moss was in his prime, he found himself drinking in a bar alongside a brawny brute who’d never lost a bar fight in his life. Moss’ cronies offered him 15/1 that he couldn’t KO this bruiser. Moss started by sucker punching the guy from behind, but the shot wasn’t quite decisive and Johnny wound up in hospital with several broken bones. ‘15/1 was too good to pass up,’ he commented later.


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