Pro poker players and risk-taking go hand in hand as they put their cash on the line every single day when they’re at a poker table and think they can beat their opponents in order to successfully make a living.
One thing a poker player will often do to make the game more interesting for themselves is to take part in a prop bet that might sometimes be controversial, outrageous, even dangerous, but always very, very challenging.
Poker Players Love a Crazy Challenge
This article will cover the six most nuts prop bets that pro poker players have engaged in over the years.
48 Hour Lunge
Bill Perks, high stakes poker pro, challenged Antonion Esfandiari, aka the Magician, during the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2016 to a $50k prop bet that would see Esfandiari quit walking for 48 hours and only move via lunges.
Esfandiari was one of the single best poker players in the history of poker itself with more than $27m in winnings and he accepted Perk’s bet and got himself into some hot water.
Esfandiari was taking part in the PCA and had banked more than $115k in chips at the table. He didn’t tell anyone about the bet and quickly began suffering from muscle fatigue from the persistent lunges.
He chose to bring a bucket to the table and did number one in that when he could no longer lunge toward the toilets. Esfandiari’s behaviour at the table was found out and he was kicked out of the PCA as a result. He did win $50k from Perkins so in hindsight the money wasn’t worth the hit on his reputation and he should’ve used better judgement. He donated the $50k to charity in the end.
Cycling from LA to Vegas In 48 Hours
Bill Perkins didn’t stay out of the limelight for long and came back with this unique bet from high stakes poker pro and Instagram king Dan Bilzerian.
Bill challenged Dan to cycle from LA to Vegas in two days for $600k and Dan accepted.
No one really believed Bilzerian could do it and he himself admitted it’d been years since he’d ridden a bike but after he accepted the bet Bilzerian started to take things very seriously. He trained with no less than Lance Armstrong and built up his stamina. In the end, he won the bet. There was some controversy about his performance as he supposedly drafted behind a van as it filmed the whole thing, but, really, who cares? Could you do that?
Perkins conceded that he’d lost the bet and Bilzerian was paid the money.
Weight Loss Challenge
Mike Matusow, poker pro, put $2m right on the line back in 2010 when he bet Ted Forrest he couldn’t drop his weight from 181lbs to 140lbs in a short period of time.
Forrest wasn’t allowed to take diuretics or amputate any limbs to make the weight.
In 2008, Forrest bet Matusow, who weighed 250lbs at the time, to get that down to 181lbs for $100k. Matusow achieved the weight and Forrest shelled out the $100k.
When it was Forrest’s turn to get his weight down, he hired a fitness trainer and worked tirelessly to shift the weight. He made it in the end, to the deadline, but Matusow only paid him $70.5k in the end. Forrest said he wasn’t happy that Matusow hedged on his bet by calling him out in a tweet in 2014, but is still yet to be paid the remainder.
Head Shaving Following 2002 WSOP
The majority of people don’t even remember this challenge because it happened in 2002. It’s memorable, though. Phil Hellmuth, one of the most well-regarded one of the best poker players in the history of the world, with fourteen WSOP bracelets and over $20m in winnings in his pocket shaved his entire head having lost a prop bet.
During that 2002 Word Series Of Poker, newbie poker professional Robert Varkonyi knocked Hellmuth from no less than the Main Event and Hellmuth went on to say he would shave his head if Varkonyi went on to win that same Main Event.
Varkonyi did actually end up going on to win the Main Event and he was nice enough to let Hellmuth get away with it, but Hellmuth had actually made the promise of his hair to charity so he did shave his head and donated his hair, then paid $10k from his own bank account to charity in order to buy his hair back.
One Year Being Vegetarian
Tom Dwan bet Phil Ivey $1m if he would go veggie for a whole year.
Ivey accepted and immediately tried raising the stakes to $5m but Dwan said no because he didn’t have the cash.
In hindsight, Dwan should’ve accepted that bet because in 20 days Ivey gave Dwan $150k to buy himself out of the bet because he realised being a total veggie was going to be far harder than he anticipated.
Zembic is not really famous for his achievements at the poker table but more the bizarre behaviour that won him $100k.
Brian was bet $100k to get a boob job. Then an additional $10k per year that he kept them. He went through with it, getting 38C worth of boob implants and got his $100k. He kept those implants for the best part of 20 years until 2016 when he said he was thinking about getting rid of them because money isn’t everything.