Jason Koon Crushes Hellmuth in High Stakes Duel For $1.6 million
It was the biggest match in the history of High Stakes Duel; both players stumped up $800,000 in cash with the hopes of taking home a mammoth $1.6 million. But in the end, Jason Koon came out on top - and, in all honesty, he made it look effortless.
Many in the poker community have doubted Phil’s ability to keep up with the brightest minds of this generation, but his 9-1 record in this event will tell you otherwise. Koon was respectful of Phil in the pre-match interview, talking up his achievements in the poker world, particularly in heads-up events.
This is a very different tactic to the other players we’ve seen, most of whom have declared their intention to “crush” Phil in a format that many people think he isn’t suited to. It seems as though this was a conscious decision not to get caught up in the battle of egos that usually happens when Phil is at the table; Jason was content to sit tight and play his own game.
Jason wasn’t the only one who came in with a different strategy than usual, as Phil started the match in a much more aggressive manner than we were used to seeing. Rather than limping every hand from the button, we actually saw Phil raise hands - something we’re not used to seeing in these events!
Hellmuth Loses a Quarter of his Stack with Q6o
While his strategy of raising from the button didn’t last long, we saw what many people consider to be Phil’s fatal weakness in these games, and what Daniel Negreanu calls his “zoom zoom” mode. Phil is a feel player. He doesn’t consider things like math or ranges when making his decisions; he goes off pure vibes.
Sometimes that can make you look like a genius, but sometimes it can make you look like a complete amateur. Contrary to what people may think of Phil, he’s not scared to get in the streets and mix it up, and that’s exactly what we saw early on with his Q6o hand. Phil limped Q6o on the button with blinds at 1.5K/2.5K, and Jason raised to 10.5K with black aces.
For many people, this would be the end of the hand, but Phil decided to get aggressive and 3bet to 32K. Jason put in the 4bet to 120K, as you would expect, and you’re thinking that at this point, Phil is just gonna let it go - but no! He 5bets it to 260K! Jason obviously moves all-in, and Phil folds, losing over a quarter of his stack in a situation where all he should have lost was 2.5K.
Action Hands with Great Bluffs
While Phil would eventually get those chips back, this remained the theme of the night. That being said, don’t think that Jason had the win handed to him on a silver platter; he was working for it and pulling off some great bluffs.
One of the best examples was in a limped pot, where Phil limped 82o, and Jason checked J9o in the big blind. The flop came AQTr, and Jason check-called a bet of 55% pot from Phil. The turn was the Jc, giving Jason a pair and Phil a straight draw. Both players checked, and the river was the 9s, giving Jason two pair and Phil a straight. However, it’s important to note that any king would make a higher straight.
Jason led out for a min bet of 4K, Phil instantly bumped it up to 9.5K, and after a short consideration, Jason made it 30K, repping the king! Phil snap folded, giving Jason the pot and what was surely a great boost to his confidence.
It was clear at this point that Jason had the upper hand, and Phil had to do something to get back into the game. However, for reasons that only he will know, he decided that the best way to win back his chips was to start 3betting absolute garbage, knowing that he’d have to play out of position against one of the best in the game.
This was best exemplified when Jason opened JTo to 12K with blinds at 2.5K/5K, and Phil decided to 3bet 74o to 36K. You read that right; he 3bet 74o against Jason Koon! Jason called, and they saw a flop of Jd8d6c. Phil checked, and Jason played it tricky by checking back too.
The turn was the Tc, putting two flush draws on the board. It also gave Jason two pair, and Phil a double gutter. Phil bet 62K into 72K, and Jason again decided to play it slow and just call. The 7d brought four to a straight and three to a flush, but Phil couldn’t pull the trigger on a bluff, and Jason happily checked back with his two pair to win a huge pot, along with a 3-1 chip advantage.
This loss had Phil talking to himself as he often does at the table, complaining about the quality of his opponent’s hand - seemingly forgetting that he 3bet the hand with 74o. Certainly a case of pot meets kettle if there ever was one!
Jason Koon Runs Good When It Counts
To give Phil the benefit of the doubt, Jason did seem to have the run of the cards as the match progressed. He had strong hands in the majority of the big pots they played together, and some of those decisions would certainly have been harder if he had missed the flop.
That being said, there was an air of calmness and control that we haven’t really seen from any of Phil’s challengers in this format. Once Jason amassed his comfortable lead, he never looked like letting it go.
He just kept whittling down Phil’s stack with every hand played, seemingly making all the right moves at all the right times. It wasn’t long until he had an over 10-1 chip advantage, and you could sense that the end was near for the former Main Event champ.
An example of how well Jason ran in the big spots, the two played a hand where Phil limped the button with Kh2h at 3K/6K, Jason raised it to 24K with 6d4d, and Phil called. The flop came JJJ, Jason bet 60% pot and Phil snap-called. The turn was a queen, and both players checked before a four on the river gave Jason a full house. Jason bet around ⅓ pot on the river, Hellmuth called, and was disgusted when he saw he got rivered.
Final Hand Action
That turned out to be the penultimate hand, as the very next hand Jason raised from the button with Q8o, and Phil 3bet AKo off of 17bb effective. Jason thought about it for a few seconds before putting Phil all in. Phil obviously snapped him off, which meant Jason had a 33% chance of winning the $1.6 million right there and then.
The flop was queen-high, giving Jason top pair, but Phil also flopped a gutshot, giving him four more outs. However, unfortunately for him, both the turn and river were bricks, giving Jason Koon the victory and the $1.6 million in prize money.
High Stakes Duel Rematch
Time will tell whether or not Hellmuth will exercise his option for a rematch; as the last challenger, he has “first dibs” on playing Jason if he wishes, but after such a comprehensive beat down, there may be some doubt creeping into his mind. Having doubts is the last thing you’d want if you were to take the rematch, as according to High Stakes Duel rules, the stakes will be doubled, meaning that both players will have to pony up $1.6 million to play.
If Phil declines the rematch, players from around the world have 30 days to challenge Jason. If there is a challenger during that time, Jason must accept and play for a prize pool of $3.2 million; otherwise, he’s free to take the money. There have been rumours that if Phil decides not to play, online crushers such as Linus Loeliger and Wictor Malinowski are waiting in the wings to see if their online heads-up success will carry over.
Either way, I’m sure that, like us, you’re all hoping that someone challenges Jason - I mean, who doesn’t want to see a heads-up match for $3.2 million? As soon as a potential challenger is confirmed, we’ll be here to give you the lowdown on the biggest televised heads-up match.
Until then, if you want to keep up to date with the biggest and best tournament series from around the poker world, join our PokerDeals discord, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Images courtesy of PokerGo
Highlights of the HCL Million Dollar Cash Game
The biggest televised cash game in history has come and gone, and now it's time to reflect on what we've witnessed. While it certainly wasn't smooth sailing across the whole five days (which became four after the Monday night show was cancelled), there's plenty to talk about and analyse. So, without further ado, let's jump right in and take a look at some of the highlights from this crazy game. Tom Dwan Wins The Biggest Pot In Televised Poker History Tom has a knack for being involved in these " biggest pots of all time ” doesn't he? He's done it on multiple occasions, whether it's on High Stakes Poker, the Full Tilt Cash Game, or the Triton Cash Games. However, his hands against Greenstein, Ivey, and Phua all pale in comparison to this $3.1 million pot that was played against "Wes Side” Wesley Fei, where he called down with a pair of queens against Wesley's AK to scoop an absolutely massive pot. The hand started in bizarre fashion when, after LSG Hank raised to $7K with A7o , Doug Polk announced that he had seen Wesley's hand. Unperturbed by this, Wesley raised to $30K with AdKh . The action folded around to Tom Dwan who 4bet with black queens , before Wesley put in the 5bet to $275K. Both players started the hand $1.5 million deep, with Wesley having Dwan covered, so there was plenty of postflop play left. The flop came down 8d8s3d . Dwan checked to Wesley who bet $125K, and Tom quickly called. The turn was the 5h , Dwan checked once again, and Wesley this time bet $350K. After a bit of deliberation, Tom decided to call with his queens. The river was essentially a brick - the 6c unlikely to have helped anyone given the preflop ranges, and Wesley quickly moved all in for Dwan's last $786K. It was a huge river bluff that took a lot of heart - not many people could shove that much on the river on a stone-cold bluff (aside from a couple of people who we'll mention later). After a roughly 3-minute-long tank, Dwan placed his chips into the middle, winning himself just over $1.5 million and the biggest pot in televised poker history . Watch the action unfold below. https://twitter.com/HCLPokerShow/status/1663782705979604993 Rampage Bluffs Handz Off Top Set Many people believed that the Million Dollar Cash Game had gotten off to a rather slow start in the first couple of streams; players seemed reluctant to put chips in the middle while sitting on such huge stacks, and there was a general lack of action to be found. Step up Ethan "Rampage” Yau - a poker blogger turned poker crusher, who two years ago was playing low-stakes games at his local casino, and is now running six-figure bluffs on the biggest live stream ever. Ethan approached the game with a freedom that we hadn't seen from the other players - a bravery, if you will, and it was that bravery that allowed him to pull the trigger on what has to be the biggest bluff he's ever made . Let's see how it went down. The action folded around to Rampage in the SB who raised to $9K preflop with Ac7c . Handz in the big blind decided to just flat-call with QsQh , Pav called in the straddle with Kh8h , and the trio saw a flop. The flop came down QdJdTc , giving Handz top set, Pav an open-ender, and Rampage a gutshot and a backdoor flush draw. Both Rampage and Handz checked to Pav, who bet $15K. Rampage then shot it up to $50K, Handz just called again, and Pav folded. The turn was the 2c , giving Rampage a flush draw, and he followed up his flop check raise with an overbet of $175K. Handz made the call, and the pair saw a river. The 5s was a complete brick, all the straight and flush draws missed, leaving Rampage with just ace-high, and seemingly no way to win the pot. However, one factor that played a big part in this hand was the nut advantage that Rampage had over Handz. Given that Handz flatted Rampage's preflop raise, it all but eliminates AK from his range, but Rampage has all 12 combos of AK, as well as a number of K9 and 98 combos. Saying that, it's one thing to recognise when you have a nut advantage, and another to pull the trigger , and it took tremendous heart for Rampage to shove his $618K into the middle. It was an incredibly strong line from Rampage, and after a relatively short tank, Handz let his queens go, giving Rampage a well-earned pot. https://twitter.com/HCLPokerShow/status/1663034132019183617 Dwan Traps Doug In A $1 Million Pot He was only here for one day, but boy did he make his time count! Tom Dwan was involved in not one, but two seven-figure pots in his time on the Million Dollar Cash Game, coming up trumps in both of them. This time, there was no need to make a hero call, as he expertly trapped Doug Polk with middle set turned middle boat. Many were wondering whether Dwan slow-rolled Doug on the river, given some of the things Doug has said on his YouTube channel, but we'll let you be the judge of that. The hand begins with Doug Polk raising from the cutoff to $3000 with 5s4s , Dwan 3bets to $14K with 7h7c from the SB, and Doug calls. In an eerie parallel to the first hand we highlighted, Doug let Wesley see his hand before the flop was dealt - so in the two 7-figure pots played on this stream, Doug and Wesley knew what the other had during the hand, and both ran monster bluffs! The flop came Kd7d2s , Dwan bet $15K, and Doug peeled one off with the backdoor straight draw/backdoor flush draw. The turn was the 6h , giving Doug an open-ended straight draw. Dwan made a bet of $30K, and Doug raised it to $115K. Faced with this raise, Dwan went into the tank for some time, before Doug decided to call the clock. Somewhat perplexed by this decision, Dwan decided to call, and the players saw the river. The river came the 6s , giving Dwan a full house. He checked it over to Doug, who knew the only way he was going to win this pot was by betting, so he bet $420,000 into the $291,000 pot. Dwan went into the tank again, most likely weighing up whether to raise or call. In the end, he decided on call and took down a $1.1 million dollar pot while putting Doug on tilt. https://twitter.com/HCLPokerShow/status/1663702073408651266 Doug Is Bluffed Off Aces By LSG Hank It seems like everyone had their bluffing shoes on for the last day of play, as LSG Hank made an outstanding play on the river to get Doug Polk to fold his aces . It's not often that a recreational player will come in and mix it up as much as LSG Hank, and it shows a lot of heart to do that in the biggest-ever televised cash game. LSG Hank gets the action underway by raising to $6K in the HJ with AdJd after Dwan limped UTG with T2s . Doug picks up AsAh in the SB and 3bets to $30K. Hank makes the call, and the two see a flop. The flop comes down Qh4d3c , giving LSG a backdoor flush draw and a couple of backdoor straight draws. Doug bets $23K into around $60K, and LSG calls. The turn is the 8d , giving LSG Hank a flush draw and a bit more of a reason to stick around in the pot. Doug continues to bet for value, betting $81K, and Hank calls. The river is the 9h , meaning that Hank misses his flush draw. Doug goes for some more value, betting $200K on the river before Hank does the unthinkable and shoves for nearly $750K more. This sends Doug deep into the tank, as he agonises over what to do. In the end, he decides to leave his decision up to chance - using a randomiser to make his decision for him . After coming to the decision that he should call around 25% of the time, he uses his cards to randomise - after mixing his hole cards, if he pulled the Ah twice, he would call; otherwise, he would fold. He turned over the As on his first pull and folded. LSG Hank immediately sprung out of his seat, tabling the bluff, much to the shock of everyone at the table. You can see from Nik Airball's expression just how shocking this moment was, as many people don't expect recreational players to bluff raise the river, let alone for nearly $1 million! https://twitter.com/HCLPokerShow/status/1663737156106584069 Wesley Wins Some Back After Winning a $2.25 Million Pot Against LSG Hank You can tell the action ramped on the last day, can't you? Our fifth and final highlight from the game is another 7-figure pot, this time between Wesley and LSG Hank, who shows us what happens if your hero call with QQ goes wrong . LSG Hank opened with QdQc from UTG and Wesley 3bet to $15K with Ah7h . The action folded back to LSG who immediately put in the 4bet to $50K. After a short tank, Wesley made the 5bet to $130K, LSG Hank decides to call, and the pair see a flop. The flop looked dangerous for Wesley, as he flopped middle pair on a Td7d6c board. Hank checked to the 5bettor who bet $80K into a roughly $260K pot. Hank decided on the check/call, only to see a disaster card on the turn. The 7s hit the felt, giving Wesley trips and leaving Handz with just two outs. Wesley made a big bet of $325K, which Hank called after some deliberation. The river was the 5d , completing the front door flush draw. Hank checked to Wesley who insta-shoved, sending Hank into the tank. After copying the now patented Doug Polk card shuffle, LSG Hank made the call, doubling Wesley up in a $2.2 million dollar pot. While it wasn't enough to get Wesley even for the night, it certainly put a dent in his losses. https://twitter.com/HCLPokerShow/status/1663851370762620929 Summary After a slow start, the HCL Million Dollar Cash Game certainly lived up to the hype, providing us with some of the most insane pots in televised poker history. We certainly hope that the team have learned their lessons from this game, as it takes a special group of players to get the action you need when the stakes are this high. Given the success of the game, we'll likely see another iteration of the Million Dollar Buy-In Cash Game in the future, and we can't wait to see it! Let us know in the comments below who you'd like to see if HCL runs this game again. If you want to keep up to date with all the latest goings on in the poker world, make sure to subscribe to the PokerDeals YouTube channel , and follow us on Facebook and Instagram .
Inside Scoop - What Did the Winners Have to Say at the Festival, Malta
The Festival Poker Tour in Malta ended up a huge success, with players taking home more than just prizes, but also great memories. It was a fun tournament where people joked, laughed, and played some fantastic poker. It was also a tournament where no-limit hold'em wasn't necessarily the hero of the event! We sat down with some of the winners to find out what they thought of the tournament and to see where the future will take them. Aaron Kupin - Winner of HR OFC What did you like most about The Festival in Malta, besides placing first in the Open Face Chinese event? I thought the casino layout was cool, tournaments spanning multiple floors and rooms. All the dealers were friendly and professional as well, and it was nice to meet people from all different backgrounds. Did you try any other formats or tournaments, besides the OFC event? I fired a couple in the main, and one in the 1100 NLHE HR but all were short-lived. In your opinion, what do you think were the main factors that contributed to you placing where you finished? I'm an OFC specialist, I've been playing a little almost every day since 2019 and even before, so I like my chances vs any field. With that said, obviously the blinds go up fast and I ran good when it counted. What does this result mean to you, and how did it feel to achieve it? It just feels really good, especially to be able to share positive results with friends and family. It's so hard to win a poker tournament, so I'm just really grateful because it's such a special, unique feeling. I was also really appreciative of the digital sketch trophy- I loved that. Do you have any major plans for the prize money that you earned? Going to Vegas to spend the summer grinding WSOP, so any extra $ helps! Have you taken part in other tournaments held in Malta? This was my first time on the island of Malta and first international tournament, but I loved it and I'm sure I'll be back. Cory Desmond - NLH High Roller Event Winner What did you like most about The Festival in Malta, besides placing first in the NLH High Roller event? One thing that really stood out to me was how friendly the players were. The Festival did a superb job in cultivating a fun, relaxed atmosphere and it seemed like the players had a great time as a result. One of my favourite things about live poker specifically is the opportunity to meet new people with different backgrounds, stories, strategies etc. and I made a bunch of new friends during this series, so I'm grateful for that. The schedule was also solid and offered a good variety of games and stake levels. Did you try any other formats or tournaments, besides the NLH event? I've been dipping my toes in the "mixed game streets” since the beginning of 2023 and gave both the HORSE and the PLO/PLO8 events a shot. I didn't cash either of those events, but they're a nice respite from NLHE MTTs, which can be pretty excruciating at times. At least with HORSE it's quite difficult (even for me) to punt off an entire stack in any one hand - and even if I do, on occasion I might get half the pot back anyway, so what's the worst that can happen!? Shout out to the thriving Malta mixed games community who are super friendly and helpful in the event you don't know the rules (or make awful plays and get lucky vs. them). - In your opinion, what do you think were the main factors that contributed to you placing where you finished? Before registering for the High Roller at 17:00, I actually played the HORSE event from 13:00 - ~16:30. I'd like to believe that the torture of playing Limit Hold'em inspired a new creativity in my NLHE game, but the reality is that I got exceptionally lucky throughout the tournament. I doubled up in the 3rd hand of the High Roller after calling a 3-bet HJ vs CO and check-calling down three streets with Ace high versus a very aggressive/capable player. Not a theoretically approved call by any means, especially when we're actually beat by some of the bluffs my opponent should have in his range - but I went with my instinct, which (as a self-diagnosed calling-station) was to click call. Fortunately we found the small part of his range that we beat and I got a well-needed confidence boost. Another hand that stands out is on the Final Table with 9 players remaining, I raise-called A9o for 10bbs vs an aggressive opponent (who eventually came 2nd in the Main Event - congrats!) who had AQs and I rivered a straight. Possibly (very likely*) an ICM disaster on my part, however at this point I had been playing for ~13 hours, so was certainly not playing my A-game, and the payout structure was very top-heavy (which should mitigate some of the ICM pressure and allow me to justify my poor play). Still, very likely a huge punt - but as someone who plays poker recreationally and not as my full-time job, I try not to be too hard on myself with these errors. MTT poker is such a complex game, my focus is on limiting and learning from the number of mistakes I make, not completely eliminating them as that just isn't a realistic expectation. What does this result mean to you, and how did it feel to achieve it? Winning tournaments always feels nice, and it's certainly not something I take for granted. One of the difficulties of playing MTT's is that you have to accept that you will not win very often - even when you get a great result like 2nd place, you might leave the tournament feeling frustrated. This makes it even more important to celebrate and feel gratitude for the occasions in which you do win - which is something I'm actively trying to do. Do you have any major plans for the prize money which you earned? A boring answer, but not really. In reality, I profited just over 15 buy-ins, which might objectively be a lot of money, however relatively speaking, won't change my financial position, investment strategy, or the stakes I play etc. I certainly won't complain about a bankroll buffer though. I took my girlfriend out for a nice meal to thank her for all of her support as she has always been incredibly supportive and open-minded when it comes to poker, which certainly isn't something I take for granted. What's next for you? Do you have any other tournaments coming up? I'll play the upcoming Battle of Malta, but past that I haven't set out a plan for events. I have a pretty demanding full-time job, so travelling and playing events can be difficult, but Bratislava with The Festival towards the end of the year is tempting. I'd like to squeeze an EPT stop in at some point - we shall see. Have you taken part in other tournaments held in Malta? Malta actually rekindled my love for the game of poker. Before moving here from Wales I hadn't played live in ~6 years. The North Wales poker scene isn't as bustling as you might think Since I moved to Malta 4.5 years ago I've played a few live events with good results. I came 3rd in the UDSO & 4th in the Poker One, both in 2019. I also (after COVID!) had some deep runs in 2022 in the Battle of Malta (20th) and the PartyPoker Championship (16th) but was sadly unable to convert either to a podium finish, which is where the money is at in these large-field tournaments. It's a nice confidence boost to win a tournament, but navigating a field of 70 players is very different to navigating a field of 1000's (largely because you need to win more flips!). My eyes are still firmly set on finalling one of the bigger series events here and I'll continue firing bullets with that goal in mind. Have you participated in any tournaments internationally? Over a decade ago I played some UKIPT stops throughout the UK and Ireland which was always a great laugh. Also went to Lima, Peru to play an LAPT when I was 19 after winning a Pokerstars satellite - also a really incredible experience. I went to an event in Croatia back then around the same time which was beautiful. More recently, Bratislava for the Polish Poker Open a couple of years ago and Vegas for the WSOP last summer. I fired the Main Event and some side events/daily MTTs without much luck, unfortunately, but I see it as an investment in myself and the experience earned will hopefully pay dividends in the future. Plus, an item to tick off the expanding bucket list! Matthew Micallef - 7th Place in Main Event What did you like most about The Festival in Malta, besides placing so well? The structure of the main event was perfect considering the starting stack. Also, I liked the fact that day 1 finished early rather than having long breaks and ending up finishing at 1am. I also liked the vibe that there was throughout the week; everyone was there with a friendly attitude to enjoy the game. Did you try any other formats or tournaments, besides the main event? I would have liked to try other side events but unfortunately did not have the time to do so. There were some cool innovative side events which I'll try my luck in the future when the Festival series returns. In your opinion, what do you think were the main factors that contributed to you placing where you finished? Well, lately I have been spending a lot of time reading and studying poker strategies online in order to improve my game. Apart from that, patience and knowing when the time is right to push was the key, I believe. What does this result mean to you, and how did it feel to achieve it? Placing 7th is a great achievement; obviously when I made the final table my aim was to win it but unfortunately came up a bit short but this will give me some confidence and a boost for the upcoming events. Do you have any major plans for the prize money which you earned? My aim with the prize money is to re-invest all of it in future tournaments. What's next for you? Do you have any other tournaments coming up? Well, there are some upcoming events in Malta. In a month or so there are 3 upcoming events; the Battle of Malta, the Poker One, and the Summer Festival by Pokerstars. My aim is to perform well in all 3 of them. Have you taken part in other tournaments held locally? Yes, I have. I also played the Malta Poker Festival which I made to day 2 but did not make the money and a side event in the MPF - the Hendon Mob which I placed. Have you participated in any tournaments internationally? Regarding international tournaments - I basically started playing poker last summer and luckily enough played 2 tournaments abroad. 1 in Bratislava which was the Hendon Mob which I placed in the money and was lucky enough to win a package for the EPT in Paris online for the main event where I also placed in the top 10% of the field. Øystein Brenden - Winner of Main Event What did you like most about The Festival in Malta, besides placing first in the main event? Meet people I only meet on poker trips. Play with new opponents, professional or hobby players. A lot of tournaments, I especially like mixed games. And the warm weather. Did you try any other formats or tournaments, besides the main event? I played Sviten and came 4th. HORSE - no cash 8-game - no cash PLO madness - no cash In your opinion, what do you think were the main factors that contributed to you placing where you finished? I made good decisions (choices). Had 2 flips going my way. If I lose them I bust. Pick up better cards 3 times at FT when people went all in. 70/30 in my favour. I was patient. Day 1 - I was down 6k but BB was 200 so I built up to second chippie at the end. What does this result mean to you, and how did it feel to achieve it? Always good to win big prizes or titles. It makes it possible to travel more for playing poker (but not in summertime because of my job) And pay down the loan on my house and cars. Do you have any major plans for the prize money that you earned? No big plans. Renovating a house so some money goes there. What's next for you? Do you have any other tournaments coming up? Next big event is the Norwegian championship in October, this time in Norway. Last last year I came 3rd in the main event with above 1800 players (freeze out). Have you taken part in other tournaments held locally? Malta Poker Festival Battle of Malta IPC Have you participated in any tournaments internationally? Nottingham in February - First in PLO8 Rest only some cashes. We hope this inspires you to get out there and play some poker. Remember, you can't win unless you play! For more poker news, strategy and insight, remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram . Images courtesy of thefestival.com
Top 10 Most Insane Poker Prop Bets - The Art of the Wager
You can't be a poker player without being a gambler - it's in the job description! However, some poker players like a gamble more than others and will gamble on absolutely anything, including MMA matches, becoming vegetarian for a year, and much more! These bets are called prop bets or "proposition bets," and while they have no impact on your poker, they can make for some fascinating stories. It's those stories we'll be taking a look at today as we dive into the world of famous poker prop bets. 10. Lodden Thinks One of the few poker prop bets from this list we'd recommend trying with your friends is a game called "Lodden Thinks." The game was devised by high-stakes poker pros Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari during the final table of the 2008 WSOPE London Main Event. The two were so interested in what Johnny Lodden thought about random topics that they decided to turn it into a betting game. After sharing the game with the world on episodes of High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark, it quickly swept the poker scene, and soon, everyone was playing this game at the table. If you want to join in the fun, the game is really easy to play. First, set an amount that you're going to be playing for - it's best to keep the amount low if you're just playing between friends at the poker table. Next, designate someone to be Johnny Lodden (unless he's already at your table and willing to play!); they're going to be the ones deciding the answer to your question. Once you have someone to be your Lodden, you need to think of a question. In the very first game of Lodden Thinks, the question asked to Johnny was what he thinks the world record for holding one's breath is, but you can ask any question you like! The best part about this game is that you're betting on what someone thinks - so you don't need to know the correct answer. Once you have your Lodden and your question, the two players playing the game need to bet on what they think their friend thinks is the answer to the question. The best way to do this is to auction, and one player takes the under or over when they're happy to. For example, if the question is "How many cars are in the city of London," Player A may say over 1 million, then Player B says over 3.5 million, then Player A says over 4 million, etc. etc., until one person thinks it's under the amount. So, if you think it would be under 4 million, you "take the under," which means if they guessed under 4 million, you win, but if they guessed over 4 million, you lose. The game is a lot of fun and a great way to get some action going on a boring table. 9. Erick Lindgren's Four Rounds of Golf in a Day We quickly move from a bet we'd heartily recommend to one that we'd highly discourage - unless you're on the other side of it! Notable poker pro Erick Lindgren was challenged by Phil Ivey, Gavin Smith, and others to play four rounds of the Bear's Best course in Las Vegas back to back. Any golfer will know just how tough playing multiple rounds in a day can be, but add 100-degree Las Vegas heat to the equation, and what is a tough but doable challenge soon becomes much more daunting. Not only that, but Erick had to walk the entire course of Bear's Best, playing each round from the back tees scoring under 100 every round! To rub salt into the wounds, Erick's opponents got to pick which day he played, and they picked one of the hottest days of the year - who needs enemies when you have friends like that! We're sure many professionals would struggle to complete the bet based on these parameters, but with $340K on the line, Erick was going to give it his best shot. In fact, he did such a good job on his first three rounds that everyone but Ivey bought out during his fourth and final round. However, with $200K on the line, Ivey wasn't going to give up without a fight and made Erick complete the challenge - which he did. He may have won the bet, but Erick suffered dehydration and heat exhaustion, causing him to lose 14 pounds in a single day! 8. Vegetarian Phil Ivey Anyone who watched Season 6 of High Stakes Poker will be familiar with the Phil Ivey vegetarian bet, as it was a major talking point throughout most of the season. In fact, you can see some of the negotiations happen at the table, giving us a rare insight into how these bets are made. After much deliberation, it was decided that Tom Dwan would bet Phil Ivey $1 million that he couldn't be a vegetarian for the year. This bet was completely on the honour system, so Tom must have really trusted Phil if he was willing to risk $1 million! Despite Daniel Negreanu offering to help Ivey adjust his diet, Phil didn't last very long, succumbing only three weeks into the bet. He called up Tom and offered to buy out of the bet for $150,000 to eat some chicken. Tom obliged, and Phil ate what is likely the most expensive chicken dish in the world - we hope it was worth it! 7. Biker Bilzerian Bill Perkins is no stranger to a prop bet, and who better to bet against than millionaire Playboy Dan Bilzerian. Anyone who's followed Bill's prop betting will know that they all have an element of physical challenge to them, and this one is arguably one of the most challenging he's set. He gave Dan Bilzerian 48 hours to bike from Las Vegas to L.A. - that's roughly 300 miles in just two days! However, if he could do it, there would be a $600K prize waiting for him in L.A. Given that Bilzerian had claimed to have not ridden a bike for 18 years, this seemed like it would be a dead cert for Bill Perkins. However, after getting coaching from Lance Armstrong (hopefully just coaching) and putting in a lot of hard work and effort, Bilzerian was ready to take on the challenge. As an added bit of motivation, he also bet fellow degenerate Rick Salomon that he wouldn't die during the challenge. If he did, he would give his private jet to Salomon, whereas Salomon would have to pay out $250K if he did survive the challenge. Bilzerian smashed the bet, completing the journey in around 36 hours - giving him 12 hours to spare. While his body certainly felt the effects of the bet for a little while after, he walked away $850K richer. 6. MMA Madness Poker pros are no strangers to beef - if you think the modern disagreements between players like Doug Polk, Matt Berkey, and Nik Airball are a new thing, you're sorely mistaken! Back then, players weren't so keen on heads-up for rolls challenges, especially if one of the opponents was known as an expert heads-up player. So, when JC Avalardo and Olivier Busquet had a disagreement, they decided to bet $150K on a 5-round MMA match. Alvarado went into the match as a favourite thanks to his experience in Jiu-Jitsu, but Busquet used his training time well and came into the fight looking like a pro fighter. The jacked poker star dominated the fight from start to finish and was declared the winner after the third round on medical grounds. 5. Esfandiari Lunges towards Victory Lunges are one of those exercises that look a lot easier than they actually are. After a couple of minutes of lunges, your legs are on fire, and you can't wait to start walking like a normal person again. One person who seemingly didn't get the memo on just how painful lunges are is Antonio Esfandiari, who bet Bill Perkins $50,000 that he could only move via lunges for 48 hours during the 2016 PCA. The first day he got off easy, spending the majority of the day in his room at the Atlantis Resort and Casino, but day 2 saw him play the Main Event. To make matters worse, his room was about as far away from the playing area as it could have been, making things even tougher. After an exhausting day of lunging from place to place, Esfandiaria was on break in the tournament and needed the bathroom. Rather than face another lunge-filled trip to the bathroom, he decided to relieve himself at the table by covering himself with a jacket and using an empty water bottle. However, he wasn't as subtle as he thought, and several people witnessed the event. He was shortly ejected from the tournament due to a "breach of etiquette," but Esfandiari did win the bet with Perkins. Embarrassed by his actions, Antonio decided to donate the entire $50K bet to charity, splitting the money between One Drop and REG. It's not often that spending a penny will cost you $50K and a tournament entry! 4. Titanic Golf Shot One of the best known old-school gamblers, Titanic Thompson would bet on anything and everything. He was well known as a sharp gambler, but people couldn't help themselves when he offered such outlandish bets. One of those bets was that he could drive a golf ball over 500 yards. Even today, that would be considered an outlandish bet, but over 60 years ago, an expert player's drive was only around 200 yards; so, you'd be silly not to take that bet, right? Well, someone did take that bet, and they realised why you should never bet against Titanic Thompson. Thompson waited until the winter, then drove the ball onto a frozen lake. The ball bounced way past the required distance, and Titanic Thompson won the bet. 3. Amarillo Slim's Mad Selection Another old-school gambler with plenty of insane prop bets to pick from is Amarillo Slim. In fact, we found it so hard to pick just one bet we've settled on a list of some of his greatest hits. These include: Rafting down the "River of No Return" in the dead of winter. Beating a world champion ping pong player using coke bottles as paddles. Beating a horse in a 100-yard dash (achieved by running 50 yards, then doing a 180-degree turn before running back). Riding a camel through Casino El Mamounia in Marrakesh. And, our favourite, betting that a cat could pick up a Coke bottle. With a list like this, it's no wonder that Amarillo Slim is often considered the greatest gambler of his generation. 2. Not so "Kwik” Bathroom Break Back in the heyday of online poker, Jay Kwik was known for his levels of endurance. It was said that when he first started playing poker, he played for 10 days straight! Some of his friends, including notable high-stakes pro Andrew Robl, wanted to put that endurance to the test and challenged him to spend 30 days in the bathroom of his hotel suite in the Bellagio. Depending on your need for social interaction, this may either sound like a walk in the park or your idea of hell. However, to make things even harder for Jay, there were limitations placed on the bet. He would have no computer, no contact with his friends, and must be on camera constantly. You'd think that anyone forced to live in these conditions would quickly go mad, but Jay excelled at the challenge - so much so that Robl bought out for $40,000 four days before the end, saying that Kwik was "just too good." 1. Zembic's Bazoongas Arguably the most insane prop bet we've ever seen was made by poker pro Brian Zembic. He bet $100,000 back in 1996 that he could go one full year with breast implants. You read that right, Brian bet that he could live with breast implants for an entire year. Brian would have to pay for the implants himself and not have them removed for an entire year to win the bet. While it may seem like the jokes from your friends and loved ones would be too much to handle, Brian embraced the bet and went under the knife to receive 38C cup breast implants. Not only did Brian easily make it the whole year, but he became so fond of the new implants that he decided to keep them! As far as we know, he's yet to have them removed, saying that they're now a big part of his life and made him a much bigger hit with the ladies. According to the terms of the bet, Brian wins an additional $10,000 for every year he keeps the implants after the initial year, meaning that he's won over $350K from this bet alone. We hope you've enjoyed this round-up of PokerDeal's favourite insane poker player prop bets, but please do take care before making any insane prop bets of your own! If you do try any crazy prop bets, remember to bet within your means, use an escrow where possible, and for God's sake, don't do anything dangerous!
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