Every year at the World Series of Poker, even before the cards hit the air, rumors about substantial wagers among big name players begin to fly. This year was no exception, with two particularly enticing prop bets the talk of forum posts and twitter feeds everywhere.
Phil Ivey has become legendary, not just as one of the finest poker players in the world, but also as an ultra-high stakes prop better. Last year he made waves in the Amazon Room after he wrangled tournament staff to get the LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics NBA Playoff finals up on the big screen in place of the tournament clock. Shots of his usually stoic visage sweating the game and ignoring his chips all but confirmed the rumor that he had placed a $2 million on the LA Lakers to triumph in the series. The Celtic’s eventual victory might have left him wishing he had concentrated a little harder on poker.
Also causing tongues to wag last year were Ivey’s advertisements for a bet against his own performance. Ivey was offering odds to all comers that he would pick up his 6th WSOP bracelet. Exact figures were never revealed, but it is thought that the cumulative bets topped $1 million. After failing to win big last year he seems to be playing bookie once again, perhaps hoping to recoup his losses. Rumors of the total money wagered against him picking up a WSOP victory have ballooned as high as $10 million. It is likely no concrete numbers will ever be announced, but it seems Ivey is pilling some series pressure on himself this year.
One public prop bet he won’t be taking any part in has been laid out by the team of Daniel Negreanu and Erick Lindgren. The pair challenged any other two players, except Phil Ivey, to oppose them in a contest to see who could accumulate the most WSOP Player of the Year points. Points are awarded for every open event, so long as you cash, with the amount increasing the higher you place. The only team to have accepted the challenge are cash game master Barry Greenstein and Australian ring game player Jeff Lisandro.
Once again exact figures are being kept under raps, but Greenstein seems to have confirmed rumors that the figure is sizable. He told ESPN that, “I have a lot of prop bets. The biggest one is that I have a team bet for player of the year points.” Negreanu has also publicized his small contribution to the Phil Ivey fund. He recently blogged that he was staging his “usual” $200,000 bet with Ivey to see who could win the most bracelets at this year’s series.
Recent form seems to suggest that Erick and Daniel are the favorites. Erick picked up his first bracelet last year – having been generally regarded as the finest player never to win one – and finished up with the overall Player of the Year title. Daniel has only been attending the WSOP since the late 90’s but already has 4 bracelets and 34 cashes, as well as the 2004 POY title.
Greenstein just pips Daniel for the total number of cashes, with 37, but lags one bracelet behind him. The Bear, as he is affectionately known, is an old hand at the WSOP, which may lead some to conclude that his numbers are not as impressive. However, for many years he attended only to profit from cash games and neglected the tournaments. By way of proof, his three bracelets have all come since 2004. Lisandro also has a bracelet to his name, as well as 25 cashes since 1997.
With 5 open events completed the old hands have a slight lead over the newbies. Daniel has picked up 20 points and $36,266 for his 10th place finish in the $10k Seven Card Stud Championships, while Erick has posted 15 points and $10,660 for 20th in the $2.5k 2-7 Lowball and 34th in the $1.5k Omaha Hi/Lo. Barry currently stands on 20 points and $4,094, following his 18th place finish in the 2-7 Lowball event. Currently tipping the scales is Lisandro with 30 points and $36,266. His 9th place finish in the $10k Seven Card Stud Championships was just one place higher than Negreanu’s only scoring event, but is worth 10 points more – even though they both received the same payout.
With the WSOP just getting underway Barry & Jeff lead the way with 50 points, leaving Erick & Daniel trailing with 35 points.