The top 5 craziest sporting prop bets

Following the news that Sorel Mizzi is about to take on a dangerous swimming bet, Barry Carter looks back at some of the funniest sporting prop bets in poker.

5. The running backwards bets

// is not known as an athlete, but he is not known as a politician either, but that doesn't stop Tony G, who has done plenty of sporting prop bets. 

David Saab bet him $7,500 that he could not beat former basketball pro Nick Lackovic in a 200 metre race, with Lackovic getting a 50 metre head start. Tony was, at the time, quite portly and Lackovic was obviously tall and in great shape, so understandably there was a stipulation. Lackovic had to run backwards the entire way. 

Not only did Lackovic beat Tony, he probably could have done so without the 50 metre head start. In true gambler style, rather than feel embarrassment about his performance he felt the most frustration at the odds, saying afterwards “Maybe next time I should get better odds than evens”. 

Earlier this year Theo Jørgensen shared with us that he won a similar bet, to beat a friend in a 10k race where 5k of it he had to be run backwards:

"The trick is I pretty much sprint 300 metres, then get my breath back and take it slowly running backwards for 300 metres. It would not be pretty if I had to run 5km backwards in a row, but we are not talking about that."

4. The prize fighting bets

// of Theo Jørgensen, he also famously won a boxing prop bet against his good friend and rival Gus Hansen. Gus had always beaten him in sporting prop bets, but Theo felt he could win in the squared circle. 

His plan was to keep the bet low (for them) at just $35,000. This would not be enough to motivate Gus to train hard for it. Theo on the other hand trained like a demon for five months.

The strategy paid off, and Theo won easily on points in a less than exciting bout in Denmark. 

A much more entertaining scrap came when PokerStars Pros Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier and Lex Veldhuis decided to duke it out in a kickboxing prop bet. 

He may have lost the bet, but ElkY got a lot of respect after the match, after getting up from the canvas after a brutal kick to the head from the former amateur boxer Veldhuis (Though the fight was stopped sooner after). 

3. The extreme golf bets

// and golf go hand in hand, and perhaps the reason it is so popular is the ease at which you can make wagers during each game. 

There have been many golfing prop bets, but the most notable of all of them will always be Erick Lindgren's wager to shoot under 100 four times in 2007 with no caddy. Shooting under 100 is tough in itself, having to carry your own clubs even tougher, but the toughest part was no doubt that he picked one of the hottest days of the year on a Las Vegas golf course to do it.

Oh, and if that wasn't hard enough, he was hungover and hadn't slept much. That's what happens when you make a drunken wager with Gavin Smith.

Amazingly Lindgren managed it, but reports he never quite felt the same physically after it. He won over $340,000 from the poker community that day. 

Perhaps the most remarkable thing of all is that Huck Seed did and won the exact same bet a few years earlier but hardly received any attention at all for it. 

2. The endurance running bets

// we are on the subject of Huck Seed, both he and his friend Ted Forrest are no strangers to sporting prop bets. Both found themselves having to run a marathon around the University of Las Vegas on a 115 degree day. Ted had bet Mike Svobodny he could do it for $7,000 and Huck was doing it to get out of another bet he had with Svobodny. 

Both men were fine for the first 50 laps of the 106 lap race, and even talked about betting that they could do it five days in a row. 

However the second half got a lot tougher. A UNLV coach was amazed anyone was running on such a hot day and warned them they could die doing what they were doing. 

Both men completed the bet, but it came at a cost for Ted. He suffered heat exhaustion for two weeks. More disturbingly, the track was made from rubber urethane which radiates heat and caused Ted's shoes to melt and stick to his feet. He actually lost part of the sole of his foot inside his sock.

Today Ted says he would not take the same bet for $100,000.

However the most notable running bet of all-time has to be the one involving Ashton Griffin. 

Justin Smith and Hasseb Quereshi booked a three-to-one bet with Griffin that he couldn't run 70 miles in one day on a treadmill. To make matters worse, Griffin was hungover and working on very little sleep (which probably explains why the bet was made in the first place). 

Everyone involved was worried about Griffin's health, his parents even drove from their home state to put an end to it. However Griffin would not be deterred and 23 hours and 15 minutes later he was reported to be around $350,000 better off as a result.

Just like Ted Forrest, Griffin was a former wrestler who knew his body well and had participated in some extreme training camps. He felt he was never in any real danger, despite the rest of the poker world thinking otherwise. 

1. The table tennis bets

// 'Slim' Preston has won a multitude of athletic prop bets despite his less than impressive frame, including beating the horse SeaBiscuit in a 100 yard dash. 

However, my favourite sporting story involves Amarillo Slim and table tennis. Slim had already become infamous when he beat former tennis pro Bobby Riggs in a game of table tennis where Slim got to pick what was used as a paddle - a frying pan.

Slim had practiced for months to perfect his frying pan technique. 

Many years later he found he was getting regular offers to repeat the bet. He waited until the money was too big to turn down and accepted a bet to play against a Taiwanese table tennis champion. 

Once again, he got to stipulate what would be used as a paddle, but instead of revealing two frying pans, he brought out two glass Coca-Cola bottles and announced "The thin end is the paddle."

While this accomplished table tennis star had been practicing with the largest surface area paddle possible, Slim had been practicing with one of the smallest surface areas. Slim won in straight sets.

Did I miss an infamous sporting prop bet? Have you ever done something extreme and/or athletic for money? Let me know in the comments box. 

// Carter is the editor of and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2. He has been working in the poker industry for nine years and in 2013 won the APAT Award for Best Poker Media Provider. You can learn more about his work here

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