Kings of the Poker Betting World

It’s hardly surprising that poker players are fans of placing a wager – betting is a huge part of their favourite game after all – but who tops the charts among poker pros for trying their luck off-the-felt?

By: Andrew Burnett

Let’s start with the most obvious place for poker players to try their hand at non-poker games, the casino.


There are legendary tales of players who won and lost millions as they made their way to and from poker rooms, and then there are those, for example Phil Ivey, who carved out a second career at the Baccarat tables.

Ivey’s $20million edge-sorting has been written about way too much, but how about Jake Cody’s remarkable punt?

In 2018 Cody scooped £42,000 (almost $60,000) at partypoker’s UK Poker Championships in Nottingham’s ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ casino, but decided to gamble on a ‘double or nothing’ roulette spin!

With casino boss Rob Yong looking on, and to chants of "Black! Black! Black!" from the friends and fellow players gathered to watch, Cody’s wager paid off

The Englishman later explained: "…I base a lot of my life decisions based on how good of a story it would be. I thought it would be a good story."


If Cody’s story is good, then James Holzhauer’s is remarkable, the Illinois man producing 32 straight wins on quiz show Jeopardy in 2019 to bag close to $2.5 million.

As a professional sportsbetter, and a keen poker player with WSOP events under his belt, Holzhauer came within $50k of the all-time Jeopardy record set by Ken Jennings back in 2004.

An earlier version of a similar story saw the legendary sportsbettor Mickey Appelman turn victory in the 1984 Ultimate Handicapping Challenge into a career.

Four WSOP bracelets followed his big sportsbetting victory and he became renowned for some of the biggest wagers in Vegas, with a $300,000 win on the Muhammad Ali vs Larry Holmes Heavyweight title fight in 1980.

A 1986 bet on Ferdinand to win the Kentucky Derby should have netted Appelman $1.2 million, but in those days such bets usually involved underground bookies, often Mafia-controlled, and word is that he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse!

No such problems nowadays of course, with sites such as removing the need to worry about a horse’s head on your bed when you fancy a flutter!

Prop bets

Of course, poker players are also noted for their love of prop betting, one famous wager seeing Antonio ‘The Magician’ Esfandiari winning $50,000 (and getting DQ’d from the tournament!) from Bill Perkins for two days of ‘lunges’.

Weight loss bets, ‘going vegetarian’ wagers, cycling from LA to Vegas in 24 hours, WSOP bracelet bets, even getting breast implants – the list of prop bets made, won and lost in the poker world is almost endless.

The biggest? Well, that may well be a recent one that Mike ‘Bank of Timex’ McDonald offered, looking for $4million against his $400k that he can become a chess grandmaster within his lifetime.

Take it from someone who knows…if you can afford to take the bet, you should snatch McDonald’s hand off on that one!

So there you have it, a brief rundown of the most incredible bets and bettors that have graced a poker table. There are hundreds of such tales of course, and it’s as good a time as any to remind everyone to gamble responsibly - especially if the ‘downside’ involves breast implants!


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