Poker players love action. They thrive on competition. Nothing gets crazier or more heated than two poker players trying to outdo each other, whether it is on the felt or off. Poker is a very civilized game in the modern era. It's not like the wild west days when you needed to be armed to make sure the pot was right. One of the most iconic murders on the western frontier occurred in the middle of a poker game. After all, they even nicknamed two pair – Aces and eights – the “Dead Man's Hand” after Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down in Deadwood, Dakota Territory while clutching Aces and eights during a draw poker game.
Today, poker players often duke it out on in forums like 2+2 or hurl shade at each other on Twitter. Violence has been all but eliminated from poker in its Age of Aquarius and era of enlightenment and deep thinking. The math geeks armed with spreadsheets have taken over and muscled out the ancient grizzled gunslingers of yesteryear. These days the only fist fights between two poker players you will see in Vegas is a sanctioned prop bet! (Editor's Note: Between you and me, the best pound-for-pound, worldstar fights in Las Vegas occur in casino hotel lobbies or outside casino clubs on weekend nights between the hours of 3am and 5am. Nothing is more awesome than a trio of blood-thirsty, shit-housed drunk,whiskey tango vixens dragging a shoeless, foul-mouthed, white-girl-wasted millennial through the lobby by her hair.)
Last September, Olivier Busquet actively sought out a challenging mixed-martial arts fight for six figures and asked the Twitter world if anyone was interested. J.C. Alvarado accepted. They first had to settle on a weight because Busquet was heavier and they agreed on 187.5 lbs for Busquet and 165 for Alvarado. They also agreed on a wager amount with slight odds: Busquet's $120,000 against Alvarado's $150,000. Overall, more than a quarter of a million dollars was at stake. The fight was on!
Then there's the fact that if I do get head-kicked KO'ed like ElkY did, I have to show up to poker tournaments and be that guy forever. That's another factor that's in the back of your head the whole time.
The two agreed to fight tonight, April 21, at Syndicates MMA Gym in Las Vegas at 6pm PT or 9pm ET. There was no going back; if either got scared and wanted to quit, they'd have to pay a huge backout penalty. This special fight would consist of four 5-minute rounds with a fifth round as a tiebreaker if both were tied. Yes, judges are appointed to keep tabs on the fighters like a proper UFC fight.
The two poker players began rigorous training. At one point, Busquet broke his nose, and in another incident, J.C. got punched in the liver by Demetrius Johnson, the flyweight UFC champion, who was training J.C. in Kirkland, WA. Meanwhile, Busquet trained in a Bronx, NY gym called East Coast United run by Tito Hartz. The eloquent Busquet penned his thoughts on his spitired/insane quest.
Big-time prop bets are the rage these days. Dan Bilzerian shipped a $1.2 million prop bet riding a bicycle from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. A few weeks earlier, Samantha Abernathy won $10,000 for riding her bike from Vegas > LA. In the actual brawling department, two ladies rumbled in Vegas when British pro Liv Boeree boxed my former colleague, TV journalist Melissa Castello. Boeree won their match during the 2009 WSOP, but in an all-out drunken bar brawl, I'll take Chicago's Castello on my side any day. In 2011, Elky fought Lex Veldhuis but lost from a kick to the head. Numerous tales of fisticuffs are a part of poker lore both legit and exaggerated. My all-time favorite is the time Sam Grizzle punched a young Phil Hellmuth in the face after he mouthed off to a surly Grizzle at the old Binion's Horseshoe.
But tonight is the real deal. $270,000 is on the line. Pride. Ego. Discipline. Victory. It's all on the line tonight. MMA/UFC style rules. J.C. vs. Olivier. The East Coast intellectual Ivy Leaguer vs Mexican Conspiracy Theorist. Watch it here…
Notorious Prop Bets in Poker
- Mike Matusow dropped 60 pounds to win a $100K against Ted Forrest and it came down to the wire, but a slimmed-down Matusow won on the final day by a single pound.
- While sitting at the Bellagio, David Grey once offered vegetarian Deadhead Howard Lederer to eat a burger for $10,000. Lederer snap-called, ordered a cheeseburger, and ate meat for the first time in years.
- Andrew Robl bet Jay Kwik he couldn't live in the Bellagio bathroom – by the poker room – for a month. Kwik committed fully to winning and a webcam was set up to monitor his progress. Kwik was about to pull it off when Robl bought out.
- Johnny 'World' Hennigan had to live in the bleak, boring state of Iowa for one month. Seems easy today, but in pre-Internet days the notion seems outrageous for a compulsive gambler. He didn't last more than a few days and bailed. This is the origin of the Live in Iowa urban prop bet.
- Huck Seed bet Phil Hellmuth for $50,000 that Huck could stand in the ocean for 18-straight hours. Hellmuth snap-called on the bet, but Huck gave up after three hours. He underestimated the power and frigidness of the Pacific Ocean.
- The craziest prop bet of all-time is the infamous Erick Lindren golf bet in which he almost died during the 2007 World Series of Poker. Gavin Smith, Phil Ivey, Chris Bell and others wagered Lindgren that he couldn't shoot four rounds of golf shooting under 100 for each round, without using a golf cart and carrying his own bag. This redonk $340,000 wager was made during an all-night drinking bender in a Vegas stripclub and Lindgren pulled it off the next morning after no sleep in sweltering 100+ degree temps. It took 14 hours for Lindgren to complete 72 total holes of golf, which amounted to 20 miles of walking (while lugging his golf bag). Lindgren shipped the wager but not without any physical damage. To this day Lindgren admits that he's still not 100% recovered after that torturous day on the links trying to win a $340K golf prop bet. Watch the video below. (Yes, I made a cameo at the 3:20 mark! And double yes, I bet on Lindgren and won a shit-ton of cash.)