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Phil Hellmuth Wins $23,000 Tennis Prop Bet

The Poker Brat Had To Return A Serve From A Tennis Pro and Win A Point To Win Both Bets


One of poker’s biggest selling points is that amateur players can compete against professionals and sometimes come away victorious. Fans of the game can put up money and win a hand against all-time World Series of Poker bracelet leader Phil Hellmuth, something that just isn’t possible in most competitive endeavors.

In this story, it was Hellmuth himself who was competing against professional players for money as an amateur. Hellmuth had made a bet that given 20 chances, he could return the serve of a tennis professional as long as they did not hit he serve at over 80 MPH. Hellmuth bet $7,000 at even money that he could make at least one return and then got laid 8-to-1 on $2,000 that he could win at least one point. The ‘Poker Brat’ was risking $9,000 with a chance to win $23,000.

The speed limitation seemed to be the key to Hellmuth’s hopes. As retired tennis professional Andy Roddick noted in a response to Hellmuth on Twitter, a serve no faster than 80 MPH is hardly representative of what pros normally hit. Most top male players average first serve speeds of over 110 MPH, with Roddick himself having once hit a 155 MPH serve.

While an experienced player can make it tough on an amateur even with an 80 MPH speed limit, there are limitations to what ball placement, spin, and directional control can do without a bit of speed behind them.

Hellmuth posted a series of videos showing his attempts to return the serve. He started out by getting a racket on the first attempt but was then was aced on the second try when the pro painted the line with a wide serve.

Hellmuth eventually was able to block back a serve up the middle, seemingly applying a little backspin on his followthrough. The ball landed well inside the service line and the pro was a little slow on getting up to the short ball. The clay court kept Hellmuth’s junky shot low to the ground and the pro missed his attempt to hit a drop shot back over to Hellmuth’s side of the net.

With that Hellmuth had won both his bets, earning himself $23,000. This was not the first time that Hellmuth has won a prop bet with his athletic ability. The 54-year-old earned $15,000 for making a three-point basketball shot without a warm-up. Who knows what feat of physical prowess Hellmuth will profit from next?