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Poker Pros Bet On Push-Ups, Puzzles, And Nuggets During COVID-19 Shutdown

With Live Poker On Hiatus, Poker Pros Take Up Prop Betting On Social Media


If there is a silver lining to the outbreak of COVID-19 and complete shutdown of live poker, for the time being, it’s clearly the return of high-stakes prop betting.

With live players suddenly having a bunch of time on their hands, professional poker players have brought back the art form that is proposition betting.

Former poker pro and current daily fantasy sports guru Pete Christensen was at the center of the most highly publicized wager. According to Christensen’s original tweet that laid out the specific rules of the bet, he wagered $2,000 against DFS pro Jonathan Bales that Bales could not finish 2,400 push-ups in a 12-hour span.

Bales would complete all the pushups on camera in front of three judges approved by both Christensen and Bales, who would count each push-up.

Although Christensen’s tweet said that there was a $2,000 wager, it was rumored that he ended up betting much more than that. Beyond the initial bet between Bales and Christensen, the bet became so popular in the gambling world that there was plenty of side action between gamblers who took opposite sides.

Christensen tweeted that he thought there were probably seven-figures changing hands on the outcome of the bet. BetOnline’s sportsbook even started taking bets for those who couldn’t find another party to take the other side. Just before the start of the event, “yes” was the favorite going off at -150 on the money line.

The favorite came in with Bales completing the 2,400 push-ups with about an hour to spare.

High-stakes mixed game specialist Melissa Burr was at the center of two of the other more popular bets being talked about on social media.

Burr, who finished seventh in the 2014 $50,000 WSOP Poker Players Championship, decided that she wanted action on how long it would take Josh Arieh to finish a 2,000-piece puzzle, wanting someone else to set the line so she could pick the side.

She got action from WSOP bracelet winner and WPTDeepStacks champion Jason Young. Burr took the over on 31.5 hours for $100. Arieh completed the puzzled under the allotted amount of time and Young won the bet. Instead of taking the money and pocketing it, Young decided to buy $100 worth of pizza and have them delivered to his local hospital.

Burr’s bet that had more fanfare surrounding it was her chicken nugget bet. Burr and her friend known as “RGR” wagered on how many nuggets Burr could eat in one hour. She wouldn’t disclose the amount wagered but would say that it was “more than $1,000 and less than $50,000.”

There were a couple of different milestones in this bet. She laid 5:1 on being able to down at least 47 nuggets and even money on 60. With each of those lines, hitting the number exactly was a push and she would need to eat at least one nugget over that amount to win the bet.

Burr During The 2014 Poker Players Championship“I basically called [RGR] a wimp for not being able to eat 47 chicken nuggets,” said Burr about how the bet originated. “That’s where we got the line and the idea to bet.”

Whistleblower of the Stones Live cheating scandal, Veronica Brill, live-streamed the entire hour on her YouTube channel.

As Burr got closer to the finish line, Brill offered that if Burr could eat an extra nugget and reach 62, she would donate $100 to the local food bank. Other similar offers came in and Burr ended up eating 65 before calling it quits.

David Tuchman, Andrew Barber, and a couple of others added $100 donations, while Vanessa Selbst made a $300 contribution of her own.

“I knew I had to eat as many as I could before my body realized it was full,” said Burr about the experience. “At exactly nugget 54, I felt the metaphoric wall. But how could I be the girl that puked on YouTube? So, I dug deep and ignored the feeling. At the end, I thought I would feel worse than I did, but surprisingly I just felt consistently full for the next 36 hours.”

Even with the uptick in random gambling during the COVID-19 shutdown, Burr acknowledges that this is nothing compared to what some of the old school gamblers did.

“Craziest prop bet? You’d have to ask someone like Ted Forrest,” said Burr. “My history of prop betting pales in comparison to some of these guys.”

In 2010, Forrest made one of the more legendary bets when he risked $150,000 to win $2 million after Mike Matusow bet him that the then 188-pound Forrest couldn’t weigh under 140 pounds in just a few months. Forrest weighed in at 138.

Other notable high-stakes prop bets from recent poker history include Ashton Griffin’s 2011 $300,000 victory by running 70 miles in 24 hours and Erick Lindgren’s infamous 2007 golf prop bet. Lindgren won $340,000 from Phil Ivey, Gavin Smith, and a handful of other high-profile poker pros that when he walked four consecutive rounds in the Las Vegas summer heat, carrying his own clubs and shooting under 100 for every round.

The coronavirus quarantine measures certainly cast doubt over when live poker will return, but one thing is certain. Gamblers are going to find a way to gamble.