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WSOP Prop Bets

THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2006-06-18, by TwoGun

The Main Event of the World Series of Poker is the biggest poker event of the year. Over seven thousand people will probably enter the event this year, and most likely some unknown will emerge poker's next millionaire.

An event this large is always going to attract betting. I don't mean the actual poker playing that goes on at the WSOP. I mean placing bets on who is going to win the WSOP. Some sportsbooks offer all sorts of prop bets about the WSOP. Almost all (maybe even all) of these bets are total sucker bets and should be avoided. However, for the sake of entertainment, let's look at some of the more popular bets offered and analyze which are well…not the worst. I'm not a poker handicapper by any means, but I'll give it my best shot.


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Who Will Win/Make Final Table of the WSOP

This is the most popular bet people will make. People can bet on the outright winner of the WSOP. Sometimes, sportsbooks will also have bets on who will make the final table. Almost all the well-knowns are listed in these lines. Here are some examples for the outright winner of the 2006 WSOP:

Phil Ivey 33:1
Daniel Negreanu 80:1
Dan Harrington 200:1
Chris Ferguson 500:1
Barry Greenstein 500:1
Greg Raymer 500:1
Michael Mizrachi 1000:1
John Phan 1000:1

If I was forced to make a bet, I would bet on one of the pros with higher odds. Betting that Phil Ivey will win the WSOP at 33:1 odds may be the worst bet of all time (those odds are not nearly good enough for just the final table). With the size of the field as huge as it is, someone like Phil Ivey doesn't have over ten times as good of a chance at winning as someone like Chris Ferguson or Greg Raymer. If I was going to bet with odds like the ones above, I would put my bet on someone like Mizrachi or Phan with the 1000:1 odds. I doubt this bet would be +EV, but it's probably the best choice available.

Winning Hand of the 2006 WSOP

Royal Flush 210:1
Straight Flush 155:1
Four of a Kind 60:1
Full House 8:1
Flush 2:1
Straight 1:1
Three of a Kind 1:1
Two Pair 8:5
Pair 7:4
High Card 17:4

This is the biggest sucker bet that I've seen. The odds the sportsbook are giving are just flat-out ludicrous. Two of the bets have 1:1 odds and there are ten bets to choose from! It's one thing to make a -EV bet here and there for fun, but this is just downright thievery.

Birthplace of 2006 WSOP Winner

USA 2:9
Rest of World 11:4

This is one of the more interesting bets. Last year's WSOP was won by a non-American, and there'll be a very large contingent of non-Americans at this year's WSOP. I think the growth in online poker qualifiers will also significantly raise the proportion of non-US entrants. It's much easier for someone abroad to just win a package playing at home than to convince oneself to travel across the world for two weeks in order to pony up $10k for a slight chance at winning a lot of money.

I definitely would not bet on the US with these odds. If 9:2 was offered for betting on the rest of the world, I'd take it in a heartbeat. However, because the vig, those odds are not available at most sportsbooks, and I'd be reluctant to call 11:4 a +EV bet.

WSOP Winner: Male or Female

Male 1:15
Female 10:1

This is the one bet I saw that I thought might be +EV for the better. There's a steep difference in the prices offered (very high vig). To me, there's one obvious bet though. Can you guess what it is?

Poker is a lot of things, but one thing it definitely is not is gender-balanced. I doubt there'll be a very significant increase in the percentage of female players during this year's WSOP. During the past year, high-stakes poker has become more internationalized, but not significantly more gender-balanced as far as I can tell.

If we assume that the proportion of female players in the 2006 WSOP is similar to the proportion of female players in the 2005 WSOP, then the 1:15 bet looks pretty decent. I analyzed the chip counts after day 1 for the proportion of men:women. While it was difficult since many of the names could be male or female, I'd estimate that there were about 15-20 men for every woman after day one in last year's event.

It would be great for poker's image if a woman won the WSOP, but I'd lay 15:1 to say it won't happen this year.

The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.

 


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