Prop bets are stupid!
There, I said it. I’m sure this will be a very unpopular sentiment. Most of you will disagree, possibly vehemently. I understand that prop bets are ingrained in poker culture. They seem to go hand in hand with the gambling aspect of poker. The best prop bets are the stuff of legend and even lesser prob bets can bring a snicker or whiff of amusement from even the casual fan. How could they? He did that? I wouldn’t, it wasn’t enough money? I understand the dynamic and I’m still not a fan of prop bets.
The reason I think prop bets are stupid are illustrated in the recent prop bet between Ashton “theASHMAN103″ Griffin and Haseeb “INTERNETPOKERS” Quereshi. The prop bet involved a hastily devised challenge to see if Ashton could run 70 miles on a treadmill within 24 hours, no walking counted and he could rest as needed. The original sums wagered were $70k vs $210k if Ashton lost.
Part of the way through the challenge, Ashton wanted more action on two conditions, that they remain friends regardless and that they felt 100% secure that there could be no cheating involved. The action grew for Ashton to $300k if he won and to pay out $900k if he lost.
Using this extreme running prop bet as an example, we see the main elements to which I object.
1. Prop bets are fueled by greed. One party is looking to gain from the transaction at the expense of the other, which motivates all kinds of angle shooting. Everyone is looking for an edge, using negotiation and often deception as part of the process. Haseeb was his friend, but feared someone else taking the action if Ashton was determined to go through with it regardless. Ashton has had a history of being taken advantage of in prior prop bets, losing large sums that he had won playing poker.
2. Prop bets affect relationships. While many poker players are pretty good at disassociating from the value of money, money always affects our relationships. We resent those who have more or take money from us in one way or another. If the prop bet involves some form of embarrassment or physical harm (e.g. jumping in a shark tank, extreme weight loss, or eating some huge pile of wasabi/hot peppers) there can be long standing residual affects. The bet was hastily conceived with Ashton having not had much sleep and drinking considerably the prior night.
If the thought of winning money is your soul motivation for conceiving some strange prop bet, reconsider. Why does the money suddenly make you want to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily. We aren’t talking about people needing money to pay bills, these are established poker players who aren’t poverty level. They do it because they want the sweat. They want the thrill. They want the challenge. They make the prop bet because they can’t feel alive if there’s not some intense pain or pleasure for their activity.
The fact that Ashton won his prop bet and $300k with 45 minutes remaining doesn’t lesson my concerns. I think all parties will be affected moving forward.
Call me stupid if you want, but I would rather have a good “gentleman’s bet” than one that might be fueled by greed, angle shooting, or affect any friendship I have.