World Series of Poker Betting Preview

I’m not a devoted poker player but I dabble. I also keep my eye on what is going on on the pro circuit. It only makes sense, then, that I would be drawn to the World Series of Poker in search of betting opportunities. The series starts today at the Rio in Las Vegas and continues on for the next six weeks. Over that time there will be 53 events played. Bodog, because of their connection to poker, has a large number of props available at the event. Here’s a quick look at some of the more interesting ones:

Will a player win two bracelets? Yes – +110, No – -140. If you aren’t familiar with the WSOP, a bracelet is given to the winner of each event. They are seen as the holy grail of the poker world. I think that there is actually a bit of value here on the yes side. Poker is a game of streaks, and the format of the series is perfect for a player to get hot. I would bet that it is going to happen this year because it seems to happen consistently. I can’t find a list of double winners everywhere, but just off the top of my head I know Layne Flack did it in 2003, Mark Seif doubled up in 2005, Jeff Madsen and Bill Chen both won two in 2006, and Tom Schneider did it last year. I’m sure I am missing one or two, but even if I am not that makes it seem pretty likely that someone will pull it off this year.

Which celebrity player will win the most money in the Main Event?
Unlike the last question, this one is just a shot in the dark. It’s kind of entertaining, though. The Main Event will likely draw more than 7,000 players this year, and several relatively big name celebrities will be among them. There are a good number of decent players who come from more public walks of life – Jennifer Tilly has a bracelet, Tobey Maguire has won a fairly major non-WSOP event and done well here, James Woods is competitive, and people like Shannon Elizabeth, Norm MacDonald, Brad Garrett and even Montel Williams have made some noise in the past. That being said, you are fooling yourself if you think that this bet is anything more than a guess. You might as well find a good price, then. Jennifer Tilly probably has the best shot, but at 5/1 she isn’t attractive at all. James Woods and Shannon Elizabeth have both done well in other televised events and could do well here, too, but they are also 5/1, so they are out. I wouldn’t touch Jose Canseco if he was the only person in the field, so I’ll skip him even though he is 30/1. Two names jump out that offer as much value as a silly bet like this can offer. Spider Man himself has game, and he s at 11/1. The other is Sully Erna at 14/1. He may not be a familiar name, but he is the lead singer of Godsmack. More importantly, he plays a lot of poker, and looks to be fairly decent. I think he would be lower than he is if people knew who he was. Last year, Erna was the deepest celebrity, and Maguire was second, so I am getting decent prices for going with recent history. Erna also went the second deepest in 2006.

Will a former Main Event winner make the final table of the Main Event?
Yes – +900. This one is interesting. The main event has exploded in popularity over the last five years. A former champ has been at the final table twice over that time (same guy both times – Dan Harrington). As the fields get bigger it gets harder and harder to make the last table, but then there are also more for champs to take a shot. Though no champ has made it in the last three years, a few have come close. Scotty Nguyen ended up just two spots away in 11th last year. Greg Raymer finished 25th in 2005, the year after he won his title. All in all, there are about a dozen former champs who will be competitive this year. That doesn’t necessarily make this a good bet, but it would be a great place to put a few bucks to give you something to root for during the main event. It’s certainly possible.

Which World Champion will last longest in the Main Event?
A World Champion is just a Main Event winner. This bet is basically just a wild guess, but it is interesting because of the number of players who have bad odds associated with them. To handicap, you can start by knocking off the guys who don’t really stand a chance because they haven’t done a lot since their wins. That knocks out Chris Moneymaker (16/1), Jamie Gold (10/1), and Jerry Yang (16/1). Next, you can knock out the guys who are older, because the endurance test that is this tournament certainly doesn’t favor them. That rules out Dan Harrington (7/1) and Doyle Brunson (11/2). Next, you can knock out the guys that appear to be an underlay. Greg Raymer hasn’t been particularly competitive the last couple of years, so I am happy to knock him out at 7/1. Phil Hellmuth has more bracelets than anyone, but he still doesn’t belong at 9/2. That knocks us down to five players – Joe Hachem, Huck Seed and Scotty Nguyen at 7/1, and Juan Carlos Mortensen and Chris Ferguson at 9/2. Nguyen went deepest last year, so given the nature of the event I would happily bet against him doing so again this year. Seed is a good player, and he finished 73rd last year, but he isn’t particularly consistent, so I would drop him. That leaves Hachem, Ferguson and Mortensen. That’s a very solid group, so you can decide for yourself from here.

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