A year ago, Eli Elezra’s prop bets were the talk of the World Series of Poker. Elezra bet over a dozen players at odds ranging from 7-2 to 5-1 that they couldn’t win bracelets, and when none of them did so, took home more than $750,000. Now he’s at it again.
Where last year’s Elezra-centric betting was spread out over dozens, this time around, he’s made waves with one bet against the poker enigma Phil Ivey. Ivey’s been a different man this year; he’s doing charity work, granting interviews and seems enthused for the WSOP. In order to inspire himself this time around, he’s been taking action on whether he’d win a bracelet and the odds he and Elezra settled on were 1.8-1.
By making this bet, Ivey’s saying that he likes his chances to win a bracelet at least once ever 2.8 WSOPs with his present mindset, priorities etc. Earlier this week, Phil Gordon said no player was better than 5-1 to take a bracelet in a given year, which shows you just where the thought process of many is with regards to today’s larger fields and tougher competition.
The fact Ivey’s giving odds this good isn’t the story here. He’s given those numbers to a lot of people. Of the Elezra bet, Greg Raymer said “I bet against Phil at the same price, so I think we know the answer, don’t we. I only bet 18,000 to win 10,000.” What makes Elezra’s bet so remarkable is the amount of money involved. Ivey put up $500,000 to Elezra’s $900,000.
This is a huge sum of money and you won’t hear of many wagers this size being made anywhere on anything, but at the WSOP, an environment where prop betting is heralded and bartered over fiercely, it’s a special bet that everyone will be thinking of any time Ivey makes a deep run. The question now is whether the bet was a good one. We asked a few experienced prop bettors to weigh in with their opinions:
Ted Forrest: “Phil is stealing. Phil is stealing…as usual. Phil is probably 6-5 or 7-5 true price to win a bracelet.”
David Grey: “I think it’s pretty close to the right price. Phil asked me to lay him 2-1, which I didn’t do. There’s just so many tournaments that are going to have short fields and…he’s Phil. I mean, I don’t think he’s going to win it, but I think he’s got like a 30% chance to win it. He’s going to play 50 tournaments…40-50 tournaments so I think the price is right there.
Justin Bonomo: “I actually have Eli’s side of the bet. I missed on the 1.8 boat, but got in on the 2.2-1 boat.”
Phil Laak: “I have no idea about the math of this stuff. All I know is I wish I was so good that I could a) have half a million to make bets with and b) be given a chance of like, 2-1 or 3-1 on winning a bracelet which, I’ll probably live 80 years and never get one you know? It’s just genius. I love that that skill level is out there to aspire to.”
Patrik Antonius: “I could have bet the same as what Eli did. If I think about it mathematically it’s a very even bet, but I don’t recommend betting against Ivey. If you want to get hurt, just gamble with him. It’s fun to gamble with him, but he’s always up to something. He’s a magic man…he’s Phil Ivey! He just knows when he’s going to do it, so I’m not going to bet against him.
Elezra apparently disagrees with Antonius. “I think I got a good deal” he says with that big smile on his face. “I mean, even if he wins, I’ll be happy because I think I made a good bet.
Only time will tell which one of them is right. Poker fans get the fun of finding out over the next forty-one days.
Gary Wise is covering the WSOP all summer for WorldSeriesofPoker.com, espn.com/poker and in his blog at www.wisehandpoker.net.