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Millions bet on WSOP side action
Sometimes winning and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in WSOP tournaments just isn't enough.
The seasoned poker pro wants a little more action, something a little more immediate.
Enter the world of high stakes bets at the WSOP.
Every year the top name pros gamble more money than the entire prize pool of a standard $1,500 tournament on various bets throughout the series.
Perhaps the most well-known bet is the bracelet bet. This is one of the most straightforward bets.
Negreanu is already $400,000 in the hole, despite very nearly adding a bracelet of his own this summer.
Although bracelet bets are one of the most common, Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein mentioned the wagers are always progressing.
"The bets have changed over time," Greenstein said. "The first couple years I started playing tournament poker we were all crossbooking various tournaments. My first bracelet that I won I had it crossbooked with Doyle Brunson so he had to pay me an extra 50% of first place. After that time we mostly did bracelet bets."
Because the wagers are so high between professional poker players they can sometimes dwarf the first place prize of a WSOP tournament.
In 2007 it was well publicized when Eli Elezra won his first bracelet he made an extra $250,000 thanks to a 10-1 bet with Greenstein. The first place prize for the event that Elezra won was just $198,984.
This year Phil Ivey has already two bracelets and poker gossip sources have Ivey winning anywhere from $2 million to $14 million thanks to extremely high stakes bets with other poker pros.
"Yeah I make a bracelet bet every now and then," said Ivey. "It's working out now but I've also lost a lot on them too. You win a bet, you lose a bet. That's my lifestyle."
"It just seemed to be a good overall player bet if you're thinking about what to bet on," said Greenstein. "Rarely do you win a bracelet so don't get much action if you just make a bracelet bet."
It was either POY points or overall cash-winnings, Greenstein expalined.
"The problem with doing cash is that whoever goes deep in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. or the $40,000 No-Limit Hold'em this year will have a huge edge because it's a much bigger prize pool. There's not much sweat in that."
Perhaps the most well-known example of this POY based-bet is one that Greenstein made.
"My biggest bet is with Jeffrey Lisandro against a team of Daniel Negreanu and Erick Lindgren," said Greenstein. "It's been close throughout the summer."
As of June 23, Negreanu and Lindgren had accrued 195 points while Team Greenstein/Lisandro were finally starting to pull away with 310 points, thanks in most part to the two WSOP bracelets won by Lisandro.
Tournament veteran Mike Sexton is convinced that it's these kinds of bets that keep the high-caliber pros out of the cash games and in WSOP events.
"Their incentive is the millions and millions in side bets," Sexton said. "That's what brings all the big names out here."
The incentive to win WSOP bracelets makes pros go to extreme lengths, including playing several tournaments at once and even holding on to just barely make the cash to accumulate more POY points if need be.
"I need the points, man!" said an excited Negreanu as he held on for a small cash in the $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha/Hold'em event earlier this summer.
Between crossbooking, bracelet bets and POY bets, there's almost no limit to the methods poker pros can win or lose money at the WSOP.
It's really anybody's guess what angle poker pros will work into the next big bet, but one thing is clear - there will never be a dull moment at the WSOP.