Gaming Strategy
Featured Stories
Legal News Financial News Casino Opening and Remodeling News Gaming Industry Executives Author Home Author Archives Search Articles Subscribe
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Related Links
Recent Articles
author's picture

Top-10 WSOP dream bets

31 October 2011

The final table of the World Series of Poker's Main Event is set to begin in less than a week, and after more than three months of waiting and anticipation, this year's champion will finally be crowned. While the players have likely been scouting their opponents and looking for ways to gain an edge during the past few months, another group of people has been scouting the field, too, hoping they can handicap the field and beat Vegas oddsmakers.

For the first time, Nevada sportsbooks have been cleared to take prop bets on the WSOP Main Event. And they're offering some good betting options, from who will win, to whether there will be more red or black cards in the first flop, to what the final winning hand will be.

But they're not offering as many betting options as I would like. So here's my top-10 list of bets that I wish were approved, and when appropriate, where I'd set the line.

10. Nationality of the winner
With such an international table, there's no reason to not offer this bet. There are three Americans, and one player each from Ireland, the U.K., Belize, Ukraine, Germany and the Czech Republic. The odds on Ireland will obviously be the same as to odds on Eoghan O'Dea. But with three Americans, you could pick the U.S. to produce the winner and be rooting for Ben Lamb, Matt Giannetti and Phil Collins to take down the title. And if I were the oddsmaker, I'd put this group at +170.

9. Number of hands needed to determine a winner
What would be more fun to root for than an over/under on the number of hands to be dealt? Imagine you picked the under and the tournament reached the final three players in less than half the hands where the number was set, or if you decided to back the under and no one is eliminated in the first 50 hands. Or if the number was real close, it was heads up and one player's all-in bet was called. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "sweat." With the blinds and antes already sky high, an average stack can't afford to sit out for too long. And since final table play tends to be pretty slow (meaning that the players won't get in that many hands per level), I'd set the over/under at 187.5.

8. Percentage of hands that reach a flop
One of the things that ESPN's live coverage of the Main Event showed earlier this summer is that quite a few hands are determined preflop. While most of these hands get edited out of the packaged coverage produced for the network's Tuesday-night shows, they'll be shown in their entirety during the live coverage. And what would be more fun than betting on the percentage of hands that reach a flop? You'll have a vested interest in every hand. Play will start out slowly in that regard, with most early hands being determined by whoever is the most aggressive preflop, but by the time a few players are eliminated and the effective stacks are a little deeper, I think that percentage will increase. I still think it won't be that high, though, so I'll set the betting line at 37.8 percent.

7. Number of times a player is all-in and at risk and survives
There's nothing that makes you more nervous in tournament poker than going all-in and being called for your tournament life. And while you won't be able to experience that feeling yourself during the Main Event final table (unless you're one of the November Nine), you could have a rooting interest if this bet were made available. This is a hard one to predict, but if I were the oddsmaker, I'd set the over/under line at 23.5

6. "Batting average" of the ESPN analysts
After watching ESPN's live coverage of the Main Event over the summer, what stood out to me most was the skill of the broadcast analysts who worked with Lon McEachern to call the action. With Lon squarely in the "play-by-play" role, the analysts did their best to predict the holdings of the players involved in hands. Antonio Esfandiari, who was able to read the players better than any other, stood out in the category. I'd like to see someone keep track of how well these commentators are doing at reading the players at the table. I'd set the over/under on Esfandiari the highest at 68 percent, while I'd set David Tuchman at 56 percent.

5. Time of day the winner is determined
With a television production to worry about and two-hour blind levels, it can be a long process to determine a winner in the WSOP Main Event. Sometimes, the event stretches into the wee hours of the morning, or even into normal working hours the next day. With three-handed play scheduled to resume at 6 p.m. PT, it's hard to say when the tournament will end. I think with the aggressive players at the table, three-handed play won't last that long. But with the live television feed to worry about and lots of work to do to get the production ready once play reaches heads up, I think there's no way this ends before midnight. I'm guessing the tournament is going to end at 1:12 a.m. PT, so that's where I'd set the over/under line.

4. Exacta and trifecta bets
Anyone who bets on horses knows that the best payoffs come on exactas and trifectas. By correctly predicting the horses (or players) who finish first, second and third, you can get a much better payout than predicting just the winner. This would work very well with this year's format, as well, as play will be suspended when the tournament reaches three-handed play. The best play is boxing your trifecta and seeing those three players advance to Tuesday's play. Then you know you're going to win; you just have to wait to see how much. Paddy Power is actually offering a straight trifecta bet. Unfortunately not every combination is available. (No respect for Giannetti!) And if you make a bet on the WSOP at Paddy Power Sportsbook, you'll get your stake back in poker bonus dollars, win or lose. It's like a prop bet freeroll – not a bad deal for those who can get it.

3. Number of trips players take to the rail
This year's live coverage will allow players to learn what their opponents held just 15 minutes after the hand. It's going to be fascinating to watch how the players react to all this additional knowledge. But one thing that will probably get a little annoying is the constant milling about the tournament area, as players go to their friends on the rail to find out what they were up against. I would find it half as annoying, however, if I were able to make a bet on it and tally the trips to see if I was going to win. I hesitate to even put a number on it, but considering there are likely to be close to 200 hands, and each player is going to want to know what players had as often as possible, I'd put the over/under on those trips at 476, with most occurring early in the tournament when there are still quite a few players remaining.

2. Number of hands dealt before there is a flop
Maybe you don't want to wait to see the total number of hands that are played, or the percentage of hands that reach a flop. That's a long time to have to wait to see if you've won your bet. A quick bet that you could make and root for is how many hands are played before you reach a flop. I think the players will start out cautiously, so I'd set the over/under at 7.5.

1. Longest tank of the tournament
One of the byproducts of live coverage is that there's no way to edit out all the time players spend thinking. It isn't unusual for a player to spend three minutes on just one decision. Giannetti took 10 minutes to make a river decision against Ben Lamb earlier this summer. If the amount of time players spend making decisions is annoying to you, just put a bet on how long the longest "tank" will be. I'm guessing with so much on the line, we'll get several decisions that take more than five minutes. I think the longest tank will be about 7 minutes, 12 seconds, so that's where I'd set the over/under line.
Top-10 WSOP dream bets is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.