The 5 Strangest Side Bets In The History Of Gambling

Posted on July 19, 2016

If places like Betfair have proved anything, it’s that you can bet on the outcome of basically any event these days.

If you don’t believe us, take a look at some of the most outrageous prop bets in gambling history.

5. Amarillo Slim’s bets

We said you could bet on anything “these days”, but legendary Texan gambler Amarillo Slim spent his whole life doing that way before Betfair and other online casinos existed.

Slim could fill this list all by himself, but for the sake of brevity let’s just give some of his highlights:

  • Racing a horse: Slim bet that he could beat a racehorse in a hundred-yard dash, and got no shortage of takers. The only condition was that he would choose the track; he chose 50 yards one way and 50 yards back. By the time the horse had stopped, turned around, and got up to speed again, Slim was over the line.
  • World championship ping-pong: Slim bet that he could beat a Taiwanese table tennis champion at his own game, so long as the Texan provided the paddles. He showed up with two Coca-Cola bottles instead of regular paddles; Slim had been practicing with these for months and deftly beat his opponent.
  • A record golf drive: Could you drive a golf ball over a mile? Slim reckoned he could, and he did – because he hit the ball over a frozen lake and it slid far, far into the distance.

4. Jason Mercier’s bracelets

Just this year, poker champion Jason Mercier found himself on the right end of a huge 180/1 bet against fellow pro Vanessa Selbst. She had wagered that Mercier couldn’t win three World Series of Poker bracelets in 2016, putting up $1.8 million to Mercier’s $10,000.

Selbst came to almost immediately regret her decision when Mercier swiftly won a bracelet, followed it up with an oh-so-close second-place finish a few days later and then nabbed a second bracelet within a week.

Selbst had offered a $100,000 buyout before Mercier won his first, then she was forced to sell a lot of her side of the bet as Mercier kept doing well in events. Fortunately for her, Mercier had to settle for two bracelets in one summer and Selbst kept her $1.8 million.

3. Erick Lindgren’s golf

Golf and gambling go hand-in-hand, especially when it’s professional gamblers playing. Poker player Erick Lindgren got involved in a golf bet with several other pros, claiming he could:

  • Play four rounds of golf from the pro tees at a 7,000-yard course.
  • Shoot under 100 in each round.
  • Walk the whole way, carrying his own clubs.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with golf knows that a 72-hole day is a long one, and $340,000 went on the line.

Unfortunately for Lindgren, his foes picked the day – one of the hottest in Las Vegas. Lindgren spent over 14 hours playing golf, lost more than 15 pounds and suffered from heatstroke and dehydration – but he did it, and pocketed a tidy sum.

2. Vegetarian Ivey

Playing on GSN’s High Stakes Poker, Phil Ivey got involved in a prop bet with fellow poker player Tom Dwan. The concept was simple – Ivey had to go vegetarian for a full calendar year, and there was a cool million dollars on the line.

“I was thinking about doing it for a while,” Ivey said while negotiating the bet. “So this is like an added incentive.”

Initially, Ivey wanted to bet $5 million. He’s probably glad he didn’t, as he bought out of the bet for a $150,000 fee just three weeks later.

1. Brian Zembic’s 38Cs

Perhaps the most famous and ridiculous bet of all time, especially for how relatively small the sum of money involved is, remains Brian Zembic’s “Breast Bet.”

Zembic – a male, if you hadn’t guessed – had to receive breast implants and keep them for a year. If he did, he’d win $100,000. A gambler to the core, Zembic sought out a surgeon after losing a lot of money on the stock market and got the operation free after beating the doctor in backgammon.

Zembic has the breasts to this day, 20 years later.

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Matt Perry

A veteran of the online gambling industry, Matt Perry has worn a number of hats since he first began working in online poker and iGaming in 2007. He currently writes for a variety of publications focused on legal online gambling, and in the past has served as an editor, copywriter, content manager and reporter.

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