(Distributed June 26, 2007)
ARE PROP BETS AT THE POKER TABLE IN THE CARDS FOR YOU?
Proposition bets and payout structures for hold’em tournaments are on LuckyDog readers’ minds this week.
(SET ITAL) * My husband and I were watching Poker After Dark on TV the other night and some of the players started talking about “prop bets” during the middle of the game. What was that all about? — Beth H. of Moline, Ill. (END ITAL)
Prop bets at the poker table are simply side wagers by players who crave even more action than the game itself offers, Beth. They have no bearing on the outcome of a particular hand.
I saw the same episode. From what I could hear, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson appeared to have side bets riding on what cards would come on the flop. I guess if you’ve already won 10 World Series bracelets, as both of these superstars have, then just playing no-limit hold’em for $120,000 on TV isn’t enough excitement.
Prop bets during a game can be as simple as two players each picking a suit and collecting a side bet from an opponent whenever all three cards on the flop are of their chosen suit. By the way, the chances of a suited flop are about 5 percent on any given hand.
Some players make their prop bets much more intricate. They’ll select one or more sets of three-card sequences — such as J-9-7, 4-5-6, or Q-3-8 — and if their chosen sequence appears on a flop, they win a side bet from an opponent.
The variations multiply from there. Hitting one of your prop sequences on a flop, in your chosen suit, pays extra; if the middle flop card is the ace, king or queen of your suit, you win a bet; hitting your “big boy”, or favorite three-card sequence, pays extra, and so on.
If you decide to play prop bets during poker, remember that you must announce you’ve hit your prop when it comes. If you “sleep it” and miss seeing your prop, you don’t collect. Also, be aware that many poker rooms frown on side bets at the table, but prop bets can add fun to your home games.
Away from the table, a prop bet is any wager made on the outcome of an event. Weight-loss bets are common, but poker players are known for coming up with some creative prop bets.
Here are some reported examples:
* World Series champ Huck Seed once bet he could score below 100 on a desert golf course four times in one day using only a five iron, wedge and putter — and won.
* Howard Lederer, known as a devoted vegetarian, took a bet that he couldn’t eat a whole cheeseburger — and won.
* Action-junkie John Hennigan bet that he could spend six weeks in the quiet city of Des Moines back when there were no casinos there — and lasted only two days.
My advice if someone offers you a prop bet that seems outrageous: Just say no.
(SET ITAL) * We have hold’em games at our local Knights of Columbus every three or four months for a fund-raiser. The number of players varies, but we always pay the final seven or eight. What percentage of the prize money would each player get? Is there a formula most places use? — S.W. of Kankakee, Ill. (END ITAL)
Most tournaments pay about the top 10 percent of the field, S.W. In your events, that means you probably are getting about 80 entries each time.
There are two schools of thought about how the prize money should be distributed. Many tournaments are “top-heavy”, meaning that the top three finishers receive 75 percent or more of the total prize pool. In recent years, however, the tendency has been to flatten out the distribution so that lower finishers get a bigger piece of the pie.
In a charity event such as yours, I’d recommend the flatter payout method to assure that everyone who makes it into the money at least shows a profit for their effort.
Consider this breakdown of percentages as a starting point for fields of 70-80 players and a final table of nine paid players: 1st — 30%, 2nd — 20%; 3rd — 12%; 4th — 10%; 5th — 8%; 6th — 6.5%; 7th — 5.5%; 8th — 4.5%; 9th — 3.5%.
If you wish, you can add a paid spot for each 10-player increase in the field beyond 80, and take away a paid spot for each 10-player decrease in the field below 70. In those instances, simply adjust the percentages up or down a point for first and second place.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2007 RUSS SCOTT
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