In the world of professional gambling, it’s well documented that many poker players have vices at and away from the tables. Many players are referred to as degenerates for their blatant disregard for money and the crazy bets they undertake. On occasion, such degenerates become legend. These are their stories.
To kick off this series, I would like to throw in one of my personal favorites from my own playing career. From 2006 through 2008, I played semi-professionally on the live poker circuit. Most of my tournament play focused in the $500 through $1,500 range.
While that range normally doesn’t attract a ton of the world’s top degenerates, all bets are off once you hit the World Series of Poker. One of my favorite degen stories centers around how my winning a measly $100 bet led to a four-time bracelet winner going on sports betting tilt to the tune of $50,000.
Known Sports Bettor Wanted to Stay Even on the Day
Those that are well-embedded in the live poker community know Mickey Appleman. He is a four-time WSOP bracelet winner with over $1.78 million in live tournament earnings. To those that have never met him, he typically looks like he just rolled in off the street. As most of us learned as a child, appearances can be deceiving.
I had the opportunity to play Appleman on a couple of occasions at the 2007 World Series of Poker. The first was during the $1,500 Limit Hold’em Event. He was to my right the entire time he was in the tournament and desperately trying not to place any sports bets that day.
Appleman was a big time sports bettor and has won, and lost, unknown sums of money. On this day, he was being bugged quite frequently through the first couple of levels as to whether he was going to bet on any games that day. Appleman was trying to focus on the poker game but that just wasn’t happening.
I remember at least four phone calls where he told bookies that he was trying to stay even on the day and wasn’t placing any bets. Two or three people also stopped by the table and he politely told them he wasn’t betting that day. Someone at the table even asked him why he wasn’t betting and he claimed that he was a “bit light” on cash that day.
Matusows Antics Draws Curiosity and Sets Up Unlikely Bet
Appleman isn’t usually very chatty at the table but he noticed several named pros in the event next to us and Mike Matusow was beginning to start up some of his antics. He asks the table whether we knew which event Mikey was playing in and I spoke up telling him that it was the $2,500 Half Omaha 8, Half Stud 8 Event, the evening event from the day before.
Appleman didn’t believe me and stated that it couldn’t have possibly been the event because he “would have played that event over this one.” I insisted that it was indeed the Mixed Hi-Lo event and he looked at me and says “how much you want to bet on it?”
Here’s the thing. The NL restart for that day was in the Brasilia Room and there were no other events running. There was no chance that this could be any other event. Not wanting to overplay my hand, I told Mickey “$100.”
He looked at me and said “Ok, done” and proceeded to call over the floor guy. He asked him which event that was and he told him “That’s the half and half. Omaha and Stud.” Mickey gets up out his chair, looks around at the remaining field in that event, looks back at the floor man and says, “for real?” He replied, “Yes sir.” Mickey looks at me and sheepishly asks, “and I owe you $100?” I reply, “Yup.”
So Mickey sits back down and this man that is supposedly “light on cash” proceeds to pull out a roll of $100 bills as big around as my fist. He takes one off and flicks it towards me. I could have said $1,000 for the bet and it would have never phased this roll.
However, the mere fact that he lost $100 seemed to put him on betting tilt. For the next ten minutes, he fidgeted in his seat like he was an ADD child in school without meds. Finally, he took out his phone and starting placing bets on baseball games.
“Put $5,000 on the Dodgers. Put another $5,000 on the Mets.” For the next ten minutes he got lines for various baseball games and threw down $5,000 at a time on his choices. From my recollection, he threw down over $50,000 in baseball bets in about a 10 to 15 minute stint.
After placing all those bets, someone else at the table asked him “how come you changed your mind and placed all those bets?” Mickey looked at his cards and said, “I’m stuck on the day.”
That’s right folks. My little $100 bet forced fifty large out of a four-time bracelet winner. I never got a chance to find out what happened for his sports bets that day. Mickey busted from the event before dinner and I went on to run deep in the event, making Day 2 and finishing 47th.