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Matusow's Weight Loss Prop Bet

Matusow’s Weight Loss Prop Bet
by Chad Holloway of

Engaging in wild and exciting proposition (prop) bets is a favorite activity among poker players. The gambling aspect of prop bets seems to attract the high-stakes players, with past bets ranging from who could run a mile the fastest to whether Howard Lederer would eat a cheeseburger for $10,000 (he was a vegetarian but won the bet). One of the most publicized and well-known prop bets in recent years came to light at the 2008 World Series of Poker when Mike “The Mouth” Matusow showed up quite a bit lighter than years past. In his autobiography, Checkraising the Devil, Matusow describes how the bet came about:

“Ted Forrest was right, I’d put on a lot of weight . . . I wasn’t in my twenties anymore. I guess that was one of the main reasons I made that weight loss prop bet with Ted during the 2007 Series. That and the fact that I often make really stupid bets."


"For the bet, I had to lose sixty pounds by the first week of the ‘08 Series. I had to weigh 181 lbs or less by then to win $100,000 from Ted. I didn’t take things too seriously at the start and actually had put on a few pounds by the end of 2007. But when 2008 rolled around I got down to business. With about four months to go before the bet was up, I had lost almost thirty pounds. I stopped living off junk food and started exercising regularly.

As anyone who has tried to drop a couple pounds can attest, losing weight is not an easy task. It requires a major alteration to lifestyle, which is not the easiest of tasks for a poker player. However, money has been proven to be an extremely strong and efficient motivator in the weight loss realm.

“Those first thirty pounds just flew off. I started to feel great. But then I had an emergency gall bladder surgery, which slowed me down for about three weeks. And about two weeks before the world series began, my girl friend and I took a weeklong cruise. They throw food at you on those ships, but I only gained three pounds the whole week by eating right and running eight miles a day. Once I was back home, though, I still had twelve pounds to go and only nine days to lose it.

I would have to work every single day to hit the weight. That meant I would have to miss a few days of the WSOP and at least three events I could have played. Even if I did get to my weight, I knew I’d be pretty weak. I offered to settle with Ted for $50,000, but he wanted to let it ride. I buckled down and exercised constantly, fasting lasting the last five days. I made it all the way down to 179. I won the prop bet, but I was damn tired and not really ready to play my best poker. It took nearly a week for me to get my strength back, but I felt great with all that weight gone.”

Not only did Matusow accomplish a great feat in losing more than 60 lbs for a smooth $100,000, he went on to win his third bracelet at the 2008 WSOP. Coincidentally, 2008 was the year Matusow adopted his “power of positive thinking” mantra. For more on Matusow and his prop bets, check out his new book, Checkraising the Devil.


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