Vanessa Selbst $2M Prop Bet

5 years ago
Vanessa Selbst $2M Prop Bet Against Dzmitry Urbanovich
30 Jan

Once upon a time, on a windy day in Aruba, Phil Ivey made a crazy golf bet with fellow poker pro Joe Cassidy. Ivey was eyeing a 70-yard-plus hole and told Cassidy he would bet $1,000 if his foe gave him 200:1 odds to put the golf ball in the hole in one shot. Cassidy gladly accepted it thinking he had just won an easy grand. But he didn’t: Ivey made the unlikely shot and won $200,000. Tears were shed and debts were paid.

So why are we telling you this? Simple: because a similar scenario may happen this summer in Las Vegas only with two different protagonists: risk-averse Vanessa Selbst and red-hot tournament rising star Polish Dzmitry Urbanovich.

200-to-1 Odds For Three WSOP Bracelets

During a Poker Central podcast streamed on, Selbst revealed to the poker world her true side: she’s very rational and doesn’t like to gamble. When she enters a tourney, she thinks she’s going to lose and she doesn’t make crazy prop bets… usually! Yet she accepted a bet from over-confident poker player Urbanovich. The Polish player put $10,000 win three World Series of Poker gold-bracelets in his first appearance in Las Vegas 200-to-1 odds$2 million

Safe bet? Some might assume otherwise given how much the gamble-averse lady could potentially lose. But what’s safe to say is that Selbst doesn't actually plan to give $2 million to Urbanovich. She told in the podcast that she has a buy-out plan in case of the unexpected. She said:

If he wins two bracelets, I’m just going to sell all of the action for like 30-to-1 or something. Basically I’m laying 7-to-1 that he’s not going to win two bracelets. If he wins two bracelets, there will be like five events left in the summer and I’m going to be like: ‘Ok I want to sell you 30-to-1 that he’s not going to win in any of the five events left.’ People will snap it up and I’ll lose like $60K or something.

So it’s more of a 7-to-1 prop bet for two bracelets than 200-to-1 for three, Selbst thinks. But how about the case when he wins two fast ones, could she get away with it? How much would she lose then? And what are the actual percentages that three WSOP bracelet could actually happen?

Six Players Won Three WSOP Bracelets In One Year

Before assuming anything though, let’s look back and see if winning three gold bracelets in one year is such an unlikely event in the first place.

One fact is for sure: nobody won more than three in one year. The first to win three WSOP tournaments was Puggy Pearson in 1973. Twenty years later, in 1993, Phil Hellmuth repeated that performance along with Ted Forrest. After 2000, only three managed such a feat: Phil Ivey in 2002, Jeff Lisandro in 2009 and George Danzer in 2014. For purposes of the bet, Danzer wouldn’t actually count because he won the third one at WSOP Asia away from Las Vegas, later that year.

How about just two bracelets? There are 47 instances of players winning two bracelets in one series throughout the history of the WSOP. Not that unlikely anymore.

And the percentages? Well, it gets a lot tricker when thinking math. Luckily for us, the 2+2 community came up with some very interesting answers: some say the probability of Urbanovich winning two bracelets this summer is close to 1% while winning three bracelets is a very, very long shot: some odd %0.03 or over 2,000-to-1. That would mean Selbst made a very, very smart move to take the bet.

Who Is Dzmitry Urbanovich?

Urbanovich is a rising star in today’s live games. He isn’t 21 yet, but he has still managed to win over $4 million in his brief tournament career.

The Polish player had a year to remember in 2015, cashing in big at the high roller and super high rollers in Europe: winner at EPT Malta HR, runner-up at the EPT 11 Grand Final SHR and EPT 12 Barcelona 8-max SHR plus a fourth place in December at Eureka Praga SHR. What’s even more impressive is that he won four minor events at EPT 11 Malta in March 2015 which could give chills to Vanessa - maybe because winning four tournaments in one EPT stop can be regarded by many as impossible.

Overall, he finished the 2015 GPI Player of the Year race in sixth place with 4,233.71 pts.

But Urbanovich isn’t just a holdem wizard; he’s truly an all-around player with many cashes at the non-holdem tables. And if we look at Lisandro and Danzer - the last two players who won three WSOP bracelets in one year - we can clearly see a pattern: the non-holdem specialists are the one likely to win multiple gold bracelets at the World Series of Poker.

How lucky does Vanessa feel now?

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Florian is a freelance journalist and avid poker player with a strong passion to create unique and appealing stories.He is an experienced researcher on various topics, from business and the financial markets to psychology and the gambling industry.He blogs at more


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