Ashton "theASHMAN103" Griffin is a prodigious poker talent who's won millions of dollars playing mostly online in recent years. The money we're talking about is enough to retire on, which leads to the question of what presses guys like this to keep on going when they've finally won enough.
Well, apparently for Griffin, it's the competitive spirit. This week, a mostly sleepless, hungover Griffin sought out and won a wager on which he gave 3-1 odds on his running 70 miles in 24 hours. A college wrestler, Griffin is obviously in pretty good shape if he was even entertaining this kind of a deal. Now consider that he'd never before run more than 22 miles in a day and that he was putting up $900,000 to $300,000. You suddenly recognize the kind of self-confidence that's required for these guys to play at the stakes they do. Griffin won the bet handily, spacing his 10-mile runs out to reduce the possibility of injury and still finishing with an hour to spare. He completed all 70 miles indoors on a treadmill.
The wager brings up some moral questions where prop betting is involved, namely in that Griffin's "opponent," Haseeb Qureshi, made the wager with the hope that his friend would get injured more than 25 percent of the time in attempting the feat. Qureshi and Griffin both agreed that once they'd made the wager and gotten it started there was some regret. Rooting for a friend to get hurt doesn't seem like the best way to win -- or in this case, lose -- a buck. Or $900,000.
In the wake of the wager, Griffin was adamant that Qureshi had nothing to apologize for. "I wanted the action and he thought it was a good bet for him," Griffin said. "I was going to make the bet regardless of whether he was the one I'd make it with, and I was going to win unless I hurt my sole, got dehydrated or something like that. He can't feel badly there."
The history of prop bets with potential physical ramifications is long. After Erick Lindgren won his famous bet in which he shot under 100 in four straight rounds of golf in the Vegas heat for $375,000, he said he wouldn't have done it again if he had it to do over. Money is a powerful motivator and will continue to affect the better judgment of gamblers where physical risk is at stake. You can call them brilliant or stupid, but you can't ignore the entertainment value.
Regardless of what you think of the wager, you have to admit Griffin has heart. I barely have the desire to drive 70 miles in 24 hours and can only imagine the determination it takes to push oneself to those limits. That I don't know it firsthand is probably why he's making those bets and I'm only writing about them.
Small blinds (by Andrew Feldman): The November Nine (the nine players who made up the 2010 WSOP main event final table) had a reunion at Foxwoods on Tuesday with a three-table invitational tournament. There was a last-longer bet among the nine with many then booking more side action among each other. The biggest side bet was between John Racener and Joseph Cheong, who had a separate $10,000 last longer. Cheong was the first of the November Nine to be eliminated. You can watch the introductions of the nine here. … Caesars Entertainment has formed a partnership that will eventually lead to the WSOP having a legal online poker site in France. Caesars recently completed a similar action in Italy. … 523 players turned out for the WPT stop in Venice. First place will pay out 380,000 euros. … Viktor Blom will face Eugene Katchalov in the next SuperStar Showdown this Sunday. The two will battle for 2,500 hands at $50/$100 no-limit hold 'em. … When Phil Hellmuth met former President George W. Bush he apologized for being the only person in the room wearing a hat. According to an e-mail from Hellmuth, Bush responded, "It's OK Phil, that hat is part of your identity!" … Want to see how some of the biggest tournaments online play out? You can watch how Liv Boeree won last weekend's Sunday Warm-Up on PokerStars. … Ricardo Escobar is the latest champion on the Estrellas Poker Tour. He defeated a field of 498 players in Madrid to win 103,503 euros.