Poker players are known for their love of prop bets, so here’s a fun one: poker pro Antonio Esfandiari will be taking on comedian and actor Kevin Hart in a boxing match in March 2019. The two agreed that Hart is a massive favorite, so Hart gave Esfandiari 35-to-1 odds. The two men are basically saying that the former WSOP Big One for One Drop winner has no chance.
To be clear, they are not fighting because they dislike each other. Quite the opposite, actually. Hart is an avid poker player (he has a sponsorship deal with PokerStars and have made frequent appearances in live tournaments the last couple years) and the two have become friends. Esfandiari told TMZ when the gossip site caught him leaving a restaurant that they were playing poker, the subject of boxing came up, and yada yada yada, they decided on a friendly, but real, fight.
Esfandiari told TMZ that he is getting such long odds because Kevin Hart is “in better shape,” “he’s an athlete,” and “he’s fast as hell.” Compare that to ESPN’s WSOP final table commentator, who says he mostly sits around playing poker.
He expanded on things in an interview with CardPlayer Magazine on Monday:
I’m taller than him, and probably have 35-40 pounds on him. But there’s also a reason I got 35:1 odds. He’s a natural athlete, he’s in incredible shape, and he’s been boxing for a long time. He’s a beast. Yeah, I work out, do some yoga and lift some weights, and try to maintain good physical well-being. But my cardiovascular [endurance] is awful compared to his. So, I have a height advantage, but he’s a clear favorite.
Esfandiari believes that he will have to try to land a lucky punch and put Hart on his ass in order to win, as he doesn’t think there is any way he would win in a pure decision. Fortunately for him, the bout will only be three 3-minute rounds, so he thinks he will have just enough endurance to survive (if he doesn’t get knocked out).
The poker pro will be hiring a trainer to help him prepare for the fight eight months from now.
“But no matter how much I train, Kevin will always be stronger and faster,” Esfandiari conceded. “The more I train the more of a chance I have to win. I know a ton of people will be watching this, so I don’t want to go in there and get my ass handed to me and get knocked out in five seconds. I don’t want to be that guy.”
There is no word on how much money the two men have at stake, though with 35-to-1 odds, it can’t be an ungodly sum, lest Esfandiari somehow win. As is often the case with crazy poker pro prop bets, Esfandiari doesn’t really care about the money.
“The stakes are decent enough, but that’s not the motivating factor,” Esfandiari admitted to CardPlayer. “The motivating factor is kicking Kevin Hart’s ass in a forum where a lot of people are going to see it. At the end of the day, I don’t have a lot to lose. Everyone expects Kevin to beat me. But if I win, I’m the guy who knocked his ass out.”