It seems that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of professional poker players either A) very bored, or B) not very bright regarding the seriousness of the situation. The online “ghosting” sessions of Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates and other high stakes pros has once again put a black eye on the game. But it is another situation with Chris ‘Big Huni’ Hunichen that has perhaps shown how poker players aren’t exactly in touch with how serious some situations are.
Hunichen Picks Up $10K for 100K Deaths
In a rather macabre proposition – or “prop” – bet, Hunichen issued a challenge over Twitter in April that deaths in the States of America from the coronavirus would surpass the 100,000 mark before September 1. Although some would think that this is a rather ugly thing to bet on, Hunichen was able to get enough action to have $10,000 on the line, with Hunichen taking the over on all the bets. In fact, according to Yahoo! Sports, Hunichen offered two options for betting – straight money line bets or “winner donates proceeds to the homeless” for a second line. According to Hunichen, he did not get much action on the latter option.
The COVID-19 virus and resulting pandemic has ravaged the States of America. Since numbers have started being kept on the outbreak at the end of February, the number of deaths has risen exponentially. The first death attributed to COVID-19 was on February 26; two weeks later, that number had risen to 43. By the end of March, over 3000 people had passed from COVID-19, and the news was only going to get worse.
On April 27, more than 50,000 people had succumbed to COVID-19 and, nearly a month later, the U. S. has passed another grim milestone. It became official on May 28 that over 100,000 people have died as a result of COVID-19 virus infection, a grim milestone that is not receding at this point in time.
Hunichen, for his part, is defending his betting as trying to raise awareness about the seriousness of the virus and taking precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing, because of it. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times Hunichen, who is afflicted with asthma, says he wanted to educate his fellow poker players and gamblers as to the seriousness of the situation. “Every day I would see…some 30- or 35-year old dies from this stuff,” Hunichen said to the Times. “Honestly, I’m terrified. If I get it, I feel like that’s going to be me.” Hunichen also pointed out, however, that he wasn’t the only one making prop bets on this current situation.
Silly, Dangerous Prop Bets Have Long History
It is not like Hunichen is the first to make an inappropriate prop bet. In late 2018, poker players Rich Alati and Rory Young wagered that Alati could spend one month in a completely darkened bathroom by himself. The $100,000 wager was an incredibly dangerous one as plenty of scientific studies have shown tremendous psychological damage to extended periods of isolation. After a couple of weeks, Young bought out of the bet and Alati came out of the dark.
In 2016, poker professional Antonio Esfandiari (never one to shy away from a wager) was bet by businessman Bill Perkins that he could not lunge – allow his knee to touch the floor on each step while walking – for 48 hours. The problem with this was that it was during the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, an event that Esfandiari was competing in.
The hours of lunges ravaged Esfandiari, to the point he could not get up from the poker table he was competing at to visit the bathroom. Esfandiari would urinate at the table during a break, which ran afoul of the folks at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino in the Bahamas. Despite being fairly well stacked at the time, the Atlantis tournament officials disqualified Esfandiari from the tournament for his actions. Although Esfandiari would eventually win the bet for $50,000, he ended up donating the money to charity.
It isn’t like the bettors in these stories need the money. Hunichen also doesn’t need it, earning upwards of $20 million in his online and live poker career. It is more about the action for this particular breed of people, so much so that their better senses take over and make them wager on things that aren’t particularly…we will let you fill in the blank.