Billy Baxter is considered one of the true legends of gambling. The seven-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Famer has more than $2.3 million in live tournament earning and is known for making “professional poker player” a legal career in the eyes of the government. He was also the backer for all-time poker great Stu Ungar.
In addition to his poker prowess, Baxter also has a flair for prop betting. On Monday, Baxter's friend Doyle Brunson tweeted that Baxter won a $400,000 bet that Tiger Woods would regain the No. 1 golf ranking in the world. Woods hadn't been in the No. 1 spot since October 2010 following a scandalous year during which his marital troubles and infidelities were revealed.
Woods' ranking dropped as low as 58th in November 2011, and many pundits wondered whether he'd ever regain the form that made him a 14-time major championship winner. Baxter apparently had faith that Woods would rebound, and he capitalized in a big way this week (although the identity of the other bettor is unknown). On Monday, Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by two strokes, putting him back on top of golf’s rankings ahead of Rory McIlroy.
This is just one of many prop betting stories floating around about Baxter. In 1975, shortly after Baxter was sentenced to jail time for running an underground casino in his home state of Georgia, Baxter bet Brunson and Jack Binion $5,000 each that he could lose 35 pounds during his jail term. He lost 38, and collected $10,000 from his friends after his release.
In 2006, Baxter reportedly gave Sean Sheikhan 1,000-to-1 odds on $1,000 that motocross rider Mike Metzger would perish within 24 hours of his jump over fountains at Caesar's Palace. Metzger completed the jump unharmed, and Baxter collected from Sheiky.
Despite all of his success, Baxter's not a household name in the poker world. Much of that can be attributed to his low-key personality. As Brunson once put it, “He gives you that country-bumpkin smile and that good old Georgia-boy accent and gets you laughing and having a good time, and you look up and he’s got your money.”
For more on Baxter's illustrious betting talents, check out this story at PokerWorks.com.