With Phil Ivey so far conspicuously absent from the 2015 World Series of Poker, someone has to take up the tournament performance prop-betting mantle. Brian Hastings has risen to the challenge, offering and accepting a series of prop bets for this year's WSOP.
"Most of the bets I have are mutually played events in the 25K Fantasy scoring format," Hastings said, referencing the popular poker fantasy game that spans the duration of the WSOP and gives points for in-the-money finishes, weighted based on factors such as field size, buy-in, and finishing position. "The total amount I've bet is low to mid six figures. I haven't counted it honestly."
Hastings is known mostly for his cash-game success, including epic heads-up clashes with Viktor "Isildur1" Blom. Hastings has made more than $3.8 million over 180,304 tracked hands, according to HighStakesDB.com.
However, he's also found considerable success at the WSOP. In 2010, he defeated Jason Mo in the finals of Event #12: $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em to bank $371,498, his biggest tournament score to date in a career that's been worth more than $1.4 million in cashes. Bracelet number two will be worth more than just the prize money and the jewelry.
"I also have a bet to win a bracelet," he said. Smiling, he added, "I got 3.3-1. I think I'm a favorite at that price."
Despite Hastings' credentials, when he put out the call asking for action on Twitter, it seemed people were lining up to book against him, as numerous players responded. Mike Leah, Bryce Yockey, Shawn Busse, Barry Hutter, Kyle Julius, Scott Clements, Joe Kuether, Ryan Daut, and David Benefield were among those whose action appears to have been booked. Some fired bets on themselves, while others chose to back players they expect to outperform Hastings, who booked basically everything thrown at him.
"I felt like it was against the spirit of what I was doing to turn anybody down," he said. "I only started turning people down after I got too much action. Even then, I would let them do it if they laid me a price."
In the early going, Hastings has navigated into the money twice already, but neither finish netted him much in the way of points. He got 29th in Event #2: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em for $11,523 and 104th in Event #12: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed for $3,610. With those small scores, Hastings, who bought himself for $68 of his $200 budget in the 25K draft, has totaled three fantasy points. That ranks him 28th out of the 88 players purchased in the auction.
Names like Paul Volpe, Mike Leah, Calvin Anderson, and George Danzer have jumped out to leads over Hastings and are some of the players he needs to outscore to win the bets.
"Unfortunately, I just busted the 10K Pot-Limit Hold'em and that event counts against a lot of people," Hastings said.
Indeed, Volpe and Jason Koon remain with the tournament heading to a final table of nine on Day 3. Koon is one of the players who took Hastings' action, and he has the chip lead with 890,000 and the opportunity to accrue a pile of points.
Still, the remaining 10K events figure to play a big role seeing as fantasy points are doubled in such events. Of the three $10,000 buy-in events that have already kicked off, two are big bet hold'em events, the pot-limit and the heads up. One might think failing to cash in those is a huge missed opportunity for a player who made his name in big-bet games, but that isn't the case according to Hastings, who thinks his edge might actually be smallest there.
"A lot of these guys are straight no-limit specialists," he said of the players he's booked against. "I'm very confident in my no-limit game, but I'm taking on the best in the world in a game they specialize in so that's tough. The mixed stuff, I'll take myself against anybody."