Poker news | Oct 21, 2020
Poker’s Mike McDonald Wins $100k Prop Bet – Not Without Controversy Though
By RTR Dennis
Poker pro Mike McDonald has won a $100,000 prop bet involving shooting free throws. He sunk 90 out of 100 free throws to collect a six-figure payout.
McDonald placed this wager with a collection of fellow poker pros in April. He was given until the end of 2020 to make the necessary 90/100 free throws to win.
Shooting 90% from the free-throw line might sound easy with nearly nine months to hone one’s skills. However, ‘Timex’ had multiple factors working against him.
First off, the Canadian has played little basketball in his life. Secondly, he lives in an area of Canada that doesn’t have many basketball hoops. He had to drive three hours to find the nearest gym.
What Led to This Bet?
The free throw is supposed to be one of the easiest shots in basketball. It’s an uncontested 15-foot attempt that many players practice on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, only three players have shot over 90% for their entire career:
- Steph Curry – 90.47%
- Steve Nash – 90.43%
- Mark Price – 90.39%
Of course, many good shooters can get hot and average 90% shooting over the span of 100 free throws. But McDonald is certainly different from most players given his limited experience.
A group of poker pros felt confident enough that Timex couldn’t shoot 90% that they collectively wagered $100k against him. McDonald took the bet and began making trips to the faraway gym to practice.
The Story Behind McDonald’s Win
Given that Timex shot free throws at a community gym, he had to clear the way when crowds of players wanted to play a pickup game. This very incident happened on the day that he won the bet.
McDonald was livestreaming his free throws as usual. He was quite hot on this particular occasion after sinking 56 out of 61 shots.
However, he left the court midway through for another group of players. He took an overnight break and began shooting again the next morning when one half of the court was clear.
Timex got off to a rocky start and was sitting at 74 makes on 84 shots. But he drained the final 16 free throws to make the required 90 out of 100 free throws to win.
The Break Proves Controversial
Nick Schulman, who had $15,000 riding against McDonald, argued that this attempt shouldn’t count. He complained that the break gave Mike more time to refocus his thoughts and rest.
Schulman’s complaints sparked a Twitter debate over the matter. Many argued that the break actually hurt McDonald because it messed up his rhythm.
This idea could’ve possibly been the case, considering that Timex only made 18 out of 23 free throws (78.3%) when he returned. He was shooting 91.8% (56 of 61 made) before leaving the court.
McDonald argued that the round should definitely count. He even said before the challenge that breaks would be acceptable.
“I told people that breaks are allowed,” he explained. “I’m guessing people are going to be pissed off at me if this is deemed my win. If this was December 10, I would be arguing that this is a win and I don’t think there’d be much of a case against it.”
Schulman eventually conceded the bet after hearing enough arguments on Twitter. He even tweeted a video of himself explaining why he was conceding.
Conceding the free throw bet I can't take it anymore pic.twitter.com/qyoH8IK7Bf— Nick Schulman (@NickSchulman) August 26, 2020
Schulman seemed sarcastic and bitter over the loss. He still didn’t seem alright with the overnight break. Regardless, he stopped arguing after feeling “scummy” over the protest.
Apparently, McDonald and Schulman have another wager going on. That said, they appear on good enough terms to at least do another prop bet.