Pro poker player Shaun Deeb has bet hedge fund manager Bill Perkins that he can get to a body fat percentage of under 17% by next summer’s World Series of Poker (WSOP). Deeb currently weighs over 300 lbs. and has given himself about 14 months to shed the fat. Perkins is a regular at high-stakes poker tables and famous for making difficult prop bets with the pros in his entourage, many of them fitness-related.
Perkins originally proposed the bet after seeing a video of the overweight Deeb eating at the poker table. Deeb’s poker persona involves a lot of trolling of other players, both at the table and on social media. As a result, he gets much of the same in return, often directed at his weight and appearance, which he takes in stride. For his part, he’s infamous for slow-rolling opponents and controversially paid a $10,000 premium to enter the WSOP Ladies’ Event while dressed in drag.
Perkins first suggested a target percentage of 10% and offered 20-1 odds: his $1 million to Deeb’s $50,000.
Deeb pointed out that 10% is a challenging target, even for many people who aren’t obese to begin with. He countered with 17%, a two-year window, and upping his end of the deal to make the odds 10-1. After some back-and-forth negotiation about the timeline, the two settled on the following terms:
- The bet deadline is May 30, 2024, corresponding to the usual start date of the WSOP.
- If Deeb’s body fat percentage, measured by a DEXA Scan, is under 17%, he wins $1 million from Perkins.
- If Deeb fails the bet, he owes Perkins $100,000.
- Steroids and hormone replacement therapy are allowed.
Just How Thin Will Shaun Deeb Have to Get to Win the Bet?
Deeb says he doesn’t know his exact body fat percentage going into the bet. However, he’s 37 years old, 5’11”, and clocked 306 pounds on his initial weigh-in. Based on that, he’s probably somewhere north of 40%.
Body fat percentage doesn’t correlate directly with weight or body-mass index because muscle mass is a factor. So, how much Deeb has to weigh at the end depends on how much muscle he builds.
For men, 17% body mass equates to a sustainably lean, healthy body.
Someone with a typical middle-aged belly will be a little over 20%. Getting six-pack abs usually requires dropping below 15%.
Without knowing how much muscle mass Deeb has – or will have – a reasonable guess at a winning weight is probably around 170 pounds. In other words, he has only a little over a year to lose almost half his body weight.
Is it safe for Deeb to lose weight that fast? That depends on his approach, but the accepted wisdom is that up to a 2% monthly loss in total body fat is achievable safely. If Deeb can begin losing at that rate immediately, and keep it up for 14 months, then the bet seems close.
Most people who try to lose at that rate over a prolonged period fail. On the other hand, not many have an additional million dollars in motivation.
The Perkins Effect
A poker-playing friend once joked that the most “+EV” (i.e., profitable) play in the game is to be friends with Bill Perkins. That’s because of his vast wealth and love of prop betting.
Some of Perkins’ bets are serious, others are silly, but there’s always a lot of money on the line. On one occasion, he made a $50,000 bet with Antonio Esfandiari at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, requiring him to move around only by split lunges for the duration of the tournament stop. Esfandiari won the bet, but at the cost of being disqualified from the Main Event for urinating into a bottle under the table. His legs had become too exhausted to make it to the bathroom and back.
Esfandiari is no stranger to weird prop bets, either. He once gave poker journalist Lance Bradley an $8,000 freeroll to wear the same shirt for a year.
Weight loss bets have become common in the increasingly fitness-obsessed professional poker community. Perkins has been involved in many of these as well, with mixed results.
In 2018, for instance, he bet Jamie Staples at a generous 50-1 that he couldn’t get to within one pound of his much skinner brother Matt in one year. At the time of the bet, Jamie weighed 305 pounds, and Matt only 134. It was a controversial proposal because it incentivized Matt to gain weight in addition to Jamie losing it.
The Staples brothers won that bet. More recently, however, Perkins came out on the winning end of a $200,000 bet with Doug Polk after Polk failed to cut his body fat percentage in half.