Poker pro Bart Hanson bets big on a Joe Biden victory

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: November 2, 2020 7:28 pm EST

Bart Hanson is so confident that Joe Biden will win the election over Donald Trump that he’s willing to bet $200,000 on it. And he’s doing so because a former poker pro has him convinced he’s getting the right odds.

Nate Silver is that former poker pro. He now runs the popular website FiveThirtyEight, a trusted source for political polls. Hanson is banking on the model Silver uses to project the outcome of Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election. And if the polling expert is off on his forecasts, he stands to lose six figures in wagers.

“I have close to $200,000 in wagers based upon your modeling. A 10% chance is non-trivial and Trump could win again, but that doesn’t make your model wrong. But most non gamblers just can’t grasp their head around this,” Hanson told Silver on Twitter.

Hanson isn’t just betting on Biden to win the whole election. The poker pro could still conceivably win some money even if the Democratic candidate loses the election, although that seems unlikely. His biggest wager — $39,220 — is on the former vice president winning the election. But he’s getting less than 1/2 odds on that bet ($23,324 potential profit).

Biden winning the election would almost certainly guarantee a huge win overall for Hanson, however. That’s because if Barack Obama’s VP comes out victorious on Tuesday, he’ll need to win many of the states Hanson bet on him to win.

Taking a gamble on Joe Biden

The Crush Live Poker training site founder has wagers on 21 individual states as well, ranging from $50 (Alabama) to $8,258 (Texas). He later corrected a couple of the errors on the spreadsheet he posted on Twitter. He stands to win $23,324 in the overall Biden election vote (spreadsheet shows $18,324) and $28,105 in Texas (spreadsheet shows $17,605.

In total, Hanson stands to win as much as $160,499 in profit while risking just under $200,000. So, he’s getting less than even money, which might sound strange to some gamblers. But he believes in Silver’s polling model. Thus, he considers his wagers to be profitable, or above expected value.

Hanson is taking some gambles on certain states. Take Texas, for example, a state that almost always votes for the Republican presidential candidate. But recent polls have indicated that Biden isn’t far behind in the Lone Star State. If Biden pulls the upset, which isn’t too unreasonable to think could happen, the poker pro would turn a hefty profit of over $28,000 at around 3.5/1 odds. To him, the potential payout is worth the risk of losing $8,258 even though Trump is favored in the state.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump will find out their fates (hopefully) Tuesday night, although if the race is as close as some expect, it could take days to sort out. Biden is a heavy favorite and is polling at around 10 points ahead in most national polls. FiveThirtyEight handicaps his odds of winning at almost 90%.

But strange things happen as Hillary Clinton discovered in 2016 when she lost to Trump despite being the heavy favorite. Clinton was such a large favorite that PaddyPower, an online sportsbook, actually paid out its Clinton bettors before the election, assuming that Trump had no chance to win. In the end, the online sportsbook was forced to pay out both sides. That likely won’t happen this time around.

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