Brian Zembic: The Poker Pro Whose Retirement Plan Meant a $100K Breast Implant

In a timeline of the most notorious breast implant, the events unfolded like this. In 1996, a compulsive gambler and average magician called Brian Zembic wins a $100,000 wager. Not in a tense, eye-gripping Texas Hold’em poker game but in a daredevil bet that he (we’re talking about the man who would do anything to win a high-stakes gamble) will get the kind of body makeover that he so admired and wanted in women: a 38C breast implant.

Two decades later, Brian Zembic is still keeping his part of the deal, having grown into his acquisition so wholeheartedly that he refuses to have them removed. 

Although the Canadian backgammon and blackjack proffesional worries about the boob job going saggy with age, the additional $10,000 per year he receives to stay abreast of the impulse to return to flatness (excuse the pun) is incentive enough for him to not get that load off his chest (too good a pun to excuse).

Brian Zembic’s breast augmentation is not the only case of gambler’s mania and life-scaring prop bet in the casino world. Other stupid and bizarre bets have achieved the amazing feat of bluring the lines between winning and losing. Below we’re profiling the outrageous, hard-core gamblers who had turned betting into more than just a job that pays the bills.

Top 5 Most Brazen Prop Bets: When High-Rollers Go All In

1.      Meat-hater versus Olive-hater

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. High-roller poker man Howard “The Professor” Lederer, double winner of the World Poker Series, has declared his vegetarianism in a 2006 interview.

That statement has led to fellow poker player David Grey challenging The Professor to eat a beef patty hamburger for $10,000. Dare a man on his principles and you might swallow your words.

Howard Lederer gulped the burger with no guilty conscience and, in return, tested Grey’s famous distaste for olives and bet him double or nothing to eat a few. Grey did not abide.

How nasty can olives be?

2.      Meanwhile in Russia

If you’re chasing a gamble with historically high stakes, why not wager your partner in life? Find the moral of the story in Andrei Karpov’s irresponsible bet.

In 2007, the Russian gambler was riding a losing streak to Sergey Brodov. In order to stay in the game after his funds ran out, he put his wife, Tatiana, up as a bargaining chip. He lost.

When his opponent showed up at Karpov’s house to claim the jackpot, Tatiana was already waiting with her suitcase packed and a form filed for divorce. She married Brodov, the man who won her in a game of poker.

3.      Dare and Double Dare

“I won the prop bet and $50,000, but I lost my way. It was a grueling two days, both emotionally and physically, but that is no excuse.” - Antonio Esfandiari

Antonio Esfandiari had to issue an apologetic statement (see the video below) after he urinated in a container at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure table to win a prop bet against fellow gambler Bill Perkins.

Only World Poker Series afficionados will recognize Esfandiari as a maestro of chips tricks and, until recently at least, number one for all-time tournament poker winnings.

But gamblers are not masters of restraint, less so when the sports involve proposition bets. Most of the times, it’s not even about a win or a loss.

The daredevil can’t help but taking the dare.

Esfandiari’s challenge to lunge for 48 hours seemed innocent enough at the beginning, but as the man himself later recalled, the body pangs and physical exhaustion started to feel like concrete in his bones and intensified to the extreme level in which he was unable to move to pee in the designated area for that- the bathroom.

The organisers of the Poker Tournament considered the gambler’s gesture a breach of etiquette and disqualified him from the game. Esfandiari donated the $50,000 prop bet to charity.

However, if the poker player could have been commended by the Monthy Python Ministry of Funny Walks for his lunge performance, he paid his dues to Perkins when he lost the chance of winning $250,000 to abstain from sex for a year.

Given that Esfandiari was a newly wed at the time, Perkins called that prop wager a total “shoe-in” from the start.

4.      Bill Perkins: The Uncrowned King of Prop Bets

“When you’re betting against the ability of a human being to do something, you’re generally going to lose.”- Bill Perkins

And he’s generally OK with that. A former commodity trader, Bill Perkins doesn’t get bothered with qualms of conscience or experience stomach sickness when he calls his bank in the middle in the night to pay up hundreds of thousands of dollars to a losing prop bet.

Bill Perkins’s history with silly prop bets boasts high profile antecedents before the Antonio Esfandiari spiel. The high emotions of the poker tournament just aren’t enough for this high rolling card shark.

In 2015, Bill Perkins bet Mike McDonald that he couldn’t perform 300 squats during one session of play. It happened on the occasion of the $100k Super High Roller and Perkins lost the wager.

In the Hall of Fame of prop bets, however, goes the $500,000 wager Bill Perkins paid to Jeff Gross to have a gay pride rainbow tattoo printed, in full view, on his neck.

The tattoo design, which resembles a child’s rendering of a multicolor balloon, has good odds at the title of the most expensive and purposeless skin blemish ever made. But Gross doesn’t mind putting his skin on the line when an enticing wager looms on the horizon.

In spite of his fear of heights, the poker pro jumped from the stratosphere for a prop bet. He also engaged in a year-long  abstinence from alcohol and gluten to win his prize.

5.      Brian Zembic Wins the Prop Bet Challenge Tournament

In the end, and if we were pressed to declare a winner, Brian Zembic’s breast implants has no rivals in terms of prop bet endurance, eccentricity, and earnings. If life’s a gamble, Brian Zembic just called its bluff with an artist’s 38 Coup de grace.