Landon Tice already trails Bill Perkins by $720,000, more or less, and the heads-up match between the two hasn’t even started. Even so, Tice is confident he’ll come out victorious. The 20,000-hand high-stakes online duel begins on June 2, and we’re about to find out just how skilled the young poker pro is at heads-up No-Limit Hold’em.
Perkins vs. Tice certainly won’t receive the attention of Doug Polk vs. Daniel Negreanu, mostly because Polk and Negreanu are two of the all-time poker greats. But it’s still an intriguing match for a couple reasons, including finding out just how much of an edge a “GTO bot” who spends countless hours studying the game at an advanced level has against a wealthy recreational player who is trying to Die With Zero.
We’re also going to find out if the Landon Tice hype is real or not. Tice has already shown the poker world he’s willing to put in the effort to achieve greatness in this game. He even won a huge MSPT event — 1,123 players — last November at Venetian in Las Vegas for $201,529. Matt Berkey, the Solve for Why founder, often hypes Tice up on his YouTube channel, as does poker podcaster Joey Ingram.
Hype or the real deal?
The hype train on the 22-year-old poker pro is coming at the poker community full steam. But will it crash and burn against an opponent with a nearly unlimited bankroll and who is willing to gamble? MJ Gonzales, who coached Negreanu against Polk, said on the No Gamble, No Future podcast in March that “Bill Perkins is one of the worst students” he’s ever coached.
That ringing endorsement aside, Perkins does know how to play the game, and is unlikely to be a doormat that Tice can walk all over throughout the match. Perkins and Tice will play 20,000 hands at $200/$400 stakes with $40,000 buy-ins at each table played.
Given that Tice is heavily favored, he agreed to pay out nine big blinds per 100 hands played as a pseudo-handicap, which calculates out to $720,000. So, he’s essentially paying Perkins nearly three-quarters of a million just to get the hedge fund manager to play. Despite the hefty fee being shipped Perkins’ way, Tice remains confident he can come out ahead in the end. He tweeted brief final thoughts ahead of the upcoming match.
Thoughts before the Challenge w/ @bp22
I'm confident in my team, myself, and the work I've put in up to this point.
I'm focused on the process of improving every day from when it starts until it ends.
I'm really excited to get after it 🔥🔥🔥
— Landon (@LandonTice) June 2, 2021
The poker community doesn’t seem to share in that optimism, although most acknowledge Tice is likely the better player. Doug Polk polled his followers on what they think the outcome of the match will be after the $720,000 handicap is factored in.
— Doug Polk (@DougPolkVids) May 31, 2021
Just over 45% of more than 8,800 voters say Perkins will win after the handicap, whereas 31.2% share in Tice’s optimism. Nearly one in four voted “unsure,” which shouldn’t be too surprising considering many poker players haven’t seen Tice play.
Should Tice have negotiated more favorable terms?
Many poker Twitter users are critical of Tice for agreeing to the terms of the match. They argue even an amateur player such as Bill Perkins could win given the lofty handicap.
“sad landon gave these odds. This really would’ve been a nice ev spot if he had negotiated harder. I think he probably wins 6-13bb/100 about with about 50% of the time. bill has very little chance of winning straight up,” @cobbpanetti wrote.
“Tice is in for an a**-beating of biblical proportions. Perkins will easily win and the fact that he got Tice to lay such insane odds just shows what a mismatch this is,” @twangcow argues.
Polk won 12 big blinds per 100 hands over 25,000 hands at the same stakes — $200/$400 — against Negreanu, banking $1.2 million when all was said and done. For Tice to win the match, he’ll need to win more than nine big blinds per 100 hands. That won’t be an easy task for a player with minimal heads-up experience, even against an amateur player who can afford to lose millions.