The Eyes of the Poker World Turn to Canada and North America…

The next couple of months are going to be huge in the poker world. Before the WSOP starts at the end of May, allow me to remind you of the upcoming partypokerLIVE MILLIONS North America starting next week at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal, Canada, with millions in guaranteed prize money. The Main Event, May 21-26, is a $5m guaranteed prize pool and if you’re looking for value, this could/should be it. The ME will have hundreds of players who’ve won satellites on partypoker and live at Playground. What better way to kick off the summer in Vegas and the 50th WSOP than by winning a milly at Playground?

Before we get to the WSOP, how about this for exciting news: For the first time ever (per numerous player requests), we are going to hold a partypokerLIVE MILLIONS event in the U.S – MILLIONS Vegas @ Aria. Yes!! It’s going to be held in Las Vegas at the luxurious ARIA Resort & Casino (June 28-July 2) just days prior to the start of the main event of the WSOP. It’ll be a $10,000 (+300) buy-in with a $5m guaranteed prize pool. So cool – a MILLIONS event in Vegas!

The World Series of Poker – the Pinnacle of the Live Calendar

The WSOP has maintained the top rung in the poker world not only because it was the first-ever poker tournament, but also because of their brilliance in marketing “the bracelet”, the incredible festival they put on every summer with its size and variety of games, and because of the history and stats they’ve kept since its inception. Players from around the world love the WSOP and look at stats like who has won the most bracelets, who has the most cashes, the most final tables, the most all-time earnings, what countries perform the best, etc. etc.

When you go to Las Vegas and walk in the Rio during the WSOP, you not only see football fields of tables and thousands of players, you feel the history of the WSOP with the World Champions and Players of the Year (POY) pictures on the wall. I salute the WSOP executives, their staff, and everyone who helps plan, organize and execute putting on this three-ring circus every year. Kudo’s to you all!

The Rise of the WSOP

When you look at the stats of the WSOP, you realize how much they’ve changed over the past 5-10 years, especially in categories like all-time earnings (because of big buy-in events) and all-time cashes (because of the number of events they have now). Remember, there wasn’t a buy-in over $10k at the WSOP until 2006. That’s when they put in the $50k Players Championship. Then, in 2012, they put in the ONE DROP, which was a $1m buy-in tournament!

The ONE DROP changed the all-time earnings list dramatically. For example, out of the top twenty all-time money winners at the WSOP, all of them have won the main event or done well in the ONE DROP. The only two in the top twenty who haven’t won bracelets are Dan Smith (15th) and Rick Salomon (19th), but both of those guys have won multi-millions in ONE DROP events. Incredibly, Salomon has only five cashes at the WSOP ($8,991,114) but three of those are in the $1m buy-in ONE DROP events for $8,640,000. The all-time money winner at the WSOP is Antonio Esfandiari with $21,835,100 and he won the inaugural ONE DROP for $18m.

For years, I was in the top ten in all-time cashes and most final tables (subtle brag). Not too bad, but because of the number of events they’ve added these past ten years (and I’m getting older and don’t play as much as the young guns), I’m falling down the ladder fast. I think I’m in about 25th place in those categories now. But, believe it or not, I do hold a stat record at the WSOP. It’s for cashes in the most consecutive World Series – 31 years in a row! (Age has its privileges.) What I think is pretty incredible about that streak is that it didn’t start until I was 40 years old! Nowadays, with all the events, it’s not that difficult to cash in at least one event, so I hope to maintain the title of “Most Consecutive Cashes at the WSOP” for at least a few more years.

Can anyone catch Hellmuth?

In the 80’s, they had like 12-15 events at the WSOP. I think they have 75 this year (not counting WSOPE). Some guys cash 15-20 times a year now which is rather eye-opening. Phil Hellmuth is the all-time leader in cashes with 137. He’s also the all-time bracelet winner with 15, the all-time runner-up with ten 2nd place finishes, and the all-time leader for those finishing in 4th- 9th place! To me, perhaps the most amazing stat by Phil is that of his 137 cashes, he’s made the final table 64 times! That just blows my mind. Like him or not, Hellmuth is the king of the WSOP.

I get asked periodically, “Can anyone ever catch Hellmuth in bracelets won at the WSOP?” It could happen, but I believe it will take at least 20 years before it does, if it ever does. Chances are, Phil will win another 2-5 bracelets before he retires. Who can catch him?

Don’t look at the guys closest to him now (Brunson, Ivey, and Chan with 10 bracelets and Erik Seidel with 8), but look at the young guys who have performed well at the WSOP in recent years and figure to be around for quite a while. I know Men Nguyen has seven bracelets, and Jeff Lisandro, Layne Flack, Chris Ferguson, and Ted Forrest have six, but they’re not exactly spring chickens. You’d have to make Daniel Negreanu, also with six bracelets, the front-runner. He’s a great player, loves the WSOP, and is obsessed with winning bracelets.

IMHO, to even consider anyone for the all-time bracelet lead, they have to be multiple game players. Let’s take a look at the youngest in contention. There’s only one person under the age of 30 with four bracelets and that’s Dominik Nitsche. Another guy under 30 to watch is Adrian Mateos with three bracelets. Here are the guys under 35 to consider: Jason Mercier and Daiel Alai with five bracelets, and Brian Hastings, George Danzer, Joe Cada, and Jeff Madsen with four bracelets each. Shaun Deeb, 33, is by far the hottest player in recent years. He’s won four bracelets since 2016, including two last year as well as winning POY honors. Very impressive! Shaun has a brilliant poker mind, plays all games superbly, and plays to win (super aggressive not looking to cash, but to win). The question is, will these guys still be playing the WSOP 20-25 years from now? If not, they won’t be catching Phil Hellmuth.

I really wish all of you could experience the thrill of winning a WSOP bracelet – better yet, a partypokerLIVE MILLIONS event! Hope to see you in Montreal and Vegas! 🙂 Good luck!

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