The 2013 WSOP Main Event kicks off on July 6. It is the event that generates maximum interest and maximum speculation. Over the last few years the Main Event bracelet has been won by unknown players and the poker fraternity is waiting for a big one to win the big one.
The online betting site bwin.com, which also operates a popular poker room, has posted odds for the 2013 WSOP Main Event winner. The list is headed by Daniel Negreanu with odds of 40/1. Negreanu is one of the leading earners on the live poker tournament circuit and his meager tally of 5 bracelets does not reflect his stature or ability. Negreanu is definitely due for a WSOP Main Event win.
There are three players at 50/1. Phil Hellmuth is the leading WSOP bracelet winner with 13 in his trophy room. Johnny Chan is next with 10 bracelets. His last major success was the back to back Main Event wins in 1987 and 1988, but has failed to live up to expectations since then. The third player at 50/1 is Phil Ivey. When he burst on the poker scene he was rated as a wonder boy. He has raced to 9 WSOP bracelets probably faster than anyone else and is the only player to seriously challenge Hellmuth’s 13. But Full Tilt trouble and wife trouble has put Ivey out of action for a while. May be he comes back with a bang by winning this year’s Main Event.
The complete list of odds at bwin.com is as follows.
Daniel Negreanu (CAN) 40/1
Phil Ivey (USA) 50/1
Phil Hellmuth (USA) 50/1
Johnny Chan (CHN) 50/1
Allen Cunningham (USA) 66/1
Jeremy Ausmus (USA) 66/1
Bryan Piccoli (USA) 66/1
Chris Ferguson (USA) 66/1
Jonathan Duhamel (CAN) 66/1
Tom Dwan (USA) 80/1
Erik Seidel (USA) 80/1
Doyle Brunson (USA) 80/1
Aaron Lim (AUS) 100/1
Jesse Sylvia (USA) 100/1
Vitaly Lunkin (RUS) 100/1
Michael Mizrachi (USA) 100/1
Jason Mercier (USA) 100/1
Patrik Antonius (FIN) 100/1
Pius Heinz (GER) 100/1
Russell Thomas (USA) 100/1
Previous Main event winners in this list are Hellmuth, Chan, Ferguson, Duhamel and Doyle, Brunson.
Poker player Mike Matusow has been nicknamed “The Mouth” by his peers because of the preposterous statements that he makes from time to time. But professional poker watchers feel that Matusow has gone overboard with his latest claim that he is the second best poker tournament player in the world, Carlos Mortensen probably being the best.
The standard criterion for ranking poker tournament players has been the life time live tournament earnings. There are a few data bases available on this listing and by and large they are in agreement. By this standard criteria, Antonio Esfandiari is on top with $24 million plus. Mortensen is No 16 with almost $11 million and Matusow is No 25 with almost $9 million. Hence, in order to justify his claim The Mouth evolved another criterion. He said, “They are tournament players. They travel the tournament circuit. I play my three or four tournaments, and I win them.” His criterion for ranking is prize money won per tournament played. He added, “I don’t play many of them. It’s quality, not quantity.”
It is not that Matusow does not have a point. It is natural for players who have been around longer to gather more prize money. Daniel Negreanu, who is No 3 on the all time money list with $18 million, had his first cash in 1997. Phil Hellmuth who is No 4 and $100,000 behind Negreanu had his first cash in 1987. The problem with Matusow’s contention is that ready data will not be available on the number of tournaments played by each poker professional. Hence one cannot accept or challenge his claim with certainty.
But one can reasonably sat that Matusow is talking tall as usual. For starters, he has been around about the same time as Negreanu and has won only half the amount. Before his 2013 NBC Heads-Up Championship victory in January 2013, Matusow last won a poker tournament in August 2010. 2011 and 2012 were dry as far as wins were concerned. However, within days of usurping the ranking of the second best quality tournament player, Matusow won the 2013 WSOP Event #13 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo event.
With WSOP beginning on May 29 the famed bracelets are bound to be in the news. But there are two items that feature the bracelet with a twist.
Jamie Gold the 2006 WSOP Main Event winner has announced that he will auction his bracelet. The process will be conducted by Heritage Auctions, which bills itself as “The World’s Largest Collectibles Auctioneer.” The auction will take place on July 13, the date on which the 2013 WSOP Main Event will begin. The description of the bracelet given by Heritage Auctions is as follows: “The bracelet features 259 stones including over seven carats of diamonds and 120 grams of white and yellow gold. Rubies are inset to create the red of the heart and diamond suits, while a sapphire represents the spade and three black diamonds the clubs.” Gold is the biggest WSOP winner of all time. In 2006 he took home a $12 million cash prize for winning the Main Event. He exactly did not take all of it home because he was compelled to share half of that amount with one Crispin Leyser, with whom he had an agreement prior to the event.
Gold was not the first WSOP winner to sell his bracelet. In March 2007 WSOP Main Event winner had his bracelet seized by the IRS and will be auctioned to recover tax arrears. The 2008 WSOP Main Event winner Peter Eastgate had sold his bracelet for charity on eBay. The buyer was William Haughey who paid $147,500 and now wishes to offer the bracelet in a charity event conducted by WSOP. Others who have sold their bracelets include T.J. Cloutier, Brad Daugherty and Paul “Eskimo” Clark. Gold had not yet given any reason for selling his bracelet.
Another poker professional Jason Mercier announced a prop bet via Twitter that he is offering 3:1 odds that he will win a bracelet at 2013 WSOP. He tweeted, “Looking for action at 3 to 1 on winning a bracelet this summer.” Mercier has won two bracelets in the five years that he has been on the poker scene, which gives him a chance of 40%. But poker followers do not look at it this way. They feel that the variance and large tournament fields do not give Mercier the 25% chance of winning a bracelet that he needs to break even
The Ultimate Bet (UB.com) Super User scandal refuses to fade away. Just when good things have happened in the online poker space, the scandal has resurfaced. Travis Makar, Russ Hamilton’s personal assistant, released audio tapes of secretly recorded meetings between Ultimate Bet founders and lawyers. The reveal a frank and free admission of wrong doings. The scandal revolved around a feature in the software known as AuditMonster that allowed those in possession of a code to see the pocket cards of the players.
The tapes have Russ Hamilton admitting that he took the money. Hamilton tries to exonerate himself by saying he used a part of that money to prop up Ultimate Bet, which otherwise would have to close down. He however refused to provide any funds to pay back the victims.
The most shocking revelations concern well known and reputed poker professionals Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth. Both were long standing brand ambassadors at Ultimate Bet, who quit just before the scandal broke, giving rise to some rumors about their involvement. These tapes reveal that both these poker players were actually part owners of the online poker room. Though they do not appear as participants, they were discussed by Hamilton and his coterie.
Annie Duke had gone on record claiming that she had no knowledge of the AuditMonster feature. However, in the tapes Hamilton says that on multiple occasions Annie had actually used the tool on a “15 minute delay”. He stated that she had her own copy of the tool, implying that she was in the know and had the opportunity to use the tool. Annie has responded to these allegations through Twitter. She claims that she had access to the delayed viewing of cards only for a few Ultimate Bet tournament events where she was a radio commentator. She added that this is standard practice for WSOP commentators for live events also. Her final Tweet was, “Sad a few folks making accusations and assumptions without fully appreciating this.” The interesting part is that during one of the tournaments in which Annie used the tool her then boyfriend, a novice player, won over $200,000.
Hellmuth comes out almost unscathed. The coterie discussed him and concluded that he was not suitable to be brought into the loop. Attorney Daniel Friedberg said, “Phil is the absolute worst possible person on the planet to ever be even remotely close to this. He can be controlled”. Hellmuth has expressed his disgust after listening to the tapes.
It must be a great feeling to be the only legal online gambling site from within the United States. UltimatePoker has that distinction since 9 AM PST April 30, 2013. It was the first online poker room licensed by the state of Nevada to get its act together and go live. Two important conditions that players aspiring to sign up at UltimatePoker have to meet are that they must be over 21 and that they must access the site from within Nevada.
Over the first few days it was reported that the average daily traffic was about 100 players, with the peak real money players just crossing 200. There is no benchmark to assess whether this is good or bad. One cannot obviously compare the fledgling online poker room with PokerStars or Full Tilt at their peak. Obviously the condition of being physically present in Nevada will be a constraint. The liquidity will increase when online poker rooms in New Jersey and Delaware go live and link up with UltimatePoker.
Collectors of trivia can note that on May 5 poker player Daniel Healey won $4,173 in UltimatePoker’s first $10,000 Sunday Tournament, which was the first legal, real money online poker tournament to be held in the United States. Healey said, “It is really exciting to be a part of history, winning the first tournament. I have been keeping up with the news updates and poker blogs ever since Black Friday hit and was extremely excited to hear that legal online poker is here.”
Just before the launch of Ultimate Poker, CEO Tobin Prior named the launch day as Trusting Tuesday, in contrast to Black Friday. “Players won’t have to worry if their money is safe. They are going to be able to play with people they can trust and know the highest regulatory standards have been applied.” The mixed martial arts giant Ultimate Fighting Championship has a stake in UltimatePoker and has been promoting the online poker room for months. Because of this unique cross-promotion Prior says UltimatePoker will become profitable within years. Poker pro Antonio Esfandiari has become brand ambassador for UltimatePoker. Esfandiari heads the list of all time poker live tournament winnings.