Thrills, Spills & Tests of Wills – The 2013 WSOP

Thrills, Spills & Power of Wills’….Ups, Downs & Clowns

The 2013 World Series of Poker

By: Derrick Oliver

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Spectacular!  Yes, if I had to, in a word, describe the 44th annual World Series of Poker I’d say confidently, ‘Spectacular.’  Each year it seems the calibre of play gets better, the fields are so deep and so talented that to navigate your way through all the mine fields is seemingly impossible.  It’s quite a feat, winning a bracelet is, the equivalent perhaps to winning the Stanley Cup in hockey, in fact, double bracelet winner, Greg ‘FBT’ Mueller, one of the most feared players on the planet, a cash game killer, put it this way when he guested on High Roller Radio:

(Greg Mueller)

Mueller won both his bracelets in 2009, this year he made three final tables and was formidable in each event he played.  The man they call FBT, ‘Full Blown Tilt’, certainly one of the elite sharks the poker world has to offer.

Heading into the series, there was a lot of talk about a new measure allowing security to search players bags and knapsacks as they entered the playing area…can never be too safe following 9/11…some expressed concerns over privacy…as it turned out, it wasn’t much of an issue at all…in the wake of Black Friday, and the inability for Americans to qualify for events online, the pundits wondered about the numbers, attendance was good…right from the opening bell, close to 1000 runners in the Casino Employees Championship, to the final round and 6352 in the Main Event….Poker is alive and well, online qualifiers are not.

The game we all love is now officially part of the main stream…I expect the numbers to be good for years to come.  The World Series of Poker is it…the game’s marquis event….it’s showcase…and each year it seems to get better.

There were a few kinks….many players, especially the top notch pros, guys like Greg Mueller, complained it was unfair that Daniel Negreanu walked into the RIO more than 400 points up on his closest rival in the WSOP Player of the Year race after Kid Poker won the main event of the WSOP Asia Pacific…Mueller and many others feel the series in Vegas should be played first…giving those who do well there, the option to travel the world in a quest for ;;player of the year honours.

Some players argue some of the earlier levels should be eliminated, suggesting it will provide for more play later on…during the money stages of the tournament…and thus avoiding those dreaded all-in and call coin flips.  Pro’s feel a format change will lower the luck factor….

A couple of other issues were brought to the fore and to light on High Roller Radio recently by one of our favorite guests Padraig Parkinson, the Irish legend, finished 3rd at the ’99 Main Event, inaugural winner of Late Poker across the pond:  Always opinionated, Parkinson says shades at the table need to be BANNED, says the phrase ‘poker face’ is a joke these days, and he is outraged by the amount of time its taking players to make a decision….says the game needs to be sped up:

(Padraig Parkinson)

Back in 2006, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollak stated, “”It’s impossible to overstate the value of a World Series of Poker gold bracelet to anyone who takes the game seriously, it is the equivalent of winning the Lombardi Trophy in football.”

That still holds today…just ask my buddy Chad Holloway, senior writer at Poker News, who kicked it all off by winning Event #1, the Casino Employees Championship, an absolute thrill for the Madison, Wisconsin native:

(Chad Holloway)

That guy’s a poker junkie, left law school to follow his poker dream….a dream come true now thanks to his newfound WSOP gold…that sentiment was shared by Calen ‘Big Wheel’ McNeil, a Canadian, who captured his first bracelet in Event #20, Omaha Hi/Low Split 8 or Better:

(Calen Mcneil)

McNeil was part of the so-called Canadian Invasion, Canucks winning 10 bracelets out of 61 events…wow!  Considering Canadians make up only 5% of the entries, that is an incredible clip….and it may be 11 bracelets following the main event…Marc McLaughlin is currently 3rd in chips…could he bring Quebec its 2nd world title?  Remember, Jonathan Duhamel’s triumph three years ago.

Kudo’s to a few stand-outs…another Canadian Benny Chen turned $1500 into more than $1 million by taking down the new Millionaire Maker….that tourney set a record for a single one-day turn-out of more than 5000 players….astonishing.

Britain’s Matthew Aston…3 or 4 final tables and that victory in the 50k Players Championship….he currently leads the Player of the Year race….just a few points ahead of Daniel Negreanu…who almost won his 6th bracelet….finishing 2nd to Eli Elezra in a Deuce-to-7 event.

Tom Schneider…another former guest who had a terrific series…winning two more bracelets, 4 in all now…he won two back in 07….when he says the stars were aligned…I assume it was a little bit of the same this year!

(Tom Schneider)




This year’s World Series of Poker featured a record 480 poker tables…Open Face Chinese poker was brought back as part of the Carnivale of Poker….Did you know? Steve Zolotow ons a vbracelket in Open Face Chinese…he’s the only one…

A couple of women won open events….Dana Castenada and Loni Harwood….no women at the final table…Australia’s Jackie Glazer was the last female standing – 31st – Barbara Enright, another former guest of High Roller Radio, the only woman ever to do it…1995, she finished 5th…her pocket 8’s busted by an opponent’s 6 3 suited….a beat that to this day hurts…

(Barbara Enright)

We had one for the grey hairs too, as Michael BIG STORE Moore outlasted everyone in the 5k limit hold’em championship.  He was down to just a few chips at one point and battled back.  It was a year of comebacks….a number of huge chip disadvantages were erased….a Chip and a Chair resonating in 2013 , a phrase coined years ago, by legend and hall of famer Jack ‘tree top’ Strauss.

And how about Barney Boatman….one of the most likeable and competitive players on the circuit…finally got his WSOPM gold…to the delight of a huge rail from London England…well done BARNEY.

It was an excellent series!  Many thanks to the WSOP and Poker News for the updates, a month and a half of hard work for all those involved…David Tuchman, who did play by play on all the final table LIVE streams, terrific work my man….he was joined in the booth by a plethora of household name, big time poker players….they were so entertaining and so informative….

Tuchman, FYI, another former guest of High Roller Radio:


So, after a month and a half of poker, day in day out….fame and riches won….glory achieved…heartbreak for some….devastation for others….we are down to 9….

The MAIN EVENT FINAL TABLE….JC Tran is your chip leader with 38 million….Amir Lehavot and Marc McLaughlin not far behind, neither are Jay Farber and Ryan Reiss.  Sylvain Loosli, Michiel Brummelhius are in the middle of the pack while Marck Newhouse and the well-known David Benefield are your short stacks….Carlos Mortensen was your final table bubble boy…El Matador won the thing in 2001….he would have added much drama to this November 9…as it stands now…one of the aforementioned 9 will win the world title, and 8.4 million…

There is no other tournament like it…created by the infamous Benny Binion, a guy who’s thought to have killed a few men in his lifetime, back in 1970…Johnny Moss the elected champ that year….Doyl Brunson was at that final table….Texas Dolly would eventually in back to back championships in 78 and 79….he’s 79 now…and said he wouldn’t play this year….well he did, the main event….and he went deep, finishing 400th or so…but he cashed…..that’s what he does…he makes the money…,been doing it for years…on his way out of the Rio, after busting…he received two rousing standing ovations…the best storyline of the summer….Brunson, like the series itself…Legendary!

Now, the poker world waits and watches, a three month lay-off before the famed November 9…as the final tablists hire coaches, run mock scenarios and get ready for what will be the most important poker of their lives…each pay jump at this point is huge…its life altering money…first prize the richest payday in all of sports…that’s what its become…a true world series….the winner forever enshrined on the walls at the RIO….forever immortalized in Las Vegas lore….

Good luck to the 9…and good gambling!

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