It's highly unfortunate that the World Series Of Poker is not shown on television like other sports events and that the best way to follow is by going on the website (wsop.com) to check the final results. Then again, it's not set up like other poker events. Being a fan of High Stakes Poker, Poker Superstars, and the National Heads Up Poker Championship, I have learned about plenty of poker players and their personalities. Unfortunately, the World Series Of Poker, the tournament that started it all and has run annually since 1970, is the only one that remains.
Within the last few years, the final table has been played in October or November instead of right then and there. It's generally played in November, but this year will be played in October due to the presidential election coming up in November. A pattern that has been going on the last few years is that the champions are young, breakout male poker players. On many occasions, the record for youngest champion has been broken. It hasn't been broken since Joe Cada did so in 2009, but nevertheless, new poker stars are being introduced and many (and on many occasions all) are appearing at their first final table.
The "October Nine" for 2012 include chip leader Jesse Sylvia, Hungarian player Andras Koroknai, Greg Merson, Russell Thomas, Steven Gee (who at age 56 is the oldest of the final nine), Michael Esposito, Robert Salaburu, Jacob Balsiger (who at age 21 is the youngest of the final nine), and Jeremy Ausmus. To be quite honest, I have not heard of any of these players before this final event, which goes to show you how new blood has been dominating the table. The only familiar names within the last few years at the final table include Michael Mizrachi, Jeff Shulman, and Phil Ivey. Nevertheless, these guys remain excellent poker players.
What made this year stick out was how dominant the women were with regard to making a mark in the game. There were women who were fighting for a spot at the final table. Throughout the history of the tournament, the only female to make the final table at the main event was Barbara Enright, who in 1995 made the final table and finished in fifth place. This year, Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille competed and finished in tenth and eleventh respectively. If one of both of these ladies made the final table, I could honestly say that this would have made for an interesting, competitive, aggressive, and memorable showdown. Though with the final nine proving their worth and making alternations in the rankings in what is such an unpredictable game to begin with, this main event final table should still be interesting. Other women that made noticeable finishes included Marcia Topp (71st), Vanessa Selbst (73rd), and Susie Zhao (90th).
Amnon Filippi was another noticeable player that made a huge finish at 39th. Others included Gavin Smith (96th), Daniel Negranu (160th), Freddy Deeb (211th), and John Juanda (237th). Of the previous champions, the two that finished in the money included Johnny Chan (353rd) and Huck Seed (527th). Granted, there hasn't been such a far run for champions in this main event since 2007, where Scotty Nguyen finished in 11th.
Celebrities has been known for competing in the World Series Of Poker, along with other tournaments. The one that made a huge run this year was Kevin Pollak, who finished in 134th.
The World Series Of Poker, which consists of plenty of other events, featured several other tournaments that consisted of several styles of poker. The one that stuck out from this year was a new event called "The Big One For One Drop," which consisted of a million dollar entry and just forty-eight participants. Antonio Esfandiari would go on to win this tournament and won over eighteen million dollars. Money that came out of this event went to the One Drop Foundation, which is a charity founded by Cirque De Soleil founder Guy Laliberte.
The main event final table for this tournament is so unpredictable that I have no idea who I will be rooting for or predicting will win the whole thing. I just hope that the game is competitive and the person who does the best job and plays their cards right is the one that wins it all. What we do know is that those who made a good run will surely be known and that the female poker players who broke the Top 100, especially Baumann and Hille, are on their way to becoming celebrities in the world of poker. The October showdown should definitely be an interesting one, regardless of who wins.