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Best of Aaron Todd
The tournament series is the ultimate grind, as action runs from noon until 3-4 a.m. most days. Many poker writers who cover the entire series end up burned out, weary, and looking for ways to escape. (Need proof? Head on over to the Tao of Poker blog, and read Dr. Pauly's first-hand account.)
So here at Casino City, we take an alternative approach. We pick a couple key events and cover them with wall-to-wall reporting. (I'll be heading out later this week for the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, while my colleagues Vin Narayanan and Dan Igo will be on hand for the Main Event). But for the rest of the Series, we let WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla fill us in on the action.
Dalla is the author of One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, the World's Greatest Poker Player. And he bends over backwards to help the poker media cover the continually growing series. He is universally loved by poker pros and journalists alike for his affable attitude and his remarkably descriptive tournament summaries. He's the Grantland Rice of poker.
Which brings us to today's top-10 list. Last year, we published our first annual tribute to Dalla's writings. Today, we continue that tradition, giving you the top-10 snippets from his write-ups from the first 40 bracelet events of 2011.
10) Event #9 – A "professional"
The 16th-place finisher was Sean Snyder, from San Diego, Calif. When asked details about his background by the media, Snyder called himself a “professional losing player.” He also insisted his favorite poker player is “Bill Frist,” which is an inside joke to all of those who have been involved in the online poker scene since 2006.
9) Event #9 - Perrins wins WSOP bracelet after unconventional lessons
Before taking his tournament seat, Perrins had to familiarize himself with some rules and basic strategy of the game. Since there aren’t too many tutorials out there on mastering No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Lowball, he turned to a place where virtually no one else goes to learn new poker: YouTube.
That’s right, YouTube – the site famous for music videos, pranks, and pet tricks.
Apparently, Perrins found a YouTube link that must have included some pretty good material. He watched what he estimated to be a total of 30 minutes of video about lowball single-draw basics. A short time later, he owned a WSOP gold bracelet.
Sick. Amazing. Absurd. Ridiculous....take your pick of adjectives. But the reality is – the best single-word description would be IMPRESSIVE.
Indeed, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
8) Event #21 - ElkY takes a title
Indeed, up until this moment, Grospellier had earned more than $7 million in live poker tournaments on four different continents -- all in just eight years. He’d won multiple European Poker Tour titles and owned a World Poker Tour victory. In the poker world, however, his prior victories were the equivalent of going into a fancy steakhouse and being served a vegetarian meal. The juicy porterhouse of this game is a WSOP gold bracelet.
Finally, Grospellier’s voracious appetite was satisfied with all the trimmings. It was a meal served the right temperature -- well done.
7) Event #8 - Padraig Parkinson's take on the Brits
There was at least one cantankerous bystander in the crowd, cheering on the American. Even though he did not personally know the eventual winner, longtime poker veteran Padraig Parkinson — who is originally from Dublin, Ireland — was thrilled to see a non-Brit finally win the title.
“Every time I hear them play ‘God Save the Queen’ at the bracelet ceremony, I have to leave the room,” he snapped. “I’ve never gotten so much exercise.”
6) Event #11 – Anyone got a spare?
Lind had a 2-to-1 chip lead at one point when play was heads-up. But his final opponent proved just as tough and caught a wind of cards that ended up winning the tournament. Lind's consolation prize for finishing second amounted to $287,554, which for a player with as much talent and ambition as Lind was like being given the keys to a red Ferrari with a flat tire.
5) Event #38 - The Ukrainian invasion
It’s becoming clearly apparent there is a seismic shift going on in the poker world. While the United States enjoys enormous advantages in terms of overall WSOP numbers due to being the host nation, the fact is other nations are disproportionally ahead of all the rest in terms of accomplishments. It’s also now clear that the Ukraine is one of those nations which continues to mature as a poker market.
That’s a scary prospect – unless you happen to be Ukrainian.
4) Event #11 - Russian mining school
Prior to taking up the game full-time last year, Zhukov graduated from Moscow Mining University where he studied geology. Zhukov must have learned something at the mining school. He appears to be using his formal education to maximum benefit. He came to this year's WSOP seeking to find gold and cash, and ended up uncovering a treasure chest.
3) Event #24 – Nolan collects on a bet with Gavin Smith
"Are you kidding me? You've never heard of Guelph?" whined Gavin Smith when queried about his hometown. "Guelph is a Mecca that has created a lot of poker talent and if you use my quote in the official report, I'll give you $100."
Bad beat, Gavin. Time to pay up.
2) Event #40 - Nolan is not convinced
The fourth-place finisher was Carter Gill, from Madras, Ore. He claims to be a 24-year-old hand model.
1) Event #29 – The Edsel of poker
A hushed debate has persisted for quite some time as to whether the person coronated as the official “World Poker Champion” should be decided upon based solely on one’s mastery of a single game. After all, poker is a potpourri of many different card games.
Texas Hold’em may very well be the “Cadillac of poker games.” But the fact is -- many Mercedes, Jaguars and Lexus cars idle in our poker parking lot, as well. Poker even has a few Edsels and AMC Pacers. So many different poker variants are played now in virtually all regions of the world that it’s next to impossible to keep track of all the quirks and peculiarities of every game.
Standard rules, such as a flush beats a straight, no longer necessarily apply. Now, there are games where the worst hand wins. Other games aim to create a hodgepodge of low cards of mixed suits. It’s become tougher to figure out than the tax code.