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Sunday, July 18, 2010

posted by James - 4:03 PM


July is over.

OK, there's two weeks left, but it always feels like it's over at the end of the World Series of Poker.

I would like to take this time to combat any feelings of 2010 of being a down year for poker. If you actually followed this WSOP, it's already been a year full of moments of controversy, achievement, surprise and heartache.

Now, I shall hit thee with a list. Mind you, this is just from the WSOP.

Tom "Durrrrr" Dwan went heads up for a bracelet and almost bankrupted the High Stakes community.

Phil Ivey did win a bracelet, for the second-straight year. I don't know how close HE got to bankrupting the high-stakes poker community, but Howard "the Professor" Lederer tweeted it best when he said, and I quote, "Gulp...".

* Ivey also final tabled a WPT event which ran the same time as the WSOP Main Event, but that's a different list. *

Shaun Deeb made a spectacle of himself by entering the yearly LADIES ONLY WSOP event and coming up with multiple, lame, hindsight excuses why he did it... while wearing a dress. His actions, and that of his fellow classless men who joined with him, ignited an unnecessary controversy in a time where players, fans and media should have better things to focus on.

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi took down the Inaugural $50k Pro Player's Championship. He's now made two more WSOP Championship final tables. It's to my detriment I haven't mentioned Mizrachi before this, but there will be plenty more chances for Mizrachi sightings in this list.

Gavin Smith joined him in removing his name from the "Best Player Without a Bracelet" list, by winning his first in a mixed-limit Hold'em event. Not a dry eye in the house in a moment made even sweeter when his good friend Chris Bell joined him that very same week.

I can't talk about firsts without mention Phil Gordon taking down the Ante Up For Africa Charity Event for his first WSOP victory. I'm sure he'll tell you the chance to contribute to a great cause, as he did by donating 100% of his first place prize and continued support of the PreventCancer.org Bad Beat on Cancer Initiative, made up for winning a watch and not the bracelet, which still eludes him. On other news, he also celebrated his 40th birthday. Yeah, I'm going to move on before I ruin any chance of being his BFF.

John Juanda had several great results, and Allen Kessler almost broke the record for cashes in a single WSOP. Men "The Master" Nguyen, ever-controversial, won yet another bracelet and made a strong run at WSOP Player of the Year.

Huck Seed bested a stacked field to win the first Tournament of Champions voted on by the fans.

Annette Obrestad came away with a big ol' goose egg in her first WSOP.

Finally, the Main Event had several great story lines for those who followed it from the start. Kudos to the WSOP staff for avoiding last year's troubles with the final first day flight filling up. The numbers for most events were way up.

Among the most high-profile deep Main Event runs was Johnny "F'n" Chan, returning to the tournament that made him famous. He's also famously been absent from the WSOP the last few years while keeping his level of fame quite high. He didn't really need it, but his success in the Main and TOC voting should keep him among the elite when it comes to poker fans.

Several name pros flirted with a final table appearance including Alexander "PostFlopAction" Kostritsyn, Adam "Roothlus" Levy and Hasan Habib. Of course, Michael Mizrachi (one of four Mizrachi brothers to cash) made the final table with a decent-sized stack to make a run at the title in November.

The biggest story from the ME (unless John Racener or Mizrachi win) will be Matt Affleck. The 80th-place finisher from the 2009 ME made the final 2 tables of this year's event. Most notable will be the way he departed, building a $42million chip pot by the turn with AA vs his opponent's JJ that had only an overpair and an up-and-down straight draw filled by a dastardly 8 on the river.

When we finally see the emotion involved in the aftermath, that bustout will forever be part of WSOP lore. If he makes another deep run next year, his three-year stretch will be a historical ME accomplishment.

I didn't even mention yet Frank Kassela locking up the WSOP POY with a fantastic showing in Championship stud events. Well, locked up unless Mizrachi takes it down in 4 months.

There were plenty of great stories in this WSOP, and I'm looking forward to the ESPN broadcasts to see even more.

So, July is over... but that doesn't even mean the poker year is over.

There's still lots of WPT, NAPT, EPT and WSOP Europe action coming up. The WSOP Main Event Final Table in November. All the while, there will be several tournament grinders going after all of those Player of the Year races and flying all over the world to do so.

My advice: Don't ever let a year disappoint you until it's over.

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