This morning members of the media received an email detailing how the final seat in the “World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions” will be decided. The tournament has drawn criticism for its voting process, which mimics that of an “all-star” game in professional sports. Some members of the poker media, and professional poker players including Robert Mizrachi, have even gone as far as wondering if the whole voting process is rigged, but there is no real way of proving that. Regardless, the event has drawn some criticism, and today’s email didn’t help decrease those feelings.
Since the tournament was first announced, it was reported that one of the 27 seats would be determined by a “sponsor exemption.” Nobody in the poker world knew exactly what that meant, with some thinking “Sasquatch” would earn a seat because he’s the mascot for “Jack Links Beef Jerky,” and they are one of the sponsors. Just this morning it was announced that this seat would be determined by a “sudden death-playoff,” via nine player sit-n-go tournament. These nine players, Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Andy Bloch, Bertrand “ElKy” Grospellier, Gus Hanson, actor Don Cheadle, Sorel Mizzi, Michael Mizrachi, Liv Boeree and Paul Wasicka, are playing in the event because they weren’t eligible for the event as they don’t hold WSOP bracelets. The point is that players who have never won a WSOP championship are eligible for the “Tournament of Champions.” Do you see the problem there? Annie Duke certainly does.
Duke, who runs the popular “Ante-Up for Africa” charity tournaments alongside actor Don Cheadle, doesn’t understand why Cheadle gets a chance to play in what is supposed to be a tournament for past WSOP champions. While she “loves” Cheadle, Duke finds it “ridiculous” he was granted a seat in the playoff tournament. Duke even offered a couple of solutions saying, “There would be an argument that spots should be for bracelet winners who don't get voted in only. But certainly must have a major title,” and “Take the nine players who just miss in the voting and have them play for the seat.”
It’s too late to make these corrections at this point, as the playoff is scheduled for June 10th and the “Tournament of Champions” is scheduled for July 4th. For more information on this tournament, and to vote for those you’d wish to see in it, visit: www.WSOP.com/TOC
David Williams had only played one WSOP tournament to this point, but said you’ll see him in a ton of events the rest of the way. Williams, after a busy tournament season traveling the world, elected to take a break instead of jumping right into the thick of things at the start of the WSOP. Williams is hoping to have the same kind of success he had in Las Vegas in April when he won the World Poker Tour’s Five Star World Poker Classic, which netted him $1,530,537. However, if his first table at just the second event after his break is any indication, it won’t be easy.
After busting out of his first tournament, event #16: $1,500 Six Handed No Limit Holdem, Williams signed up for event #17 $5,000 No Limit Holdem. He must have laughed when he saw the players at his table awaiting him. How’s this for a “Murderer’s Row” of poker players: Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Brandon Adams, JJ Liu, Dan Heimiller, Shannon Elizabeth, Alex Bolotin, and the one and only Phil Hellmuth Jr. To this point though, Williams has been up to the challenge, working his way up to a way above average of $22,000. As I write this it seems Williams’ evening may get a little easier as his table is about to break. It’s hard to imagine his next table could be as difficult at this one way.
Making his 2010 WSOP debut today is one of the hottest running poker players in the world. Jose “Nacho” Barbero is fresh off his second main event win in a row on the Latin American Poker Tour. In addition to that, it was his third LAPT main event final table in a row. On June 2nd, the second of his back-to-back wins, Barbero won $250,000 and decided that he would see if he can parlay that into millions at the WSOP.
Much like Williams however, he has had a rough start. Barbero’s first event was the $5,000 event that Williams is in, but Barbero was only able to last a few levels, before being eliminated. One tournament doesn’t determine if someone is “running bad” but it’s certainly not the start Barbero was hoping for in his first event. No word on which event “Nacho” will play next.
Speaking of the 5k event, a number of big names remain, as the players have just completed six levels and are now on their way to dinner. Many of these players are hoping to make their first mark on the 2010 WSOP after a rough start for most of them. Noticeable names in the top 10 include Shawn Buchanan (4th), Perry Friedman (6th), Sam Stein (8th), and Jason Mercier (10th). Many people label Mercier one of the top tournament players in the world, as he seems to play against the top players very well. If he’s able to parlay his current top 10 chip stack to a championship, he would not only win his first WSOP bracelet, but also add $818,959 to his bankroll.