Poker went through a "rip" that pulled it out to sea and left it stranded when the United States government failed to acknowledge the value of online poker and left "Internet gambling" to the discretion of individual states. There were other "rips" during 2012 but the highlights of the year spread the wealth of poker all over the world. We've put together a few highlights that made 2012 remarkable and a few twilights that make the game what it is. Both sides of the newsreel are not in order or preference.
Highlight & Twlight: Phil Ivey returns. Ivey erased all the empty spaces he left in the 2011 WSOP when he skipped the entire poker festival - supposedly due to ongoing issues with Full Tilt Poker - and he returned with a vengeance in 2012.
Ivey's WSOP 2012 finishes:
|118th||Event 14 $1,500 NLH||$5,295|
|7th||Event 15 $5,000 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo||$34,595|
|2nd||Event 17 $10,000 Pot Limit Holdem||$136,046|
|5th||Event 32 $10,000 HORSE||$99,739|
|8th||Event 35 $2,500 Mixed Holdem||$21,699|
|208th||Event 59 $1,000 NLH||$3,119|
Ivey made it to five final tables and took home over a half a million dollars from the WSOP. Ivey's also building an elite team on his 'New Poker and Training' site that is coming soon. Perhaps the new year will open a new page in his life and his next wife won't need a purse collection that has an estimated value of $1.2 million.
Highlight: Phil Hellmuth picks up two
Phil Hellmuth spent 3,000 years of his life playing in three World Series of Poker final tables, heads-up, in 2011, and finished runner-up. We believe that the moment the last card was dealt and Hellmuth knew defeat, he lost at least a 1,000 years off of his life each time. He did prove to his peers (if there is such a thing in his case) that he could handle non-holdem events as well as the guy that plays every Friday night at the rotating home game.
Then along came the 2012 WSOP and Hellmuth won a first...a bracelet in the $2,500 Razz event that took him out of the comfort zone of Holdem. But that's not his only first, he claimed the WSOP Europe Main Event in Cannes and became the only poker player in history to win WSOP Main Event titles in both North America and Europe.
Hellmuth isn't even at midpoint in his playing career, if he doesn't die of a heart attack when he takes a beat, he should be playing for another 50 years or more and that could add up to a lot of gold.
Twilight: Hille and Baumann bubble final table of Main Event
Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann were so close to writing one of them into poker's history book for becoming the first woman to ever win the WSOP Main Event. And they were even closer to changing the number of women to ever make it to the final table of the Main Event. Barbara Enright set the record in 1995.
A woman winning the World Series of Poker Main Event would be so good for poker! We were rooting our Aces off! It felt like someone carved a straight flush out of our four-of-a-kind on the last card when Hille and Bauman busted out in 10th and 11th.
Twilight: Theo Jorgensen was shot and robbed
We hate this side of life and poker. It happened similarily to Jonathan Duhamel in 2011 except Duhamel was beaten and Theo Jorgensen was shot three times by masked men in 2012. Poker pros are often targeted because people know they carry cash on them for the next poker game or tournament. The really sad side of the whole picture is that the criminals are ready to kill and maim for something that may not even be at the pro player's home.
Jorgensen is recovering and sent this message out to everyone:
"It is important for me to emphasize that I am a cautious man. I have prepared myself mentally and practically that this situation could arise to protect myself and my family against outsiders. I know that the outsiders may have a mistaken idea of how much cash I have in my home. I have alarm systems installed, always so get cash lying as possible and generally taken my precautions. It has unfortunately proved not to be enough.
I have it under control well, and right now I want to focus on taking care of my family, so we can get through this."
Highlight: NY Judge rules poker skill game
Poker has ran the gamut of being the 'bad guy' that calls to innocent victims with its draw to a gambling environment and according to all those in government that would protect United States citizens, creates demons that cannot control their habits because it's like crack. We know that's a bit of an extreme but it feels that way, especially if you live in the U.S. - the land of the free!
In August a federal judge ruled that poker is mainly a game of skill, not chance, when a New York man's conviction was tossed out for running a poker club. Lawrence Dicristina was charged with violating a 1970s-era federal law, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, which defines gambling as slot machines, lotteries, and bookmaking.
Federal District Court Judge Jack Weinstein agreed with Dicristina's lawyers when he wrote,
"In poker, increased proficiency boosts a player's chance of winning and affects the outcome of individual hands as well as a series of hands. Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and powers of observation and deception."
Highlight: WSOP expands to Australia
In May the World Series of Poker reached a multi-year agreement in partnership with Australia's Crown Melbourne to bring the poker tournament to Austrailia in April 2013.
From April 4th-15th, 2013, five WSOP gold bracelet events will be featured in the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific (WSOP APAC).
“Our goal is to establish the worldwide grand slam of poker and use our platform to elevate the game through a series of major championships,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “With WSOP Las Vegas growing annually and WSOP Europe poised for long-term success after five years, the time is right to turn our attention to the dynamic poker scene in Asia and Australia. Given Crown’s success with the ‘Aussie Millions Poker Championship’, we couldn’t ask for a better partner than Crown to establish the Asia-Pacific’s definitive poker festival.”
The positive side of new poker events can't be stressed enough, more players make better games and the WSOP is the perfect place to start. One question we fumble with time and time again: will the increasing number of poker tournaments eventually burn out the cash supply for live games?
Highlight: Michael Mizrachi wins $50K Players Championship.
The $50K Players Championship is one of the toughest tournaments offered at the World Series of Poker and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi went through the fields like the game was designed just for him. TWICE! This tournament is considered by most seasoned pros to be the true test of a poker player. The 2012 final table included Andy Bloch and Luke Schwartz - the road behind was filled with fallen pro players.
Mizrachi has played 10 WSOP final tables, picked up three WSOP bracelets, played his heart out for fifth place at the 2010 WSOP Main Event and his third place finish in the 2012 WPT World Championship, and stacked up all those accomplishments since 2010. Damned impressive!
Perhaps Mizrachi will take down the International Stadiums Poker Tour that's scheduled to play in May this year. The ISPT isn't going to be known for having the toughest field but if all indications are correct, it will be known as the biggest field to date.
Highlight: Antonio Esfandiari takes down ONE DROP and $18 Million
Imagine playing a poker tournament where all you had to do was survive a 48 player field and you'd take home $18,346,673. Guy Laliberte, Cirque du Soleil founder, grew the idea of a massive charity tournament - the BIG ONE for ONE DROP - to be held at the WSOP.
ONE DROP had a giant sized $1 million buy-in with a cap of 48 players and Antonio Esfandiari may have put on a magic act or just played 'good ol' poker' when he danced through a final table that had Sam Trickett, Phil Hellmuth, David Einhorn, and Laliberte. Laliberte is a regular in Bellagio's high stakes cash games.
Esfandiari immediately hit the top of the all-time tournament earnings list - over $23 million. How high can he go and how tough will it be for someone to catch him? With the return of the BIG ONE for ONE DROP in 2014 and the previously mentioned ISPT promising to flood the world with stadium tournaments, it could be easy.
P-S-S-S-T! Antonio...play hard!
Check back, there's more on the way.