World Series of Poker 2017 Round Up #1

The 2017 World Series of Poker is now underway in Las Vegas. It’s that time of year again where dreams are both made and broken. Players have been honing their skills to perfection for the last 12 months; now it’s time to step up to the plate and show us what you’ve got.

 

Obligatory Prop Bets

Even before the action had started there was much talk about who could win however many bracelets, and how much they were willing to bet on it. Last year Jason Mercier famously went on a massive tear through the series, with 11 cashes and two bracelets his reward. That might sound like everything a poker player could possibly wish for, but, alas, it was a third bracelet which would have netted the American $1.8 million from a 180-1 prop bet with Vanessa Selbst. This year he looks to have reined in his ambition slightly.

“Most of my bets are just on winning one bracelet this year but I also have some bets on winning two where I’m getting a big price.”

Daniel Negreanu isn’t scared to aim high, though. He tweeted

“Just bet @BenbaLamb I'd win 3 WSOP bracelets this summer at even money. He is lighting money on fire. Punish him!!!”

Even money doesn’t look like a bet many would take; even for a man who has cashed in the WSOP 96 times and taken home six bracelets. Poker is getting tougher all the time. Ever since the boom started in 2003 it has got noticeably tougher with each passing year. But the most worrying statistic has to be the fact that three bracelets have only been won in a year by one player on seven different occasions, and not once in the previous seven years.

Of course, it’s probably true that the main reason for these unlikely prop bets is to motivate the player into preparing themselves to play their absolute best, as well as playing the maximum number of events possible.

 

The Dreaded Lurgy

As if taking part in the world’s most prestigious poker series wasn’t nerve wracking enough for the majority, there appears to be something else which has caught the attention of the participants. Two recent guests of the Rio, where the WSOP is held, have contracted Legionnaires’ disease. Both cases were unrelated and took place in April and May of 2017.

What people are most concerned with here is the method by which the disease is contracted, which is via contaminated water. Commonly through inhaling droplets when showering or bathing.

State health officials have had guests moved from the affected area while cleaning is carried out, so players currently staying in the resort shouldn’t be unduly worried.

One for the Workers

Bryan Hollis, from Maryland, was the first WSOP gold bracelet winner of the year, after winning the $565 Casino employees NL Hold’em event. Taking home $68,817 for his work, he saw off his 650 rivals in a fight for the biggest chunk of the $325,500 prize pool.

Hollis first got into poker by playing limit hold’em with childhood friends, at the tender age of 15. Although NL isn’t usually part of his schedule, he doesn’t seem to have had too much trouble making the transition.

"I've never made it past the first break before. Last year I busted this tournament in seven hands. I have always wanted to buy a house and now I have a down-payment. It feels so cool."

A first WSOP cash and bracelet together should give the man some confidence for his next event.

 

Teaming Up

This year saw the inaugural $10,000 NL Tag Team event which was won by the popular Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov. 102 teams lined up to compete for the first place prize of $273,964. Last year we saw the tag team format return to the schedule in a $1000 event, and it was so popular it was decided to bring it back with a $10,000 buy in.

This is the first WSOP bracelet for both Boeree and Kurganov. The pair have been romantically involved for several years now, and both have an impressive tournament record. Kurganov with more than $12 million in winnings, and Boeree $3 million. In a generous gesture, they will be giving half of their prize to a charity called Raising for Effective Giving.

The format requires teams of 2-4 players to rotate in and out as they please, but in this case the couple were honest about who is the stronger player, and said they had no issues working out who would play when. Kurganov said

"Making agreements is easy. Dealing with who is doing what when. We are used to doing that all the time. People might rub on each other a little bit, but we don't have that."

Boeree added

"Well, also, there is just a clear disparity in our standard of play. I'm alright, but he's the best. He is the better player and like deeper, it makes sense for him to play, just more."

Daniel Negreanu’s team included David Benyamine, Eric Wasserson, and Mark Gregorich. The quartet finished in third place, agonisingly close to getting one of those bet winning bracelets.

 

Shameless

In what looks like a shameless display of poor humour, pariahs Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer teamed up for the $1000 Tag Team event. The much hated pair returned to WSOP action last summer and faced an unprecedented wave of abuse from all sides.

Lederer made what looked to be a hollow apology which gained him no ground whatsoever, and Ferguson muttered he was only interested in playing poker and wasn’t prepared to argue with anyone.

Sarcastic comments on TwoPlusTwo included gems such as

“Their last tag team endeavour netted them millions so obv a +ev move for them.”

Patrick Leonard tweeted

“One time Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer (current partners in tag team) make the final table. Will be epic.”

It’s more than six years since Black Friday hit; it doesn’t look like the feelings of anger have subsided much at all.