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PokerNews Op-Ed: The 2012 ESPN Fantasy Poker League

Daniel Negreanu

With the 2012 World Series of Poker right around the corner, it was time for the seventh annual ESPN Fantasy Poker League, and I couldn't have been more excited. This marked my third year as a participant, and I was seeking to win my second title in three years after winning the competition in 2010.

This year’s draft saw an eclectic mix of pros and prominent media members participate, though last year’s champion and former November Niner, Dennis Phillips, and two-time bracelet winner Mark Seif both had to miss the contest. With the addition of Josh Brikis, who has more than $1.4 million in career earnings, the total number of teams for this year’s draft stood at 10.

Here are the 10 teams/participants in the draft order: Lance Bradley, Brikis, myself, Eric Baldwin, Gary Wise, Daniel Negreanu, Dwyte Pilgrim, Chops of WickedChopsPoker, ESPN’s and the league’s commissioner Andrew Feldman, and Bernard Lee.

The invite-only league, which is built around the World Series of Poker, doesn’t feature a buy-in, but there are some major bragging rights on the line. Each participant utilizes their expertise to draft a team of eight players whom they think will find success at the WSOP. That team is then awarded points based upon the following criteria:

  • 1 point for making the money
  • 2 points for the top 50
  • 5 points for top 20
  • 10 points for the final table (defined as top nine in hold 'em, eight in mixed and other games, six during shorthanded events, eight in heads-up (5-8th will be awarded 5th, etc).

In addition:

  • 1 additional point for ninth
  • 2 additional points for eighth
  • 4 additional points for seventh
  • 6 additional points for sixth
  • 10 additional points for fifth
  • 15 additional points for fourth
  • 20 additional points for third
  • 30 additional points for second
  • 40 additional points for first
  • Double points will be awarded for all events with a $10,000 buy-in or more.
  • Players will earn one extra point by cashing per every 100 players in the field. For example, if you cash in a 2000-player event, you will earn an additional 20 points.
  • Every team can drop one player and replace him or her with another player. Stats will only count once on your roster.

The draft proved to be a quick affair, and some interesting facts emerged:

  • Last year’s number one pick, Eric Baldwin, dropped to the 70th overall pick this year. As Pilgrim explained, “He’s learned a thing or two” since making his pick last year.
  • Phil Ivey was drafted second overall the past two years. Let’s hope it works out better for Brikis than it did for me last year when Ivey didn’t play!
  • Seven of the first-round picks were also first-round picks last year. Eric Baldwin, Erick Lindgren and David Chiu were the players who fell out of the first round, while Steve Billirakis, Eugene Katchalov and Shawn Buchanan were the ones who jumped in.
  • Last year Erick Lindgren was the fifth overall pick, but dropped to 68th this year; meanwhile, last year’s second-round picks Shannon Shorr, Men Nguyen, Scotty Nguyen, Mark Seif and Gavin Smith weren’t even selected this year.
  • Other players not drafted this year included Huck Seed, Chau Giang, Andy Frankenberger, Ted Forrest, Andy Bloch, Galen Hall, Chad Brown and Jennifer Harman, just to name a few. Oh, and Chris Ferguson, he wasn’t selected either.

What’s even more interesting is that once the draft was completed (you can view the team rosters below), the Twitterverse chimed in:

Allen BariJust absurd that I got picked this late in this stupid draft.. at least @jbrikis picked me up in round 6.. http://t.co/7NrA8P5F
Owais Ahmed@allenbari @jbrikis At least you got drafted. I'll have more POY points than 75% of the players picked. Some ppl didn't do their research.
Brett Richey@allenbari at least you got picked #lolatsomeoftheguyspickedoverm e

Below is a round-by-round look at the 2012 ESPN Fantasy Poker League Draft:

Team Lance Bradley

RoundOverallPick
11Daniel Negreanu
220Dan Kelly
321Justin “Boosted J” Smith
440David “Bakes” Baker
541Steve O’Dwyer
660Christian Harder
761David Williams
880Dan Smith

Team Josh Brikis

RoundOverallPick
12Phil Ivey
219Scott Clements
322John Racener
439Jason Sommerville
542Matt Hawrilenko
659Allen Bari
762Jon Turner
879Josh Brikis

Team Chad Holloway

RoundOverallPick
13Jason Mercier
218Daniel Alaei
323Matt Glantz
438Jeff Lisandro
543Steve Gross
658Yevgeniy Timoshenko
763David Bach
878Josh Arieh

Team Eric Baldwin

RoundOverallPick
14Steve Billirakis
217Victor Ramdin
324Robert Mizrachi
437David Chiu
544John Monnette
657Alexander Kravchenko
764Frank Kassela
877Justin Young

Team Gary Wise

RoundOverallPick
15Barry Greenstein
216Tom Dwan
325Vivek Rajkumar
436Chris Moorman
545Jonathan Duhamel
656Vitaly Lunkin
765Vanessa Selbst
876Eric Froelich

Team Daniel Negreanu

RoundOverallPick
16Eugene Katchalov
215Scott Seiver
326Alexander Kostritsyn
435Sorel Mizzi
546Michael Binger
655Marco Johnson
766Bryn Kenney
875Brian Hastings

Team Dwyte Pilgrim

RoundOverallPick
17Michael Mizrachi
214Bertrand “ElkY” Grosspellier
327Shaun Deeb
434Sam Trickett
547George Lind
654Fabrice Soulier
767Allen Kessler
874Dwyte Pilgrim

Team Chops

RoundOverallPick
18Shawn Buchanan
213Justin Bonomo
328Isaac Haxton
433David “Doc” Sands
548Brian Rast
653J.P. Kelly
768Erick Lindgren
873James Dempsey

Team Andrew Feldman

RoundOverallPick
19Erik Seidel
212Phil Hellmuth
329Ben Lamb
432Nick Schulman
549David “ODB” Baker
652Viktor “Isildur1” Blom
769Chris Bjorin
872Carlos Mortesnen

Team Bernard Lee

RoundOverallPick
110John Juanda
211Marvin Rettenmaier
330Jake Cody
431Phil Galfond
550Sam Stein
651Tom Marchese
770Eric Baldwin
871Allen Cunningham

Who do you think has the best team? Were there any players you were surprised to discover did not get drafted? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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