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$25K Fantasy League: A Look at the Standings Halfway Through the 2012 WSOP

Phil Ivey

Believe it or not, the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event is only three weeks away, and we’ve officially hit the halfway point of the summer. At the beginning of the series, I briefly previewed Daniel Negreanu’s $25K Fantasy League, and at the time, I said that either Jason Mercier or Eugene Katchalov’s team would win. Currently, Mercier’s team is in second, behind Robert Mizrachi’s team, and Katchalov sits in sixth place.

1Robert Mizrachi366
2Jason Mercier332
3Todd Brunson, Frank Kassela & Doyle Brunson325
4Brian Hastings221
5Daniel Negreanu162
6Eugene Katchalov156
7Bryn Kenney130
8David Bach & Josh Arieh104
9Justin Smith103
10Cary Katz72
11Sorel Mizzi40

Phil Ivey, who has made three final tables already and leads the WSOP Player of the Year race, has scored 190 points thus far, which is 38 more points than the second-highest scorer — John Monnette (two final tables and one win). This is pretty amazing, especially considering that only 19 of the 88 players drafted have scored 38 points to date, and that only three players scored more than 190 points in 2011. Those three were Ben Lamb (403pt), Phil Hellmuth (278pt), and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (204pt).

Brian Hastings, who has scored 113 points for Team Katchalov, used half of his budget to draft Ivey, using the “Stars and Scrubs” strategy. This strategy is the way to go in fantasy poker, because there’s so much talent at the top, and then it starts to even out. However, your “scrubs” have to be carefully selected, or else all of your star’s points will go to waste. Team Hastings, despite having 190 points from Ivey, has only scored 221 points to date.

Hastings is fortunate enough to have a star that’s performing though. Negreanu (37pt), Katchalov (31pt) and Mercier (3pt) were the only other players drafted for $83 or more, and they’ve all underperformed based upon their draft price. Despite only scoring three points for his own team, Mercier is still in second place thanks to Monnette (152pt), Joe Cassidy (78pt), and Brett Richey (51pt). Thursday was a great day for Team Mercier — Cassidy defeated Scotty Nguyen heads up to win Event #24: $5,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split 8-or-Better, and Richey finished runner-up in Event 26: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha.

Here are the top 10 scorers thus far:

PlacePlayer NamePoints
1Phil Ivey190
2John Monnette152
3Brock Parker124
4Brian Hastings113
5Todd Brunson98
6Barry Greenstein83
7Ali Eslami82
8Joe Cassidy78
9Matt Glantz75
10Vanessa Selbst70

Hastings is probably the most surprising name on this list, followed closely by Brock Parker, but Parker is no stranger to success at the WSOP. In 2009, Parker won two bracelets in the same week, banking nearly $800,000 in the process. In 2010 and 2011, Parker made appearances at final tables, and here in 2012, he already has a fourth and a fifth-place finish. What’s so remarkable about Parker’s consistency is that he only has one career WSOP cash in a stud variant. That’s why Mizrachi was able to scoop him up for only $1, making him the most valuable pick in the draft thus far. Parker is not the only $1 player with who has scored double-digit points thus far however — Lee Goldman (37pt), Ben Yu (11pt), and Marco Johnson (11pt) have all contributed to their respective teams.

A total of 18 players drafted have bricked the entire first half of the 2012 WSOP. Four of these players, including Dario Alioto, Joe Serock, Jon Turner, and Richard Ashby, have played six events or more, while a handful of players, most notably Tom Dwan and Alexander Kostritsyn, have skipped the 2012 WSOP altogether. Kostritsyn’s significant other recently gave birth and Dwan is grinding cash games over in Macau.

With so many players struggling, it’s easy to be results-orientated and look at players who have had success, and say, “they should’ve been drafted.” Allen Kessler, who was at the Aria during the auction, claims that he was telling people to draft Andy Frankenberger, who just won Event #17: $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em. Had he been drafted, Frankenberger would’ve earned his team 121 points thus far. Going forward however, if there was some kind of free agency, where previous events didn’t count, here would be my top five pickups:

PlayerPoints Scored
Adam Friedman78
Jesse Martin70
Brendan Taylor44
Scott Abrams25
Michael Chow22

What do all of these players have in common? They’ve all made at least one final table at the 2012 WSOP (momentum is key), and they can all play all of the games. I’ve had a chance to watch all five of these players compete in non-hold’em events, and they certainly have an edge over the field. I’m extremely surprised that Chow, who won a bracelet in 2010, wasn’t drafted back in May — within the industry, he’s renowned as one of the best mixed game tournament players in the world.

With just over 30 events to go, anything can happen, but I still like Team Mercier, especially if Jason himself can get something going. If he finds a way to make a deep run, or even bink bracelet number three, then it could be back-to-back wins for him in the $25K Fantasy League, leaving his competitors to wonder, “when will it end?”

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