The World Series of Poker Europe recently offered the first edition of the Caesars Cup, a new twist on poker similar to golf's Ryder Cup in which players from North America and Europe battled for bragging rights and the first Caesars Cup trophy. Team Europe proved victorious in this inaugural affair, besting their American counterparts by a decisive 4 to 1 margin.
Despite the fact the Europeans had won only three bracelets to the Americans' 45, the Europeans outplayed the Americans early on and never looked back. According to American captain Daniel Negreanu, even though they lost the battle, the war was one that is good for the game of poker. "My view of the Caesars Cup is similar to what is going on in golf with the Ryder Cup. It helps to create a very special event that people will care about. Everybody is really into it. The format and matchups are great. I mean, Huck Seed and Phil Hellmuth on the same side? That’s exciting for me to watch. As for being the captain, it’s fun for me. I don't look at it as anything other than being someone to be the glue that can hold it all together and be the strategist, which is what I love to do," Negreanu said.
The format itself was unique as the matches were heads-up; however, each team sent two players each into battle, both seeing the hole-cards.
The first match featured a dream scenario with WSOP legends Phil Ivey and Huck Seed facing off against European high-stakes behemoths Patrik Antonius and Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies. Team Europe locked up the win with a relentlessly aggressive attack that the Americans could not answer.
The day's second match featured Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth versus Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier and Betfair’s online qualifier John Harvey. Unfortunately for Negreanu and Hellmuth, their hopes of a win were dashed after Grospellier and Harvey managed to hit a four-outer for the win when they landed a straight to seal their victory.
Team Americas finally managed a win, narrowly avoiding a shutout when Doyle Brunson and Jennifer Harman took to the felt. Despite facing two of Europe's brightest stars in Team Europe’s captain, Annette Obrestad, and Italian phenom Dario Minieri, Brunson and Harman won the final hand with quad aces, ending a crucial match that put the Americans on the scoreboard, though still trailing 2-1.
The fourth match featured Barry Greenstein and John Juanda for Team Americas and Gus Hansen and Peter Eastgate for the European squad. Hansen and Eastgate finished off their American opponents in just 18 minutes, giving Team Europe a 3-1 lead.
An old-fashioned heads-up brawl would settle the fifth and final match, pitting 1996 WSOP Main Event winner Huck Seed against 2007 WSOPE Main Event winner Annette Obrestad. The match lasted only nine minutes as Obrestad made quick work of the former WSOP champion with the big hand seeing both players flopping top pair, Seed with a lower kicker but a flush draw to go along with it. The flush failed to hit, and Obrestad's ace-jack would hold up. Obrestad would close the match out against the short-stacked Seed a few minutes later.
With the Caesars Cup title wrapped up, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack stepped up to the table and awarded the silver Caesars Cup to European captain, Annette Obrestad. She posed with the the trophy for the cameras before passing it to to her teammates who all did the same before gathering for a group shot at the table.
Photo courtesy of WSOPE.Betfair.com