PokerNews WSOP Awards Part II: Surprises, Suckouts, Comebacks, and Player of the Year
Last week, we brought you the PokerNews Live Updating Team's take on the biggest break-out performances and greatest disappointments of the 2010 World Series of Poker. (In case you missed it, we DVR-ed the first half for you here.) We're back after intermission with the heavy-hitting awards. What was the best moment of the summer? The most painful beat? The greatest comeback? And of course, who is most deserving of the Player of the Year title?
Meet the Judges
Donnie Peters, Tournament Reporting Manager
Mickey Doft, Field Reporting Manager
Nicole Gordon, Senior Writer
Elissa Harwood, Senior Writer
Tim Duckworth, Blogger
Martin Harris, Blogger
Rich Ryan, Blogger
Harris: Although there were a lot of differing views at the time, I kind of enjoyed going to dinner just a few spots shy of the cash bubble bursting on Day 4 of the Main Event. Lots of interesting debates were had during those 90 minutes, and by the time we got back, the suspense had built nicely.
Duckworth: One that not many people will remember, but to me is extremely funny, is when arguably the greatest tournament director – Matt Savage – was issued a penalty for a rule he initiated! Believing his all-in was covered by his opponent’s bet, Savage exposed his hand with action still pending, and although he found a double, he had to sit out the next orbit! Not only did a few of us working that day find it funny, but Savage did to – and so did a handful of tournament directors on duty!
Read about the hand here.
Peters: Tom Dwan's final table. The atmosphere in the $10k event that was going on at the same time with all the big names sweating out bets with Dwan was amazing. I've never seen so many top players actually get rattled. These guys wager thousands upon thousands in tournaments and cash games, yet sweating Dwan down to heads-up play was more nerve-racking to them than anything.
Ryan: While most everyone was focused on Day 1a of the Main Event, Tomer Berda was focused on the task in front of him: the final table of Event #56, $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em. The Israeli’s focus paid off, and he won the bracelet along with $825,976. The second the last card fell, Berda and his father shared a big bear hug along with tears of joy. An emotional moment like no other.
Gordon: Michael "the Grinder" Mizrachi busting his brother Robert at the final table of the $50k.
Read blog coverage of the fratricide here.
Doft: Watching Phil Ivey win his eighth bracelet. Watching history unfold is amazing, and Ivey creates a buzz in the room that nobody else can.
Harwood: Every ESPN broadcast of the WSOP starts with the "Ausie, Ausie, Ausie" cheer, a fist pump, and the "agony of defeat" clip. For many people watching the Main Event this year, the defeat image in our personal highlight reels was replaced with a picture of Matt Affleck holding back tears as he saw the cruel river of his elimination hand. After going from chip leader with 130 players left to out in 80th last year, this deep run had twice the pressure. And Affleck handled it exceptionally well, but there was nothing he could do when he got 17 million chips in on the turn of a board with pocket aces. Jonathan Duhamel's was in rough shape, until...
Gordon: Poor, poor Matt Affleck! I wanted to cry for him when that queen hit.
Read the gory details of the hand here.
Harris: How about Filippo Candio cracking Joseph Cheong's pocket aces with 20 players left on Day 8 of the Main Event. After a flop, Candio committed his entire stack with against Cheong’s and drew out a straight.
Peters: (about the pot above) If Candio doesn't win this hand he's out and someone else fills the spot in the final nine. Cheong also wins a massive pot and takes an enormous chip lead, which he'll probably ride until the final table.
For the post about that hand, aptly titled, “QWERTYUIOPOKJHGFDSXCGBHNJKMS CJHVKBVJCH!!! ” click here.
Ryan: The most egregious robbery had to be the late arrival of the free Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. I still don’t know how we, the media, survived so long without those scrumptious parcels of meaty goodness. Our fortitude is quite impressive.
Best Comeback Story:
Ryan: If there is one bubble in the world you want to avoid, it’s the November Nine bubble of the WSOP Main Event. Dean Hamrick was unable to do that in 2008 when his pocket queens were four-flushed away, but he didn't let that end his moment in the poker spotlight. Hamrick's comeback story was completed in Event #42, where on Day 2 he was left with less than a big blind. Hamrick stormed back to win the event, earning him his first bracelet and $604,222. Not bad for a bubble-boy.
Duckworth: Hamrick remained patient, found some timely luck and used his experience, composure and dedication to see him crowned the champion.
Harwood: Brazilian pro Gualter Salles put the old "chip and a chair" adage to the test when he was crippled down to a single T1,000 chip deep in the Main Event. Salles refused to give up, and by the end of the day, he'd turned his 1,000 into 425,000. He kept up the run all the way to a 117th-place finish for $57,102.
Read more about his comeback story here.
Harris: Phil Ivey overcoming a more than 3-to-1 chip disadvantage versus Bill Chen heads-up in Event #37, the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event.
Peters: Michael Mizrachi. He admitted to taking a good amount of time off before the WSOP, but hasn't had an big splashes at all since last year. He didn't cash once in the WSOP last year as well. Not to mention the entire thing with him having to declare bankruptcy. It all makes his comeback in the 2010 WSOP an awesome turnaround – life changing.
Gordon: From Foreclosure to the November Nine: The Michael Mizrachi Story.
Harris: Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler not just min-cashing his way to a Series best eight cashes (tied with Shawn Buchanan) but making the final two tables five times (with one runner-up).
Duckworth: The amount of players that went heads up for a bracelet on more then one occasion. Of course there is Frank Kassela who was the only player to walk away with two bracelets, but players such as Richard Ashby, Jeffrey Papola, Miguel Proulx, Men Nguyen and James Dempsey all went heads up twice over the duration of the fifty-seven events. One of the hard luck stories of the double heads-up was Maxwell Troy who fell short on both occasions. As he said on his second second-placing: “Always a bridesmaid!”
Gordon: 7,319 players in the Main Event. Where did they come from?!?!?
Ryan: With Vannessa Rousso, Vanessa Selbst and Liv Boeree coming off of heaters and the arrival of Annette Obrestad, almost everyone thought a woman would ship a WSOP bracelet (other than the Ladies Event). Unfortunately though, for the second year in a row, every single bracelet was awarded to a member of the male gender. Maybe next year, ladies.
Peters: Michael Mizrachi. Everyone pretty much forgot about this guy. Then he just comes in and takes over the WSOP. It was the year of the Mizrachis for sure, but mostly the year of Michael Mizrachi.
Our Pick for WSOP Player of the Year:
Frank Kassela has at least half of the POY race locked up, and Michael Mizrachi would have to win the Main Event to tie him for the 2010 honor. But the consensus here (minus Ducky, who makes a case for ol' Chainsaw) is that Mizrachi's unbelievable feat of winning the toughest event of the summer and then final tabling the biggest should be enough to make him the clear winner of Player of the Year.
Duckworth: I view consistency as the key to tournament poker, and I believe Allen Kessler is a deserving WSOP Player of the Year. An incredible eight cashes in six different poker disciplines that included a second-place finish along with five final two table finishes. In a year when the race between Mizrachi and Kassela is all the talk, imagine how different things could have been if it were Kessler who proved victorious over Kassela in Event #15?
Harris: Has to be Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, doesn’t it? Five cashes, four final tables, a bracelet in the $50K Players Championship, and the November Nine!
Ryan: To take anything away from Frank Kassela’s performance this year would be foolish, but if Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi wins the Main Event in November, he has to be the Player of the Year. By WSOP standings, it would be a tie, but c’mon! Mizrachi’s first bracelet came in one of the toughest events, the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship, and his second would come in unquestionably the hardest tournament to win in the world.
Peters: Michael Mizrachi. Yes, Frank Kassela won two bracelets and final-tabled the $25k 6-max event, but Mizrachi won the $50k, final-tabled two $10k events and is now at the final table of the Main Event. The WSOP needs to rework its POY scoring to take into account field sizes or buy-ins. I give the nod to Mizrachi for POY this year.
Gordon: Michael Mizrachi. I think Harrah's is really going to have to look at the POY points system and weigh the Main Event differently after this year. The $50K bracelet and November Nine are a far greater achievement in my opinion than Frank Kassela's two bracelets.