Most of the time, when a player is inducted into a Hall of Fame, their career has wound down and they essentially retire. Nothing could be further from the truth for Erik Seidel, who was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame this past November. Since then, specifically in the first 27 days of 2011, Seidel has shown he is still relevant in the game by winning an astounding $3.43 million, including a win in the biggest buy-in poker tournament in history.
Seidel is one of the most respected players in the game and Howard Lederer, who Seidel met back in his days at the Mayfair Club in New York City, had this to say about his old friend’s stellar performance: "There isn't a single poker player, over the last two decades, who has performed more consistently at a high level than Erik. Though no one ever expects months like the one Erik has just had, when you play as well as he does, it's not a surprise when it happens.”
According to the Hendon Mob Database, Seidel’s heater began back on January 10, 2011 when he finished third in the $5,000 6-Max No Limit Hold’em event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. That tournament drew 64 entries and created a prize pool of $310,400. Seidel earned $46,560 for his performance and was barely beaten out by Shaun Deeb (2nd - $62,080) and Samuel Chartier (1st - $99,330).
Just two days later, Seidel went deep in the PCA’s $25,000 High Roller event, which surpassed all expectations by drawing 151 runners and created a prize pool of $3,995,500. Seidel played a short stack masterfully to navigate his way to the final table where he was eventually eliminated in fourth place, earning $295,960. Seidel had put himself in a position to win the whole thing, but ended up losing a race to the eventual winner, Will Molson. In what would be his final hand, Seidel opened to 125,000 from the small blind before Molson raised all in from the big. Seidel called all in for 1.13 million as the hands were revealed:
It was a classic race situation that Seidel couldn’t win as the board ran out .
Less than two weeks later, Seidel entered the AUD$100,000 High Roller tournament at the 2011 Aussie Millions and once again went deep. Having started with 38 players, Seidel found himself as one of the final three players. He was eliminated when he limped from the small blind only to have Tony Bloom bump it up an additional 60,000 from the big blind. Seidel called and then checked the flop. Bloom continuation bet 90,000, Seidel check-raised all in for roughly 450,000, and Bloom quickly made the call.
Seidel was in trouble and couldn’t improve as the hit the turn and peeled off on the river. Just like that, Seidel was left with another third-place finish, this time to the tune of AUD$624,000 ($618,139).
Obviously not content, and perhaps looking to ride his heater to a vicotry, Seidel was one of 20 players who forked over $250,000 for the 2011 Aussie Millions Super High Roller tournament, the largest buy-in event in history. Seidel was joined by poker’s elite including Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Daniel Cates, the three Chinese businessmen who took part in the Million Dollar Cash Game, Paul Phua, Richard Yong and Wang Qiang, and the $100,000 Challenge winner, Sam Trickett.
The event has a super fast structure meant to ensure the trio of Chinese business men would be able to catch a flight, so the tournament was essentially a turbo. Trickett, the man who outlasted Seidel in the $100,000 Challenge, was on a heater of his own and rode it all the way to the final table as he eliminated player after player. In fact, before long it was Trickett, who held a sizeable chip lead, facing off against Seidel in heads-up action.
While a Trickett victory would see back-to-back wins in two of the biggest events in poker history, Seidel had other plans. He found some timely double ups and within forty-five minutes seized the chip lead. This time, Seidel would not be denied. In the final hand, Seidel limped from the button, Trickett raised to 175,000, and Seidel called to see the flop fall . Trickett checked, Seidel bet 150,000, Trickett moved all in and Seidel quickly called.
Seidel was ahead with top pair but had to dodge Trickett’s overcards. The turn was no help to Trickett and neither was the river. There would be no more close calls for Seidel, who had finally claimed his first victory of 2011. Seidel earned $2.5 million for his first-place finish in a tournament that has already gone down in poker history.
Seidel’s performance set the poker world ablaze. His good friend Annie Duke has said:
I am never surprised by Erik's accomplishments because he is so good. I am more surprised that he doesn't get more coverage and I am ecstatic that his start to 2011 is getting more people to talk about him. He is a truly great player and I only expect more great things from him for the rest of the year.
With $3,433,213 in 2011 earnings, in less than a month no less, Seidel has already smashed his previous best of $2,200,333 back in 2008. While Seidel has cashed for over $100,000 each and every year since 2001, this year will likely go down as Seidel’s career year, even if he doesn’t add another cent to his earnings over the next eleven months. Amazingly, his historic performance is playing out after his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. Once known as the guy defeated by Johnny Chan in Rounders, Seidel is quickly cementing his legacy as one of the best in the game and as a true poker legend.
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