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2011 World Series of Poker: PokerNews Staff Predictions

2011 WSOP

It's the most wonderful time of the year — for poker players that is. The 42nd Annual World Series of Poker opens its doors to poker players from around the world today. In preparation, the team at PokerNews HQ has been finalizing schedules, teams, and more, but we also took time to peer into our crystal ball to make some predictions. Here are the 2011 WSOP PokerNews Staff Predictions. (Note: These picks are for entertainment purposes only — unless we're right, in which case, you might not ever hear the end of it.)

Donnie Peters: Live Reporting Manager

Which under-the-radar player will be the biggest surprise? It will probably be some random Russian who's been eating, sleeping and drinking poker for a few years now prior to hitting the WSOP felt. It's always one of these guys who pops up out of nowhere that we find making a few final tables and crushing.

Which big-name pro will be the biggest disappointment? Phil Ivey. His head just doesn't seem to be in the game right now like it has in the past. I think he'll have some good runs, but no win.

Who will take down WSOP Player of the Year? Daniel Negreanu. He seems as focused as ever and has been working on all aspects of his game lately. He's been a regular in the big Aria game honing his mixed-game skills with the best in the world and putting up some nice results in no-limit tournaments this year. He always play a ton of events, has a good attitude about the entire summer, and will do what it takes to win.

How many events will Erik Seidel play? Win? He'll play 14, win 1. I see Seidel giving Negreanu a run for POTY, but I don't think he'll go nuts with playing a heavy schedule. Still, with the way he's performing this year, he may only need to play one event to win a bracelet.

How many bracelets will Phil Ivey win? Zero. Like I said earlier, his head isn't in the game right now, or at least it feels that way. And yes, I'm secretly hoping he reads this, buckles down like Jay-Z in the studio during crunch time and wins three bracelets.

How many entrants are you predicting for the Main Event? 4,359. I believe all the smaller events will be fine and boast regular numbers, maybe even improve, but not that Main. Hopefully I'm wrong, but it doesn't look like there will be too many online qualifiers and if people can't get their money off to play, that number doesn't get too impressive.

What will this year be "the year of?" The year of the big name pros claiming all the glory. I think big names will win about 85 percent of the events this year and take back the WSOP territory for their own.

Which member of Team PokerNews is most likely to win a bracelet? Kristy "The Poker Ninja" Arnett. This really has nothing to do with her poker ability, but rather, her astonishing beauty. She can look through a player's soul and have him or her melt under the gaze of a goddess - it's amazing to watch. That's just one of her ninja qualities. Others include being able to snatch chips without anyone knowing or seeing, striking in silence, disappearing and reappearing at the final table and manipulating men to hand her big (and I mean big) chip stacks.

Chad Holloway: Senior Writer

Which under-the-radar player will be the biggest surprise? I don't know if most people would consider him "under the radar," but I believe Phil "The Unabomber" Laak is going to have a big World Series. In the past, Laak has played a minimum amount of events, instead focusing on cash games and world records. This year will be different. Laak needs $86,384 to qualify for the Federated Sports + Gaming League and has already Tweeted that he'll be playing a full schedule of events for the first time. I expect big things from Laak and wouldn't be surprised to see him follow up his WSOP Europe bracelet with one at the Rio.

Which big-name pro will be the biggest disappointment? John Juanda. Rumors in the poker community suggest Juanda won't be playing many events this year, which will likely be the case with a few of the Full Tilt pros.

Who will take down WSOP Player of the Year? Nailing this one down is tough. I'm going to break the rules and predict that it'll be one of three players. First, I think Laak will contend for all the reasons mentioned above. Second, I think World Poker Tour Player-of-the-Year Andy Frankenberger has what it takes to claim the WSOP POY title, which would be simply amazing. Frankenberger is on fire right now and like his friend Laak, he's looking to qualify for the FS+G League. Finally, I think Galen Hall will make his presence known throughout the summer. In January, Hall took down the coveted PokerStars Caribbean Adventure title and followed that up with a final table appearance at the $25,000 WPT Championship in early May. Hall has already said he plans on playing a lot of tournaments, especially the higher buy-in events. I can't help but think his patience and consistency will put him in contention for his first WSOP bracelet.

How many events will Erik Seidel play? Win? Plays 25, Wins 1: Seidel has made a believer out of me in 2011. He is a tournament beast and on an unprecedented heater. The odds of winning a bracelet are long, but what a capstone to the year it would be for him to capture his ninth bracelet.

How many bracelets will Phil Ivey win? One. The WSOP and Phil Ivey have been synonymous for the past couple of years, and I think that trend will continue. I know there is a lot going on with Full Tilt, but the fans still love Ivey. Plus, I have him on my fantasy poker team and really need him to pull through — that's the most important thing.

How many entrants are you predicting for the Main Event? 5,001. I'm going to be a bit more optimistic than most and crack the 5K mark. While recent events involving online poker will certainly hurt attendance, I believe the satellites at the Rio will qualify a record number of people and help make up some of the slack.

What will this year be "the year of?" This will be the year Phil Hellmuth wins his 12th bracelet. Fans and haters alike have been waiting for Hellmuth to make a push for bracelet No. 12 after having two less-than-stellar years. I have a feeling the "Poker Brat" will get it done in 2011. I'll even go out on a limb and make a crazy prediction that he does it in a non-hold'em event.

Which member of Team PokerNews is most likely to win a bracelet? Me. I'm going to be entering my first WSOP event this year, the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E., and with my mad mixed-game skills and the smaller field, I'm liking
my chances of going deep, scoring my first WSOP cash, and hopefully winning a bracelet. Obviously that is all a bit of a stretch, but hopefully I'll at least survive Day 1.

Eric Ramsey: Senior Tournament Reporter

Which under-the-radar player will be the biggest surprise? Allen Kessler! I'm predicting big things from the Chainsaw this summer. He cashed eight times last year and once more at the WSOP-E, and he's picking up steam in major events this spring. I've got him pegged for four bracelets this year. That's right. Four. One for each limb. Vrrrrrrrmmmm!

Which big-name pro will be the biggest disappointment? Phil Hellmuth. In so many ways.

Who will take down WSOP Player of the Year? It's hard to imagine picking anyone other than Erik Seidel right now. The POY tends to go to the guy who runs the hottest for a short stretch, and nobody is on a heater like Seidel right now.

How many events will Erik Seidel play? Win? Let's stab at this. I think he'll go nuts and play something like 42 events. I'll go ahead and give him one more bracelet, and I wouldn't dare bet against him getting two.

How many bracelets will Phil Ivey win? The general consensus is that Ivey is unfocused and won't be as much of a factor this year. But I have this image of Ivey as a bull that gets more dangerous the more you mess with him. It's just a hunch and a little bit of wishful poker blogger thinking, but I expect he'll really be gunning hard this summer. Bracelet bets, you know. I'll say one bracelet — with a shrug.

How many entrants are you predicting for the Main Event? 4,625. That's from a random number generator (between 3,000 and 7,000), because it's as good as any number I could come up with after I pondered for about ten minutes. I was surprised to see even lower numbers from some of the rest of the staff. I think my randomly generated number might even be a couple of hundred low, honestly. But I'm stickin' with it — 4,625.

What will this year be "the year of?" The year of the rabbit, right? Isn't that what 2011 is? I guess we'll have to wait and see how that possibly relates to the WSOP.

Which member of Team PokerNews is most likely to win a bracelet? Matthew Parvis, because he has an excessive amount of time off to play events. And anyone can get lucky for three days.

Sarah Grant: Producer/Hostess

Which under-the-radar player will be the biggest surprise? I think I'm really going to take everyone by surprise this year. I'm coming out from the shadow of downtown and into the Rio. (Just kidding.) How about — Kristijonas Andrulis. Lithuanians are baller. I also really like Martin Jacobsen, but that wouldn't really be a surprise.

Which big-name pro will be the biggest disappointment? Tom "durrrr" Dwan. Everyone is obsessed with him. I don't think his style of play works as well for him in tournaments.

Who will take down WSOP Player of the Year? Eugene Katchalov. He has had deep runs at every tournament I've seen him at. He snagged the high roller at PCA, was heads up at the Bounty Shootout in Mohegan, and was in the last 25 or so at the EPT Grand Final. I think he is super-hot right now.

How many events will Erik Seidel play? Win? I don't know too much about Seidel except that he has made like $5 million or something ludicrous this year so far. So, if I was him, I'd be taking it easy. But if he plays anything with a buy-in over $25,000, he is pretty much a shoo-in to win.

How many bracelets will Phil Ivey win? Probably one. I think he poops poker gold. So, even if he wasn't trying, he could probably still snag a bracelet.

How many entrants are you predicting for the Main Event? 4,700. Everyone who is established will be playing since everyone is saying that this is "the last hoorah." But yeah, with no online qualifiers, the number has to drop significantly.

What will this year be "the year of?" The end of online poker.

Which member of Team PokerNews is most likely to win a bracelet? Obviously Kristy Arnett. No big deal. She just ships Mini-FTOPS and drives a Prius. I'm just saying.

Mickey Doft: Senior Tournament Reporter

Which under-the-radar player will be the biggest surprise? Daniel Alaei. He's won a bracelet each of the last two WSOPs, and I think he'll have a terrific series, including another bracelet.

Which big-name pro will be the biggest disappointment? Erik Seidel. Anything less than WSOP Player of the Year will be a letdown.

Who will take down WSOP Player of the Year? Erik Seidel. I just want to be right with either this question or the previous one.

How many events will Erik Seidel play? Win? I expect Seidel will play about 40 events, winning one bracelet.

How many bracelets will Phil Ivey win? It's just wrong to even suggest that Ivey wouldn't win a bracelet. That was my prediction last year, and I won't be doing that again. He'll nab another one this summer.

How many entrants are you predicting for the Main Event? 4,444. It's a cool number.

What will this year be "the year of?" Year of the media. Members of poker media across the globe have made final tables and earned titles in various events in the last several months, so I'm sticking with that.

Which member of Team PokerNews is most likely to win a bracelet? I should say Kristy Arnett. She's got a MiniFTOPS jersey and is an awesome no-limit hold'em player. I'm going to say me, though, as the Razz event is among the smaller fields. As long as I don't blow a 17:1 heads-up chip lead like I did in a previous MiniFTOPS, I like my chances. Played it twice and made Day 2 twice, but this is the year I finally break through.

Rich Ryan: Senior Writer/Podcast Producer

Which under-the-radar player will be the biggest surprise? I think Barry Greenstein is going to have a big year. The past few WSOPs have been kind of rough for Greenstein, and this is just a gut feeling, but I think this is the year he bounces back.

Which big-name pro will be the biggest disappointment? Michael Mizrachi is in for a sophomore slump. His 2010 WSOP performance was insane, and to duplicate that would be impossible. I'm not saying he has to duplicate that to have a good year, but that's how people usually develop their expectations. That's why he'll be the most disappointing pro this year.

Who will take down WSOP Player of the Year? This year's WSOP POY will be Galen Hall. His run hasn't been as impressive as Seidel's, but Hall's 2011 has been pretty solid.

How many events will Erik Seidel play? Win? 58. All of them.

How many bracelets will Phil Ivey win? Ivey is always good for one bracelet, so I'll set the line at 1.5. The fanboy in me wants to take the over, but I'll take the under and say he'll just win one.

How many entrants are you predicting for the Main Event? 4,250 players will enter the main event.

What will this year be "the year of?" This will be the year of the Americans. Less than 20 percent of the bracelets will go to non-Americans because fewer Euros will come (can't play online).

Which member of Team PokerNews is most likely to win a bracelet? Kristy Arnett is without question the best poker player on our staff, but Mickey Doft is a razz monster and will probably face a smaller field size than Kristy if he plays an event. That's why I think Merom James has the best chance of shipping a bracelet.

Have an opinion? Think we're crazy? Let us know below, and don't forget to keep it locked to the Live Reporting page for all the updates from the WSOP. Also, you should probably follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.

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