Tonight, at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Major League Baseball will host the 2011 All-Star Game. There, the best players from the American and National Leagues will compete for bragging rights, and home-field advantage during the World Series. To celebrate the famed Midsummer Classic, we’ve decided to chose nine World Series of Poker All-Stars to fill a batting line-up. They will face off against the 2011 November Nine, and if one of the players selected actually makes the final table of the Main Event, then an alternate will be chosen.
1. Jake Cody
|Event #2: $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em Championship||1st||$851,192|
|Event #26: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed||125th||$5,235|
Jake Cody’s selection may surprise some people, but his ability to get off to a fast start (he won the first open event of the Series) makes him a perfect fit for the leadoff spot. Cody completed the Triple Crown by winning his first WSOP bracelet – the last player to achieve the Triple Crown in baseball? Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The Brit will also attract a gaggle of rowdy fans, giving this squad home-field advantage wherever they go.
2. Phil Hellmuth
|Event #16: $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship (No-Limit)||2nd||$226,907|
|Event #33: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship||2nd||$273,233|
|Event #40: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed||36th||$17,270|
|Event #45: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em||28th||$10,560|
|Event #55: $50,000 Poker Player's Championship||2nd||$1,063,034|
Who else fits better in the two hole than Mr. Second-Place himself, Phil Hellmuth? The Poker Brat was heads-up for bracelet number 12 three times this summer but failed to best John Juanda, Eric Rodawig, and Brian Rast, finishing runner-up in all three events. He was devastated, but even he has to admit he’s having an insane WSOP. He is currently the leader in the Player of the Year race, he banked nearly $1.6 million in earnings, and recorded his first seven-figure score.
3. Ben “Benba” Lamb
|Event #31: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||2nd||$259,918|
|Event #42: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship||1st||$814,436|
|Event #46: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed Championship||12th||$56,140|
|Event #55: $50,000 Poker Player's Championship||8th||$201,338|
Ben “Benba” Lamb has consistently crushed the entire summer, making him a natural three-hole hitter. The combination of power and consistency has won him his first WSOP gold bracelet, banked him over $1.3 million, and has him second behind Hellmuth in the POY standings. To add to his résumé, Lamb ended Day 1b of the Main Event as chip leader of the flight, bagging 188,250. He resumes his quest Tuesday on Day 2b with a shot at a Michael Mizrachi-like ending to his 2011 WSOP campaign.
4. Brian Rast
|Event #15: $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em||1st||$227,232|
|Event #23: $2,500 Eight-Game Mix||42nd||$4,883|
|Event #55: $50,000 Poker Player's Championship||1st||$1,720,328|
We want power in the clean-up spot, so it is clear to us that the correct selection is Brian Rast; the only double bracelet winner this year and the winner of the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship Event. Rast wasn’t even supposed to play the first event he won, having just landed after a trip to see his girlfriend in Brazil. Friend Antonio Esfandiari gave him a deal he couldn’t pass up, however, and Rast shipped his first bracelet, defeating Allen Kessler heads up. Rast only cashed three times at the WSOP, but his ability to hit the long ball makes him extremely dangerous.
5. Jason Mercier
|Event #9: $1,500 2-7 Draw Lowball||7th||$10,524|
|Event #11: $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship||27th||$16,329|
|Event #21: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship||14th||$24,043|
|Event #35: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha / Six Handed||1st||$619,575|
|Event #49: $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit)||6th||$25,967|
If Jason Mercier’s horses counted too, then there’s a good argument for him batting in the clean-up spot. It’s just him on this list though, and despite cashing in five different games, making three final tables, and winning his second career WSOP gold bracelet, he’ll have to settle for the five spot. Two of Mercier’s final tables were smaller events, where he cashed for a combined $36,000, and unlike Rast he was unable to bink a seven-figure score or a second bracelet. We’re sure Mercier is very happy with the way the summer has gone, however, especially if you consider how the rest of Team Mercier (Allen Bari, Dan O’Brien, Brent Hanks) has done.
6. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
|Event #13: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout||104th||$4,998|
|Event #16: $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship (No-Limit)||11th||$27,928|
|Event #21: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship||1st||$331,639|
|Event #46: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed Championship||3rd||$447,074|
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier had never played a live stud tournament before winning the championship event this year, netting himself $331,639 and his first WSOP gold bracelet. Likewise, in the deuce-to-seven championship event, he was relying purely on aggression to advance through the tournament. Grospellier is very volatile and can often whiff, but when he makes contact, there is a good chance that the ball is going to go a very long way. If Grospellier was a bit more consistent, he’d be higher on this list, but for this year’s WSOP the six hole is a great fit for him.
7. Chris Moorman
|Event #7: $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship||18th||$25,348|
|Event #18: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em||66th||$8,012|
|Event #26: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed||3rd||$271,800|
|Event #35: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha / Six Handed||11th||$30,024|
|Event #46: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed Championship||2nd||$716,282|
The only reason Chris Moorman sits behind Grospellier in our lineup is because Grospellier won a bracelet, and Moorman did not. The Englishman was close, finishing second and third in Events 46 and 36 respectively, but just couldn’t close when it mattered. He still banked over $1 million for the Series, though, which is very impressive considering that he only had around $327,000 in live career earnings entering the summer.
8. Sam Stein
|Event #7: $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship||3rd||$264,651|
|Event #31: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||1st||$420,802|
|Event #42: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship||24th||$25,891|
|Event #50: $5,000 Triple Chance No-Limit Hold’em||53rd||$14,937|
The WSOP is so long, and Sam Stein’s success came toward the beginning, so it’s easy to forget, but take a closer look and you’ll see he’s having a great Series. Stein cashed four times for over $700,000 total, made two final tables, and won his first bracelet. He’s currently in sixth place in the POY standings, and, like Ben Lamb, entered Day 2b of the Main Event with a very healthy stack — 101,825 chips.
9. Owais Ahmed
|Event #17: $1,500 H.O.R.S.E.||39th||$5,512|
|Event #23: $2,500 Eight-Game Mix||11th||$15,198|
|Event #39: $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em/Omaha||45th||$6,272|
|Event #47: $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Low-8 or Better||1st||$255,959|
|Event #55: $50,000 Poker Player's Championship||4th||$482,058|
Owais Ahmed was extremely efficient during the 2011 WSOP, cashing five times in four different games, and winning his first bracelet in Event #47 $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. Ahmed was out-chipped badly by Michael Mizrachi heading into heads-up play, but he stormed back and won the title. Ahmed’s ability to play so many games – and play them well – makes him a good fit at the bottom of the order, where he can scrap out a hit and turn the lineup over.