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Five Thoughts: I Will Survive

Mike McDonald

Predictions are a gift and a curse. They're fun to make, but when you get them wrong, people go crazy. Thankfully, I've been able to hide from my horrible 2011 predictions, but Mike "Timex" McDonald is making me revisit them. His big win leads off our five thoughts for the week, which conclude with my dream cast of Survivor. Let's get it started!

1. Just in the nick of Timex

In January, I made 11 predictions for 2011. Naturally, nearly all 11 have crashed and burned brutally, but one is still alive, thanks to Mike “Timex” McDonald. By defeating David Steicke heads up to win the second Epic Poker League Main Event, McDonald’s 2011 live earnings now total $948,838 — just $51,162 short of my million-dollar prediction. That’s only two min-cashes in high-roller events! Let’s go Mikey!

Of course, McDonald could quit poker (again) before the new year, or he could take a break, but I have the feeling that won’t be the case. In his blog he admitted that, “This was probably my happiest I’ve ever been after a poker tournament. This win feels amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better early birthday present (I turn 22 tomorrow).”

Sounds like McDonald is going to play his heater, and with more than three months left, I’m confident he can eclipse seven-figures. If not, I’ll be wrong again — to no one’s surprise.

2. Mizzi and Waxman take Paris

Sorel Mizzi and Matthew Waxman both had very successful trips to the City of Light for the 2011 World Poker Tour Rendez-Vous à Paris. Mizzi shipped the High Roller for €234,495, and Waxman took down the Main Event, earning €518,750.

Mizzi’s score was his second largest (he finished third in the 2010 Aussie Millions Main Event for $659,917) and has now earned $588,616 in 2011. Mizzi’s year started off promising with another final-table appearance in the Aussie Millions Main Event, but it was overshadowed by controversy from a Chinese Poker game with John Racener at the 2011 PokerStars Carribean Adventure. The Mizzi hate has died down since January, however, and this win certainly comes at a good time for him after a less-than-stellar World Series of Poker.

For Waxman, this was by far the biggest score of his life. The New Jersey native’s previous biggest score came at the 2009 WSOP where he finished sixth in a six-handed event for $138,393. A handful of pros, including Jason Mercier and Phil Collins who were on his rail in Paris, were delighted to see Waxman take down the event. “Boom @Matthew_Waxman ships WPT Paris. Yeah buddy,” Mercier tweeted after the win. Fellow pro Vanessa Selbst took to Twitter to congratulate him as well: “Very happy that @Matthew_Waxman won the WPT, he’s one hell of a poker player.”

Congrats to both Matthew and Sorel — especially Matthew, though, because he’s a New York Jets fan.

3. Isildur1 who?

When Viktor “Isildur1 Blom was signed by PokerStars, I was excited to see what would happen with the high-limit cash games on Stars. Unfortunately, for the better part of nine months, nothing extraordinary happened. So, when Black Friday rolled around and Full Tilt Poker took a nosedive, I was afraid we wouldn’t see crazy cash-game action for a very long time.

Enter Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies.

Better known as Ziigmund, Sahamies was a regular at the nosebleeds on FTP and now has won the two biggest pots in PokerStars history. Both hands occurred during the same session at the same $200/$400 pot-limit Omaha table. Sahamies scooped ”bernard-bb” and Andreas “Skjervøy” Torbergsen in the first pot for $421,000, and then scooped Torbergsen and ”socutiesf” for $283,102. During the past couple of weeks, Sahamies and Blom have reportedly been butting heads, leading to massive swings, which is exactly what us railbirds need. This type of action gives the site great exposure, which is exactly what Stars was looking for back in January when they brought Blom aboard.

4. Survivor: Poker Edition

Producers at CBS approached Daniel Negreanu a few years ago to see if he would participate on the hit reality show Survivor. Despite showing interest, Negreanu didn’t want to miss the WSOP (it was taped during the summer), so the producers locked up Jean-Robert Bellande instead. Bellande finished eighth, which put him on the jury to give him a little more exposure. This season, on Survivor: South Pacific, a gentleman named Jim Rice is competing, and he says in his bio that he’s won over 40 poker tournaments. His Hendon Mob results under “James Rice” tell a different tale however — maybe they were all online?

I wish the best of luck to Rice, but I want to see poker players I know compete on Survivor. So, I’ve compiled a list of two dream tribes below:

Super System Tribe

  • Todd Brunson (representing Doyle)
  • Erik Seidel
  • Allen Cunningham
  • Phil Hellmuth
  • Andy Bloch
  • Scotty Nguyen
  • Jennifer Harman
  • Jennifer Tilly
  • Annie Duke
  • Barbara Enright

Triple Range Merge Tribe

  • Tom “durrrr” Dwan
  • Phil Galfond
  • Daniel Negreanu
  • Shaun Deeb
  • Jason Mercier
  • Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
  • Maria Ho
  • Vanessa Selbst
  • Liv Boeree
  • Erika Moutinho

I’m not sure how well poker players can make fire, nor do I want to see most of these (males) people in bathing suits, but I know this would be awesome.

5. Prop-betting at its finest

Can’t believe I missed this gem last week. Here’s Lex Veldhuis on how to prop bet:

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