World Series of Poker Europe

Five Thoughts: Cannes Hellmuth Do It?

Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth nearly made another World Series of Poker final table, this time in beautiful Cannes, France. Can he really surpass Ben "Benba" Lamb and win WSOP Player of the Year? What is Who is Benny Spindler? Who framed Roger Rabbit?

OK, that last one is a 1988 movie about an animated, crime-solving rabbit, but the rest of those questions are addressed in this week's five thoughts.

1. Insert Cannes pun here

In February, the World Series of Poker announced that the WSOPE would be relocating from London, England, to Cannes, France. The poker boom is just now taking off in France, and both and Caesars Interactive Entertainment were looking to capitalize on the situation. During the months leading up to the WSOPE, many people within the industry believed it would be a good move, and their premonitions have already been confirmed in the first week of play.

Entering the 2011 WSOPE, the largest event ever was in 2009, when a £1,000 event attracted 608 runners. That record was quickly demolished, as Event #2 €1,090 No Limit Hold’em welcomed 771 entrants over two days, making it the largest WSOPE event in history.

The numbers aren't the only upside in Cannes, though — the scenery and weather are awesome. Even poker players (who stay inside for roughly 23 hours a day) would agree that mid-seventies and sunny is light-years better than low sixties and cloudy. Also, Cannes is not as busy as London, making it easier to get around. Poker players love being able to arrive at a poker tournament during the last seconds of late registration, and in Cannes they won't have to worry about congestion and maneuvering around red double-deckers.

Canadian poker pro Terrence Chan wrote an extensive blog post about the pros and cons of the new location. You should check it out, especially if you’re looking for another Cannes pun.

2. Hellmuth is on the hunt

We make fun of Phil Hellmuth all the time. In fact, during the WSOP, yours truly predicted that the self-proclaimed Poker Brat would never win a non-hold’em bracelet. Hellmuth promptly final tabled the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo Championship and the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship, finishing runner-up in both and giving your boy a good sweat.

That’s what Hellmuth does though — he refuses to quit. Sometimes his heightened competitive nature gets him in trouble (see: every televised cash game he’s ever played), but there is something to be said for his determination to be great.

Hellmuth traveled to France determined to snatch the WSOP Player of the Year lead away from Ben “Benba” Lamb, and with a seventh-place finish in Event #1 €2,500 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em Hellmuth is inching closer. Lamb sits with 659.05 points (759.05 if you add the 100 he’s guaranteed with a ninth-place finish in the Main Event), but Hellmuth is technically on top with 755.25. With a min-cash (5 points), he would surpass Lamb, and then have to fade Benba at the final table. Hellmuth isn’t thinking min-cash, however.

“5 events left; I’M NOT DONE!” he tweeted on Monday.

It looks like I’ll be sweating another non-hold’em bracelet event, and unless Lamb can aslo cash in one or two WSOPE events, he may be in trouble.

3. has a nice ring to it

Not really, but Michael Gaughan, the owner of the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, is on to something. Gaughan announced the launch of at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), and the site launched on Oct. 6. The 100% free and 100% legal site was approved by the Nevada Gaming Board and plans to offer a $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat each month. Even though South Point has a very, very small poker room, it has strong ties to the poker world — both Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker have been filmed there.

The initial reviews of the software are not good, but this is a step in the right direction. South Point became the first land-based casino to open an online poker room (there is an argument for Caesars Entertainment and, and this could lead to a Pandora’s box-like chain reaction. Gaughan told PokerNews that, “Supposedly the Nevada Gaming Commission is going to come out with regulations for intrastate [gambling] in January of 2012. So, what I’m trying to do is learn.”

It sounds like something is on the horizon, and perhaps Gaughan simply wanted to be “the first.” If this is the case, then there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for American players, but only time will tell. What we do know is that land-based casinos will be major players when the time comes, and perhaps, with this move, will be among them.

4. Spindler ships second $1 million cash

Benny Spindler entered the final day of the 2011 European Poker Tour London Main Event third in chips, but battled his way to the top, eventually defeating Steve O’Dwyer heads up to win £750,000 ($1,172241), and the EPT title. This is Spindler’s second big cash of 2011 (he finished second in the €25,000 High Roller event at EPT Grand Final for €316,000 (469,017)), and his second career $1 million cash (he finished third in the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for $1,100,000). Spindler now has over $3 million in career earnings, and, with nearly $1.8 million in earnings this year, is 15th on Hendon Mob’s 2011 Money List.

Spindler isn’t a household name because he hasn’t fared well at the WSOP (only three cashes that total less than $50,000), but his résumé is obviously very impressive. The 26-year-old German native is probably most famous for flopping quads against Alex Gomes at the aforementioned 2009 PCA Main Event, and rocking a Justin Bieber-like hair cut. We’ll be keeping our eyes on Spindler for the remainder of 2011 and into 2012, when perhaps he will make another big splash in the Bahamas.

5. Musumeci’s Main Event

Usually the fifth thought is reserved for a video, but last week’s Strategy With Kristy Podcast featuring Amanda Musumeci was awesome. Listen in as she recounts her 2011 WSOP Main Event.

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