Defeating a final table that included the reigning World Champion and a master of the Limit game who holds three World Series of Poker bracelets himself, relative unknown Rafael Lebron came through the forest to capture the WSOP gold at Event #38, the $ 3000 Six-Handed Limit Hold’em tournament.
One of the men alluded to at the start was the chip leader when the cards went in the air on Friday. Triple-bracelet holder Matt Matros was on the top of the world at the start of the day with 978,000 chips, but there was a major threat right on his heels. Perhaps just warming up for the defense of his World Championship, Joe McKeehen made his first final table of the 2016 WSOP stacked well with 825,000 chips of his own. When the day started, Lebron was in the middle of the pack and not considered a threat.
Eight men came back on Friday, but only six would get an official WSOP final table on their poker resume. The table would take care of those two knockouts fairly quickly, with Georgios Zisimopoulos taking down Mikhail Semin in eighth and Matros dismissing Andrey Zhigalov in seventh with a rivered Broadway straight within the first hour of play. The final six then settled in for a bit of a slog, as Limit tournaments will tend to do.
Within the first 50 hands of final table play, only one player took the walk away from the Amazon Room. Alex Queen, Brad Libson and McKeehen started out in a hand together, but McKeehen would release his cards after a flop and turn of K-6-3-8. Queen’s final chips went in at this point against Libson, who showed a 6-5 for a less-than spectacular third pair. It was leading against Queen, however, as his A-Q hadn’t connected with the board as of yet. With one card to come, Queen had six outs…none of which were a second eight on the river, eliminating him in sixth place.
Other than getting the final table official, Matros had a difficult day on the felt. He never increased his stack on the final day of play and would fall at the hands of Zisimopoulos in fifth place when he caught a ten with his Q-10 when he was all in on a J-5-10 flop. Unfortunately for Matros, Zisimopoulos also caught with his A-J on that board. When no further help came for the triple-bracelet winner (a six and a trey on the turn and river), Matros was out of the tournament.
The day also wasn’t good for the defending World Champion. McKeehen suffered the same fate as Matros – the inability to get any offense going – and saw his final chips hit the center with an off suit K-8 against Lebron’s pocket Queens. After the Jack high board ran dry for McKeehen, he was out of the event in fourth place.
The surviving trio would battle for well over an hour before the next departure. On Hand 120, Zisimopoulos limped in pre-flop, only to see Libson fire over him. Undaunted, Zisimopoulos three-bet the action and, after a Libson call, saw a J-9-7 flop. Zisimopoulos bet and called a raise out of Libson to see a King on the turn, which is where it got exciting. Libson deposited the remainder of his chips in the center and, after Zisimopoulos made the call, proudly showed his K-10 for a solid pair of kings. Zisimopoulos had the goods, however, turning up pocket Jacks for an outstanding set that could only be caught by a Queen on the river (would have given Libson a King-high straight). The river card would have normally been a good one for Libson, but the ten only gave him two pair against Zisimopoulos’ set and sent him home in third place.
At the start of heads up play, Zisimopoulos held a 3:1 lead over Lebron, but Lebron would work his way into the lead within 10 hands of action. With the blinds climbing and the stacks being stressed, the duo would switch the lead back and forth over another before Lebron began to meticulously chip up. After more than 35 hands of action, Lebron stretched the lead to a million chips and, within another five hands, had Zisimopoulos on the ropes with only eight big bets left.
Zisimopoulos would scrap for nearly another 20 hands, but the end was nigh. On the final hand, Hand #202, a pre-flop raising battle saw Zisimopoulos’ final chips hit the center and he was in relatively good shape, his K-7 off suit up against Lebron’s 6-5 off suit. The Q-8-3 flop was good for Zisimopoulos, but the six on the turn was a disaster as it gave Lebron a pair. Still, with six outs to his over cards, Zisimopoulos had a puncher’s chance of coming back. The deuce on the river ended that chance, though, giving Lebron the championship.
1. Rafael Lebron, $ 169,337
2. Georgios Zisimopoulos, $ 104,646
3. Brad Libson, $ 68,896
4. Joe McKeehen, $ 46,489
5. Matt Matros, $ 32,172
6. Alex Queen, $ 22,848
Since 2006, when Congress passed in the United States the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), there has been a drive to pass regulations allowing for the operation of online casinos and poker. For several years, there wasn’t a great rush to enact these laws because, hey, pretty much everyone was still doing what they wanted – playing online – because the UIGEA had so little teeth to it for players that it didn’t do anything (the UIGEA basically made it illegal for banks to knowingly accept gaming transactions – it didn’t outlaw online gaming or poker). That all changed, however, in the spring of 2011.
“Black Friday” tore the game wide open and completely savaged the U. S. online gaming and poker society. When 11 of the online industry’s biggest executives were indicted – and three of the largest online poker rooms were shut down in the U. S. – it basically destroyed any semblance of normalcy in the online community. With what they loved taken away, now they had to organize and try to dig out of the chasm dug by “Black Friday.”
In 2013, it seemed that the online poker community was turning the corner. Three states – Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey – all enacted intrastate online gaming and/or poker regulation (only Nevada went online poker only) and it seemed this would be the future of online gaming in the U. S. – the state-by-state system. The reason? The federal government couldn’t get its crap together to decide whether to regulate the industry (and collect hundreds of millions in taxes) or ban it outright.
A strange thing happened on the way to this state-by-state system, however. Since 2013, no other state has stepped up and passed legislation regulating the industry. There have been many false signals – a committee meeting where nothing is voted on is not an advancement of the legislation – but there has yet to be another online regulatory bill reach the floor of any state legislature. Of late, there are two potential states that are entertaining the idea of a floor vote (Pennsylvania and California), but neither has moved forward as of yet.
So why are there so many problems with passing online gaming and/or poker regulation? Here’s a few things to consider, in no particular order, when you look HONESTLY at the situation (and we won’t even be touching on the political powder keg that California is with its different factions).
What Is Your Story?
Those that have advocated for online poker/gaming regulation haven’t exactly stayed on the same course over the years with their arguments. In the early 2000s, the argument was that poker was a “skill game” and, as such, should not be subjected to gambling laws. This has been a constant undercurrent over the years, but it hasn’t been able to get over the stigma that many “normal” people consider any endeavor in a casino to be gambling, poker included. Occasionally a court would agree with the “skill versus luck” people, but overall the argument wasn’t accepted by many in the legal or the legislative arenas for the perceived above bias.
From there, the argument for regulation moved on to a “personal freedoms” issue. This came about around 2008, when the Tea Party and individual freedoms movement was at its apex. While such activities as what someone does on the computer does fall in this area, it was tough to discuss this issue with folks over 50 who had difficulties with turning on the device, let alone their personal stances on what constitutes a “personal freedom.” Thus, while it is an excellent argument, many of the minds that needed to be changed weren’t willing to entertain the notion.
Recently two arguments have made their way to the fore. One is that online gaming/poker needs to have “consumer protections” to prevent offshore operations from defrauding their customers. The second are the revenues that would come from the regulation and taxation of online gaming and poker. Once again, these are two solid arguments, especially the one for consumer protections. Then again, many who are in the position to set legislation view that those who gamble should fall under the category of caveat emptor rather than being protected by a set of laws and regulations.
With the revenues…well…
Success? You Call That Success?
In the two-plus years that there has been intrastate online gaming and/or poker, the revenues haven’t exactly streamed into the state coffers. In Nevada, what once was a three-room industry in 2014 – WSOP.com, Ultimate Poker and Real Gaming – has now become only one, WSOP.com (there are rumors of other operations starting, but nothing concrete). When there were three online poker rooms in existence, they struggled to crack the $ 1 million per month gross revenues line, not exactly ripping it in for a state that drew in $ 10.6 billion in gaming revenues alone in 2015 (accurate numbers aren’t available because the Nevada Gaming Control Board no longer reports the “win” rate of the online industry).
In Delaware, the story is arguably worse. There have been times when online poker drew in five figure revenues in a month, but this could be more a reflection of the state’s miniscule population (roughly 900,000) than the action in the rooms. The online casinos seem to have done better in the state as the activity is more apt for “hit and run” play than the online poker rooms have been. Delaware has also benefitted more from its compact with Nevada, without the same reciprocal success.
New Jersey is the only state of the three that can say it has had a modicum of success, but that is vastly lower than what was expected. Prior to passage of online casino gaming and poker legislation in the Garden State, Governor Chris Christie said that the industry would draw in $ 1.2 billion within its first year of operation. In 2015 (the second full year of the Jersey online gaming industry), gross revenues for the online operations of the New Jersey casinos topped $ 148 million, a far cry from Christie’s revenue estimations (a positive argument would be the $ 14 million or so in taxation revenues earned by the state that wouldn’t have been there without online gaming, but that is also under the estimated $ 160 million in tax revenues by the Christie Administration).
While these numbers are great, they aren’t exactly awe-inspiring to states that are facing hundreds of millions in budget deficits (what is $ 14 million or so going to do when you’re running behind on the budget by $ 250 million dollars or more?). Thus, state legislators may be considering the action but, after a deep look (and the initial flood of licensing), deciding it isn’t a path they want to go down.
The Morality of the States
Which brings us to the next problem for passing online poker and gaming regulations. As a general rule, both sides of the political spectrum have their problems with online gaming/poker. For Republicans, it is that “demon sin” gambling that they have a problem with, especially those that consider themselves evangelical. For Democrats, many consider gambling a regressive tax that preys on those that can’t afford to take part in the activity.
Furthermore, there are physical states that, while they may have Indian casinos, would not even broach the subject of having online gaming operations because of their leadership or their religious affiliations. Utah, which has legislatively dictated that they will never take part in an online gaming operation, is one such state and others exist. If there are going to be 20-30 states that are definitively in the “no online gaming” category – which could be an underestimation – then it is going to be tough to pass legislation, federal or otherwise.
Not Enough Ammunition
One of the most powerful voices in the world of politics is the lobbying industry. Whether you like it or not, lobbying has a humongous effect on what bills pass and what bills are left by the wayside. When it comes to the online gaming/poker community, we can’t even seem to get our house in order.
The most powerful gaming advocate in the country, the American Gaming Association, used to support online gaming regulation, but pulled that support for two reasons. First, the resignation of Frank Fahrenkopf, a supporter of online gaming and poker, as president of the AGA derailed the voice of the casino industry from the online argument. His successor, Geoff Freeman, took the AGA away from the table (many believe at the behest of Las Vegas Sands Corporation founder and chairman Sheldon Adelson and his threats to leave the group), suddenly pulling the lobbying arm of the casinos out of the battle.
The only organization left that is advocating for online gaming – and it is only online poker, they haven’t committed to full casino gaming – is the Poker Players Alliance. The PPA has been an active advocate for poker since 2005 and has had some impact on the discussion of online poker and gaming regulation…just not enough to budge the needle significantly. A simple look at the numbers will demonstrate that they are woefully lacking in ammunition to be able to win the war.
In 2012 (it is difficult to find public information on non-profit organizations), the PPA had total revenues of $ 3.6 million, of which $ 3.3 million in expenses was spent (on salaries, payroll taxes and “other” – that isn’t explained in the statistics) and has boasted that it is the voice for “a million poker players across the country.” The 2012 contributions by the PPA to federal candidates were $ 48,888 (with a 51/49 split between Democrats and Republicans). In 2014, that total dropped to $ 8000 and to this point in 2016, the PPA has contributed $ 7000.
Let’s now contrast this with another lobbying organization. The National Rifle Association, with its five million members, generated $ 348 million in 2013 with expenses of $ 291 million. The 2012 contributions to federal candidates totaled $ 1.19 million, with a sizeable majority of the money going to members of the GOP (73%-27%). So far in 2016, the NRA has contributed over $ 600,000.
As demonstrated by the numbers, the PPA is bringing a slingshot to a nuclear war in both manpower and money and could really use some help from another strong lobbying organization (making the AGA’s gutless efforts particularly irritating). In all honesty, who do you think is going to get more attention from those elected officials in Washington and in the statehouses across the country?
Is There Anybody Out There That Cares?
When it comes to the professionals in the poker world, nearly all of them could care less about what is going on in politics in general and regarding online poker politics particularly. Sure, Daniel Negreanu can speak up once in a while and Jason Somerville and Andy Frankenberger can sign on as advocates (former World Champion Greg Raymer has also been a vocal supporter in the past), but most of those recognized as “professional poker players” have steered clear of getting involved in the fray. There’s some base reasons for this.
First, poker is these people’s livelihoods. Why would they want to bring in more competition to make it tougher on them? You can say that a vibrant online poker industry in the U. S. would give these professionals outlets, but it would also breed more opponents for them.
Two, since these people ARE playing poker for a living, they have to PLAY. Those 12-hour days don’t leave much outside for going to meetings, rallying politic or penning passionate op-eds. Professionals spend many hours a day honing their craft and poker’s no exception.
Finally, poker has always been a “lone wolf” mentality. Part of the reason that people get into playing poker for a reason is they don’t have to listen to anyone. They don’t have to worry about politics, about appearances, about “who thinks what”…thus, when someone says “Why don’t you support us?” the player can say (probably won’t but can), “Because I don’t care.” It is also extremely possible that, to poker professionals, the matter of online poker just isn’t that important to them…and that is why they don’t toss their support to the cause.
To the rank and file, it is important but life also affects their ability to rally their efforts. Sure, everyone would love to go to their respective capitols and show their support for the efforts of online gaming and poker, but they have jobs to attend. Miss too many days of work to politick for online poker and you’ll soon find yourself out of a job. Thus, the best some can do is Tweet or Facebook from their homes.
These are just a few of the reasons why online poker/gaming regulations aren’t as much a slam dunk as many supporters might think it is. This is also the reasons why some dislike when the latest committee meeting is hyped as the “Second Coming” of online poker. There are issues that need to be taken care of, otherwise the uphill battle will remain that and with no logical end in sight.
As the 2016 World Series of Poker nears its halfway mark, three more bracelets were awarded at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. One was a tournament that needed some overtime to take care of business, while the other two events played out as scheduled on Saturday.
Event #23 – $ 2000 No Limit Hold’em
Two men, Bulgaria’s Viliyan Petleshkov (8.175 million) and Spain’s Cesar Garcia (5.48 million) were the final two men left standing on Friday evening when the WSOP curfew sounded its bell. While they both may have wanted to continue the fight, it was necessary for both men to take the benefit of an extra day of play. Having played for 12 hours on Friday, the men came back at 1PM on Saturday afternoon, refreshed and ready to take care of the remaining business.
As to whom the rest benefitted the most, it had to have been Garcia. Garcia doubled up through Petleshkov when, on an 8♥ 5♣ 3♥ flop, the money went to the center with Garcia holding bottom two pair and Petleshkov holding J♥ 9♥ for the flush draw. The J♣ on the turn gave Petleshkov a few more outs to the championship, but none of them would come home; a 10♦ on the river gave the double to Garcia and the chip lead.
From that point on, Garcia could do no wrong. It would take another half-hour of play, but Garcia would eventually get Petleshkov’s chips in the center. On the penultimate hand, Garcia limped the button and, after Petleshkov fired a bet over him, decided to put the Bulgarian to the test with an all-in move. Petleshkov was up to the task, making the call and showing a live K-J off suit against Garcia’s A-6 off suit. Once the eight high board rolled off, Garcia had captured his first WSOP championship in strong fashion.
1. Cesar Garcia, $ 447,739
2. Viliyan Petleshkov, $ 276,660
3. Yuriy Boyko, $ 198,185*
4. Adrian Buckley, $ 143,598*
5. Kamel Mokhammad, $ 105,253*
6. Craig McCorkell, $ 78,053*
7. Craig Varnell, $ 58,569*
8. Thiago Nishijima, $ 44,478*
9. Anthony Spinella, $ 34,188*
(* – eliminated on Friday night, at official final table)
As a side note, this tournament was the most international one of the WSOP to date. Spain, Bulgaria, Ireland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Brazil and the United States all fielded at least one member of the final table (the U. S. had three).
Event #25 – $ 2500 No Limit Hold’em
In the first of two tournaments that would stretch the boundaries of the WSOP curfew system. Michael Gagliano was able to withstand 1045 players to take down his first ever WSOP bracelet early on Sunday morning.
24 players were still alive on Saturday afternoon when the tournament resumed and they wasted little time in getting down to the final table. When start of day chip leader Michael Scarborough was eliminated by Zu Zhou in 10th place, the final nine men came together with everyone packed tightly together on the leaderboard. Zhou held the chips lead with 2.38 million markers, but Darryll Fish was right on his tail and Michael Laake wasn’t far behind him. Gagliano wasn’t threatening anyone at this time, holding only 955K in chips and in the bottom half of the standings.
Gagliano got into the mix when he doubled up through Gavin O’Rourke when his pocket sixes were able to find a four-flush against O’Rourke’s pocket nines that had actually flopped a set. Gagliano stayed out of the way of much of the action between that point and the dinner break, which enabled him to work into third position behind Laake and Zhou. Still, with eight men left, it was anyone’s tournament.
After the sustenance, Gagliano slowly began to build an empire. He would crack the three million chip mark by Hand #90 of the final table, but it would take him nearly the same amount of hands to move over four million in eliminating Remi Castaignon in fourth place. By the time Gagliano took out Shankar Pillai in third place, Gagliano had built a two million chip lead over Daniel Cooke.
The twosome jousted for a bit until Gagliano seized the tournament by the throat. Having lost the lead to Cooke, Gagliano got his chips in on a K-8-7-9 flop and turn. Cooke’s K-3 off suit was crushed by Gagliano’s 6-5 for the turned straight and, after the river Queen was ceremoniously dealt, Gagliano grabbed a 10:1 lead over Cooke with the double up.
It would take another 24 hands of battle against the valiant Cooke before Gagliano could take down the championship, however. On the final hand, Cooke would move all in and, after Gagliano called, saw his K-Q off suit was live but behind Gagliano’s A-9. A 9-8-7 flop pushed Gagliano into the lead further and, after no paint came on the turn or rive, Cooke was vanquished in second place and Gagliano took down the prize.
1. Michael Gagliano, $ 448,463
2. Daniel Cooke, $ 277,128
3. Shankar Pillai, $ 196,119
4. Remi Castaignon, $ 140,596
5. Zu Zhou, $ 102,120
6. Niall Farrell, $ 75,164
7. Michael Laake, $ 56,073
8. Darryll Fish, $ 42,405
9. Gavin O’Rourke, $ 32,514
Event #26 – $ 1500 Omaha Hold’em Hi/Lo Eights or Better
As Event #25 was coming to its conclusion, Event #26, the $ 1500 Omaha Hold’em Hi/Lo Eights or Better tournament found its end. Benny Glaser would emerge victorious in this event, the sole survivor from the 934 player field.
27 players came back for the restart on Saturday and they wasted no time getting to business. 10 players departed within the first couple hours of action and, after another two and a half hours, the unofficial final table of 10 had been determined. By the time that Joe Ford was eliminated by Phillip Hui in tenth place after the dinner break, Glaser was at the helm of the ship holding a monstrous stack of chips (2.4 million) with such notables as Max Pescatori and Brandon Shack-Harris looking to take him down.
That didn’t happen, however. Glaser would top the three million chip mark in eliminating Zachary Milchman in sixth place as the night owls watched the final table at 1AM, then would bump Shack-Harris out in fifth to move past four million. After Hui (fourth) and Motohiro Kondo (third) fell at the hands of Glaser, Benjamin Gold was the last man left and he had a significant four million chip disadvantage to Glaser. Within 15 minutes of heads up play, Glaser would finish off the job in rivering a better two pair (Queens up) to Gold (tens up) to capture his second WSOP bracelet as the vacuums sounded in the Amazon Room.
1. Benny Glaser, $ 244,103
2. Benjamin Gold, $ 150,828
3. Motohiro Kondo, $ 106,070
4. Phillip Hui, $ 75,627
5. Brandon Shack-Harris, $ 54,680
6. Zachary Milchman, $ 40,098
7. Ilya Krupin, $ 29,830
8. Max Pescatori, $ 22,517
9. Scott Packer, $ 17,250
Only halfway through its 68 tournament schedule, the 2016 World Series of Poker has already crowned three double bracelet winners. The latest, the United Kingdom’s Benny Glaser, earned his latest piece of jewelry in the $ 10,000 Omaha Hi/Lo Eights or Better World Championship.
It took a little extra work to get the tournament completed as three men – Glaser (3.225 million), Doug Lorgeree (3.095 million) and Matt Glantz (1.85 million) – couldn’t complete action on Tuesday night before the WSOP curfew hit. Thus, they came back on Wednesday to battle it out for the latest bracelet and took little time to settle their personal score.
Within ten minutes of the opening bell, the chips were flying around the table and a new leader had taken over the table. Lorgeree was able to capture several of those hands and moved out to four million chips, a two million chip edge over Glaser. Even Glantz got into the action, pumping his stack over the two million mark while knocking Glaser down to “only” 1.75 million after 30 minutes of play.
Being the short stack at the three-handed table seemed to annoy Glaser. In a rush of three hands, Glaser would power his way back into a larger chip lead than what he had to start the day (3.9 million to Lorgeree’s 3.4 million) and never let his foot off the gas. Then, with one key hand, Glaser firmly asserted command of the final table ship.
After a raise from Lorgeree, Glaser defended his big blind and saw a dangerous 9-9-8. Glaser check-raised a bet out of Lorgeree to see a trey on the turn. This time Glaser took the lead and, after a call from Lorgeree, a river seven was dealt. Glaser fired again on the river, despite there being straight, flush and full house opportunities on the board, and after Lorgeree made the call, turned up a Q-9-5-2 for trip nines with an 8-7-5-3-2 low. Lorgeree would stare at his cards, trying to find a way to split the pot with Glaser, but he would eventually toss them to the muck as Glaser scooped the pot to move over five million in chips.
Glaser didn’t just heap abuse on Lorgeree. Glantz would be eliminated by Glaser when, on a J-7-5-3-Q board, Glantz got his chips in on the turn with an excellent Q-6-5-2 for a made low (7-6-5-3-2) and a weak pair of fives, but Glaser turned up a straight and a better low (6-5-4-3-2-) with his 10-6-4-2. Needing to have a four just to be able to chop up the pot, Glantz instead saw a Queen come on the river and was out of the tournament in third place.
Up by more than a 4:1 margin, it only took Glaser roughly 30 minutes to take down Lorgeree. On the final hand, all of Lorgeree’s chips made it to the center pre-flop and the cards were turned up. Lorgeree had a 10-8-5-3 menagerie to take to battle, while Glaser had a pre-flop edge for the high at the minimum with his J-6-3-3. A K-5-4 gave a pair of fives for the lead to Lorgeree, but Glaser would turn a flush when the 8♣ came on the turn. That eight also gave Lorgeree two pair, eights up, and another eight or a five would squeak out a chop for Lorgeree that would be his only chance at survival. The river J♠ ended those hopes for Lorgeree, though, as Glaser’s flush stood to give him his second WSOP bracelet of 2016.
1. Benny Glaser, $ 407,194
2. Doug Lorgeree, $ 251,665
3. Matt Glantz, $ 175,754
4. Grzegorz Trelski, $ 125,125*
5. Robert Campbell, $ 90,846*
6. Per Hildebrand, $ 67,291*
7. Todd Brunson, $ 50,872*
8. Jason Mercier, $ 39,269*
9. Felipe Ramos, $ 30,965*
(* – eliminated on Tuesday, part of official final table)
Glaser joins Jason Mercier and Ian Johns as the dual bracelet winners (so far) for this WSOP and, with half the schedule still remaining, it isn’t inconceivable to think that maybe one of these men – or maybe someone else who also has won in 2016 – will earn a third bracelet. If they are able to do that, they would become the first player to do it since Jeff Lisandro took three bracelets (all in non-Hold’em events, it has to be noted) at the 2009 WSOP and join a small fraternity of men (Puggy Pearson, Phil Hellmuth, Ted Forrest, Phil Ivey and Lisandro) who have achieved the “three in a year” feat.
How Will They Handle WSOP Records?
One of the big changes at this year’s WSOP was the expansion of the prize pool across the roster of tournaments in play. Instead of paying the usual 10% of those in the field, WSOP officials decided that 15% would be paid during this year’s schedule. This has potentially created an issue when it comes to particular yearly records on the WSOP books.
2016 WSOP bracelet winner Ryan Laplante has been on a run in Las Vegas. Not only did he pick up his first WSOP bracelet in Event #12, the $ 565 Pot Limit Omaha tournament, he has bene able to cash in eight other tournaments so far in 2016. The record for one year at the WSOP is 11 (for just the Las Vegas event) and 13 overall (if the WSOP-Europe or the WSOP-APAC is added in) and, with plenty of chances left, Laplante is pretty much a sure bet to earn some more money at the WSOP. The question is does his achievement rank as the new record?
It can’t be overlooked how much that extra 5% of the field being paid might make on this record pursuit. If the 10% rule was in place, Laplante would not have cashed in five of his events this year. With the halfway point in sight, the difference between having four cashes (under the 10% rule) and nine cashes (under the 15% rule) is significant.
Whether he gets the record or not, Laplante has had an outstanding run (if it wasn’t for Mercier, Johns and Glaser, he’d be crushing the WSOP Player of the Year race). But will he also be able to claim the record for most cashes at a singular year’s WSOP?
The World Series of Poker has opened the public nomination process for the Poker Hall of Fame class of 2016. Fans can visit wsop.com to submit a nominee along with a brief explanation of why that player is deserving. After the nomination window closes, the nominees will be vetted and the top ten will be named finalists. From there, the 25 living Hall of Fame members and a panel of poker media members (there were 16 last year) will submit their ballots to determine who the newest members of the Poker Hall of Fame will be.
Last year, Jennifer Harman and John Juanda, two of the most visible poker pros from the poker boom of last decade, were voted into the Hall. The other eight nominees were: Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Bruno Fitoussi, Carlos Mortensen, Max Pescatori, Terry Rogers, Matt Savage, and David “Devilfish” Ulliott.
The Poker Hall of Fame has established a set of criteria that nominees must satisfy to be eligible for the Hall of Fame:
• A player must have played poker agains acknowledged top competition
• Played for high stakes
• Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
• Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
• Stood the test of time
• Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.
Most of those are fairly subjective, but the one objective requirement – age – is key this year, as Phil Ivey is now 40-years old and is eligible for the Hall. If he isn’t elected, it would be almost as shocking as if Donald Trump is actually elected president. In live tournaments alone, Ivey has won nearly $ 24 million and has ten World Series of Poker bracelets. And who could even guess how much he has won in cash games.
Last year’s election was surrounded by controversy as even though the finalists were well represented by Europeans, none were elected to the Hall. The fifty-member Hall of Fame is almost exclusively composed of North Americans.
In a blog post, Joe Beevers criticized the process and results, writing, “There are zero living non-American’s in the Poker Hall of Fame and the only non-American name I can see in the list of (now) 50 is Edmond Hoyle, inducted in 1980 (he died in 1769). Sounds like they have a fair system here with no bias whatsoever, right?”
European Poker Tour founder John Duthie also gave his opinion, saying, “No non-U. S. poker player should even consider accepting a nomination to the WSOP Hall of Fame. I have the greatest respect for both (Juanda and Harman) and their selection is understandable, but the WSOP need to take a serious look at the whole process.”
As my colleague Earl Burton pointed out last year, “….note [Duthie’s] bastardization of the POKER Hall of Fame name, which has been in existence since 1979.”
My biggest criticism of the voting process is that it offers absolutely no transparency. We never see the results of the public nomination process, so we don’t know if the ten finalists were actually the top ten vote getters. There have been times when a name who the general public would have never known, especially not to the point where he would have been amongst the top ten most named nominees. We don’t usually know which members of the media cast the final ballots unless they write an article explaining their choices. Making the process more transparent should not be difficult and would make people feel must more comfortable with the entire process.