Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

They're in the running

Contenders line up for poker's main crown

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Who will be the next WSOP (World Series of Poker) champion? It will take a few months to find out, but the WSOP main event has started this weekend, and someone's life is about to change forever.

The main event has started and with that come high hopes and shattered dreams. With such a large field, the number of good things a player has to have happen to him in order to make a deep run is incredible. In the end, however, someone is going to win and become the new world champion.

The main event is an open, meaning that anyone with $10,000 can go ahead and register for the tournament. In years past the internet was a huge way for players to qualify for the main event. For as little as a dollar you could possibly win your seat and play on poker's biggest stage. With the recent events in the U.S. since online poker has been banned, nobody really knows what to expect regarding this year's turnout. Personally, I think the numbers will be down from last year.

For a few years now the WSOP has held its final table in November. This was mainly due to ESPN wanting to make a big production building up to the final table. I think there are still mixed feelings about this and personally I don't like it. Waiting four months clearly changes the outcome of the eventual winner. Players who are less experienced and have the good fortune of making it all the way to the final table are able to get coaching and become better. This really doesn't seem fair to me and I think they should finish up the tournament in a few weeks, like they used to.

This year I decided to see how well my psychic powers are and have decided to pick five players I think might make some noise in this year's main event. With about 6,000-7,500 players expected in the field this year, my chances of picking a final tableist are pretty slim, but here goes.

1. Ben Lamb: I never heard of this guy until this year's series, but his stars must be alligned seeing as how he has already won a bracelet and been deep in so many other events this year.

2. Phil Helmuth: This guy always seems to go deep in this event, and combining that with the fact that he has already finished second three times, this world series kinda makes him a no brainer.

3. Jason Mercier: This guy is a great tournament player. Combine that with the fact that he might run better than anyone in the world, and I couldn't pass up on him. Oh, did I mention he has already won a bracelet this year?

4. Kevin Saul, known as BeLOWaBOVe online: I am picking him even though he has been relatively quiet. Every year a few big online names go deep and he is my pick for this year.

5. Scott Seiver: This guy is a great all-around player but is mainly a cash-game player. Having said that, he has dedicated himself to playing more tournaments and has been on fire as of late.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2011 B13

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