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The Top Poker Pros Likely To Rebound After Lackluster Summers At 2015 World Series Of Poker

Poker Greats Like Phil Ivey And Mike Matusow Completely Bricked Last Year


It’s common knowledge by now that tournaments have variance. You can have a stellar WSOP and then easily completely whiff the following year. Between things like being on the right side of coin flips, getting good table draws and being on your A-game when it matters most, there’s a lot that needs to fall into place for success at a single WSOP.

When you extend the sample size to at least a handful of summers, it becomes clear that the best players do well at the WSOP. It’s not quite like how Mike McDermott describes it in Rounders, but we all know some people do extremely well in the long-run at the Rio. Below is a look at some of the game’s best who had poor showings last summer despite a mountain of WSOP success.

It’s impossible to give you figures on the number of buy-ins or tournaments entered for an individual player because the customer information isn’t publicly available, the WSOP told Card Player, but going based on track records and some social media comments, we give you the following rounders who appear poised for a better 2016.

Humberto Brenes: He’s fifth all-time in WSOP lifetime cashes with 82, with an incredible 10 coming in 2014. He almost set the all-time record for a single summer. However, he blanked 2015, which was only the fourth time since 1987 he didn’t cash at the WSOP. Brenes left team Pokerstars after the 2014 WSOP, which resulted in him scaling back his poker tournament schedule. Despite this, don’t expect this tournament specialist and two-time bracelet winner to brick back-to-back WSOP’s, assuming he plays the prelims. There’s still plenty of game left in the 65-year-old’s shark tank.

Phil Ivey: The 10-time bracelet winner showed up about a month late to the 2015 WSOP presumably because of cash games in Macau. He didn’t cash a single time between late June and the end of the Series, marking just the second year since 2000 that he didn’t cash in a WSOP event. Ivey sat out the 2011 summer to a make a statement of sorts after Black Friday. It was only a handful of years ago that Ivey said he wanted to end his career with 30 bracelets. A motivated Ivey is a force to be reckoned with at the WSOP. Since his first cash in 2000, he has made at least one final table in every year except 2004, 2011 and 2015.

Also noteworthy is that Ivey is now 40 years of age, which makes him eligible for the Poker Hall of Fame. The induction takes places in the fall and coincides with the main event final table. Could Ivey really have a no-final table summer the year he’s inducted?

Mike Matusow: Last year, the four-time bracelet winner had no cashes for the first time since 1998. Matusow told Card Player on day 3 of the 2015 main event, when he had one of the largest stacks in the room, that he had been battling pain stemming from spinal surgery. The pain was so intense for part of 2015 that he was bed-ridden for seven months, he said. Expect the 48-year-old to have a better showing at the 2016 WSOP. He said on Twitter earlier this month that he’s “healthy and hungry.” Also, he was looking for backers.

Andy Bloch: Since 2012, Bloch, a long-time familiar face at the Rio, hasn’t finished better than 25th in a WSOP event. During that summer, Bloch captured his first bracelet and made another final table. One of his three cashes in 2015 was in the DraftKings-sponsored $1,500 no-limit hold’em that allowed half the field to cash. Bloch joked about the accomplishment on Twitter.

Joe Tehan: The Las Vegas poker pro has 39 lifetime cashes at the WSOP and no bracelets. He’s definitely on the list of best players without a WSOP win. Last year, Tehan had only one cash, a 146th in a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event. It was his least productive WSOP since his first cash dating back to 2006. In 2014, Tehan had four cashes, including two final tables. Since his one and only cash at the WSOP last summer, Tehan has cashed eight times in major tournaments, so he still plays a lot. Expect him to have a rebound year at the WSOP.

Michael Mizrachi: The Grinder, one of the most legendary tournament players of all-time, has only four cashes in the past two summers at the WSOP, with the best in that time span being a 28th in a $1,500 buy-in. Over the past decade of WSOP play, the three-time bracelet winner has averaged nearly two top-15 finishes a year. His brother Robert also tied him in the bracelet department last year, so perhaps sibling rivalry will give the Grinder that extra push.

Matt Stout: With an impressive 37 cashes lifetime at the WSOP, Stout is another name on the best-without-a-bracelet list. He had WSOP final tables in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011, but had four cashes last summer with a 30th place being his best. It actually took him until July to reach day 3 of a tournament. Still, he was in good spirits going into the final leg of the 2015 Series.

Just a few days after busting the main event, Stout joked that after reading about the bankruptcy of a famous rapper he felt better about his poor WSOP.

Scott Seiver: The cash game star actually had a great 2015 summer in Las Vegas, but it just wasn’t at the WSOP. Seiver took second in the $500,000 buy-in Poker Central Super High Roller Bowl for more than $5.1 million. However, at the WSOP, where Seiver has a bracelet and 34 lifetime cashes, he recorded just two in-the-money finishes for a combined $6,500. It was his least productive WSOP since he began cashing there in 2007.

Finishing runner-up in the SHRB in early July probably saved Seiver’s summer. Right as the WSOP was starting last year, Seiver said that he had lost a $1 million cash game hand.

Will Failla: The Thrill had just one cash last year, a 2,217th in the Colossus for under $1,100. In 2014, Failla had seven cashes, which brought his lifetime total at the WSOP to nearly three dozen. The WPT champion still without a bracelet.

According to Failla, he ran incredibly bad last summer. He Tweeted in early July that he had his pocket aces cracked 20 times over the course of the summer.

Eric Froehlich: When Froehlich won his first bracelet in 2005 he was then the youngest player ever to capture WSOP gold. He followed that up the next year by winning his second. Fast forward to this decade, and Froehlich hasn’t had a final table since 2013, and he had just one cash last year (42nd in a $1,500 no-limit hold’em). It wasn’t all run bad, as he said he scaled back his tournament play post-Black Friday. However, he said that he is re-focused and ready to do some damage in bracelet events this year.

“I took some time away from poker after Black Friday to focus on Magic: the Gathering, where I’ve now been ranked one of the top players in the world for many years,” Froehlich told Card Player. “This year, I was inducted into the Magic: the Gathering Hall of Fame, reaching the pinnacle of that game. I’m recently engaged and been diving back head first into poker. I’m not looking to play a monster slate this year, as I have in the past, but playing [roughly] 15 events that I feel have the highest equity to try to spike something big.”