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Day 2A: Will a Pro Ever Win Again?

They're Falling Like Flies, But Some Are Still in Hunt

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The 2003 main event attracted 839 players. Only three years later 8,773 people came out to play in 2006. This explosion in popularity is frequently attributed to "The Moneymaker Effect." When unknown amateur Chris Moneymaker parlayed an online satellite victory into $2.5 million, thousands of other amateurs thought maybe they could duplicate his success. This brought an influx of participants, creating the poker boom. Since then each of the main event champions has been a relatively unknown amateur. The question that has been on many minds is if a pro will ever win the big one again? With 6,358 players this year, the established pros have a better chance of coming out on top on a purely statistical level than they did last year. They are still the minority, though, and with so many people to outlast, even the best player cannot hope to survive without some luck.

Some of the best in the game were eliminated on day 2A. Barry Greenstein, Patrik Antonius, Tony G, Mark Seif, Dan Harrington, Jeff Madsen, "Miami John" Cernuto, Tom McEvoy, Doug Kim, Paul Wasicka, and James Van Alstyne have all found themselves taking their last walk from the tables at this year's World Series of Poker.

Joe Sebok was another pro who found difficulty weathering the amateur obstacles of the championship event. Sebok came into the day shortstacked but was able to mount a number of small comebacks, even making it to above $80,000. He kept running into complications, however, twice playing big pots with pocket queens against opponents who held A-K. In one pot, Sebok's queens made a straight on a K-9-10-3-J board. In the other ,he was not so lucky. After complete blanks hit the flop and turn, Sebok was a strong favorite to eliminate his opponent. An ace hit the river, however, and Sebok was knocked back down once again. Eventually Sebok's struggle to get back to a point at which he could play comfortably came to an end with his elimination in the tenth level. He, like many other pros, will have to wait for next year for another go at the biggest prize in poker.

A number of pros are still in the running for the bracelet and the $8.25 million first-place prize. Huck Seed, who won the main event in 1995, ended the day with roughly $280,000 in chips. Cliff Josephy and Jared Hamby are two players with phenomenal online and live success, and both ended with around $250,000. Card Player's own Diego Cordovez closed out the night just short of $300,000. A number of other pros are alive, and as the field shrinks, the edge that the pros gain from skill advantage grows. The last pro to win the big one was Carlos Mortensen, who in 2001 overcame a final table dominated by big names: Phil Hellmuth, Phil Gordon, Mike Matusow ,and Dewey Tomko. Since then, the main event final table has made more big names than it has played host to.

 
 
 
 

Comments

hellmuthblows
almost 14 years ago

Obviously, the 'PROS' are highly overrated. They seem to struggle each year just to get past Day 1. Their complaints and insults about the younger and more aggressive players are sounding more like sour grapes as you watch them repeatedly get mowed down on their own questionable moves. The 'Pros' tend to get the benefit of the doubt on the same type of play that the 'amateurs' get called 'donks' for. Need an example: Take Chip Reese's recent play and last hand in this years' main event. He puts his tourney life on the line with nothing but a draw (a move he got away with in last years' HORSE event 3 times by sucking out on all 3). Amateurs pull that move and the 'PROS' have a blast second guessing the line of play. Chip Reese does it (repeatedly) and the same 'PROS' wouldn't dare open their mouths in fear of stepping on toes. Want more? How about Hellmuth blinding himself out in this years' main event? What was that all about? King Donkmuth should never, ever question others' line of play with moves like that. Clearly these guys are overhyped by the media and it shows consistently in the larger open events. That's why they love the HORSE tourney so much. 'MEMBERS ONLY' for the most part since the overwhelming majority of the younger players don't play all of those different games.

 
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bigvert
almost 14 years ago

Wow, very true.
If a pro sucks out it then people say he/she knows when to gamble. But if an amateur sucks out then they were just a donkey that got lucky.
But seriously, it's the way it has to be. The media, and poker for that matter, need there to be a separation between pros and amateurs. Otherwise the "poker boom" that we know of will cease to exist.

 
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vocal_e
almost 14 years ago

Its true that pros aren't perfect everytime and they're bound to make mistakes. And we're right to criticize them when they do so. But wow, of all the pros to use as an example as being overrated, Chip Reese and Phil Hellmuth wouldn't be at the top of my list. I could see how you have it in for Hellmuth, he is very immature at the table and he's easy to loathe when watching him on television. But Chip Reese??? Give me a break. Your examples of Chip Reese are ones that you have seen on television, or read about. If you have ever played with him (and clearly you have not) you'll understand why he is one of the greatest ALL AROUND poker players of all time. Oh and Hellmuth has 11 hold 'em bracelets, not bad for an overrated player.

 
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nopera
almost 14 years ago

THEY NEED TO MAKE A TOURNAMENT WHERE THE BUY IN IS LIKE 20,000, OR HAVE NO SATELLITES AND HAVE EVERY PARTICIPANT TO PONY UP THE CASH, THUS ELIMINATING THE AMATEUR TO WIN HIS/HER SEAT. USUALLY YOU SEE AMATEURS MAKING DONKEY CALLS BECAUSE THEY ONLY GOT IN ON A SATELLITE. LOSING $1000 IS EASIER TO SWALLOW THAN IT IS $10,000 OF YOUR OWN MONEY.

 
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thasmodious
almost 14 years ago

Wow, helmuthblows is an idiot. Look, donk, it's simple math, something with which you obviously aren't familiar. The group of quality pros remains low, while the large tournament fields are built by hundreds of amateurs. Whoever wins a large field tournament got very, very lucky to do so, winning most all of their races and likely sucking out well more than once. In 2001, the last WSOP won by a pro, and before the poker boom, there were 613 players. Even then, many amateurs played the event, but lets be generous and say they were all pros (and note that nearly every tournament pro plays the main event, unless the variance of life prevents them in some manner). The fields the last two years were over 8000 and 6000. Statistically speaking, you think the chances are that the lucky winner comes from the group of 600 pros or 6000 amateurs?

 
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Lodigiani
almost 14 years ago

With the huge number of people who play just for a chance of winning big money.....a professional player has more obstacles to win a tournament other then simply being a great card player. The mass number of people who get a seat from satellites (face reality. majority of online players have limited strategy and will chase anything to the river.) along with the huge increase of entrants who because they beat grandma and uncle joe at family xmas get together so now they "know" they are great poker players. Those who see a well known professional at their table and target them just to say..."see told you I was best." Eventho they only won a single hand against the pro. For a true professional poker player to win a tournament has far more obstacles then just being the best at the table at playing cards. Look at the average joes who have won the tournaments since the 'moneymaker craze' started. After their intial win....they barely make it to the money rounds. They get refered to as a 'pro' by the media and all because they won once. I repeat once. Last years winner...Gold. He's now refered to as a 'pro'. However, whats he really accomplished other then the miracle win at the WSOP last year. Not a whole lot. Played often. Won rarely. In the money seldom. That is the difference between the true professional poker player....the Brunsons, Nagraneau, Farha, Helmuths, Seeds......and the media professionals....Gold, Moneymakers. The consistent in the money and winning tournament after tournament. Versus the one time win and then once again just being one of the pack....cept the name is known.

 
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traprap
almost 14 years ago

This is why they have WPT and all the other television shows...The pros were not getting the face time on TV because of the popularity THEY THE PROS created for the game of Poker...

Get over it and shuffle up and deal...

 
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dgwozdz
almost 14 years ago

I'm sure a name pro will win again (I'd actually argue that Hachum was a pro when he won, he was playing on the circut in Austrailia in 2005).
I don't think people realize how difficult it is to win one of these things, Main Event or otherwise. This is why the pros are pros, they make their living at it.
Everyone thinks that they're going to be the next Moneymaker or Gold, get *&^#house lucky and become a millionaire. Well, it just doesn't work that way for most people.
I have the utmost admiration for these guys. Look at Hellmuth. The guy is absolutely sick. 2 bracelets in two years for 11 beating out fields of 1500+? Not to mention the multiple 2, 3 place finishes and cashes? I got news for you folks, that ain't all luck. And yes, he is an ass...a very rich ass but an ass nonetheless.
The problem I have with the poker industry is not who they're making out to be pros who actually play on the felt (read: Evelyn Ng..absolutely worthless) it's the love afair with the "on-line pros. These guys are hysterical. I'll take nine of these schmucks at my table 7 days a week and twice on Sunday. You want to know where the majority of bad play comes from? It's these guys...and unfortunately the majority of pros helped bring them into the game with there sponsorships. Take the good with the bad, I guess...

 
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flemingd
almost 14 years ago

why do people say that the past few champions are not pros? look at Gold's tournament record, available here on CardPlayer, before winning the main event last year. he has an extensive record of wins and cashes in mid-level tournaments going back almost 7 years. he is also a well-known player in the los angeles card clubs. ditto with hachem in australia. and raymer. All had considerable tournament experience and multiple wins and cashes prior to their main event wins. for sure, they are not "amateurs". they are experienced, well-seasoned players who happened to do something else in addition to playing poker. does this mean that they are undeserving of respect? that their game is somehow inferior to the "pros"? I have played for 20 years in the clubs in los angeles against many of the well-known TV "pros" that have been so annointed by the media; in tournaments and cash games. having help my own financially, and even winning a number of smaller tournaments filled with these same players, i believe that this article does a great disservice to the legions of experienced, accomplished, and decorated players who culminate a distinguished poker career, win "the big one", and the media spin it like they somehow got lucky in so doing. the players know who got game, and who doesn't.

 
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hellmuthblows
almost 14 years ago

Some of you took exception to me using Reese and Hellmuth as examples, but you're missing the point and you're in falling into the same trap. Not one of the post after mine defended the examples that I used. That is where the hype comes in to play. These guys are vulnerable and mistake prone just like many 'amateurs'. Are they better players? Sometimes they are and frankly, sometimes they aren't. Can the young guys compete with the 'illustrious pros'? No doubt. They've developed their own style of play (mostly aggression) that have the 'pros' scratching their heads and hurling insults at the same time. There in lies the hypocrisy. Hellmuth can belligerently chastise a fellow player at his table who held K J suited and sucked out a winning hand. In that tirade, Hellmuth repeatedly utters, "I always get in with the best hand". But he gets a free pass when unnecessarily goes 'all-in' with 8 10 unsuited- preflop to get knocked out of the tournament of champions. Can you imagine an amateur pulling that move? You can't have it both ways, gentlemen.

 
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traprap
almost 14 years ago

It does not matter if you are a pro or not...THE GAME IS PLAYED AS THE BEST 5 OF 7 CARDS RAKING THE POT....NOT THE 2 YOU HOLD PRE-FLOP...if someone has the balls to call a bet with 7-2 off suit against my pocket rockets....good for them for having the nuts...as a poker player we need to deal with it and GET YOUR MONEY IN RIGHT...

 
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heff627
almost 14 years ago

well said flemingd. some of the best players in the world are killing games across the world as unknowns. raymer is an example i can confirm. hes beat the hell out of their "big"tornys for five years now .it was no shock to me, or any foxwoods regs. when he had two great years at the rio. in short..... of course a pro will win the main event again.....U JUST MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF HIM, AND HE OR SHE HAS BEEN BEATING PEOPLE UP IN COGNITO FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE NORMAN CHAD HEARS OF HIM

 
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vocal_e
almost 14 years ago

hellmuthblows
I agreed with you that pros do make mistakes, and we're right to criticize their play, just as we're right to criticize the mistakes of amateurs. And there's merit to your "the PROS are highly overrated" comment. Because there are some perceived pros that are definitiely overrated. But you're climbing an uphill battle when you use two poker Hall of Famers, in Reese and Hellmuth, as your examples of being overrated pros. Trust me, I play with both. Your point is the 'hype that comes in to play', correct? With Hellmuth, you're right that the poker media hypes him up as one of the greatest poker players in the world. But what you don't understand is that the poker media also hypes him up as the attention hogging, immature crybaby that berates the players (amateurs and pros alike) whenever he loses a pot. Rightfully so in both instances. He's an 11 time bracelet (two bracelets in two years in the tournaments that garner the most amateurs, no limit) winner who's also a poker brat. That is why when poker is on television, Hellmuth is usually showcased. There's a reason why if Chan, Doyle, and Hellmuth were playing in the same tournament at the same time, Hellmuth would probably be at the featured table. He's a polarizing poker figure that (few) people root for, but more often than not, love to hate. And out of all the high profiled pros, Hellmuth definitely would NOT get "a free pass" for moving in and getting knocked out with 10-8 unsuited. EVERYONE would wait in line just to criticize him because of who he is (personality wise). But poker wise, make no mistake about it - just put Hellmuth or Reese in a room with an amateur for a year. Sure the amateur will win his fair share, and will even learn a thing or two. But I assure you, the two pros would come out way ahead in the end, if not break the amateur before then.

 
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hellmuthblows
almost 14 years ago

No doubt, that there are easier targets than Reese and Hellmuth. That's why I used them in my examples- because they are held in such high esteem as far as the quality of their play, but are still susceptible to same boneheaded play that amateurs get beat up for. But at the same time that every Poker website has articles devoted to the 'poor quality of play' at this years main event by the 'amateurs', Reese and Hellmuth (and other 'pros') are making high questionable moves of the same nature. The 'pros', in general, don't get second guessed very often, and almost never get chastised for their bonehead plays. How is it, that if I risk my tourney life(unnecessarily) on a draw, that my play is ridiculous, but Reese can do the same thing repeatedly, and not be called out for it. I know he's likeable and I'm aware of his record and reputation, but clearly it's a false double standard that people fall prey to. ESPN has an article on its poker page that ridicules the amateurs play at this years main event. To sum it up briefly, it knocks the amateurs for playing top pair like it's the 'nuts'. While it's true that SOME of the amateurs certainly overplay this hand, the 'pros' have been doing it quite often themselves. I've followed the play relatively close on the Poker News website, and it's been full of seasoned 'pros' overplaying the same type of hand. Double standard? I think so.

 
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