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Bryn Kenney: The Perfect Mix Of Great Poker Play, Personality, And Gamble

Gavin Griffin Weighs In On Private High Roller Tournaments And The New Face Of Poker's Money List


Gavin GriffinIn a column earlier this summer, I wrote that I don’t like the trend of private games in a public casinos. Basically, I believe that players accepting the convenience, luxuries, and protections of playing in a casino should have to allow anyone into their game, provided there is an empty seat.

Recently there was an invitation-only poker tournament called the Triton Million – A Helping Hand for Charity, and the concept was something we haven’t seen before. Triton invited 27 wealthy business people, or recreational poker players, to participate in a £1,050,000 buy-in tournament, with £50,000 going to charity.

Additionally, those recreational players each had to invite one professional player to join the field as their guest. Potential pro guests were allowed to put their names on a list to be invited by any of the recs that didn’t have a pro already in mind. The benefit to the rec, was that he or she wouldn’t have to play at the same table as their invited guest until the final table. The recs also spent the majority of the first day facing off against only each other, while the pros were battling it out on the other side of the room.

At the risk of sounding like a bit of a hypocrite, I have absolutely no problems with this format. I’ll go over a reason or two why, but I don’t think that’s the most interesting thing to come out of this tournament so I’m going to be quick about it.

Triton Million Winner Aaron ZangThis tournament was organized by Triton, and unlike cash games in casinos, as far as I know, there’s no guarantee against private games in public casinos with regards to tournaments.

Nobody is calling the seniors event an issue because you have to be over 50, and there were very few complaints about holding a bracelet-winners-only event at the World Series of Poker. This invitation-only poker tournament is just like those, albeit with more arbitrary conditions.

The main criteria for being a pro in this event is being willing and able to play a £1,050,000 buy-in tournament, and selling action to the person that sponsored you at no markup (this is a presumption on my part, but I think a fairly strong one). The main criteria for being a rec is being willing to play a £1,050,000 buy-in tournament and being willing to make a several-hundred-thousand pound, extremely +EV (positive expected value) investment in a pro at the same time.

The bottom line is that I’m not concerned that this format will trickle down to smaller buy-ins, which is a concern with private games in public casinos. There’s no real incentive to impose limits on smaller buy-in tournaments.

Now, let’s get to the fun part of this story. Not too long ago, Matt Berkey and Daniel Negreanu were having a discussion on Twitter about the best way to grow the game of poker via televised events.

Their discussion boiled down to whether televised poker should feature the spectacular play of the so-called ‘boring’ top players, or whether big and boisterous personalities should get first billing.

The intersection in the Venn Diagram of those two conditions is Bryn Kenney. He has the most gamble of any of the consistent Super High Roller players, as evidenced by his attempt to drum up side action in the days leading up to the tournament.

He’s a colorful New Yorker who is always wearing an expensive watch and chain. He’s willing to talk it up at the table, make crazy bluffs and amazing calls, and has an ability to take the wins and losses in stride. He even offered Justin Bieber a million dollar freeroll to fight him.

He’s a stone-cold killer at the table. He challenged himself a few years ago to take over the top spot on the all-time live tournament money list, and he did it.

Everyone who plays the Super High Rollers has a high opinion of his play, and he’s been crushing at the highest stakes available since he was able to. Even though he’s only 32, he’s been in the high-stakes world online and live for as long as I can remember and he continues to show his excellence throughout.

Bryn KenneyI’m sure if this was an open tournament, the Triton Million would have been successful in a different way. There would have been more pros, and less recs. There might have even been a bigger prize pool. Unfortunately, if that were the case, we probably wouldn’t have gotten all that wonderful action from Bryn.

The tournament scene isn’t really in danger of being relegated to invitation-only tournaments like the live cash game scene is. You could run a few of these £1 million invitation tournaments per year and they would stay relegated to buy-ins that high.

But that’s not the news story here. The news is that Bryn Kenney has been invited to be the face of the poker world. And he’s eagerly accepted that invitation.