Just about two weeks ago, Aria poker room management was faced with a difficult decision. When registration opened for the 2017 PokerCentral Super High Roller Bowl, a total of 54 players put down a deposit to lock up their spot in the $300,000 buy-in event. Only problem was there were only 35 spots open to the public while the other 15 spots in the 50-player event were being held for invited players only.
Degens gonna degen, so the only solution was to hold a lottery, drawing 35 numbered balls out of a tumbler. Each number corresponded to one of the players who had paid the deposit. You can view the final list of 35 names here and you’ll notice it’s missing some of the bigger names in the game today.
In an effort to make make things easier on Aria’s Director of Poker Operations Sean McCormack we’ve compiled a list of ten names – five pros and five recreational players – that should be pat of the field when action kicks off May 28.
Daniel Negreanu – Poker’s all-time leading money winner was one of those players who paid their deposit and was ultimately left out of the group of 35. It just makes too much sense to get Negreanu into the event. First off, he’s a PokerCentral ambassador, but beyond that he makes for great TV and success in this event would help him get closer to crossing some of his 2017 goals off of his list.
Phil Ivey – The high stakes room at Aria – the host of the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl – is named Ivey’s Room after the ten-time WSOP bracelet winner, an honor bestowed on him when the Aria poker room first opened in 2009. Only problem is Ivey probably couldn’t find it without a map since he apparently hasn’t spent a lot of time inside the room. To many poker fans out there, Ivey is still the draw and having him in one of poker’s biggest buy-in events feels like a win for everybody.
Jason Koon – Another one of the players who lost out on the lottery, Jason Koon might be one of the hottest high stakes players on the planet right now. Since July 2016 he’s cashed ten times, with four of those being wins, for $4,544,781. In January he won the PokerStars Championship Bahamas Super High Roller for $1,650,300. While other players might not want him there, he’s certainly earned the invite with his play.
Phil Hellmuth – With four days of live TV coverage expected, it’s hard to imagine that Phil Hellmuth won’t find a way to get in front of the cameras. Sure, he can do the commentary like he does for the WSOP Main Event, but Hellmuth loves getting in with the best in the game and showing he can hang. He’s also a PokerCentral and Aria ambassador so it seems likely he’s getting an invite.
Mike McDonald – Sure, he’s taken his talents to Twitch lately and is dedicating some time to his PokerShares.com project, but Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald is still a threat on the high stakes tournament scene and has built himself quite the following over the past few years. Besides, who doesn’t want to tune into CBS Sports’ coverage of the Canadian guy just staring at everybody?
Kevin Hart – The recent PokerStars Championship Bahamas saw comedian Kevin Hart make his super high roller debut. Hart played the $100,000 SHR event, firing two bullets in the event. He made every table he played at a fun one and could be a star of the live broadcast should he find his way to a feature table.
Cary Katz – Locks are for doors and windows, but you can safely bet your net worth on Cary Katz getting one of the 15 reserved seats in the PokerCentral Super High Roller Bowl. Why so sure? Well, he’s the founder of PokerCentral and the Super High Roller Bowl is one of his proudest creations.
Bobby Baldwin – Sure, he’s a WSOP Main Event champion but even he’s ready and willing to admit that he’s not a professional anymore. Still, having Bobby Baldwin in the tournament would give it a level of prestige and allow the old guard to be represented by one of the best ever.
Dan Shak – Yes, he has a day job that he happens to be extremely successful at, but Dan Shak has also amassed $8.7 million in lifetime earnings at the poker table including a seventh place finish in last year’s Super High Roller Bowl. He’s a regular in the Aria high roller events and has proven on multiple occasions that he’s capable of hanging with the younger pros who regularly populate those events.
Bill Perkins – If you look at the group of extremely successful businessmen who have entered the world of high stakes tournament poker, none have had more fun that Bill Perkins – and it’s got nothing to do with winning. The hedge fund manager just loves playing poker and the bright lights of the SHRB would be a great place to showcase that.