We’re now well into our 2017 World Series of Poker predictions pieces here at PocketFives. We’ve talked about our most highly anticipated events, how field sizes are going to be this year, which of the elite players will have the best summer and now we want to talk about which player gets the first bracelet of their career sometime in the next seven weeks.
Lance Bradley – President and Editor in Chief, PocketFives
Look, it’s kind of ridiculous at this point that Ari Engel doesn’t have a WSOP bracelet yet. He’s won eight WSOP Circuit rings, the Aussie Millions Main Event was long time #1-ranked player on PocketFives. Through all of that, WSOP success has eluded him.
In the 12 years that Engel has been playing the WSOP, he’s cashed just 28 times. Only one of those cashes was a final table, a 10th place finish in a $1,500 Limit Hold’em shootout in 2011. He comes into the 2017 WSOP having made nine final tables already in 2017, including his fifth place finish at partypokerLIVE Million in Montreal in early May. He’s also indicated he plans to play the $111,111 One Drop High Roller so we may see some new things from Engel this summer.
Engel is known for hunting value wherever he can get it, and while a number of other Las Vegas poker rooms have juicy offerings for Engel to take advantage of, I still think this is the year he finds himself getting rid of that goose egg next to his WSOP bracelet count.
Kevin Mathers – Community Manager, PocketFives
My prediction of a first-time bracelet winner is Daniel Weinman. So far this year, Weinman followed up a WPT win at Borgata for almost $900,000 in February, by adding the WPT Tournament of Champions trophy. Weinman cashed eight times at the WSOP last year, making a final table in a razz tournament. A boost of confidence will likely spur him to play a full schedule as he rides his recent wave of success.
Matt Clark – Writer, PocketFives
I’m going to cheat and pick three players here. Starting off, it’s about time Dan Smith notched his first WSOP triumph. In 2015 and 2016 alone, Smith has four top-three finishes in events with a $10,000 buy-in or higher, including a second place finish in last year’s One Drop. He’s one of the best players in the world for a reason and sooner or later, Smith will earn his first bracelet.
Instead of going with one dark horse, I’m going with two. The Meacham brothers, comprised of Jeremy and Wade (better known on Hendon Mob as Henry) have crushed No Limit fields in 2017. In March alone, Jeremy won a WPTDS Main Event title in Jacksonville and Wade followed that up with a win in a crowd of 3,100 at Seminole Hard Rock. Combined, the pair has over $520,000 in earnings in 2017 and it would come as no surprise to see the best-kept secret in poker make a mark on the WSOP.
Steve Schult – Writer, PocketFives
Many of you may not know who Billy O’Neil is, especially since this site is geared towards online poker. O’Neil makes his living in high-stakes live cash games, but all the signs point to a breakout summer for him in 2017.
One of the biggest factors I look for when picking a bracelet winner is the ability to play other games besides No Limit Hold’em. O’Neil can play all the games and play them well.
Last year, the Maryland native finished second in the $10,000 Dealers Choice Championship event and he just narrowly missed a second final table in the $10,000 No Limit 2-7 Single Draw Championship. He also notched a cash in the $1,500 Mixed Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo/Big O event.
O’Neil made a name for himself playing in the biggest games at the Borgata. He is used to the high-stakes environment and isn’t flustered by playing with some of poker’s more recognizable faces. After a couple near misses in 2016, 2017 is when O’Neil breaks through for his first WSOP win.
Jack Stanton – Writer, PocketFives
I’m going to say that 2017 is the year that Stephen ‘stevie444’ Chidwick takes down his first WSOP event and wins his first gold bracelet. While a NLHE crusher of the highest proportions, Chidwick is also a well-rounded player who enjoyed several deep runs in non-hold’em events at the 2016 WSOP. Having taken down his first flagship event earlier this year (a high roller at the PokerStars Championship Panama), I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see Chidwick in the winner’s circle.