2017 WSOP Predictions: Seidel, Hellmuth, Volpe, Negreanu & Mercier


How will poker’s elite do during the 2017 WSOP. We’re here to fill you in. (WPT photo)

With the 2017 World Series of Poker now just a few days away, PocketFives asked our writers to make some predictions about what to expect this summer. They took their best guesses at some of the field sizes and talked about which events they were excited about. Now we’ve asked them to take a look at some of the game’s elite will do this summer.

Lance Bradley – President and Editor in Chief, PocketFives

Erik Seidel

Ten years ago Erik Seidel won his eighth WSOP bracelet in the $5,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Championship event and the conversation immediately turned to how quickly he’d reach double digits. We’re still waiting. Since that day he’s made 11 WSOP final tables and came oh-so-close in 2013, finishing runner-up in the €2,200 No-Limit Hold’em at WSOP Europe.

Despite the lack of a ninth bracelet, he’s done just fine for himself during that time. He’s won over $25 million thanks largely to his success in some of the biggest buy-in events around the world. In recent years he’s played a lighter WSOP schedule than some of his colleagues, focusing largely on the bigger buy-in Championship events. He hasn’t said a thing yet about his 2017 schedule yet, but if he plans on playing regularly this year, he’s a threat to go deep in every event he plays and come away with another bracelet.

Last year he cashes six times but didn’t get too close to a final table. I think this might be the year that Seidel puts together a number of deep finishes, makes a top ten POY run and even grabs himself the ninth bracelet of his career.

Kevin Mathers – Community Manager, PocketFives

Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth is the greatest poker player in history, just ask him. What’s not in dispute is Hellmuth peaks for the WSOP, holding records for the most bracelets won (14) and cashes (119). However, the 2016 WSOP wasn’t the best year for the Poker Brat, cashing three times to earn $67,098.

While he’s likely to be sweating Golden State Warriors home games as they head to an NBA title, Hellmuth will be laser focused on adding more hardware to his collection when he makes a presence at the Rio. My prediction: Hellmuth will make 2 final tables, cash 9 times and earn $467,000, but will not win a bracelet in Las Vegas

Matt Clark – Writer, PocketFives

Paul Volpe

I think this is the year Paul Volpe launches himself into the national spotlight and wins WSOP Player of the Year. Volpe’s WSOP career in the last few years has been nothing short of brilliant with two bracelet wins and two second place finishes to his name since 2014. There’s not a single game that Volpe isn’t a favorite to do well in and his prowess in large fields is best exemplified by his multiple top-30 finishes in the Main Event this decade.

Volpe will be in the mix in nearly all $10,000 events and may make an appearance in One Drop. There’s a reason he’s in the conversation for best all-around player in the world and this year will further solidify that.

Steve Schult – Writer, PocketFives

Daniel Negreanu

I’m not really going out on a limb here. Daniel Negreanu set lofty goals for himself this summer. The six-time bracelet winner plans to add another three to his trophy case by the end of the series and cash for at least $1.5 million (this includes non-WSOP events).

A deep run in the Super High Roller Bowl, the High Roller for One Drop or any of the high roller events at the Aria just before the WSOP gets underway could easily give him a summer worth $1.5 million, but it’s the three bracelets that will elude him.

The one thing that Kid Poker has going for him is that he isn’t playing very many No Limit Hold’em events. His schedule is made up of 40 events, mostly mixed games that have smaller fields than the big bet games. But as we saw last summer with Jason Mercier, winning three bracelets isn’t easy.

If I’m going to predict specific numbers, I’ll predict Negreanu makes another deep run in High Roller for One Drop, cashes for $2.1 million and comes away with a bracelet in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event.
It’s a great summer by any standards, but Negreanu sets the bar high.

Jack Stanton – Writer, PocketFives

Jason Mercier

Coming into the Series as the reigning Player of the Year, Jason Mercier will (obviously) be looking to go back-to-back and retain that position in 2017. But a lot has changed for the Team PokerStars Pro since we saw him propose live on the WSOP stream last year.

After winning two bracelets, finishing second in another event, and notching up a string of other cashes, Mercier capped off his 2016 WSOP by asking his girlfriend and fellow pro poker player Natasha Barbour to marry him after she busted from a final table. She said yes, of course, and is now Natasha Mercier after the two got married towards the end of last year.

The Merciers are now expecting their first child, and Natasha will be around six months pregnant during the WSOP. This could mean that Mercier opts to play a far less rigorous schedule than he did in his POY run twelve months ago, as he attends to his wife’s needs and prepares for parenthood.

However, both were on the grind just a few weeks ago at the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo, so I’d still expect to see them a lot at the tables in Vegas. Mercier will no doubt be playing all the big buy-in PLO and mixed game events, as well as the larger No Limit tournaments; while I’m sure Natasha will be plying her trade in some of the larger field Hold’em events.

So how will he do? Well Mercier has shown great recent form with a win at the Seminole Hard Rock $25K High Roller in April (for $794K) and a High Roller final table in Monte Carlo ($85K). I’d be very surprised to see Mercier not make at least two final tables this year, particularly in events like the $10K 2-7 Draw Lowball, which he won last year.

Whether he wins a bracelet or not will all depend on his playing schedule, and that in turn will all depend on how many bracelet bets he decides to make. His bets last year – particularly against Vanessa Selbst – became one of the Summer’s biggest talking points.

Ahhhh screw it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Mercier will win his sixth bracelet in 2017.