The 2016 World Series of Poker gets cards in the air on Wednesday, July 1. Over the next five days PocketFives presents the 2016 WSOP Preview highlighting everything you need as the poker world heads to their own version of Summer Camp.
With a record 69 bracelets on the line this year, the 2016 World Series of Poker could be one of the most grueling ever for players who play a busy schedule. That being said, there’s still going to be one or two or three players who rise to the occasion, find themselves on the heater of a lifetime and ride that to a bracelet (or two) and maybe even WSOP Player of the Year. We’ve picked out eight players that are worth watching this summer – some for their WSOP history, some for the promise they bring and some because we all hate them.
We’ll let you decide who is who.
Phil Hellmuth – 14 bracelets, $13,539,727 million in WSOP earnings
The legend doesn’t let anyone forget that he has the most WSOP bracelets in history (14) and he’s always a safe bet to win another. Hellmuth plays tournaments sparingly outside of the WSOP so he will play almost every event he can, including of some of the lower buy-in No Limit Hold’em events that most of his peers skip.
Phil Ivey – 10 bracelets, $6,447,630 million in WSOP earnings
With the proper motivation and mindset, Phil Ivey may be the most feared player on the WSOP felt. He’s the most likely candidate to pass Hellmuth’s career bracelet record, but seemingly without six-figure side action driving Ivey he might not even show up. Such was the case in 2015 when he only played the One Drop High Roller and the Main Event because the richest cash games in the world were not in Vegas. 2014 was the last year Ivey put in a full schedule and scored his tenth bracelet and four cashes.
Dzmitry Urbanovich – 0 bracelets, $0 in WSOP earnings
Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Jeff Lisandro, Ted Forrest and Puggy Pearson – the only players in WSOP history to win three bracelets in a single year. But none of them did it their first WSOP and none won $4.1 million at 20 years-old.
Dzmitry Urbanovich has $10,000 bet with 200-1 odds with Vanessa Selbst that he can do exactly that. Urbanovich is the first real 21 year-old rookie people have had their eyes on in many years, but the main difference is that he already is used to big stage in a live event with a couple of European Poker Tour wins and two runner-up finishes in Super High Roller events.
Ari Engel – 0 bracelets, $695,157 in WSOP earnings
Ari Engel hasn’t had a home in over two years, opting instead to live week-to-week travelling to different poker events. He’s won eight WSOP Circuit rings but he’s never won a bracelet despite 23 cashes in bracelet events. If Engel doesn’t win a bracelet soon, he may be remembered as this generation’s Tony Cousineau.
Mike Leah – 1 bracelet, $1,410,735 in WSOP earnings
Mike Leah’s WSOP resume is that of a grinders’ grinder. He has lived at the Rio the past couple summers in order to play the most events possible – sometimes three in a day. Though he only has one bracelet, he has 37 career cashes and cashed nine times in 2015 alone. He’s been a contender in multiple Player of the Year/Series titles, both live and online, can play all the games well and has the bankroll to play as many events as he can handle.
Howard Lederer – 2 bracelets, $1,617,227 in WSOP earnings
Perhaps the most hated person in poker, Howard Lederer is seemingly returning to WSOP action this summer. He has been seen here and there over the last couple years at poker events and rooms and recently released a public apology. If Lederer returns to play a number of events at the WSOP an incident-free summer seems highly unlikely.
Daniel Negreanu – 6 WSOP bracelets, $16,172,789 in WSOP earnings
The most recognizable poker player in the world and only two-time WSOP POY has said many times that he feels he should have more bracelets that he does. His most recent bracelet came during the 2013 WSOP Europe and he hasn’t won a bracelet in Las Vegas since 2008. Negreanu’s deep run in the 2015 Main Event has been eating at him for months and no one should be surprised if he takes home two bracelets this summer.
Fedor Holz – 0 WSOP bracelets, $651,849
The German Wunderkind debuted at the WSOP in 2015, cashed four times, finished 3rd in the $10,000 Six Max Championship and finished in 25th place in the Main Event. His big game experience from Europe places him in rare air with a couple other young German players.
Outside of the WSOP Holz won two big buy-in events – a High Roller in the Philippines and Alpha8 Bellagio – and final tabled two Super High Roller events at EPT Monte Carlo.