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The World Series of Poker’s $50,000 Poker Players Championship is heralded by many top-flight players in the poker world as the real championship event of the series. In order to lay claim to the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, a player not only needs to have an expert-level mastery of the entire mix of games, but also needs to face down the "best of the best" in terms of competition. In short, it takes a well-rounded, complete player in order to win. The truth is, making picks for the $50K is a tough task - especially this year. Everything needs to be considered from a player’s history in the event to the momentum they have when it gets started. Plus, it's hard to know if some of the top talents that normally would never miss the PPC will even show up (ex. Phil Ivey). So, taking all of that into consideration, we’re shooting our shot and dropping the latest edition of First-Round Picks with the names and ranks of the players we think are most likely to not only run deep in 2021 but hoist the trophy when the last chip has been collected. These players are first-rounders for the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. #1. Shaun Deeb Unlike the Super High Roller Bowl, where Michael Addamo was sun running headed into the event, there’s no clear top pick when it comes to the Poker Players Championship. The field attracts an absolutely elite field of players who are proficient in all the games. Honestly, an argument can be made for a multitude of grinders to be ranked #1. Here’s why it’s Shaun Deeb. In the past five years of the $50K Poker Players Championship, only one player has made the money three times - Shaun Deeb. In 2017 he finished in seventh place for $164,286, in 2018 a 10th place finish brought him $111,447, and then in 2019, he made the final table falling in fifth for $232,058. History shows Deeb loves to compete in the PPC and the PPC has loved him back. An undeniable master of mixed games, Deeb has proven time and time again that he knows how to close. He’s a four-time WSOP bracelet winner with more than $5 million in earnings at the series alone and each of his bracelets has come in different disciplines. Impressive, but that's not all he brings to the table. To back that up take a look at what he’s done online. He holds five PokerStars SCOOP titles, all in mixed games and, even more impressively eight World Championship of Online Poker titles, only two of which are in NLHE. In summary, Deeb is dangerous in any tournament against any opponent. The 2018 WSOP Player of the Year is off to a fast start in terms of cashes in 2021, with nine at the time of this writing (tied for third overall), including a final table in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud. If there’s one thing going against him it's that while he’s racking up scores, he’s not really breaking through into the deepest parts of the tournaments yet. It’s unlikely he’s even close to satisfied right now. His goal of earning the 2021 Player of the Year title is going to require some stronger second-half results and the PPC could do just the trick to get him back in the thick of things. #2. Michael Mizrachi It feels silly to not have Mizrachi, the only player to win this event three times, as the top pick…after all, like we just said, he’s won it THREE TIMES. But one has to wonder just how lucky can one guy be. He first took the PPC down in 2010, earning a massive $1,559,046 payday. He did it again just two years later for another $1.4 million. Finally, in 2018, Mizrachi completed the hat trick and earned his third spot on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy for more than $1.2 million. In addition, he also scored fourth place in the event in 2016 for another $380,942. He has a knack for owning this event and just last week he made an appearance at the 2021 series, finishing in 11th place in the Eight Game Mix. One should expect Mizrachi to find his way into this $50K and shouldn’t be surprised if he makes a deep run. But Mizrachi is also a high-risk, high-reward play because in addition to being one of the toughest players he’s also a blowtorch, and had been known to burn bright but flame out early. All eyes will be on the 3x champ to see what happens this year. #3. Brian Rast No matter how long Brian Rast is away from the poker tables, when he returns to them he’s as dangerous an opponent as you will find. A two-time winner of the PPC, Rast took it down in 2011 for $1,720,328 and then again in 2016 for $1,296,097. Rast also went deep in 2018 where he finished in 8th place for over $144,000. Additionally, he’s already found himself deep in a pair of Championship Events already. First, he finished in 15th place in the $10K Omaha 8 Championship for $18,750, and then just three days later, Rast nearly made the final table in the $10K Limit Hold’em Championship where he fell in 11th place for another $18,506. Add to that a cash in the NL 2-7 Lowball event and it feels like Rast is simply getting warm before making a big splash in the PPC. For Rast, the real question is - will he be in the field? The fact that he’s been playing in the series already is a good indication that he will, but with career earnings of more than $21 million (and we gotta assume a ton of BTC for as often as he tweets about it), perhaps he just wakes up and says “not today.” #4. Benny Glaser The UK’s young mixed game phenom Benny Glaser has all the makings of a PPC champion. The three-time WSOP bracelet winner almost exclusively plays non-NLHE variants with his WSOP wins coming in Omaha 8 and Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw. In addition, Glaser has come very close in a number of other WSOP mixed game events including a runner-up finish this year in the $25K H.O.R.S.E. bringing him a $341,274 payday. His WSOP resume reads of a player who excels at any game that involves any number of cards. The warning signs in picking a crusher like Glaser are that his last bracelet win was back in 2016, however his 2018 fifth-place finish in the PPC shows he’s more than capable of getting to the end. #5. Phil Hellmuth After capturing his record-extending 16th WSOP gold bracelet in Deuce to Seven Hellmuth declared that the $50K PPC title is what he wanted next. The truth is, in previous years Hellmuth wouldn’t be in the top 10 first-round picks, much less the top 5. But this is 2021 and The Poker Brat is on a mixed game sun run that no one could have predicted. You’ve already heard the stats: five final tables, all in mixed games, with a bracelet in hand. He’s off to the best start to a WSOP in his lengthy career and is currently sitting atop the Player of the Year race at the halfway point in the series. Sure, he has his doubters and they would be quick to point out that Hellmuth’s only cash in this event came back in 2011 (when he finished in 2nd place for more than $1 million) and that this field will be the elite of the elite. But isn’t that who he’s been playing in the series so far? So, it may be risky picking Hellmuth this high, but in 2021 it’s an even riskier proposition not to. #6. Dan Zack Dan Zack may be the savvy pick at number six. He’s another one of the crop of young crushers who consistently proves he has a mastery of all the games. He also hasn’t kept it a secret how much he’d love to win Player of the Year, for which he currently is sitting in 12th place. He's just one big score away from being in the thick of it. At the time of this writing, Zack leads all cashes in 2021 with 11 total, including a final table in the $1,500 Eight Game Mix and a (soft) final table bubble in the $10K Stud where he finished in 10th place. He won his first gold bracelet in 2019 in the $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw, but doesn’t have a history in the PPC. Expect that to change. #7. Daniel Negreanu There’s nothing Daniel Negreanu would love more than to win a bracelet and the trophy in this particular event. He’s stated it so many times that, along with the Player of the Year title, this is the tournament he consistently looks forward to the most. There’s no need to expand on the six-time WSOP bracelet winner’s resume except to note that in the past five years, Negreanu has made the money twice (including a final table in 2017) for a total of just under $400,000. The real reason “Kid Poker” is so high on this list is, in addition to his skill of course, is his momentum. He has plenty of it headed into this event. Negreanu has cashed ten times in the series (thus far) including a final table in the $3K H.O.R.S.E. and a final table bubble in the $25K H.O.R.S.E. The question will be if with everything he has going on being one of the game’s biggest ambassadors, can he let everything else fall to the wayside and zero in on what he really wants. If he’s feeling it, and he wants it - he’s a legit threat to win it all. #8. Anthony Zinno What a year it’s been already for Anthony Zinno who is currently the only two-time bracelet winner of the series. In back-to-back fashion, Zinno famously earned gold in the $10K Stud for $182,872 after being the subject of a classic Hellmuth rant. Then he came right back and took down $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. for another $160,636. In non-mixed game news, Zinno reminded people that’s he’s also a No Limit Hold’em crusher with a 12th place finish in the $50,000 High Roller for another $80,000, making it six cashes for the series. And if you hadn’t heard, Zinno created a club of which he’s the only member. With four WSOP bracelets and three World Poker Tour titles, he proved he’s one of the best in the game today and he heads into the PPC with a massive wave of momentum. Looking for action in the $50K PPC? Check out PocketFives Stakingwhere we will be selling pieces for Daniel Negreanu, Josh Arieh, Felipe Ramos, Matt Glantz, Daniel Weinman, and more. Sign up today and get in the action (many at no markup!) Sleeper Picks Julien Martini France’s mixed game master may be well-known for his runner-up finish at the PokerStars PSPC, but he’s also one of the more coveted players for WSOP $25K fantasy due to his ability to grind the entire schedule. While he’s off to a slow start at this year’s WSOP (3 cashes so far), don’t be surprised to see him turn it around in the PPC. David ‘ODB’ Baker Baker just got off a deep run in the $1,500 Razz where he finished in fifth place for $20,732. A two-time bracelet winner, one for a $2,500 8-Game Mix, Baker’s big question mark is if he’ll come out to play or prefer to sweat college or pro football with the tournament starting on the weekend. Ben Yu Three-time bracelet winner Ben Yu has been racking up cashes this year, with a total of 9 as of this writing. He finished in 7th place in the $25K H.O.R.S.E. for more than $75,000 and busted in 20th in the $5K Six-Max for another $21,838. He’s been making the money consistently, now it’s just time for him to break through and capture bracelet number four. The $50K Poker Players Championship gets underway on Sunday, October 31 and the final table will be played out live PokerGO on Friday, November 5.
Day 22 of the 2021 World Series of Poker was highlighted by the high-stakes rematch between two of poker’s elite talents. Michael Addamo and Justin Bonomo met at the final table of the $50K High Roller with Addamo to battle another major title, which ended with Addamo earning more than $1.1 million and claiming his third career gold bracelet. Additionally, the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha played down to a final table, with Josh Arieh taking the chip lead into the final five, the $10K H.O.R.S.E. wrapped packed with big names headed to Day 3, and another spat between The Poker Brat and Anthony Zinno took place in the $1,500 Razz. Addamo Wins $50K High Roller, 3rd Career Bracelet Michael Addamo faced off against Justin Bonomo at the end of Event #38 ($50,000 High Roller) marking the second time in less than a month that these two high-stakes heavyweights battled heads up for a major title. In the end, Addamo took out all four of his final table opponents including Chris Hunichen (5th for $266,031), Erik Seidel, who was playing for his 10th career gold bracelet (4th for $358,665), Gal Yifrach ($495,305), and Bonomo who finished as the runner up for a $700,228 payday. For a full recap of the final table: Michael Addamo Bests Bonomo To Win WSOP $50K High Roller for $1.1 Million, Third Career Gold Bracelet Event #38 $50,000 High Roller Final Table Results 1.Michael Addamo - $1,132,968 2. Justin Bonomo - $700,228 3. Gal Yifrach - $495,305 4. Erik Seidel - $358,665 5.Chris Hunichen - $266,031 Josh Arieh Leads $1,500 PLO Final Five Day 2 of Event #39 ($1,500 Pot Limit Omaha) started with just 58 returning players from the original field of 821 runners and a goal to play down to the final five. PocketFives own Josh Arieh started the day as the chip leader and battled atop the chip counts for the better part of the day. It was up and down for Arieh, but in the end, he ended the day with the chip lead and will be playing for his third WSOP bracelet and more than $204,000 up top. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1451445632888020992?s=20 Joining him at the final table is bracelet winner Tommy Le, Ivan Deyra, Robert Blair, and Gabriel Andrade. The final table also included Ashor Ochana who ended in 9th place for $15,842 and was followed to the rail by Charles Wilt (8th, $20,371) and Lior Abudi (7th, $26,603). When Nitesh Rawtani was felted in 6th place for $35,278, play ended for the day. Other notables to fall short of the final table included Christian Harder (27th, $5,740), 2021 WSOP bracelet winner Ryan Leng (25th, $5,740), Dan Zack (17th, $6,803), and Ari Engel who wrapped up in 15th place for $8,200. Maxx Coleman was the final table bubble, falling in 10th place for $12,715. Ben Yu was the first elimination of the day, finishing in 58th for $3,463, and was joined by Amnon Filippi (55th) and Tyler Cornell (53rd) on the rail in early action. Craig Varnell (39th) and Adam Hendrix (37th) were able to ladder a pay grade to $4,927. Event #35 Final Table Chip Counts 1. Josh Arieh - 6,330,000 2. Tommy Le - 5,300,000 3. Ivan Deyra - 5,110,000 4. Robert Blair - 2,450,000 5. Gabriel Andrade - 1,400,000 Kevin Gerhart, Benny Glaser Top $10K H.O.R.S.E. Day 2 Day 2 of the popular $10K H.O.R.S.E. brought back a total of 71 runners and nearly two-thirds of the field would have to be eliminated before the money started rolling in. By the end of the day just 16 remained with WSOP bracelet winner Kevin Gerhart holding a slim chip lead over three-time WSOP champ Benny Glaser headed into Day 3. Joining the pair in the top five are Chris Vitch, David Benyamine, and Marco Johnson. In fact, it’s a who’s who of mixed game mastery moving on to Day 3 including GGPoker ambassador and Poker Hall of Fame nominee Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Brandon Shack-Harris, Bryce Yockey, Jake Schwartz, and four-time bracelet holder Max Pescatori among them. The money bubble burst with just 23 players remaining which meant that Scott Seiver (22nd, $16,218), Nate Silver (21st, $16,218), former WSOP Player of the Year Mike Gorodinsky (20th, $16,218)m and newly minted bracelet winner Dylan Linde (19th, $17,738) were able to cash before hitting the rail before the end of the day. But not all of the big names in this event were able to find a bag including defending $10K H.O.R.S.E. champion Greg Mueller who was felted just outside of the money in 46th place and was joined by 2019 Player of the Year Robert Campbell, current #1-ranked Yuri Dzivielevski, Nick Schulman, and Shaun Deeb. Early eliminations included Brock Parker, Allen Kessler, and recent bracelet winners John Monnette and Adam Friedman, who just one day before completed one of the most difficult accomplishments in WSOP history by three-peating the $10K Dealers Choice. Event #40 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Top 5 Chip Counts Kevin Gerhart - 1,075,000 Benny Glaser - 1,045,000 Christopher Vitch - 945,000 David Benyamine - 710,000 Marco Johnson - 665,000 Nearly 900 Show Up For $2,500 Freezout A field of 896 runners on Day 1 of Event #41 ($2,500 Freezeout) played down to just 135 who will return on Day 2 with Lithuania Dominykas Mikolatitis holding the overnight chip lead having just touched 1 million in chips. Arthur Conan wrapped the day second in chips and was closely followed by Christoper Basile, Julian Milliard-Feral, and Spaniard Vicent Bosca Ramon. There are plenty of other notable names to have made Day 2 including Alan Sternberg, Sergi Reixach, Andre Akkari, Daniel Lazrus, Ali Imsirovic, Jeremy Ausmus, Sam Grafton, and Kevin Martin among them. All 135 of the remaining players have made the money with payouts starting as soon as the first player hits the rail on Day 2. Event #41 $2,500 NLHE Freezeout Top 5 Chip Counts 1. Dominykas Mikolatitis - 1,000,000 2. Arthur Conan - 787,000 3. Christopher Basile - 766,000 4. Julian Milliard-Feral - 742,000 5. Vicent Bosca Ramon - 711,000 David ‘ODB’ Baker, Frank Kassela In $1,500 Razz Top 5 How low can you go? That’s the name of the game in Event #42 ($1,500 Razz) as just 98 players from an original field of 311 remain after Day 1. Ariel Shefer will return with the chip lead on Friday but keeping it close is Todd Dakake who is second in chips, followed by David ‘ODB’ Baker, Steven Cage, and former WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kassela in fifth. Razz drew in plenty of big names including 16-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth who wanted to take the day off but couldn’t help but register “his best game.” In a scene we’ve seen before Hellmuth and four-time WSOP champ Anthony Zinno got wrapped up in a big hand with Zinno coming out on top, eliminating Hellmuth and Hellmuth giving his friend an earful. According to PokerNews, “That’s the worst ***ing play I’ve ever seen. I can tell you play Razz a lot,” Hellmuth said to Zinno who, once again, got the better of the Brat. While Hellmuth didn’t make Day 2, plenty of other notables return to battle for the bracelet. Among them include Bryan Micon, Perry Freidman, Julien Martini, the aforementioned Anthony Zinno, Yuri Dzivielevski, Robert Campbell, Ryan Reiss, Poker Hall of Fame nominee Ted Forrest, and Daniel Negreanu. Event #42 $1,500 Razz Top 5 Chip Counts Ariel Shefer - 254,000 Todd Drake - 231,500 David ‘ODB’ Baker - 205,000 Steven Cage - 197,000 Frank Kassela - 181,000
The 2021 World Series of Poker is just a week away, and it promises to be unlike any WSOP we’ve ever seen before. For the first time, the series will be held in the fall instead of the summer, and with the WSOP requiring proof of vaccinations to play, it is truly a mystery how big or small this unique series will be. One person who plans to be there for at least part of the series is recent Las Vegas resident, David “ODB” Baker. The two-time bracelet winner enjoyed some big success in football betting last year, winning the Westgate Super Contest, and finishing tied for second in the Circa Sports Millions contest. His team earned nearly $800,000, but according to Baker, it wasn’t one of the reasons for the recent move. “My wife Nicole and I had been living in Tucson, AZ because her daughter was in high school and we couldn’t move. She is now at college and we were free to move anywhere. We chose Vegas over LA due to the traffic and extremely high cost of living and taxes. We wanted to live somewhere where we could easily access poker but we have more close friends in Vegas so the decision really was an easy one. We're very happy here so far,” Baker explained. COVID-19 protocols have been changing everywhere throughout the last few months, and Las Vegas is no different. Live poker has been booming in Las Vegas all summer long, and as a result, Baker originally thought the WSOP would be historically big. However, as the start of the series approaches, Baker is not as optimistic now. “I was very optimistic at a big WSOP a few months ago when restrictions were lowered and the cases were declining. With the increased COVID protocols in Vegas, I’m less optimistic but also hopeful. It wouldn’t surprise me if the series really was a big success but also wouldn’t surprise me if it kinda flopped. I don’t think we can know what to expect still, even a week out,” said Baker. Baker did have some thoughts on the vaccine mandate, and also voiced his support for masks not being mandatory, as he would be far less likely to play the tournaments if he was required to wear one. “It’s time for our country to take care of each other. In order to move forward with some sense of normalcy, we need to eradicate the virus the best way we can. The vaccine is proven to slow down the spread and almost eliminate deaths from COVID. I’m glad as a society, and at the WSOP, we are starting to move towards a vaccine-only requirement. “You have the freedom to not get it but then we have the freedom to shun you for your decision," Baker continued. "As for masks, I couldn’t play a whole or even partial schedule with a full mask mandate. I may wear it if I feel people around me look at all sick but I will be without a mask as much as possible.” COVID regulations aren’t the only thing that makes this series unique. College and NFL football dominate the Las Vegas sportsbooks during the fall, and for the first time, the WSOP will have that competition on the weekends. Baker is one of several big NFL bettors who will be at the World Series of Poker and says that while he doesn’t think football will have a big factor for most of the series, it will certainly be a factor for him. “I don’t think the season of football will have a big impact on turnout. The other factors are bigger. It will impact my schedule somewhat. I won’t be playing Saturday events unless it’s a can’t-miss event. I definitely won’t play early Sunday events. May late reg the Sunday afternoon event if it is something I really want to play,” said Baker. The last few years, Baker and his wife have run a popular fantasy league tied to the prices set in the $25,000 Daniel Negreanu Fantasy league. However, with that league not running this year, Baker has decided that he, too, will not run his league. Given all the uncertainty, he is simply looking forward to focusing on poker this series. “As of now I am planning on playing but I won’t have side bets like normal. I think there are just too many unanswered questions as to how it will be run. If they have someone sanitizing the empty seats when people bust and they have the kiosk registration and things then I am more likely to play. If they aren’t doing things to better protect us and I’m not having fun I will play [fewer tournaments] and just play cash," he said. "I’m excited, yet not the same way I have in the past. Just been a weird couple of years. I will be there for the 25k H.O.R.S.E. and see where we go from there.”