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Over the past 50 years, for many, the World Series of Poker has grown into more than just a poker series. It’s become a pilgrimage of sorts. Players from all over the world head to Las Vegas to take their shot at battling against the best, bringing home a bracelet and possibly be crowned a World Champion. With the WSOP regularly taking place in the U.S., it’s no surprise that American players, far and away, have amassed the most bracelets in WSOP history. It’s nearly 20 times that of the next nearest country. But this year is different and the tables have turned. After the month of July, the focus of the bracelet chase will be handed over to GGPoker where the rest of the world will have the edge on grabbing gold as American players continue to be shut out of the global online poker scene. On GGPoker, players from nations from around the world who wouldn’t otherwise make it to the Rio this summer will be looking to add to their own poker resume while contributing to the WSOP legacy of their country. Brazil It’s no secret Brazilians love their poker. They also love playing online. In the history of PocketFives, four Brazilian players have climbed to the #1 worldwide ranking. But when it comes to the World Series of Poker, Brazil isn’t even in the top 10 countries when it comes to taking down WSOP events. Through the end of 2019, six players have earned a bracelet including one of those former #1-ranked online players, Yuri Martins Dzivielevski. Dzivielevski grabbed his first WSOP win just last year after taking down the $2,500 Mixed Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi/Li 8 or Better event for over $213K. Dzivielevski, partypoker ambassador Joao Simeo, WSOP bracelet winner Andre Akkari, and GGPoker ambassador Felipe Ramos are just some of Brazil's top-flight talent that make it so it wouldn’t be unthinkable for Brazil’s total bracelet count to double in 2020. Canada The truth is, it’s been hard for Canada to compete for bracelets in the U.S. Not because of a lack of talent, there’s more than enough. But because of tax ramifications. When Canadians win at the WSOP they can lose as much as 30% to the US-Canada Tax Treaty, making it hard to be profitable in tournaments. That hasn’t stopped Canada from claiming the #2 spot with 60 total bracelets. Led by Daniel Negreanu and his six wins, Canada boasts numerous multi-time bracelet winners including Greg Mueller, Mark Radoja, Kristen Bicknell and 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel, the first and only Canadian to hold that title. There’s a good chance for Canada to add to their legacy and strengthen their bracelet count in 2020. It’s well known that Negreanu, also a GGPoker ambassador, is going to charging hard for a bracelet with over $500,000 in bracelet bets on the line. Also online crushers like Bicknell, bracelet winner Mike Leah, former #1-ranked PocketFiver Sebastian ‘p0cket00’ Sikorski, and recent PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker winner Mike Watson all have full reign to win without getting punished in the wallet simply for being great. United Kingdom Some of the most colorful characters to grace the World Series of Poker stage have come from the UK. Many of which have contributed to the country’s 51 bracelets. David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott, Luke Schwartz, Roland de Wolfe, Jake Cody, and Barny Boatman are just some of the legendary names that have posed for a WSOP winner’s photo and elevated the profile of poker in the UK. This year it will be a new crop of players who will lead the charge for England starting with the current #1 ranked online poker player in the world, Conor ‘1_conor_b_1’ Beresford. In fact, four of the top 20 online players in the world play from the UK including Patrick ‘pleno1’ Leonard and Tyler ‘Wonderboy222’ Goatcher. In the history of the UK, only seven players have earned multiple bracelets and if there’s one player who is a favorite to join that club it would be high roller savant Stephen Chidwick. Chidwick, who holds a bracelet of his own, is one of the most talented tournament players in both the live and online arena. Provided he has the time, he could even have a shot at catching Benny Glaser, who holds the UK’s record as a three-time bracelet winner. Russia Russia and France both have 22 bracelets, but when it comes to playing online Russia gets a definitive edge. It’s impossible to forget the impact that Russian players have had on the World Series of Poker from Ivan Demidov’s runner-up finish the original November Nine for over $5.8 million to Vitaly Lunkin taking down the 40th WSOP Anniversary event for his second gold bracelet. But while Russia is another talent-rich country, it takes a lot of effort to make it from Moscow to the middle of the Amazon Room. While Dennis ‘aDrENalin710’ Strebkov made the journey in 2019 and went home with a bracelet, many of the online crushers from Russia opt to grind online through the summer. It’s those players, like former #1-ranked ‘veeea’, who could break the tie with France this year and tack on to Russia’s total. That is unless Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier has anything to say about it. The truth is that for many countries, the series on GGPoker can really impact their gold bracelet standing. In China, there are four players who have won a bracelet. With GGPoker’s wide exposure to the Asian market, there’s a very good chance that that club will be adding some new members in 2020. There’s only one bracelet winner from Uruguay, Alex Komaromi, who won his at the WSOPE in 2015. Top-ranked players from Hungary, like ‘Wildace_hun’ have the chance to break a long-standing five-country tie of five bracelets. While none of these countries are going to make up much ground on the 1,1132 bracelets earned by Americans, the gold they take home this summer will be an important part of WSOP, and their countries, legacy in poker.
The first gold bracelet won every summer at the World Series of Poker is always a special one. For the winner, it’s an unbelievable thrill, a tone setter, a bankroll booster, and a stress reliever all at once. For the media and fans, it’s the first of many headline-grabbing triumphs. For other competitors, it represents that there is gold at the end of the long rainbow. All of those things are great, but does success beget further success? Here’s a look at how the first gold bracelet winner of the summer has performed throughout the rest of the WSOP. For this article, PocketFives examined the results of the first winner of an individual open gold bracelet event going back to 2004. This time period can be commonly referred to as the "modern poker era." 2004: James Vogl At the 2004 WSOP, James Vogl topped a field of 834 entries to win the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $400,000. Vogl would go on to cash twice more that summer, but the scores were much smaller than his victory. Vogl finished 27th in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $7,160 and 12th in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $12,660. 2005: Allen Cunningham Five-time gold bracelet winner Allen Cunningham was the winner of the first bracelet in 2005. Not only was his victory a big one, as Cunningham won the 2,305-entry $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $725,405, but it ignited quite the summer for the seasoned professional. After the opening win, Cunningham cashed four more times, and each of the additional cashes came in $5,000 buy-in events. First, he took fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em and fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha events for $89,865 and $141,245, respectively. Cunningham then placed 29th in the $5,000 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em for $8,490 and seventh in the $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo for $42,110. All told, Cunningham earned $281,710 after his opening win that summer. Cunningham’s performances were enough to win him the 2005 WSOP Player of the Year award. 2006: Brandon Cantu After Brandon Cantu won the opening $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $757,839, he didn’t cash for the rest of the 2006 WSOP. 2007: Steve Billirakis Like Cunningham, Steve Billirakis opened with a win and then earned four cashes afterwards. His opening win was worth $536,287 after Billirakis topped a field of 451 entries in the $5,000 Limit/No Limit Hold’em tournament. He then scored 45th-, 29th-, 16th-, and 33rd-place finishes in future events. Whereas Cunningham won nearly $300,000 in additional prize money, Billirakis’ four other cashes only totaled $57,458. That’s not bad, but it’s not nearly the year Cunningham had. 2008: Nenad Medic Nenad Medic opened the 2008 WSOP with a bang, scoring first place in the stacked $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament for $794,112. Medic only cashed once more that summer, taking 24th in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em for $16,496. 2009: Thang Luu Not only did Thang Luu kick off the 2009 WSOP by winning the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low tournament for his second gold bracelet, but he did so after winning the same event the previous year. In 2009, Luu’s win was worth $263,190. After this, Luu cashed just once for $8,983. 2010: Michael Mizrachi The year 2010 was a banner year for Michael Mizrachi at the WSOP. He opened things up in enormous fashion by winning the famed $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $1.559 million. Mizrachi then put together quite an impressive string of four more cashes and was challenging for the WSOP Player of the Year award that ultimately fell to Frank Kassela. Additional scores were had that year by Mizrachi when he took sixth in the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Championship for $68,949, eighth in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $49,732, and 26th in the $2,500 Mixed for $6,324. Mizrachi wasn’t done there, either. He reached the final table of the WSOP Main Event and scored fifth place for a whopping $2.332 million. 2011: Jake Cody After Jake Cody opened the 2011 WSOP by winning the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship for $851,192, he only cashed twice that summer and both were for less than $20,000. Cody did, however, place seventh in the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event for €150,000 ($200,379). 2012: Brent Hanks Brent Hanks won the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event to kick off the 2012 WSOP. That event drew 2,101 entries and Hanks scored $517,725. Hanks’ only other cash that summer at the WSOP was a 282nd-place finish in the WSOP Main Event for $38,453. 2013: Trevor Pope The opening to the 2013 summer was a big one for Trevor Pope, as he scored first place in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $553,906. Pope came to the final table with an incredibly large chip lead and rode it all the way to the winner’s circle. After that, Pope cooled off and only cashed two more times. He finished 48th in the $2,500 Four-Max No Limit Hold’em for $5,253 and 13th in the $5,000 Six-Max Pot Limit Hold’em for $19,646. 2014: Vanessa Selbst Vanessa Selbst scored a big victory to open the 2014 WSOP when she won the $25,000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold’em to the tune of $871,148. Following her opening win that summer, Selbst only cashed once more. Her second cash was a 38th-place finish in the $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo worth $5,517. 2015: Nick Petrangelo Nick Petrangelo had a great 2015. It was his first breakout year that saw him win more than $3.4 million on the live felt. Included in that was a $201,812 gold bracelet victory at the World Series of Poker. Petrangelo won the first piece of jewelry that summer by taking down the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout atop 308 entries. Despite his big year and first gold bracelet win, not much materialized for Petrangelo over the remaining WSOP events that year. In Las Vegas, he cashed in the $10,000 Main Event for $17,282, and then he took 26th in the €3,250 No Limit Hold’em event at WSOP Europe for €6,035 ($6,863). 2016: Kyle Julius Like Cunningham, Billirakis, and Mizrachi, Kyle Julius, winner of the first gold bracelet in the summer of 2016, cashed four additional times following his trip to victory lane. Julius opened the summer with a win in the $1,000 Top Up Turbo No Limit Hold’em for $142,972. He then record small cashes in the Colossus and $1,500 No Limit Hold’em before returning to a top-10 result in the $5,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em. In that event, Julius took ninth from a field of 524 entries and won $35,636. That summer, Julius would also take 21st in the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop to add $187,576 to his bankroll. 2017: Upeshka De Silva Upeshka De Silva stormed out of the gate in 2017 with a victory in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout for $229,923. He then put together four more cashes - just like Cunningham, Billirakis, Mizrachi, and Julius did in prior years - but De Silva couldn’t quite make it back to a WSOP final table that summer. He did place 30th in the 1,759-entry $2,620 Marathon tournament for $17,491, but that was De Silva’s deepest run outside of his opening gold bracelet win. 2018: Elio Fox In 2018, it was Elio Fox, winner of the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event, who took the first gold bracelet of the summer. Fox won the $10,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em event for $393,693. From there, Fox would put together a decent list of three more cashes. He took second in the $100,000 High Roller for $1.798 million, finished 92nd in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker for $8,976, and took ninth in the $50,000 High Roller for $139,699. $357,937 Won and 2.4 Cashes On Average Looking at the whole of it all, the first gold bracelet winners each summer, going back to 2004, averaged $357,937 won and 2.4 cashes that same summer following the gold bracelet win. None of these players were about to earn a second gold bracelet in that same summer, but some did come close by returning to a WSOP final table. Those to perform the latter were Cunningham in 2005, Mizrachi in 2010, Cody in 2011 if you count WSOP Europe, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018. Both Cunningham and Mizrachi made it back to three final tables following their opening win. In total, players to win the opening gold bracelet of the summer cashed 36 additional times at the WSOP that year, again that’s if you include WSOP Europe. Of those 36 cashes, six were worth more than six figures and two were in the seven figures. Three times a player landed a score for more than the gold bracelet win, too. Those three times came with Mizrachi in 2010, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018. What Does This Mean for Brian Green? The question now is, what does this all mean for Brian Green? He won the first gold bracelet at the 50th annual 2019 World Series of Poker when he topped a field of 204 entries in the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty event. Green won $345,669. Green now has 25 WSOP cashes. A few times, he put together a nice handful of in-the-money finishes during the summer, so we’ll likely see a fair amount of volume from him given his successful start to the 2019 WSOP. In 2014 and 2015, Green cashed five times each summer at the WSOP. In 2016, he cashed four times. Although he failed to record a WSOP cash in 2017, Green added four more trips to the money in 2018. He frequents the higher buy-in No Limit Hold’em events a lot, so if he makes any additional noise in 2019 it will likely come from one of those tournaments. If we were to take a guess as to how Green will do for the remainder of the 2019 WSOP, we’d say he’ll land three or four more cashes and that there’s a high probability one of those is a score in the six figures.
[caption width="640"] For the last seven weeks Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody has been giving fans a chance to get to know him better through his vlog (PokerStars photo)[/caption] When the PokerStars Championship Bahamas gets underway later this week you might see Jake Cody walking the hallways of the Atlantis Resort, talking to himself. While plenty of poker players walk away from a tournament muttering under their breath or yammering on to the poker gods about how a hand played out, Cody’s modus operandi is a little different. The 28 year old is doing it to share his story with a fast-growing audience through the vlog he started in late 2016. Each episode, posted on YouTube, runs between 10 and 20 minutes and is built around the Team PokerStars Pro taking viewers inside his life as a poker pro including tournament recaps, hand reviews and some of the fun stuff that happens on the road. “One day I just woke up and was like ‘Okay, I’m going to go buy a camera’. So I bought a camera, didn’t really know that much about it. I did study photography in college but that was quite a long time ago now,” said Cody, who says he spends a lot of time on YouTube watching all kinds of videos. “So I started just watching loads of training videos, and just different techniques about the whole thing; vlogging, editing, and using the camera.” “Basically for just two or three weeks I was pretty obsessed with it. I started practicing doing the vlog, then eventually I was like ‘Okay, this is going to be day one’ and that was the first one,” said Cody, who was inspired after finding fellow poker pro Andrew Neeme’s vlog one day. “It was really quite random. (Neeme) literally uploaded his first video four days before and so I got there real early, I was one of his first viewers. Obviously he’s had loads of success since, and I am just trying to do my own thing.” Over the last seven weeks of 2016 Cody released nine vlogs and the self-taught videographer-slash-editor-slash-writer admitted it’s been a process to not only learn how to do it all, but fit it into the busy schedule of a globetrotting poker pro. “For example in Prague, it took me so long to get that one out not only because there was stuff going on, but just playing in the tournaments and being at the event and trying to do all the editing at the same time was quite a lot,” said Cody. “I like to think I’m getting better at it. I’m mostly focused on the editing side of it at the moment. I’m constantly watching other people for inspiration and see what other people are doing to do my own take on them. But I do think I’m getting better, and hopefully I’ll be getting quicker so I’ll be able to get videos out quicker because I that’s the thing at the moment, I feel like I need to be uploading more.” The desire to produce more content is mainly driven by the response Cody has received to his venture into this new project. Friends, family, other poker players and poker fans on YouTube have all given plenty of love and support. Still, putting more of the personal parts of his life into his vlogs isn’t easy for Cody. The Triple Crown winner doesn’t fit the bill as one of those poker players who seeks the spotlight and media attention, but he does get recognize there is some real value in letting the world get to see more than just how he plays pocket jacks from under the gun. “I’m not really one for talking about feelings and stuff, but it does feel like a bit of self-therapy, even just talking to the camera with nobody there even if I’m not uploading it,” said Cody. “I actually found it easier to talk to the camera than I would to people, which might be weird but I guess it’s because you don’t feel like you’re being instantly judged and you can just delete it. But there’s quite a big difference to just actually putting it online when you know people are going to see it. Who knows what people are going to think?” The PokerStars Championship Bahamas will provide Cody with plenty of opportunities to showcase more than just the poker. The event, formerly known as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, has always been the first big tournament on the calendar each year, but it’s also at a world-class resort with lots of other activities going on. That’s a big part of what Cody, who is headed ot the Bahamas for he seventh straight year, likes about the event. “I have good memories of PCA because it’s the first trip where I ever saw some of the American pros who like, in my head, they were people i couldn’t even imagine being real. I’d only ever seen them on High Stakes Poker or World Series coverage,” said Cody. “I remember seeing Mike Matusow, he flew past me on a scooter, and I was completely star struck. So that was my first experience with the American pros.” Along with finding himself rubbing elbows and seeing flops with the players he admired from TV coverage, Cody also looks back at his early years at the PCA and sees a player and a person who is quite different from the one he is now. “My very first trip I actually didn’t play the Main Event. I was the plus one of my friend who won a package and i just came over to play side events. I was one of those young kids on my laptop in the lobby,” said Cody. “That very first year we were just so anti-social, we didn’t even see sunlight we just was there playing online poker and a few side events. We were completely obsessed.” From that obsession to over $4 million in lifetime earnings, a World Series of Poker bracelet, a European Poker Tour title and a World Poker Tour title, on top of the vlog and a spot on Team PokerStars, Cody fits the bill of a poker superstar, but he doesn’t see it that way at all, and that might just be what makes his vlogs so popular with poker fans. “It’s definitely hard to put it in your head and quantify that. Especially since sometimes on the vlog they’ll say ‘oh I followed you from your PKR days’ or back in the World Series in 2011 or the EPT in England,” said Cody. ”I guess you think you don’t think you have an impression on that much until people actually say it to you. It’s kind of nice, but a bit weird too. I don’t really see myself as famous really, but it’s nice when people say they want to see you do well.”