Welcome to my new weekly column. I’m excited to share the poker news and my views, as if we are sitting at a café and discussing the poker biz. I invite you to take a seat at my table and share a little aperitif.
Today, our table is located near the sea in Cannes,France, close to the Hotel Majestic Barrière. How could we resist taking a faux trip to the French Riviera to follow along with the World Series of Poker Europe? Now, as the waiter brings us some white wine and snacks, let me fill you in on the news of the week.
The WSOPE was the subject of many poker headlines. An interesting story emanating from Cannes should have focused on the registration numbers, all of which were significantly lower (20 to 45 percent!) in the six preliminary events and the Main Event, but the subject remained virtually untouched by the media.
The reason for the decline is pure speculation, but the 2011 events were rife with complaints of cheating and preferential treatment to French players, so it’s possible that some players boycotted the 2012 games. It is also a pricey series of tournaments, especially for those playing all or most of the events and then travelling west to San Remo for the European Poker Tour stop there. Accommodations and travel are also on the expensive side. We may have had answers if the pros in Cannes were asked of their missing friends, or if those stateside were asked about the reasons for not making the trip. As for the numbers, see for yourself:
Event 1: €2,500 NLHE 6-Max = 227 entries (360 entries in 2011)
Event 2: €1,000 NLHE = 626 entries (771 entries in 2011)
Event 3: €5,000 PLO = 97 entries (180 entries in 2011)
Event 4: €3,000 NLHE Shootout = 141 entries (258 entries in 2011)
Event 5: €10,000 NLHE Mixed Max = 96 entries (125 entries in 2011)
Event 6: €1,500 PLO 6-Max = 206 entries (339 entries in 2011)
Main Event: €10,000 NLHE = 420 entries (593 entries in 2011)
Let’s pause for a minute to give kudos to the winners. Imed Mahmoud took down Event 1, and a very familiar name stepped up to claim victory in Event 2 – the WSOP Big One for One Drop summer winner of $18.3 million, Antonio Esfandiari. The man has been on fire since his 2010 World Poker Tour win, making WPT and WSOP final tables, winning the Big One bracelet, and taking home a third WSOP bracelet at this WSOPE. Impressive, for sure. And no matter your view of Esfandiari, he tries to remain humble when he wins big. Modesty is something that not all WSOPE players possessed this year.
Before we get to that, congratulations should go to Roger Hairabedian for capturing the Event 3 win (and going on to finish third in Event 5), Giovanni Rosadoni for winning Event 4, and Francisco Santos for chalking up the first Portuguese WSOP bracelet win in Event 6.
We skipped Event 5, not because Jonathan Aguiar does not deserve congrats for his win. He does, and his emotional dedication of the win to his late grandpa via his Twitter account tugged at the heartstrings of every poker player who started the game by playing with a grandparent at the kitchen table for pennies or cookies.
But the story of that tournament became the second place finisher, Brandon Cantu. He was already known for his constant inability to smile or appear in a good mood, but the foul way he “accepted” the loss in the WSOPE event was embarrassing. One of his many complaints stemmed from the pause in the tournament.
The final heads-up match, one that Cantu was dominating, had to pause when the casino closed, and the agreement to resume at a convenient time for both players got under Cantu’s skin. Of course, he didn’t lodge his complaints until after he lost, but he claimed that Aguiar had too much time to ask friends for advice on Cantu’s play, which led to an unfair advantage. But Cantu did not stop there. His PokerNews post-game interview went on… and on… and on about how he was robbed of the WSOPE bracelet, that he gave one of the greatest heads-up performances ever in the history of the WSOP, and that Aguiar stole the bracelet from him. It’s much better if you watch the video:
And then there was the Main Event. The final table was exciting with the likes of Jason Mercier and Joseph Cheong in the mix, but it was Phil Hellmuth who stole the show. He went on to win the tournament. That’s big news! He won his 13th bracelet! In all seriousness, it was historic and impressive and everything that Hellmuth himself will explain it to be. Modesty is not one of his strong suits, but neither is tact or sportsmanship.
Hellmuth’s overall performance at the WSOPE was something that should be examined by a therapist. His outbursts at other players for their actions in the tournaments were more than excessive; they were downright rude and inappropriate. One example (one of many, mind you) happened at the Main Event final table when he got into a hand with Baranov. His irritability began when Baranov check-raised post-flop, and he “threw plaques” (described by a PokerNews reporter) as a call after the turn. After the river card, Hellmuth found out that his A-4 and pair of fours lost to the J-9 and pair of nines of Baranov. From PokerNews: “‘OH MY GOD IN HEAVEN!’ yelled Hellmuth. He bolted out of his chair. ‘What the f*ck!’ Hellmuth then fell straight to the ground and curled up into a ball, in utter disbelief that he lost the pot.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that was your WSOPE Main Event champion. While it is difficult to dispute Hellmuth’s skills, not to mention his tenacity, hard work, and dedication to poker, it is also tough to be over-the-moon happy for a man who acts like a six-year-old when he loses. He deserves credit for the win (for which he took home more than €1 million), obviously, but some of us cannot disregard or excuse the bloody awful behavior.
On a lighter note, the WSOPE held its first Majestic High Roller event with a €50,000 buy-in, and Mike Watson took that one down. On the other side of the world, in Panama, the PokerStars- sponsored Latin American Poker Tour there culminated in a win by Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez.
Those were the big happenings of the week. This was supposed to be a much shorter column, but Cantu and Hellmuth got my goat, as they used to say.
I bid you adieu until next week. Don’t worry about the tab for our wine and snacks. I’ll bill it to the next ungrateful poker winner I see in Cannes.
Video source: PokerNews.com