Nostalgia, controversy and new faces at WSOP

World Series of Poker

World Series of PokerThe grand daddy of the world poker circuit is underway in Las Vegas. From now until July 19, the best the poker world has to offer plus a number of scantily clad models will be seen in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event in Sin City. That means plenty of gamblin’ drinkin’ and carryin’ on. If you have enough time, you could even grab a stripper from a lap-dancing club and make her your wife. For a fee of course.

Excuse us. We’re procrastinating. Poker’s what you ordered on the menu and that’s what you’ll get by the bucket-load. Whether it’s the controversy surrounding Black Friday, nostalgia or the best up-and-coming players, it’ll be there on a lavish plate at the Rio.

One of the main questions is whether certain players implicitly linked to Black Friday will turn up. Both Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, alleged to be involved in the formation of Full Tilt Poker, have been largely tight-lipped since the indictments of almost two months ago. It would be a surprise were they to show along with Team UB mainstays Joe Sebok and Prahlad Friedman. If those two make the trip, it might be a standing eight count rather than a chip count on the minds of many a player present.

Aside from this, many observers will be looking forward to the chance to watch some classic WSOP rematches. The first of these will be a re-run of the 2003 main event with Chris Moneymaker facing Sammy Farha in a best-two-of-three format. The room will then descent into a sepia tinged glow for a 1989 main event re-run of Johnny Chan vs Phil Hellmuth. The grey hair may have arrived and the word “snazzy” probably features strongly in the vocabulary. Poker playing nous won’t have left quite yet though. The third rematch, taking place later today, was chosen by the fans and again involved Chan. You can see the sulking, jealous faces right now. Erik Seidel is his opponent and they will replay arguably the greatest heads-up of all time. This all by the tournament’s third day. We’ll have run out of superlatives by the end of June at this rate!

ESPN has also identified those it thinks will be the ones to watch in this year’s proceedings. Seidel is one of those who are having a 2011 to remember and given the amount of six-figure finishes he’s already achieved, it’s little wonder. Vanessa Selbst is another that shouldn’t be underestimated and becoming the best female player in the world is the least that she should be commended for. She can mix it up with the best of them and could manage at least a bracelet. One of those making his debut should also be watched.

Dan “Jungleman” Cates has been a phenom in the online game over the past 18 months and has turned 21. That means partyin’, drinkin’…drinkin’, partyin’….why were we here again?! Oh yeah, and obviously he can now play poker in Vegas! Need to lay off that Absinthe. In addition Jason Mercier, Sam Trickett, Scott Seiver, Galen Hall and Vivek Rajkumar all deserve a mention.

Think of Glastonbury Music festival and imagine that it went on for almost two months. Add to this that you don’t have to camp in field and there’s reason in itself why this is the master.