World Series of Poker Main Event champions from the last ten years are usually a sure fire lay-bet for bookies looking to make a quick buck. Not since Carlos Mortensen in 2001 has anyone that has won the big bash even got a sniff of a second Main Event bracelet. Joe Cada, 2009’s winner may well have got a 2nd place so far this year but as you’ll find out, bringing some form into the Main Event isn’t always the best thing.
We’ll aim to get to the bottom of the burning questions that everyone has ahead of Saturday’s Main Event, such as: Why have we only ever had four consecutive winners with all but two of those winning there’s on the trot? Can the elder statesmen of the game pull off an upset and beat the young ‘uns? Will we see a Main Event repeat-winner ever again?
Is cashing or winning a bracelet in the same year a good indicator of upcoming success?
If you’re someone that simply looks at things in the short term then this would seem to be the case with the last three winners – Pius Heinz, Jonathan Duhamel, and Joe Cada – all cashing at least once. This is one of those factors that can at least in some part be put down to the fact the amount of events now is huge. There are more than 50 chances to cash before the Main Event and it would be more of a surprise if you hadn’t yet done so if in the final reckoning come October 28.
The second part of the question is another that is quite the non-event seeing as only two players since 1990 have won another bracelet as well as the Main Event in the same year. One of those was Chris Ferguson, who might never show his face at a live poker event again, and the other Dan Harrington.
Conclusion: Not massively but the momentum could help.
An experienced head this year?
The best thing about the WSOP Main Event is that a lot of the former champs come back to try and become a repeat champion – much like the late Stu Unger back in 1997. A list of participants hasn’t yet been released although you’d imagine that champions of decades past, such as Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, could all try and get a piece of the action. They’re all elder statesmen of the game and some of Hellmuth’s form in this year’s event has been nothing short of excellent. haven’t had a repeat winner since Unger and two of the last four winners have broken records for their youth.
Conclusion: Hellmuth is on form and has a good chance at becoming the first repeat winner in 15 years.
Is youth and a good online game a defining factor?
Looking back at the past four winners this would seem to be the case. Joe Cada, the youngest ever WSOP Main Event winner in 2009, had an excellent online game before he became a record breaker and honed it for the live circuit for some five years. The past four have had a long time to practice until they were 21 and it just shows the joy of online poker giving players the chance to polish their ‘a’ game before entering the Rio.
Conclusion: Until what age can you be defined as young? If the youth is going to be a factor then Heinz, Duhamel, or Cada have a chance.
How much of a factor is form in other tournaments?
Given that a number of the recent winners have been youthful and relative novices they haven’t come into the event in a rich vein of form. Last year’s winner, Pius Heinz, was a rare variance when he won an EPT title between the Main Event conluding in July and the final table in November.
If you look back at the players who’ve already repeated, three-time champion Johnny Moss won events in both the year’s that he repeated. Ungar, if you leave the 1997 win out of the equation, did the same when he won a second bracelet in 1981. It was same for Doyle Brunson in 1977 and Johnny Chan was the only one of the four to not win a bracelet in the year he repeated.
Conclusion: It all points to Phil Hellmuth having the best chance as he’s the only one in the field of the Main Event winners that has won a WSOP bracelet this year.
With his rich form heading into the Main Event, including a bracelet win and final tabling in the Big One for One Drop, could this be the year The Poker Brat gets his hands on a second Main Event bracelet? Maybe, just maybe.
Find more on WSOP and CalvinAyre.com’s Poker month coverage.