The 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event kicks off tomorrow and plenty of money will be changing hands as punters and fans bet on their heroes to make it into the money in the biggest tournament of the year. Here Julian Rogers takes a look at some of the more safer bets you could make on "The Big Dance."
There will be no shortage of pros and amateurs chasing a life changing pay day, as well as money-spinning sponsorship deals, when the immortal words ‘shuffle up and deal’ are announced on Saturday to signal the start of the World Series of Poker Main Event. The $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament is expected to attract around 7,000 hopefuls, including several hundred Brits who have again made the annual pilgrimage to gambling’s mecca in the desert.
Defending champion Pius Heinz, a 350/1-shot with Sportingbet to retain his title, will return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino after last year pocketing $8.7 million and the coveted diamond-encrusted winner’s bracelet. Meanwhile, Bet365 make high stakes cash game specialist Phil Ivey the 40/1 favourite but Sportingbet are offering a more appealing 200/1 on the American. Ivey, who is revered in poker circles as one of the all time greats, has reached five final tables at this year’s WSOP alone and amassed $16.6 million in career live tournament winnings.
However, backing any player in the outright markets is always a fraught with danger due to the enormous field being habitually stuffed with tricky pros and gung-ho internet qualifiers. Also, some players simply don’t have the temperament to handle around eight days of gruelling poker just to reach the final table. Instead, there is value to be had on whether certain players will cash. Last year’s event attracted 6865 runners with the top 693 finishers making the money.
One in-form pro with the pedigree to go deep is Michael Mizrachi. ‘The Grinder’ finished fifth from 7,319 runners in the 2010 Main Event and has just outlasted an especially tough field of 108 entrants to take down the $50,000 buy-in Players Championship, scooping $1.4 million for his efforts. Brimming with confidence after this victory, Mizrachi is chalked up at 4/1 to cash in the Main Event.
Another player fully capable of cashing is 1989 world champion and Hold’em specialist Phil Hellmuth, who holds the record for WSOP bracelets (12). ‘Poker Brat’, whose ego is almost as big as his jewellery box, finished fourth for $2.6 million in the eye-watering $1 million buy-in One Drop tournament on Tuesday. He has also cashed five times at this year’s WSOP. Some players would struggle to motivate themselves for the Main Event after his latest score but Hellmuth is a fiercely competitive individual who despises losing. He is 4/1 to reach the money and 8/1 to be the highest finisher among previous Main Event winners.
Again this year, the tournament will pause when they reach the final table and reconvene for the ‘November Nine’, although it’s been shuffled to October to avoid clashing with the presidential election.
Michael Mizrachi to cash: 4/1 Sportingbet
Phil Hellmuth to cash: 4/1 Sportingbet
You can read more of Julian's musings on poker, technology, gaming and a whole lot more over on his personal blog.