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Reviewing This Year's 25K Fantasy Teams

25K Fantasy

Friday night, the annual 25K Fantasy draft took place featuring 11 teams ponying up a $25,000 buy-in for a high-stakes fantasy poker league. Yours truly was involved drafting for Team Run it Up, and if you'd like to watch the entire draft, which was streamed on the PokerNews Twitch channel, you can do so by clicking here.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
BrunsonRobert Mizrachi$41$2,421,3103
 John Racener$40$7,526,8910
 Todd Brunson$31$1,592,6141
 Brian Hastings$30$1,761,2793
 Dan Weinman$27$812,9940
 Max Pescatori$24$2,278,5974
 Matt Glantz$4$2,674,7610
 Yuval Bronshtein$3$1,004,8650
 Totals $20,073,31111

Team Brunson filled out its roster with with a chunk of mid-price players instead of going with a stars-and-scrubs strategy. While this isn't necessarily a strategy I advocate for, unless you're making a mid-draft adjustment, it did allow them to score a bunch of well-rounded players with lots of World Series of Poker success.

Robert Mizrachi, Brian Hastings, and Max Pescatori are all well versed in all variants of poker and have multiple gold bracelets, so it'll be more a question of volume with this trio than anything. All sings point to Mizrachi and Pescatori putting in high volume over the summer, but Hastings feels like a question mark to me. If Hastings plays a lot, he's a solid pick at a price of $30, but if he doesn't then he'll certainly need to make those dollars count with some big splashes in the few events he plays.

Best Pick: John Racener at $40 is a great pick, and this price is likely a bit less than his actual value. He plays all the games, has proven WSOP success despite not having a bracelet, and will definitely put in a high volume.

Worst Pick: Yuval Bronshtein, although he only cost $3, would be someone I would stay away from. Most of my reasoning here would be because I feel like I could find much better value for players in the $1-3 range that I think will play a higher volume, specifically more of the bigger buy-in events.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
DanzerStephen Chidwick$108$1,561,3680
 Ben Yu$45$723,4751
 Adam Owen$22$153,2100
 Fedor Holz$14$651,8490
 Alex Luneau$5$161,8400
 Chris George$3$753,8500
 Tom Marchese$2$771,8670
 Alex Kravchenko$3$2,819,1401
 Totals $7,596,5992

We went toe to toe with George Danzer in a battle for Stephen Chidwick. If you're asking me, he's the top guy this year. I know he hasn't put up huge WSOP numbers, nor does he have a gold bracelet yet, but this is the year for Chidwick. Once we hit $95 and started going higher and higher, I was willing to go in the neighborhood of $125 to land Chidwick. Largely due to the point of the draft we were at and which big guns had already been selected.

Backing up his stud Chidwick with Ben Yu is a great play for Danzer. Yu might not be a stud in the eyes of many, but Danzer's draft strategy was certainly to land two big guns and then fill in the rest with high-quality mixed-game players.

Best Pick: Because the market makes it feel like Chidwick is overpriced, Yu is the best pick on this team. I know my PokerNews Podcast co-host Remko Rinkema would disagree with me for who is the best pick on the team (he thinks it's Alex Luneau), I can't argue with Yu at $45 when he's definitely one of the top 25 players drafted, plays all the games, and is playing a big volume.

Worst Pick: Alex Kravchenko shouldn't be on anyone's roster, let alone for $3.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
GorodinskyDzmitry Urbanovich$85$00
 Dan Kelly$46$2,548,8092
 Jesse Martin$30$1,584,3851
 Shawn Buchanan$25$2,491,4500
 Jon Turner$6$963,9650
 Jeff Lisandro$4$4,171,7606
 Michael Mizrachi$2$7,362,0333
 Chino Rheem$2$2,522,3890
 Totals $21,644,79112

Team Gorodinsky came out swinging for Dzmitry Urbanovich and ended up landing the Polish rising star for $85. The team also landed an equally solid player in Dan Kelly, but for almost half the price. That two-headed monster could really put up some big numbers for this squad.

Jesse Martin is always a solid pick, but the selection of Shawn Buchanan worries me a little. When I'm unaware of a players schedule or get some word he or she might be taking it easy during the summer, I tend to stay away from drafting them. If Buchanan plays a full schedule, the $25 is a steal. If he backs off and sticks to more high-stakes cash games, then I don't like the pick.

Best Pick: Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi at $2 is great value. The guy is going to play a ton of events and can rip of deep runs and final tables like very few others. Yes, Mizrachi plays a bit of a whacky, aggressive style, but he's a "go big or go home" pick you can't really argue with for this cheap.

Worst Pick: I'm equally turned off by Jeff Lisandro and Chino Rheem. I don't feel these two will be playing big schedules, especially Lisandro, so I would look to find value elsewhere.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
AlaeiJohn Monnette$80$1,525,1992
 James Obst$46$379,2230
 Brandon Shack-Harris$25$1,652,1201
 Erik Seidel$21$5,226,6058
 Eli Elezra$8$1,334,4933
 Mike Watson$5$1,150,4440
 Brian Tate$3$136,5620
 Jared Bleznick$1$831,6870
 Totals $12,236,33314

Not a fan of Team Alaei's draft strategy here. It's neither stars and scrubs, nor is it a bunch of mid-priced guys. John Monnette is certainly a star, but I wouldn't consider James Obst as another star. Sure, Obst is a top-quality player, but his volume is something to question making $46 a little too high.

The bottom half of Team Alaei's roster with Eli Elezra, Brian Tate, and Jared Bleznick is highly suspect. Volume would be a high concern for me here, and outside of Elezra there isn't much WSOP success to bank on.

Best Pick: Brandon Shack-Harris for $25 is an absolute steal. He's playing a huge schedule and is a great player. Plus, he had a down year in 2015 after his 2014 breakout, so he's a bit of a post-hype sleeper.

Worst Pick: Elezra has three gold bracelets and over $1.3 million in WSOP earnings, but I don't trust his playing style and volume to spend $8 on him. I'm also not a fan of the Tate selection. He's known as a high-stakes cash-game player, and all the juicy nosebleed games in Las Vegas during the summer could definitely lure him away from the Rio. That's no good for your fantasy squad.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
Turbo Run GoodPaul Volpe$86$1,312,3791
 Rep Porter$44$2,265,5222
 David "ODB" Baker$25$2,449,3401
 Bart Hanson$15$471,8140
 Naoya Kihara$11$645,2840
 Noah Bronstein$4$1,150,4440
 Adam Friedman$2$423,7241
 Dylan Linde$1$283,9890
 Totals $9,002,4965

Team Turbo Run Good got off to a great start by drafting Paul Volpe early in what might be the steal of the draft given the rest of the market, despite the $86 price tag. The rest of the team was filled in fairly well, and overall I'm a fan of this squad, minus two picks that I would have personally stayed away from.

Best Pick: Volpe at $86 is a steal, knowing that four players went for over $100 or more and Volpe is right in the conversation with those above him as best players available. Volpe is a juggernaut on the felt and will play anything and everything. Because he went so early in the draft, he went at a far cheaper price than those above him, and that's something that helped Team Turbo Run Good lock up a stud with plenty of dollars left over.

Worst Pick: Naoya Kihara and Noah Bronstein are two players I would choose to stay away from. Maybe I would take a $1 flier on them, but that's about it. Spending $15 between the two of them doesn't seem like the best value.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
CalvinGeorge Danzer$73$1,779,0723
 Marco Johnson$45$1,506,3921
 Benny Glaser$30$142,2051
 Alexey Makarov$11$132,8190
 Bryce Yockey$5$456,5300
 Connor Drinan$5$596,4840
 Viacheslav Zhukov$3$1,368,7191
 Ilya Krupin$1$106,3290
 Totals $6,088,5506

Team Calvin started off great by getting Danzer at what some consider the steal of the draft at $73. That's a great price for someone as good as he is at all of the games, plus will be playing a high volume. The Marco Johnson pick was also a quality one, but then I'm really not sure what Team Calvin was thinking with the remaining six spots on the roster.

Two players likely won't get it done, and maybe team captain Calvin Anderson has some inside information to the schedules of his other selections, but they all seem like reaches outside of Danzer and Johnson.

Best Pick: It's Danzer, easily. At $73, this is a steal for Danzer, and he should meet this value pretty easily over the course of the summer. Last year was an off year for the German mixed-game specialist, but look for a big rebound in 2016.

Worst Pick: Benny Glaser may have a WSOP gold bracelet, but spending $30 on him seems insane. Others that went for $30 were Jesse Martin and Brian Hastings, both with far greater WSOP success than Glaser. I'm not really sure how the price got this high on Glaser because that means at least two teams needed to want him badly.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
Run It UpMike Leah$80$1,410,7351
 Scott Clements$52$2,861,4992
 David Chiu$43$3,565,0395
 Phil Galfond$11$2,215,2502
 Roland Israelashvili$5$2,060,9780
 Jason Somerville$3$1,663,0421
 Allen Kessler$1$1,541,6700
 Maria Ho$1$1,199,1540
 Totals $16,517,36711

Well, this is my team, so hopefully I won't sound like too much of a homer. If I'm going to be honest, this is the least confident I've felt about my squad over the past couple of years of 25K Fantasy. We had to adjust from the straight two-stars-six-scrubs strategy when we realized getting Chidwick wasn't going to happen, and instead we went with one big guy then two slightly less. To fill out the roster, we went to our patented bargain basement for cheap high-volume players who have big upside.

Best Pick: Jason Somerville spent all of last year focusing on growing his Run It Up brand and doing the media side of things. This year he's playing a completely full schedule, including several $10,000 events. For his skill level and volume, you can't beat grabbing "JCarver" for $1, or at least we feel so.

Worst Pick: Allen Kessler for $1 scares the living heck out of me. He might cash a lot, but his upside is low and he's already complaining about the structure changes for this year that might cause him to skip some events. It's time for Kessler to put up or shut up and show us that he can break through at the WSOP by finally winning a gold bracelet.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
MercierJason Mercier$101$3,593,1143
 Calvin Anderson$50$592,9841
 Chris Klodnicki$21$5,887,9490
 Dan Zack$16$153,8410
 Randy Ohel$5$710,0691
 Jeff Madsen$3$2,829,5644
 Harley Thrower$3$119,2700
 Tom Koral$1$831,4840
 Totals $14,718,2759

Team Mercier grabbed the team captain, Jason Mercier, and it makes a ton of sense. Mercier has a ton of the line this summer with bracelet and performance bets, plus he's plays as big of a schedule as anyone out there. So why not put all your eggs in one basket? I like the move. I question a lot of the other picks, though.

Best Pick: Randy Ohel for $5 is a big plus on Team Mercier. The guy grinds as hard as anyone, plays all the games, and will put in a big schedule of big buy-in events where the points really matter.

Worst Pick: Dan Zack for $16 is another head-scratcher for me. He's a high-stakes cash-game players from the West Coast, but that doesn't always translate well to the WSOP. It's not something I would risk $16 on, that's for sure.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
GypsyMike Gorodinsky$50$2,221,9812
 Bryn Kenney$45$1,633,9091
 Anthony Zinno$41$2,038,4321
 Shaun Deeb$31$1,145,7091
 Matthew Ashton$22$2,606,6291
 Scott Seiver$9$3,385,5731
 Brandon Cantu$1$2,390,9002
 Konstantin Maslak$1$326,2231
 Totals $15,749,35610

Last year's second-place finisher, Team Gypsy, went with a similar strategy this year, even spreading out their money a little more than just dumping it all on one guy like they did last year with Scott Seiver at $73. They got Seiver again, but this time for only $9. A decent pick, bit we'll see if he's grinding tournaments or cash games this summer.

For as much success as Team Gypsy has had in 25K Fantasy, I can't help but think this year they really got crazy with some of the picks. In fact, everyone but one player on the team has volume questions that scare me.

Best Pick: Matthew Ashton at $22 is an absolute steal if he plays the volume we all think he is going to play. We were trying our hardest to get him on Team Run It Up, but unfortunately we ran out of money and Team Gypsy had $1 more. This is a great pick.

Worst Pick: Despite all of the success Anthony Zinno had at the WSOP last year, I just haven't seen enough volume from him in the big mixed games to be able to defend paying $41 for him. But, Team Gypsy did draft him last year for $1 and he went off for 288 points.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
FleyshmanPhil Hellmuth$100$13,536,37014
 Ismael Bojang$36$878,6130
 Justin Bonomo$32$2,573,8701
 Dan Smith$21$1,419,6500
 Jonathan Duhamel$5$14,476,3243
 Mohsin Charania$4$355,4590
 David Benyamine$1$2,168,1811
 Jason Koon$1$887,9520
 Totals $36,296,41919

On paper, Team Fleyshman has one of the best squads in the league. What I mean by that is that if you add up the averages for these players over the past several years, the sum is a very high number compared to the other teams drafted. But as we all know, the best thing on paper isn't always the best thing in real life, so we'll see how it plays out.

Best Pick: Ismael Bojang at $36 is immense value. Since 2012, Bojang has 26 WSOP cashes in Las Vegas and seven final tables. He's had a few big years and it's only going to get bigger when he wins his first bracelet or two in 2016.

Worst Pick: Not a fan of Mohsin Charania at $4. I might — might — take a $1 flier on him in a deeper draft, but I think he should go underrated in this one.

TeamPlayerPriceWSOP EarningsGold Bracelets
NegreanuDaniel Negreanu$105$15,353,6176
 Taylor Paur$18$1,130,7071
 Brock Parker$14$2,458,3623
 Nick Schulman$7$2,255,0972
 Eric Wasserson$5$302,2970
 Brian Rast$3$4,231,7112
 Georgios Sotiropoulos$1$292,0211
 Mark Gregorich$1$933,4650
 Totals $26,957,27715

Not really sure what Team Negreanu was doing here, leaving so much money on the table and only getting one guy about $18. Sure, Daniel Negreanu picking himself is a great pick, but when your next most expensive player is Taylor Paur at $18, something had to go wrong.

Brock Parker has done fairly well for Negreanu over the years, as have Eric Wasserson and Georgios Sotiropoulos.

Best Pick: Negreanu has had a bit of a Sin City drought for gold bracelets in recent years, but I like him a lot this year. The volume will be there, and we all know he's got the skills to pay the bills. When the next highest player on your roster is Paur for $18, the only "best pick" can be Negreanu for $105.

Worst Pick: Brian Rast for $3 seems like a wasted pick. He's a big-bet guy who is heavily attracted to cash games. I would anticipate a very small WSOP schedule from Rast and could see it being even smaller if he's drawn to the high stakes.

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  • Donnie Peters takes a look at the 2016 25K Fantasy league and its teams.

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