The world of professional poker is full of interesting characters, baby-faced maths whizzes, gnarled veterans, clowns, bombshells, good guys and villains.
It doesn't surprise me that the popularity of televised poker continues to grow. When you're not worried about your own hand, a live tournament is great entertainment - sweeping highs, crushing lows and nail-biting tension at every turn. As with all great TV, though, the real entertainment comes down to the characters.
From players looking to make an entry onto the main stage to the stalwarts who have a lot to teach, the following are some of players to watch during this year's World Series of Poker.
THE INTERNET WONDERKID - TOM "DURR" DWAN
An absolute internet phenomenon, 22-year-old Dwan has been training in poker online since he was 17. His earnings from online games last year are rumoured to be close to $US5.5 million - a phenomenal result for the young player, but how will Durr handle the pressure of facing off against some of the best in the world face to face?
Watch him to: See if the internet wonderkid translate his online success live wins.
THE STEADY CHAMP - DANIEL "KID POKER" NEGREANU
Don't let his baby face fool you, Team PokerStars PRO Negreanu has been making waves at the World Series since his debut in 1997. Negreanu coaches some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Spiderman's Tobey Maguire, and has recently starred in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Katy Perry's new video clip. Not just a famous face, Negreanu is one of the game's great strategists, and has penned several books and articles on the science behind his play.
Watch him to: See a consistent strategist in action.
THE TEACHER - GRANT LEVY
Sydney teacher Grant Levy is one of the most likeable local guys on the international poker circuit. A virtual unknown until 2007, the western suburbs boy rocketed to prominence after beating out myself, Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker and 550 other players to pocket nearly $1m at a 2007 Asia Pacific Poker Tour. A good humoured guy at the table, Grant can always be counted on to place well in tournament and provide a bit of Aussie pride.
Watch him to: Cheer on the home side.
THE MATHEMETICIAN - MARK VOS
Another young Australian player to watch, Vos is a mathematician rather than a physical or psychological player. The former Mathematics Olympiads champion excels at the calculations behind the cards. Vos is fascinating to watch as he continues to improve his live game play, bringing his physical skills up to the standard of his mental gymnastics. Watch him to: Learn how to play the numbers.
THE TIGER WOODS OF POKER - PHIL IVEY
Phil Ivey is generally recognised as one of the best all-round poker players on the circuits. Well versed in all forms of poker, Ivey has already scored two bracelets this WSOP, making him the sixth-highest bracelet winner of all time. All eyes are now on the master to see whether he can score another and match his 2002 record-breaking haul of three WSOP bracelets.
Watch him to: See history in the making.
Until next week, Pass the Sugar! (Credit: Fairfax)
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