Sunday, April 18, 2010

WSOP Releases Top 20 Tournament of Champions Vote-Getters

On Friday, World Series of Poker (WSOP) officials released the top 20 vote-getters for the 2010 Tournament of Champions, which will be played in an all-star game format. The list predictably features some of the top names in poker.

The top three bracelet winners in WSOP history would make their way to Las Vegas to play in the 2010 Tournament of Champions if voting closed today. Phil Hellmuth appears on the list of the top 20 vote-getters and leads the industry with 11 bracelets. Hellmuth has more than $6 million in career WSOP earnings, but has been shut out of the bracelet podium since 2007, when he took down a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em tournament for $637,000. Also appearing in the top 20 are Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, who hold 10 WSOP bracelets each, tied for the second most overall.

A total of $1 million will be up for grabs in the Tournament of Champions, which will see 27 players take to the felts on June 27th at the Rio. Five players have qualified automatically for the prestigious event, including Joe Cada and Barry Shulman, who won the 2009 WSOP Main Event and WSOP Europe Main Event, respectively. The three previous winners of the Tournament of Champions events also received automatic bids: Annie Duke (2004), Mike Matusow (2005), and Mike Sexton (2006). Two more spots in the 2010 version will be awarded to qualifiers, although WSOP officials have not announced how players can enter. The tournament will be carried on ESPN.

Only three WSOP Main Event champions since 2000 appear in the top 20 vote-getters: Chris Ferguson (2000), Greg Raymer (2004), and Joe Hachem (2005). Curiously absent is Chris Moneymaker, widely considered to be the man who ignited the modern poker boom after winning the $10,000 buy-in tournament in 2003. A total of 250,000 votes have been cast so far and fans of the game who have not yet weighed in can do so anytime before June 15th at Midnight ET.

Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment Vice President Ty Stewart, who was a recent guest on the sponsored poker news show “Poker2Nite,” commented in a press release, “The poker community has rallied behind this event and judging by the results thus far, hosting a tournament with a field such as this would be a tremendous event. Saying that, the voting is so tight and close and with two months of voting to go, we can see this list changing dramatically between now and June 15th.”

Only one woman appears in the top 20 vote-getters for the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions, Full Tilt Poker’s Jennifer Harman. She’s a two-time WSOP bracelet winner and one of the industry’s top ambassadors. Harman is fresh off holding her annual fundraiser benefiting the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and, along with Barry Greenstein, has long been associated with the world of charity.

Also lobbying hard, but not making the current top 20, is Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad, the 2007 WSOP Europe Main Event champion. Obrestad had been camped out in Las Vegas tuning up for the 2010 WSOP, which kicks off on May 28th. She also revealed that she may head to Monaco for the European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo Grand Final, but will enter the $25,000 World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship first. The WPT Championship kicks off on Sunday from the Bellagio.

Also noticeably absent from the list are the game’s “young guns,” who include Obrestad, Jason Mercier, Brandon Cantu, and Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin. Here are the top 20 vote getters for the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions as of Friday. WSOP officials posted the list in alphabetical order:

Doyle Brunson
Johnny Chan
T.J. Cloutier
Allen Cunningham
Antonio Esfandiari
Sam Farha
Chris Ferguson
Barry Greenstein
Joe Hachem
Jennifer Harman
Dan Harrington
Phil Hellmuth
Phil Ivey
John Juanda
Howard Lederer
Daniel Negreanu
Scotty Nguyen
Greg Raymer
Huck Seed
Erik Seidel

Voters can select up to 20 bracelet winners using an online ballot.

(Credit: Poker News Daily)

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