Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Checking in on the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions Voting

A little over two months ago, the World Series of Poker announced the return of the Tournament of Champions, this time fashioned as a kind of “all-star” event for which most of the entrants would be determined by fan balloting conducted via the WSOP website. (I wrote a post at the time discussing the earlier versions of the TOC, the first incarnation of which dates back to 1999.)

A lot of hype at the time regarding this event, a $1 million freeroll in which 27 will compete. The event will begin on June 27, with the final nine coming back on July 4 to play it out.

Five of the 27 will be the winners of the previous WSOP-sanctioned version of the TOC (2004-2006), Annie Duke, Mike Matusow, and Mike Sexton, joined by the 2009 WSOP Main Event champ Joe Cada and 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event champ Barry Shulman. Two more spots are going to go to “sponsor exemptions.” Back in April, it was announced one of those will be filled via by an online qualifier winning a seat via Harrah’s WSOP online site (on which U.S. players cannot play). Details on that here.

That leaves 20 spots to be determined by fan voting. All living WSOP bracelet holders are eligible.

Two months ago today -- on March 18 -- voting had been open for just three days. Here were the top 50 vote-getters on that day as listed in random order on the WSOP site:
Howard Lederer, Eli Elezra, Men Nyguen, Alexander Kravchenko, Jamie Gold, Dan Harrington, Erick Lindgren, Doyle Brunson, Prahlad Friedman, Erik Seidel, David Sklansky, Johnny Chan, Freddy Deeb, Tom McEvoy, David Benyamine, Jeffrey Lisandro, Jason Mercier, Antonio Esfandiari, Humberto Brenes, Annette Obrestad, John Juanda, Philip Galfond, Daniel Negreanu, Hoyt Corkins, Chris Ferguson, Alexandre Gomes, Layne Flack, Jennifer Harman, Joe Hachem, Daniel Alaei, Daniel Schreiber, Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Ted Forrest, Dario Minieri, Carlos Mortensen, Scotty Nguyen, Vitaly Lunkin, Chris Moneymaker, Amarillo Slim Preston, J.C. Tran, Sam Farha, T.J. Cloutier, Peter Eastgate, Kenny Tran, David Williams, Greg Raymer, Allen Cunningham, and Huck Seed.
About a month later (on April 16), the WSOP delivered a presser listing the current top 20 in alphabetical order. Here’s that list:
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, and Erik Seidel.
Unsurprisingly, all 20 of those names were among those listed in the top 50 back on March 18.

I checked back today -- May 18 -- exactly two months after I looked back in March, and here are those currently being listed as the top 50 vote-getters (again in random order):
Jason Mercier, Sam Farha, Chris Moneymaker, Doyle Brunson, Hoyt Corkins, Kenny Tran, Antonio Esfandiari, Howard Lederer, Peter Traply, Freddy Deeb, David Williams, Jennifer Harman, Peter Smurfit, Erik Seidel, Jeffrey Lisandro, Jennifer Tilly, Philip Galfond, Annette Obrestad, Alexander Kravchenko, Humberto Brenes, Joe Hachem, Billy Baxter, Carlos Mortensen, Phil Hellmuth, David Sklansky, Allen Cunningham, Chris Ferguson, Greg Raymer, Dario Minieri, Tom McEvoy, Daniel Negreanu, David Benyamine, Johnny Chan, J.C. Tran, Erick Lindgren, Barry Greenstein, Men Nguyen, Eli Elezra, Layne Flack, Peter Eastgate, Scotty Nguyen, T.J. Cloutier, Jamie Gold, Ted Forrest, Amarillo Slim Preston, Huck Seed, Vitaly Lunkin, Phil Ivey, Dan Harrington, and John Juanda.
Interestingly, the March 18 and May 18 lists are almost identical, with just four names having dropped out of the earlier list to be replaced by new ones today. Those who were there on March 18 but gone today are Prahlad Friedman, Alexandre Gomes, Daniel Alaei, and Daniel Schreiber. Those on the May 18 list who weren’t there before are Peter Traply, Peter Smurfit, Jennifer Tilly, and Billy Baxter.

I’d speculate that aside perhaps from Billy Baxter -- who may be moving up the list thanks to his name turning up on that first page of the ballot (with his seven WSOP bracelets noted) -- the top 40 or so were essentially settled within those first few days of voting and haven’t changed much since. And it is likely that of those 20 who were leading a month ago, probably 18 or 19 will be there at the end, if not all 20.

All of which is to say, while the TOC voting has attracted some interest, there ain’t been a lot of drama as far as the actual vote has gone. Not thus far, anyway. Voting remains open through June 15, 2010, and the WSOP could spice things up a little by sharing some more info during the days leading up to the closing of the ballot.

Seems doubtful, though, that we'll be witnessing any “June Surprise” as far as the WSOP TOC vote goes.

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Blogger BJ Nemeth said...

Billy Baxter's recent rise could also be attributed (at least partially) to his high-profile 5th-place finish at the WPT World Championship.

5/18/2010 6:14 PM  

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