World Series of Poker: Which players are in it to win it?

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Jeffrey | Poker Strategy

Whether or not you follow professional poker, it has grown into an expansive field of tournaments, news coverage, how-to articles, books by famous professional players, and televised events. The World Series of Poker is universally recognized as the most reputable poker event out there. Here’s everything you need to know about the event itself and which players are most likely to win.

What is the Main Event?

As the name suggests, the World Series of Poker is a series that takes place in Las Vegas every year. Every winner receives a cash prize as well as a WSOP bracelet, which is now widely considered to be the highest honor that a poker player can receive.

The culmination of the series is a $10,000 no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament simply referred to as the “Main Event.” WSOP’s popularity has grown immensely, and with it, the number of events and participants. In fact, the Main Event alone has drawn thousands of participants yearly since 2004.
The final winner receives a multi-million dollar cash prize and a bracelet. Most importantly, the winner of the Main Event takes on the title of the World Champion of Poker.

In 2017, the 48th Annual World Series of Poker was held from May 30 to July 17 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino with 74 bracelet events. For the Main Event, the total number of entrants was no less than 7,221 poker players. Each player at the final table earned $1,000,000, with the winner, Scott Blumstein, walking away with a modest $8,150,000 prize and the title of poker’s world champion.

What about the World Series of Poker in 2018?

Although WSOP 2018 won’t begin until this summer, the world of poker is already gearing up for its 49th year. There will be 78 bracelet events, an increase from last year, and the Main Event will take place from July 2 to 14. There will be 13 events after the start of the Main Event, and the series will run from May 29 to July 17, 2018 in its entirety. The Main Event will be covered by ESPN and PokerGO.

Who’s going to win the Main Event in 2018?

In reality, it’s quite a difficult outcome to predict, even once the Main Event is well underway – Scott Blumstein, the 2017 champion was relatively unknown before he won the Main Event. When looking so far into the future and with so much time before the events even begin, it becomes an even tougher question to answer. However, let’s take a look at some of the possible contenders.

The hot shots

Kristen Bicknell
Currently the world’s number 1 female poker player, Kristen Bicknell defies many of the stereotypes that exist about professional poker players. Some are standoffish, temperamental, brooding, and stony-faced, with sunglasses and hoods up. Bicknell of course maintains an air of serious focus much of the time – it’s unlikely that she’d be able to play well without that ability, but she doesn’t hold back from moments of smiling and being warm either. She’s a strong yet calm player and committed to improving – she frequently travels all around world to play at different tournaments. Bicknell has said of the first time she played poker: “I fell in love with it instantly,” and her commitment may very well lead her to victory.

Daniel Negreanu
Professional poker player Daniel Negreanu just gets it. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Negreanu has six World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour championship titles. He learned to play poker at the age of 15 and dropped out of high school just before graduating to play poker. Negreanu is a well-liked player. Although playing poker well is often about getting into others’ heads to figure out their tendencies, you get the sense that Daniel Negreanu doesn’t even need to think about it. He guesses his opponents’ hole cards with consistently eerie accuracy, amazing spectators, commentators, and opponents. He’ll narrate his thoughts out loud, making guesses even when he knows he’ll lose the hand. Regardless of whether the outcome is in his favor or not, it’s likely that he’ll gleefully announce, “I’m reading good today, I’m feeling good!” and his predictions would be annoying if he weren’t so simultaneously precise and genuinely good-natured.

The underdogs

Phil Hellmuth
Fans might be surprised to see Phil Hellmuth listed as an underdog, but almost all of them would admit that he’s not exactly the guy everyone is rooting for. Perhaps one of the most notorious professional players out there, Hellmuth is almost just as recognized for his “dynamic” personality as he is for his poker skills. He throws tantrums and insults others when the game doesn’t go his way, and it makes him an easy target for his opponents and an easy player to hate for spectators. However, he’s still among the top ten best poker players in the world, and it’s never too late for a comeback.

Qui Nguyen
Originally from Vietnam, Qui Nguyen was an unlikely success story. He won the Main Event in 2016, earning just over 8 million dollars. Although he identified most strongly as a baccarat player until his win, he has a strong persona as a poker player, best described as a bold bluffer. He won against all the odds as a relatively inexperienced player who had typically played in low-stakes tournaments. Nguyen was an inspiration to many, renewing the belief that even if you weren’t a top ranked player, you still had the chance to win big.

Maurice Hawkins
Perhaps one of the lesser known names in professional poker, Maurice Hawkins is a tournament veteran. For a while, he was seen more as a trash talking opponent that one might say should put his money where his mouth is, rather than a highly skilled player. However, he’s had an impressive string of recent wins and strong plays. If he takes advantage of the momentum and continues to build on his success, he has a shot at becoming the champion, just like everybody else.

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