On Tuesday, the eleventh running of the World Series of Poker Europe will kick off at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. The best poker players from across Europe will be in attendance and, it is fairly certain, a rather large contingent of U. S. players will make the trip “across the Pond” also. These professionals will be met by a cadre of amateurs who are looking to make their name in the poker world.
But just what should we be looking at for this year’s WSOP-E? These are the three things that should draw the most attention from the 10-event schedule.
Who Will Take the Player of the Year?
The WSOP Player of the Year race was hotly contested throughout the entirety of the summer in Las Vegas. However, by the close of the $10,000 Championship Event, one player had drawn clear of the others, something that went virtually unnoticed by many in the poker community. Depending on the actions of some of those players in contention, we may already know who will be crowned the overall champion.
While the Championship Event was going on at the Rio, Shaun Deeb was able to win his fourth WSOP bracelet in Event #74, the Big Blind Ante $10,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em Championship. Because the tournament was going on at the same time as the Championship Event, however, few noticed that the 1162.6 points that Deeb earned for winning the tournament catapulted him into first place with 4334.06 points overall. That single tournament allowed Deeb to leave Las Vegas with a nearly 600-point lead over the field.
Such players as Benjamin Yu (3746.04), Joe Cada (3531.86) and John Hennigan (3499.91) have a shot at catching Deeb, but it all becomes a moot point if Deeb heads to the Czech Republic and has even a modicum of success. Field sizes in the WSOP-E usually aren’t very large (when Chris Ferguson clinched his POY effort last year, he did it by winning a bracelet in a 92-player tournament), making it difficult for a player to pick up a sizeable number of points. One of these three men would have to probably win the €10,000 Main Event in Rozvadov if they were to catch or pass Deeb.
Will the “High Rollers” Still Dominate the Scene?
October 24 is a date that many deep pocketed pros have marked on their calendars. That is when the €25,000 High Roller tournament takes place. In 2017, the event brought in a stunning 113 entries and there is no reason not to expect that the players will come out once again. In last year’s event, Niall Farrell was able to defeat Benjamin Pollak in heads up play to take down the bracelet and the $871,986 first place prize.
But who will be there in 2018? You can certainly count on Farrell being there to defend his title and Pollak should be there also. There is a litany of “High Roller” pros that take part in these events, including the strong German contingent of Stefan Schillhabel, Steffen Sontheimer and (perhaps) Fedor Holz. France’s Sylvain Loosli is probably going to be in the mix along with countryman Antoine Saout. But the U. S. contingent is still very up in the air as few have stated their intentions.
Can an Amateur Win Again?
The WSOP-E Main Event has been the domain of the professional for the most part. From its inaugural champion in Annette Obrestad to players such as John Juanda, Phil Hellmuth, Adrian Mateos and Kevin MacPhee, professional players have won the Main Event. That was broken last year Marti Roca de Torres last year, when he was able to capture the championship and the €1.115 million first place prize. Since winning the tournament, Roca de Torres hasn’t cracked five figures in tournament earnings (nor had he previously).
Is there the chance that another amateur will emerge as the champion? There’s nothing saying that an amateur can’t pull it off, but the deck is stacked against them. The WSOP-E has become somewhat like the Las Vegas WSOP was in the years prior to Chris Moneymaker’s breakthrough – a gathering of professionals who come together for a poker festival. But that’s why poker fans watch such things as the WSOP Europe – to see the impossible happen. That “impossible” will have its potential for fulfillment beginning on Tuesday.