The Final WSOP Final
Nov. 19, 2011, Posted by Jeff.Kimber
After four months in hiatus and having bested close to 7000 players, Pius Heinz is now $8.7million richer and the new poker champion of the world.
In a final table stacked with the quality of WSOP player of the year Ben Lamb, high stakes online tournament veteran Phil Collins and Ireland’s own high stakes cash player and son of a legend Eoghan O’Dea, it was chess master Martin Staszko who pushed online phenom Heinz closest.
This was one of the finest main event final tables in history, with quality players making quality plays. But make the most of it, because it’s unlikely we’ll see such a tournament again.
Ahead of this year’s WSOP, all the talk was of Black Friday and the effect it would have on the runners in each tournament, especially the main event.
When the preliminary events kicked off it became evident that the demise of the World Series had been exaggerated, and when the final number for the main event was confirmed at 6865, the 2011 WSOP was a confirmed success.
This year’s series started less than two months after Black Friday, though, and was somewhat of a ‘last hurrah’ for many midstakes grinders. Especially in the USA, where online poker is no longer a vocation, but also to a lesser extent players from all around the world will feel that the lack of Americans has ‘killed’ their usual game.
Add to that legislation in countries like France and Italy which prevent their players from entering an open market and the potential for further countries to go the same way (Spain and Greece for example), and the outlook for professional poker players is bleak.
A number of American high stakes MTT players have simply left the country, so you can still run into great players like Shaun Deeb and ImaLuckSac in the Sunday majors, their having relocated to Mexico and Canada respectively.
Taypaur is one of many who upped sticks to Cyprus to live with backer Chris Moorman, and Jymaster and Stammdog also moved north of the border.
At these levels the top players have the bankroll and lifestyle that allows you to set up life in a new country, but below these guys there’s a chasm.
Coupled with the fact that the games are undoubtedly getting tougher, with more good players capable of winning and less fish propping up the games, the legislation has been felt hardest at mid stakes.
The players who grinded for a living, who relied on rake back to beat the games, and those who were multi-tabling small stakes tournaments to try and get to the level of the buys mentioned above, they have found their poker careers hitting the buffers.
This year’s WSOP was their last big chance to make it as a pro, and they went into it with a view of blowing all their bankroll rules that they’d adhered to so strictly and afterwards moving back to the real world, be it completing studies or getting a ‘proper’ job.
The 2011 World Series of Poker was a fantastic poker festival, surprising in its popularity and a pleasure to be part of.
Pius Heinz’s victory in the main event was a fitting finale, the young German a deserving and exciting champion who will be a credit to poker throughout the year of his reign.
But it could be last of the huge World Series. Having plateaued over the past couple of years, I expect a dramatic reduction in numbers next year and therefore prize pools, and that to be the start of a trend for the foreseeable future.
Jeff Kimber is a 36-year-old Grosvenor Casino sponsored professional poker player who has amassed well over $1.5million in career earnings, having given up a successful career as a sports journalist to forge a career at the poker tables. He has won the World Heads-up championship and a UK Poker Tour main event, as well as major final tables in $5,000-plus buy-in events at WPT and Asian Poker Tour events, the Ladbrokes Poker Cruise and the Johnny Chan Invitational in the Caribbean. Jeff has made three WSOP final tables, all in PLO events, including a second place to JC Tran in 2009. While his live exploits have continued, Jeff is still a very successful online player under the nickname JaffaCake, uncluding winning iPoker’s ECOOP $1k PLO rebuy in December 2008 for close to $50k.