Not surprisingly, Phil Ivey has topped the list of poker pros fans would like to see at this year’s WSOP Tournament of Champions. For 20 players, votes determined their status in the tournament, with Ivey earning the most with 16,267, narrowly beating second-place finisher Daniel Negreanu, who got 16,239 votes.
Other poker superstars on the card include Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and Chris Ferguson. In all, nine of the 20 players who earned their trip to the freeroll have won the Main Event in the past, while seven others received slots in the event because of previous World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions wins or by qualifying in other events.
In order of votes received, the tentative field of 27 consists of Allen Cunningham, Johnny Chan, Scotty Nguyen, Barry Greenstein, John Juanda, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman, Huck Seed, Dan Harrington, T.J. Cloutier, Sammy Farha, Howard Lederer, Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem and Antonio Esfandiari. Winners of past Tournament of Champions – Annie Duke, Mike Matusow, Joe Cada, Barry Shulman and Mike Sexton – have all been awarded spots in the tournament, while poker pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier won a special sit-and-go for non-bracelet winners and 33-year-old Andrew Barton of the UK won a seat online.
“We’re very pleased with the response to this new format,” WSOP vice president Ty Stewart said. “The selections show that poker has a mass fan base that is knowledgeable about the history of the World Series of Poker.”
Split between multiple days, the Tournament of Champions will play out on June 28th and 29th until the final table is reached. Once that happens, players take a break until July 4th when the action starts again. A $1 million prize pool is up for grabs, with first place being awarded $500,000, second gets $250,000, third receives $100,000 and the next five players each receive $25,000. A two-hour ESPN special broadcast will cover this special WSOP event, which is slated to air on Tuesday, August 3rd, at 8:00 PM ET.
Meanwhile, proving poker players have feelings too, Aussie (originally Lithuanian) poker pro “Tony G” Guoga has packed up his bags and headed home because he didn’t receive an invitation to the nine player playoff for the final seat at the Tournament of Champions.
A disgruntled Tony G said: “I wasn’t asked, and I’ve played at all the high buy-in events, I’m very high-profile and good poker show material. The WSOP is being unfair with this decision and because of it I may just pass on the WSOP and the Main Event.”
Tony G has 14 career WSOP cashes for a total of nearly $430,000 and worldwide earnings of over $3 million. However, his leaving early might not just be because he feels snubbed by the WSOP but also because he’s been having a bout of bad luck. Tony G had been busting out a lot.
Before he left, Tony G was quoted as saying, “Busting is such an ugly thing…I have a bit of burnout going on and I’m running bad. Three different times in the 5K I was good pre-flop and ran into bad endings that killed me. I am no longer having fun, it’s time to do something else and that will be leaving for home.”
Good news, poker players – there’s still time to qualify for preliminary events or even the Main Event at the WSOP – and it you won’t be playing against Tony G! Sports Interaction has ongoing online WSOP qualifiers that will get you to Vegas where you can compete for millions.