Dave ‘Lilddave’ Nicholson dissects the biggest poker stories: “Not only is the concept a great indication that poker at its core is still thriving, but over $5m was raised for charity; a truly terrific achievement!”

David ‘Lildave’ Nicholson looks back on a busy 2012 and picks out the big stories, some poker heroes and those that continue to push poker forward

2012, it was an interesting year. Barack Obama regained the US presidency (thank God!) Man City won the Premier League in one of the most dramatic last-day clinchers ever and we set records with our performance in the Olympics, but what about poker? Here’s my highlights for 2012!

Great for the Game!

Dusk Till Dawn Poker Club
For years Rob [Yong], Simon [Trumper] and the DTD team have shown a relentless (and sometimes unsupported) determination to invigorate UK poker. This year they stretched that ambition to the limit and offered monster guarantees on affordable tournaments, giving players a legit shot at life-changing money. I can’t thank them enough and we should all be behind them in 2013.

The Big One for One Drop
Guy Laliberté, billionaire poker enthusiast instigated a WSOP event with a $1 million buy-in with 11% of the prize pool going to the charity One Drop dedicated to providing clean water to third-world countries. Not only is the concept a great indication that poker at its core is still thriving, but over $5m was raised for charity; a truly terrific achievement!

Full Tilt Poker Returns
Not only have the rest of the world player balances been returned, but Full Tilt is back under the steady hand of PokerStars. It’s terrific in so many ways: over $100m released back into the poker community and the buzz of Full Tilt’s return has really perked a dreary online poker scene up. Well done PokerStars!

Who’s Done What!

Sam Trickett
Never out of the headlines for long, he cemented his place as the UK’s number one tournament player with second in the One Drop for just over $10m. If his place alongside the game’s top names was in any doubt in 2011, it certainly isn’t going into 2013.

Craig McCorkell
In what was a brutal summer for Team UK during this year’s WSOP, there was one saving moment and that came in Event 36 with Craig McCorkell taking the bracelet and $368,000 home. Alongside Sam’s $10m win these really were the only bright spots for Team UK after a stunning 2011. A deserved winner.

Phil Hellmuth
When you think 2012, there will be a few names that spring to mind. Antonio Esfandiari took the number one spot on the all-time money list, and Greg Merson had a summer you can only dream of. But 2012 belonged to Phil Hellmuth, who silnced his critics by taking down the WSOPE main event in Cannes with one of the most memorable final table performances in my memory and another $1.3m.

Top Stories!

Dave ‘Dubai’ Shallow wins WPT Dublin 
In a great story, and an under appreciated one in my opinion, Shallow, one of the most popular figures in UK poker took down WPT Dublin in January. I was in Dublin for that weekend and the atmosphere as Dubai took the title down was magic, just a month before the birth of his first child as well, great timing!

maratik freerollls $1m!
In the autumn, micro-stakes Russian player ‘maratik’ won a seat the $5,200 WCOOP main event and went onto win the whole thing for a little over $1m! It’s stories like this that makes poker one the most fulfilling and unique pastimes we have in the world.

The Brits in Vegas
A story soaking in controversy this one. The tradition among the Brits in Vegas of getting intoxicated and making a lot of noise at any final table featuring a UK player was met with disapproval from some figures in poker. Totally undeterred, us Brits continued to support each other in the way we’re infamous for, with the result being Sam Grafton’s public ejection from the Rio, plenty of heated Twitter confrontations and a host of hilarious social media banter from the British contingent! How are Team UK going to behave on final tables next year? Haha, I wonder?

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