The Greatest Show on Earth

Bracelets, bust-ups and brilliant comebacks tell the story of the 2013 World Series of Poker…


It’s the biggest event of the summer – and this year’s World Series of Poker did not disappoint. Famous pros like Mike Matusow and Erick Lindgren rolled back the years to win bracelets, the Brits did us proud and participation in the WSOP was up a huge 27% on last year, showing that poker is just as popular as ever. Here are all the major stories from this year’s WSOP. Hold tight, there’s a lot of drama!
 Twitter war!
Cyber handbags were out at dawn during the Series as a full-scale bitchfest ensued on Twitter between David Vamplew and other UK pros including James Dempsey and John Eames. It all started when Vamplew made his second final table of the summer – allegedly the Scot (and others such as Andrew Teng) had rubbed many pros the wrong way by offering to convert currency for them out in Vegas, but with a 5% commission charge whacked on top. A number of players called Vamplew out and began to ‘anti-rail’ him online. It started to turn nasty with Vamplew accusing Dempsey of not paying his debts and UK players taking their respective sides. It was left to 
an unlikely peacekeeper – PokerPlayer columnist Lil’ Dave – to advise everyone that beefs like this shouldn’t be conducted in public. Of course Lil’ Dave is right – but where’s the fun in that?!
A second controversial scheme this summer was Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald starting up his ‘company’, the Bank of Timex. Selling percentages to other people in tourneys is commonplace and often players will add a mark-up – to reflect the edge they feel they have in a tournament and guarantee them some profit. However, McDonald thought players were charging too high a mark-up. So he started his own staking business, put up the prices he felt were more realistic, and started taking bets himself. It created a large backlash, with many angry that the Canadian was ruining the staking marketplace. Less than a week later McDonald closed the Bank of Timex after realising that operating what was essentially a sportsbook in a public forum may actually be illegal. Well, durrrr…

The big ones

Every tournament at the WSOP is prestigious and important but despite that there are some that stand out from the crowd. Here is what happened in the marquee events of 2013
Wizard Galfond falls short
Phil Galfond, one of the most popular and best players in the game, narrowly missed out on his second WSOP bracelet by finishing runner-up in the $25k Six Handed NLHE tourney. The online pro-heavy field is always one of the toughest of the summer and Galfond had a veritable who’s who of poker supporting him on the rail and via Twitter. They were left disappointed though when fellow high-stakes pro Steve Sung eventually came through, winning the $1.2 million prize and his second WSOP bracelet.
Sung gave a frank interview after, admitting, ‘I lost a lot of money playing blackjack…and mixing with drugs really messed me up.’ Now that he has an extra $1.2m to play with, let’s hope Sung stays out of the pit this time around and continues to show the poker world his undoubted skills.
$25,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em
  • 1 Steve Sung, USA $1,205,324
  • 2 Phil Galfond, USA $744,841
  • 3 Dani Stern, USA $509,473
  • 4 Stephen Chidwick, UK $353,780
  • 5 Max Lehmanski, Germany $249,291
  • 6 Richard Lyndaker, USA $178,261
Esfandiari nearly does the impossible
One year ago Antonio Esfandiari created history in winning the biggest poker tournament of all time – the Big One for One Drop – for a staggering $18 million. We’ve barely stopped talking about it since and yet, remarkably, it was Esfandiari again who had the chip lead with four players left in this year’s equivalent tournament.
Despite the buy-in being 10% of 2012, this was still the most expensive event of the summer and, with 166 entries, had a prizepool that dwarfed everything but the Main Event. 
It wasn’t to be for Esfandiari who exited in fourth. Former WPT winner Anthony Gregg took advantage of Esfandiari’s absence by going on to defeat Chris Klodnicki heads-up.
$111,111 One Drop High Roller NLHE
  • 1 Anthony Gregg, USA $4,830,619
  • 2 Chris Klodnicki, USA $2,985,495
  • 3 William Perkins, USA $1,965,163
  • 4 Antonio Esfandiari, USA $1,433,438
  • 5 Richard Fullerton, USA $1,066,491
  • 6 Martin Jacobson, Sweden $807,427
  • 7 Brandon Steven. USA $621,180
  • 8 Nick Schulman, USA $485,029
  • 9 Olivier Busquet, USA $384,122
Stars go deep heads-up
The $10,000 Heads-up World Championship always brings out an elite field and dream match-ups with titans of the online and live world clashing. This year was no different with Phil Hellmuth making his deepest run of the summer. All eyes were on the Poker Brat when he took on Mark Radoja in Round 6. After losing the momentum Hellmuth went off on a trademark rant, shouting to the rail that, ‘I play perfect and they just keep getting there!’ Radoja eventually saw him off and went on to win it all. 
For the neutral the final between Radoja and Don Nguyen was a bit of a let-down, considering online cash game phenoms Randy Lew and Ben Sulsky made it very deep too. However, nobody can take away from Radoja’s achievement in winning this for his second WSOP bracelet and $336k.
$10,000 Heads-up No Limit Hold’em
  • 1 Mark Radoja, Canada $336,190
  • 2 Don Nguyen, USA $204,648
  • 3 Justin Bonomo, USA $110,485
  • 4 Ben Sulsky, USA $110,485
  • 5 Phil Hellmuth, USA $54,024
  • 6 Randy Lew, USA $54,024

British round-up

There were three UK bracelet winners at the Series but how did the rest of the country’s finest fare in the desert?
It may have taken a while to warm up but we eventually got the summer of bling, boisterous rails and booming bank accounts that many expected from Team UK. Barny Boatman, Matt Ashton and Matt Perrins rightfully got the majority of the fanfare with their fantastic bracelet victories (see p8 for more) but there were other notable results too.
David Vamplew was the most successful of the non-bracelet winners, with two runner-up finishes in NLHE events for a combined $755,604. And the infamous UK rail was out in full force when Jake Cody made the final table of the $1k Turbo NLHE event. The shoebombs and chants of ‘there’s only one Jake Cody’ were just getting into full swing when the PokerStars Pro quickly succumbed in seventh spot to leave everyone disappointed.
PokerPlayer’s own Roberto Romanello and Sam Grafton endured a frustrating series, recording just five small cashes between them. Grafton’s Twitter feed was perhaps the highlight of his summer, especially when he got seated next to poker legend TJ Cloutier and proceeded to document every (and by that, we mean literally every) move the great man made. Choice highlights included, ‘Cloutier thinks France is dirty and Germany is clean’ and ‘Twice Cloutier has ordered a Diet Pepsi and a  SEPARATE cup filled with ice. He decants the Pepsi on to the ice and takes sips between hands.’ As the UK hipster himself likes to say, he has a great Twitter game.
Liv Boeree and Sam Trickett haven’t enjoyed much success either, with their crazy antics at dance festival Electric Daisy Carnival garnering more attention than their results at the table. A mixed bag then for the Brits but who knows – maybe they are all saving their best for a stampede on the November Nine?

Party like it’s 2006

Mike Matusow, Jeff Madsen, Erick Lindgren and Eli Elezra all winning WSOP bracelets. Close your eyes and it could be 2006, but remarkably that is exactly what happened this year at the Rio. Matusow defeated the UK’s Matt Ashton heads-up in a $5k Seven Card Stud event for his fourth bracelet, and first since 2008. After a few years of obscurity ‘The Mouth’ is back in the spotlight with that win and his victory in January’s NBC Heads-up Championship. Matusow celebrated in typically understated fashion by claiming that he was the second greatest tournament poker player of all time – behind Carlos Mortenson. PokerPlayer wonders what Messrs Hellmuth, Ivey and Negreanu would have to say about that.
Jeff Madsen burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old in 2006, winning two bracelets and the Player of the Year title. Since then, he has become more famous for his cringeworthy rap battles than his poker results. This victory in a $3k PLO event may see him recapture his early promise. Erick Lindgren’s problems with gambling addiction and debts have been well-documented but his $600k win in the $5k Six Handed NLHE tournament (and a recent runner-up finish in the WPT Championship) will go some way to alleviating those woes. Turn to p28 for a very candid, revealing interview with E-Dog.
Finally, it was a heads-up battle of old friends in the $2,500 Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball as Daniel Negreanu and Eli Elezra battled it out for the bracelet. Negreanu had extra motivation in that a win here would have likely sealed the Player of the Year title but, ultimately, it was high-stakes cash gamer Elezra who took the $173k spoils and his second WSOP bracelet. For full results from the other events at the WSOP go to

WSOP Player of the Year

With just the Main Event and WSOPE to go, it’s the UK’s Matt Ashton who is leading the Player of the Year race so far. Can Kid Poker turn it around in Paris later this year? 
  1. Matthew Ashton 649.75 points
  2. Daniel Negreanu 598.34 points
  3. Loni Harwood 487.20 points
  4. David ‘Bakes’ Baker 475.35 points
  5. Don Nguyen 466.13 points
  6. Marco Johnson 439.38 points
  7. Tom Schneider 438.51 points
  8. Chris Klodnicki 400.80 points
  9. Jared Hamby 395.73 points
  10. Anthony Gregg 390 points

2013 WSOP in numbers

1 – Player that won multiple WSOP bracelets (Tom Schneider)
$2,043,492 – Money earned by Matt Ashton, the UK’s most successful player 10 Canadians have won bracelets, more than any country except the USA
99 – All-time cashes made by Phil Hellmuth, the most in WSOP history
$25 – Price of an ‘Esfandiari Chicken’ from poker chef All American Dave
1 – Player sponsored by
$15,544 – Total money won by Phil Ivey at 2013 WSOP
$54,109,710 – Total prize pool for the whole WSOP, excluding the Main Event
$10m – Debt that Erick Lindgren allegedly owed in January
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