Over the course of the next few weeks five different poker legends will have their best individual years broken down and compared, and while there’s no single attribute that defines how well each performance is weighed against another, the arguments for each year will be made clear – and it’s up to you to decide.
Erik Seidel is of a rare breed in the poker world, having famously broken out with a runner-up finish in the 1988 WSOP Main Event and yet still relevant and competitive enough to win a €100,000 Super High Roller against the brightest and sharpest minds in the poker world some 27 years later.
The earliest years on Seidel’s WSOP resume are a testament to efficency. Starting with his runner-up finish to Johnny Chan, Seidel’s first four World Series results were as follows; second (1988), second (1991), first (1992) and first (1993). The 1993 WSOP was the first year Seidel cashed in multiple events, and the first of three consecutive years in which he won bracelets. In 1997 he cashed three times and all three were final tables.
In light of that kind of consistency, there were a few different years that could stand as the best WSOP’s of Seidel’s career. His 1998 campaign was the closest to making the cut, as it was nearly identical to the year he put together in 2003. With some bigger fields to cut through and a little more prize money at the end, though, 2003 edges out 1998 for BLUFF’s purposes in this case, to take on a similarly strong 2005 for Seidel.
WSOP Cashes: 4
WSOP Earnings: $278,460
WSOP Bracelets: 1
The year 2003 marked just the second time in Seidel’s career that he cashed four times at a single WSOP, the first being 1998. Just like he had done in 1998, Seidel won a bracelet and finished third in another event, with a third final table to round things out each time. Seidel showed his prowess in Pot Limit Omaha this time around, capturing his sixth career bracelet in a $1,500 (with rebuys) PLO event by defeating Men Nguyen heads-up. Seidel also finished sixth in a $5,000 PLO tournament, and added third and 11th place results in a pair of No Limit Hold’em events to boot.
Surprisingly enough, with eight career bracelets, Seidel’s never won twice in the same year. His first and third place finishes in 1998 and 2003 were the closest he’s come to that feat, but there have been plenty of instances where Seidel made a summer in one or two big splashes.
WSOP Cashes: 5
WSOP Earnings: $752,235
WSOP Bracelets: 1
Seidel kicked off his summer of 2005 in outstanding fashion, winning a $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event with more than 1,400 players. His $611,795 first place prize stands as his biggest WSOP cash to date, and Seidel certainly benefited from when it was held; the top-heavy payday represented 23.7 percent of the total prizepool, and more than twice what runner-up Cyndy Violette would get.
It wasn’t the easiest of runs to his seventh career bracelet. In addition to beating Violette heads-up, Seidel outlasted Perry Friedman, Fabrice Soulier, Harry Demetriou, Paul Sexton and massive chipleader Morgan Machina on the way to victory – and it all played out in front of the ESPN cameras, in one of the most memorable WSOP prelim event broadcasts of that era.
Not content to rest on his laurels, Seidel cashed four more times that summer – setting a personal record of five cashes at a WSOP that he wouldn’t break until 2011. He made three more final tables as well – two more in Pot Limit Omaha (ninth in a $2,000 buy-in, eighth in the $10,000 Championship) along with a sixth place finish in a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em. Four final tables and over three-quarters of a million dollars also stand as personal records to this day.
While 1998 and 2003 stand out as career years for Seidel, both fall a little bit short of Seidel’s tremendous 2005 WSOP. A seventh career bracelet win and over $600,000 against tough competition, four final tables and five total cashes make for a pretty strong argument that 2005 was, statistically, the best WSOP of Erik Seidel’s career.
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