It was an interesting year for the poker industry. While the United States moved slowly towards legalized online poker and continued to feel the aftershocks of Black Friday, the live tournament circuit continued to grow here and abroad. Despite the disappearance of much of the televised poker programming that the ousted online poker sights were responsible for, there were still plenty of bright spots.
This year featured a $1 million buy-in tournament and career years for stalwarts like Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Hellmuth. Then there was the BLUFF Player of the Year race, with young guns Marvin Rettenmaier, Dan Smith and Greg Merson each putting together a 2012 campaign to remember. As we look back at 2012; you’ll see a lot of great moments and reasons to be hopeful as 2013 begins.
Morten Christensen Takes Down WPT Vienna Title
The first big winner of April was Morten Christensen, who beat out 396 players to capture his first career victory at WPT Vienna. Christensen earned a payday of over $400,000 by beating out the likes of Casey Kastle, Andy Frankenberger, Yevginiy Timoshenko, Tristan Wade, Anton Wigg and Roberto Romanello, among others. His biggest competition at the final table came from Ben Wilinofsky, the most established pro of the final six who would ultimately take third, and Konstantin Tolokno, who battled Christensen to the end but had to settle for runner-up.
The High Roller event in Vienna was a star-studded affair, with Sorel Mizzi beating Timoshenko heads-up at a final table that also included Steve O’Dwyer and Marvin Rettenmaier, who would go on to bigger things at both EPT Berlin and the EPT Grand Final.
Davidi Kitai Locks Up the Triple Crown by Winning EPT Berlin
Only a small group of players can claim poker’s triple crown, an unofficial distinction earned by winning a WSOP bracelet, a WPT title and an EPT title. Davidi Kitai added his name to that short list in April by winning the EPT Berlin Main Event, beating out Andrew Chen in a long back-and-forth heads-up battle to earn over $930,000. Berlin’s High Roller was won by 2011 BLUFF POY runner-up Bertrand Grospellier, with Rettenmaier earning his first significant points in the 2012 POY race. Chris Moorman was the runner-up and Viktor Blom took seventh.
Tommy Vedes Makes History with WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown
After finishing just short of victory at the 2011 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown, taking sixth place, Tommy Vedes returned to the final table in 2012 with hopes of redemption. That’s exactly what he accomplished, earning his second WPT title by beating out the likes of John Dolan, future WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock and Kyle Bowker at the final table. Vedes became the first person in WPT history to win a title after previously falling short at a final table in the same tournament in a previous year, which was worth just under $780,000 in this case.
EPT Grand Final Steals the Show to Close Out Month of April, EPT Season 8
Not only did the EPT Grand Final award some of the biggest prizes of the year throughout its series, it had a dramatic effect on how the 2012 BLUFF Player of the Year race played out. Mohsin Charania broke through with his first live major title, and he couldn’t have picked a much better setting. His heads-up victory against Lucille Cailly earned him over $1.5 million, far eclipsing his previous bests.
The side events in Monte Carlo drew enormous crowds as well, drawing nearly as much attention as the Main Event. Dan Smith made his first push towards BLUFF POY with an astounding feat of consistency. In less than a week Smith managed to capture three consecutive €5,000 No Limit Hold’em side event titles, something the likes of had never been seen on the EPT or anywhere else for that matter. Rettenmaier continued a hot April run with a €2,000 side event win of his own, a run that would continue well into May and beyond. Justin Bonomo won the €100,000 Super High Roller and took fourth in the €25,000 Eight-handed event, while Daniel Negreanu took sixth and second in those tournaments, respectively.
FROM THE MAGAZINE
The World Poker Tour Celebrates its 10th Season
The World Poker Tour has seen some changes in its history, with stops coming and going, buy-ins of all different shapes and sizes, and expansion beyond the wildest dreams of its founders, but two things have been a constant throughout its ten years. In this issue of BLUFF, we sat down with Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten to discuss their perspective of a decade of poker as the WPT’s historic tenth season came to a close.
Jason Somerville’s Coming Out Party
Poker tends to be a melting pot for people of almost any age, race, religion and upbringing, but until recently there was one glaring exception. As is the case with all of professional sports, there were no examples of an openly gay male poker player. That changed in late February of 2012 as Jason Somerville, a WSOP bracelet winner and hugely successful online pro, came out with a blog post in which he wrote about his situation. Somerville sat down with BLUFF Editor in Chief Lance Bradley to discuss the reaction to his message, from both the poker community and the gay community, which was overwhelmingly positive.
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