Note: This is the first of three posts today about the upcoming 2015 World Series of Poker, which takes place at the Rio Las Vegas — May 27 to July 14.
A few days ago, Seth Palansky from Caesars Interactive Entertainment and the World Series of Poker, released what I believe to be a very helpful document full of vital information aimed at players expecting to play in what’s to be known as “The Colossus.”
It’s virtually certain that The Colossus will shatter all previous records and will become the biggest live poker tournament in history. Accordingly, managing such an unprecedented event requires careful planning and execution. It also demands giving guidance and sharing advice with the many thousands of players and fans who will attend and take a shot at taking down one of the most incredible events ever to be held in poker.
I urge those planning to attend and play to take just a few minutes and read this release, which conveys most of the information needed to make sure you lock up a place in an event that’s already generating buzz at a fever pitch. Even if you don’t read this entire document, please heed these two words: Pre-Register.
Writer’s Note: Last week, Martin Jacobson won the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. Yet, as one former winner reveals, like a fine wine, sometimes a true champion in every sense of the word materializes not in a flash of victory, but instead following more than a decade of deeper reflection.
Of the 15 world poker champions crowned in this, the current century, has any winner been more erased from the game’s recent memory than Robert Varkonyi?
The 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event champ never quite received the respect nor the fame he was entitled to — acclaim whether deserved or not just about everyone else that won since 2000 was able to enjoy. While other champions profited from cozy seven-figure endorsement deals and lucrative public appearances, Varkonyi went back to being Mr. Anonymous — Robert Varkonyi, the forgotten champion, as in the fill-in-the-blank subject of “whatever happened to…?” Not that the 53-year-old Everyman seems the least bit fazed by this concerted oversight. Yet, somehow that makes our collective abandonment even more egregious.
Talk to Varkonyi and he’ll readily admit that he prefers a day-to-day existence of relative obscurity, even within the poker world when he so chooses to grace it, which has become increasingly rare nowadays. An argument can even be made that staying out of the spotlight became a sort of hidden blessing for the low-key financial investor who still lives a quiet life along with his part-time poker playing wife Olga, and two daughters Victoria and Valerie, in Brooklyn, New York.
A reporter recently asked me, “who’s the greatest poker player of all time?”
My answer was — it depends on how we define “greatest.”
Are we judging raw talent? Are we counting the most money won over a lifetime? Are we comparing the most accomplishments and accolades? Are we measuring longevity? Are we weighing popularity? Or, should we define “greatest” by all these things?
Bingo. That’s my final answer. All these things — talent, money, accomplishments, accolades, popularity, and longevity — should merit serious consideration.
By these criteria, when it comes to determining the greatest ever, I don’t know how anyone could argue any poker player, past or present, other than Doyle Brunson. The documentation in support of Brunson from the mid-1950s to the present is so self-evident, that the far more interesting debate should be — who is the poker player most likely to follow in “Texas Dolly’s” footsteps and eventually match his legacy?
Again, I think the evidence here is pretty self-evident.
My vote would go to Daniel Negreanu.
(Photo: At the 2002 World Series of Poker….with no grey hair yet)
Here’s another sampling of my private collection of poker photography.
All of my snapshots were taken between the years 1997 and 2003. They were locked inside a file cabinet for more than a decade. Now I think is a good time to share these images with those of you who enjoy looking back on the game’s history. With the 2014 world championship November Nine as well as the Poker Hall of Fame announcement and induction ceremony coming soon, let’s now take a look back on some of poker’s best.
Read my original display of classic photographs here: POKER HALL OF FAME: PAST AND PRESENT (A PHOTO ESSAY)
Accompanying each photo, I’ve added some personal thoughts as to what I remember about the photos and the people in them, when they were taken.
Yesterday, the ten nominees for the Poker Hall of Fame “Class of 2014” were announced.
After reviewing the list of ten, every nominee appears worthy and deserves strong consideration.
This year, Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) made the decision to shift what has been an active role on the selection process from serving on the Nominating Committee, which I have done since I started working for the WSOP, to that of an actual media voter. So now I have one of the 20 coveted spots allocated to poker media, which are ultimately combined with the 21 living members of the Poker Hall of Fame who also cast their ballots.
This year’s list of nominees makes for some very tough choices. Fortunately, we voters can divide our allotment of ten votes each (each voter gets ten points to award to nominees as he/she wishes). In other words, we can vote for multiple people on the list. Quite honestly, I have yet to decide exactly how I shall cast my ballot.