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Poker's "New" All-Star Game

Chasse Rehwinkel

I gamble, therefore I write...or I write, therefore I gamble...honestly, they're pretty similar professions…

Harrah's announced a few weeks ago the return of it's all-star event, the Tournament of Champions.

This will be the third incarnation of the invitational poker tournament. Originally conceived by Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton in 1999, the first Tournament of Champions was open to players who had won a "major tournament" in the last calendar year. Sexton was able to get Doyle Brunson to commit to at least host the event and the first Tournament of Champions ran pretty well from all accounts, being based at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The event, however, didn't last; 2001 being the last year for the Tournament of Champions in it's original format.

With the poker boom in 2003, however, came a revived version of Sexton's idea. In 2004, Annie Duke bested a select group of ten top level players to capture the $2,000,000 freeroll prize at the Rio Hotel and Casino in the new Tournament of Champions.

After complaints of fairness the tournament was tweaked again the next year, allowing players the ability to qualify through their yearly results. This format again failed to garner widespread support, dissolving in 2006 with Mike Sexton fittingly being the event's final champion.

Well it's back once again, only with a new, and I think improved, format. Sure there are automatic entries, Sexton, Duke and Mike Matusow get in as the last three Tournament of Champions winners and Joe Cada and Barry Shulman get byes to the event based on their performances in 2009--Cada in the 2009 WSOP Main Event and Shulman in the 2009 WSOPE Main Event. And Harrah's is holding on to two yet-to-be-named invitational spots. Ultimately, however, I think this new Tournament of Champions will be successful.

Why this one, you ask?

Well Harrah's has placed the keys for players to get in squarely in the fans' hands, with online voting. Any player who has ever won a WSOP bracelet is eligible--sorry Tom Dwan, Patrick Antonius and Bertrand Grospellier, your accomplishments won't get you in this year--ensuring that the 2010 Tournament of Champions will be a fan favorite field.

Anyone can vote by going the the World Series of Poker's website, only one vote per person.

I think I went in a little different direction for my picks than most people. Instead of going for the players I like the most or the player who I think have had the best career, I treated the voting like any major sports all-star game; basically, the best players of late.

So you might notice that some poker greats, like Dan Harrington and Doyle Brunson, are conspicuously absent from my ballot. This is because I picked players based on their success over the past two years.

Disagree if you'd like, but I think this is the best formula for an ever changing, semi-merit based all-star event.

Anyway, on to my picks!



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Goose said:


I like your lineup but you'll probably hate mine. I picked not necessarily on winnings and success (though that does come into play) but on who I'd like to see. That is, what personalities among the top poker players in the world would I most likely tune in to see (even if it's only to root for them to fail *cough* Hellmuth *cough*)?
In no particular order:
Phil Hellmuth
Doyle Brunson
Phil Ivey
TJ Cloutier
Scotty Nguyen
Daniel Negreanu
Johnny Chan
John Juanda
Amarillo Slim
JC Tran
Chris Ferguson
Jennifer Tilly
Howard Lederer
Erik Seidel
Layne Flack
Jamie Gold
Peter Eastgate
Joe Hachem
Greg Raymer
Dan Harrington

Chasse Rehwinkel said:


Dario Mineri and Annette Oberstad were really hard to leave off too.

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