29/05/2015

Champion Takedown - Who Can Challenge Phil Hellmuth's WSOP Bracelet Record?

Ivan Potocki

Champion Takedown - Who Can Challenge Phil Hellmuth's WSOP Bracelet Record?

With World Series of Poker just around the corner, the topic of coveted gold bracelets is quickly taking the center stage in the poker world. When it comes to WSOP bracelets, even a casual poker fan knows that the man holding the greatest number of those shiny trinkets is Phil Hellmuth Jr. What a casual poker fan may not know is the exact number the man known as the "Poker Brat" proudly owns. The number is quite high, actually, as Hellmuth managed to gather total of 13 WSOP bracelets since his first Main Event victory in 1989 when he historically defeated Johnny Chan, denying him the pleasure of a third Main Event title in a row. Phil's most recent bracelet came in 2012, when he actually won the Main Event of the World Series Europe, becoming the only person to hold both WSOP ME and WSOPE ME titles. Last year he came just short of number fourteen after finishing second in a Razz event.

Quite an impressive biography, no doubt. Who, if anyone, could challenge at the coming Series or in the coming years?

Club 10 members

Interestingly enough, Hellmuth's closest competitors are trailing him quite a bit. There are three players (and three players only) currently in possession of ten WSOP bracelets. Two of these three are no longer very active when it comes to playing the Series. Doyle Brunson, Godfather of Poker, in his own words, no longer has the stamina needed to spend the long hours required to grind the events. As for Johnny Chan, he certainly hasn't been as active lately so unless he suddenly decides to just go for it, Johnny is not very likely to jeopardize the record either.

But the third one on the list most certainly is! His name will ring the bell, I'd bet, as he is Phil Ivey, considered by many the best all-around player alive. Phil joined the Club 10 just last year as he triumphed in the Eight Game Mix event, also winning a nice side bet that speculated that either him or Daniel Negreanu would win at least one bracelet before the Series ended.

There is no doubt that Ivey's got what is needed and has many, many playing years still ahead of him. What might be a thing not working in his favor is that man is easily distracted, for the lack of better way to say it. It seems that Ivey usually needs an additional incentive to really apply himself to the bracelet chase.

"Old School"

While Phil Ivey is the only one who could realistically (even though it is a bit of a stretch) jeopardizeHellmuth's record during WSOP 2015, a number of players have quite a few bracelets to their name, and some of them could become serious contenders to the throne.

Erik Seidel might be one of the names that doesn't really pop up first in your mind, but it is certainly not for the lack of results. Erik is probably one of the most mild tempered, quiet players you will ever encounter at the tables. Taking good with the bad, Seidel has actually accumulated total of eight bracelets and earned his place in the Poker Hall of Fame. Although he hasn't won any bracelets since 2007, for a player like him, next big run is always just around the corner.

Daniel Negreanu may "only" have six bracelets at the moment, but his skills on the live tournament circuit are beyond any doubt. Apart from his poker skills, one thing certainly going in Daniel's favor is his competitiveness and strong natural desire to win. The most recent addition to the Poker Hall of Fame, "KidPoker" will represent a serious menace in the years to come.

Although he hasn't yet turned forty, Allen Cunningham certainly belongs with the old school guys, considering his long presence on the circuit and his achievements during that period. Currently holding five WSOP bracelets and with $7.1 million in WSOP cashes  alone, he is a force to be reckoned with. He's had somewhat of a dry spell last few years, but Allen has a lot of play still left in him.

Of course, there are many more players who deserve to be mentioned here, but it is impossible to fit them all without making the article too long.

Young and hungry

There is an entire large group of players who do not have many bracelets at the moment, but everything about them spells "a winner". Many of these players are in their early to mid twenties and with many WSOPs still ahead of them, they could indeed jeopardize Hellmuth's record.

Members of the UK poker school, like Jake Cody and Chris Moorman certainly come to mind. While Cody only has one bracelet to his name, Moorman has none, but he is widely recognized as an online tournament beast and no one would be shocked to see him go on a tear, claiming several golden bracelets in a short time span.

Then there are "German high rollers". Although they are devoted more to playing high buy-in tournaments, this group of young players embodies so much poker talent that there is no telling where it could take them. Players like Igor Kurganov, Marvin Rettenmeier and Tobias Reinkemeier are a threat to anything poker related. Of course, we must also mention George Danzer, the man who already has three WSOP bracelets to his name and he hasn't even celebrated his 32nd birthday yet.

Poker world is filled with young talent and many more young players belong to this category. Many more are yet to come and we are still to hear about them. It is certainly a hard record to break,