26/05/2015

Oh Canada: Can a Canuck Claim WSOP Gold this Summer?

Michael '007' Lang

With the summer on the horizon, the poker world's tournament scene is beginning to heat up and there are few festivals with more influence than the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Known throughout the poker community as the leading tournaments, the WSOP is one place you're guaranteed to find the best players in the world.

Of course, with so many high-level pros in the same place, there will be natural speculation as to which players are the best. Every year the vast majority of people in the industry like to speculate on which players will come out on top, moreover, which country will come out on top.

In previous years, the US has had a stranglehold on the WSOP, but other nations have proved that they're more than capable of hanging with the best Americans. One country that's always a good bet is Canada. Churning out a frightening number of world-class pros, Canada not only has WSOP bracelet winners, but the leading money winner of all time, Daniel Negreanu.

With so much talent on display, it's almost a case of when not if a Canadian will win a bracelet in 2015. If this is the case, then which Canucks stand the most chance of bagging some bling this summer?

The Digital Wizard: Mike 'Timex' McDonald

Arguably the most accomplished online-to-live convert in Canadian poker history, McDonald has made millions in both arenas but failed to win a coveted bracelet at the WSOP. Despite claiming gold on tours such as the EPT, McDonald hasn't yet managed to cement his legacy by winning an event at the WSOP.

From his humble beginnings as an online MTT grinder on sites such as 32Red, 888 and William Hill Poker, McDonald quickly rose through the ranks and gained a lot more notoriety after big wins in major online festivals. Using this as his base, McDonald soon ventured out into the live arena and managed to score his first cash in a small event in the UK.

Playing just outside of London, the 45-runner tournament furnished McDonald with an $8,253 bankroll boost thanks to his third-place finish. Although a small score by his standards, that gave him the confidence to attack the EPT and the Aussie Millions. After cleaning up and making millions of dollars, McDonald eventually turned 21 and made the WSOP his next mission.

However, until now, he's not managed to win a bracelet, but 2015 could easily be the year he breaks that duck. The Canadian pro has already this year banked more than $1.2 million in live tournaments and, with a full schedule planned for the WSOP, he looks to be a solid bet to go deep in at least a few high rollers.

The King of Canadians: Daniel Negreanu

The most successful tournament player of all time in terms of earnings, Negreanu is always a threat when it comes to WSOP events. Whether it's a non-Hold'em event with a $5,000 buy-in or the $1 million One Drop spectacular, Negreanu has the skills, moreover the bankroll, to compete with the best.

Unlike McDonald, Negreanu didn't cut his teeth in the online realm with the likes of 32Red Canada. Although he has since turned to the virtual world to improve his skills, Negreanu is a live poker player through and through and his many years of service at the WSOP mean he has literally seen it all.

This experience and natural aptitude for poker has allowed him to adapt his style to the point where he can now overcome virtually anyone in his way. For those who like to bet on the WSOP, Daniel Negreanu is a must-choose player. Although success in the Main Event may elude him this year (mainly due to the sheer number of runners), a win in the High Roller for One Drop is a distinct possibility. Negreanu has already taken second in the event back in 2014 and he could easily go one better when the $111,111 incarnation of the tournament kicks off this summer.  

Mr. Consistency: Sorel Mizzi
 

Another product of the online world but now a major force in the live arena, Sorel Mizzi is currently riding high on the GPI. In fact, since the start of 2015, Mizzi has moved into the top ten of the Player of the Year race and heading into the WSOP he has a wave of momentum behind him.

Since the turn of the year, Mizzi has managed eight cashes and raked in over $1 million. Aside from proving he's in some of the best form of his career, Mizzi's run has shown he's always in the mix. With so many people fighting for WSOP honours, consistency and the ability to get into payout positions are crucial for anyone wanting to win a bracelet.

Indeed, it's often the case that the early rounds of any WSOP tournament are somewhat chaotic. Between the low stacks, high blinds and plethora of amateurs in the field, it pays to know how to survive in these situations and Mizzi is a player who is more than capable of navigating a minefield. Although he's sometimes struggled to seal the deal when he's within touching distance of a tournament title, it would be foolish not to rank him among the top Canadian players and, therefore, someone capable of winning a WSOP bracelet in 2015.