Monday, September 7, 2009

2009 WSOP Fantasy Recap

This article appeared in the September 2009 issue of Online Poker Pro Magazine and was also featured on their website at

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Current Issue - Sept 2009
Who Were the Studs and Duds of World Series Fantasy Leagues?

By Chad Holloway
The 2009 World Series of Poker is in the books, with the exception of the Main Event final table, which will wrap up in November. Needless to say, the 40th Anniversary of the WSOP was one for the history books.
Thang Luu took down the $1,500 Omaha High-Low Even, an event he won in 2008 and finished runner-up in in 2007. A special invitational tournament welcomed back all former Main Event champions for a chance to compete for a 1970 Corvette and the newly established Binion Cup. And, the ever-popular Phil Ivey had a performance that many in the poker world believe will spark another poker boom.
So how do the events of the WSOP translate to the world of Fantasy Poker?
The answer is, it depends. If your Fantasy Poker League was based solely on a player’s WSOP earnings, then Vitaly Lunkin was the MVP. The Russian took down the $40,000 40th Anniversary No Limit Hold’em event ($1,891,012), finished second in $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Omaha ($419,832), fourth in $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E. ($368,812) and added two other cashes ($46,560) for a grand total of $2,726,216 in 2009 WSOP earnings. Lunkin’s performance earned him a third-place finish in the WSOP Player-of-the-Year race and made him the biggest stud in most Fantasy Poker Leagues.
Even though Lunkin finished with more than $1.5 million more than the second place earner, there were still a number of other impressive performances. In fact, the 2009 WSOP saw six non-Main Event poker-made millionaires:
Top 2009 WSOP Money Earners
1.) Vitaly Lunkin - $2,726,216
2.) David Bach - $1,279,295
3.) Isaac Haxton - $1,254,539
4.) Matthew Hawrilenko - $1,159,287
5.) Ville Wahlbeck - $1,082,176
6.) Pete Vilandos - $1,080,538
Of course, money earned is not the only criteria in Fantasy Poker. Some leagues award points based on the number of cashes a player can attain. Last year, Nikolay Evdakov set a record with a remarkable ten WSOP cashes. This year it was a familiar name at the top of the list, none other than Daniel Negreanu. Kid Poker, known for playing numerous events every year, managed to notch eight cashes at the 2009 WSOP, a distinction shared with David Baker.
Top 10 2009 WSOP Non-Main Event Cashes
1.) Daniel Negreanu - 8 cashes ($331,860)
2.) David Baker - 8 cashes ($198,729)
3.) Barry Greenstein - 7 cashes ($161,243)
4.) Darryll Fish - 7 cashes ($116,068)
5.) Anthony Cousineau - 7 cashes ($71,086)
6.) Ville Wahlbeck - 6 cashes ($1,082,176)
7.) Jeffrey Lisandro - 6 cashes ($807,521)
8.) Brock Parker - 6 cashes ($806,870)
9.) Fabrice Soulier - 6 cashes ($65,101)
10.) David Fox - 6 cashes ($53,219)
Many Fantasy Poker Leagues have shifted their focus from cash results to predicting who will win a WSOP bracelet. Although there were 55 bracelets awarded so far at the 2009 WSOP, there were only 50 bracelet winners. This is because four players won multiple bracelets, as compared to only one (John Phan) in 2008.
John “Brock” Parker, Greg Mueller and Phil Ivey each won two bracelets (with Ivey still in contention for his third in the Main Event), while Jeffrey Lisandro captured a remarkable three bracelets in one year, all coming in stud variations (seven-card stud, seven-card stud high-low, and razz). By capturing three bracelets, he joined Puggy Pearson (1973), Phil Hellmuth (1993), Ted Forrest (1993) and Phil Ivey (2002) as the only players to have done so, and became the first player in the post-poker boom era to accomplish the feat.
“That’s a pretty elite club,” Lisandro said. “I think I might have the distinction of playing all of those guys heads-up live for cash. I beat most of them.”
A number of other professional players found relative success at the WSOP and were consistent fantasy performers. Huck Seed, who was coming off his 2009 NBC National Heads-up Championship win, had two cashes for $378,895. Likewise, Roland de Wolfe notched some impressive numbers by cashing five times for $410,063 while becoming the second person to accomplish poker’s Triple Crown; that is, having won a World Poker Tour, European Poker Tour and WSOP title.
On the flip side, there were a number of poker pros entering the Series with high expectations who fell flat. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, perhaps the hottest player on the tournament circuit the first half of 2009, had only two cashes for $36,691 (not including his 122nd place finish in the Main Event). Other big names who flopped in the fantasy world, meaning they had no cashes at the 2009 WSOP (not including the Main Event), included: Joe Hachem, Chris Moneymaker, Phil Laak, Peter Eastgate, Michael Mizrachi, Patrik Antonius, Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Adam Junglen, Phil Galfond and John Phan.
Fantasy Poker League Results
Now that the various fantasy poker studs and duds have been identified, the question remains: Who were the big winners in the major Fantasy Poker leagues? Not surprisingly, the 2009 Fantasy Poker season was ultra-competitive and attracted thousands of participants. Most were attracted to free leagues while some ventured to make a friendly wager. Below are some results from poker’s most popular leagues.
Full Contact Poker, Negreanu’s forum site, which has long been a pioneer in Fantasy Poker, changed things up in 2009 by offering a free Fantasy Pool. This pool featured more than fifty matches where players chose who they thought would win more money over the course of the WSOP (not including the Main Event and non-open events). The rules were simple – one point was awarded for each match won and a tiebreaker was submitted in the event of a tie. The tiebreaker was a guess on how much money Negreanu would cash for at the 2009 WSOP. The following is a list of winners who were awarded a range of prizes, including PokerStars balance transfers, Poker VT memberships and FCP merchandise:
2009 FCP Fantasy Top Prize Winners
Member Name: Points: Tiebreaker:
1.) rasmer 40 $325,000
2.) JeffUSSM 40 $250,000
3.) Barrin 40 $500,000
4.) 2J4U 40 $119,119
5.) Primehousto1 39 $285,000
6.) deadmeat82 39 $418,000
7.) Thamz 39 $220,000
8.) scaremy316 39 $447,006
9.) mcpickl 39 $212,451
10.) sunsetmirage 39 $200,000
11.) ActionAl 39 $1,400,000
12.) acesfull333 38 $327,000
13.) BlackVip1543 38 $375,000
14.) kekz 38 $265,000
15.) Acesfull1208 38 $422,000
Another successful Fantasy League was run by Boyles Sports, where participants chose five players and were awarded 30 points for a bracelet win and ten points for a final-table appearance. The winner of the popular league was “xxellaxx,” whose team (Ivey, Negreanu, J.C. Tran, John Juanda and Allen Cunningham) earned 160 points and $2,479,094 in tournament winnings. For his efforts, “xxellaxx” received a £1,000 main event GUKPT package. Interestingly, the top three teams in the league all had Ivey, Juanda and Tran on their rosters, further proof that these titans of poker are consistent fantasy studs.
2009 Boyle Poker Fantasy Top 10
Member Name: Points:
1.) xxellaxx 160
2.) upll 160
3.) bignuts08 140
4.) StuTheUKShark 130
5.) MERRYjeremy 130
6.) hairyeggbag 120
7.) chriscasey21 120
8.) incanted 120
9.) daver13 110
10.) juniorbud 110
Finally, the most talked about league at the 2009 WSOP was without a doubt the ESPN Fantasy Poker League run by Andrew Feldman. The league featured eleven teams of eight players each, awarding points based upon the following scoring system:
1 point for making the money
2 points for making the top 50
5 points for making the top 20
10 points for the final table, then:
1 additional point for ninth
2 additional points for eighth
4 additional points for seventh
6 additional points for sixth
10 additional points for fifth
15 additional points for fourth
20 additional points for third
30 additional points for second
40 additional points for first
(Double points awarded for all events with buy-ins of $10,000 or more)
The participants were a mixture of poker pros and journalists including, with their team’s point total: Negreanu (834), Howard Lederer (471), Dennis Phillips (312), Lance Bradley (297), Chops Preiss (218), Mark Seif (211), Bernard Lee (164), Gavin Smith (157), Dan Michalski (157), Feldman (156) and Gary Wise (116).
Negreanu not only won the league, he did so in dominating fashion. This was primarily due to the fact he had both Ivey and Lisandro on his team. With such fantasy foresight, it is no wonder Negreanu has been a leading innovator in the Fantasy Poker world over the years.
Negreanu’s Winning ESPN Fantasy Team
Round Player
1.…………………… Phil Ivey
2.…………………… Jeffrey Lisandro
3.…………………… David Chiu 4.…………………… Huck Seed
5.…………………… Daniel Alaei
6.…………………… Jennifer Harman
7.…………………… Alexander Kostritsyn
8.…………………… Freddy Bonyadi
The 2009 WSOP was truly historic. New fantasy stars emerged, while others with limitless potential floundered. Although this year’s fantasy season has come to an end, preparation for next year’s WSOP has already begun, meaning it isn’t too early to be thinking about Fantasy Poker in 2010.
Chad Holloway is an amateur poker player from Baraboo, Wisconsin. Chad has been playing fantasy poker for more than three years and is a featured writer at