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Daniel - Poker Journal

Top 5 Young Poker Pros of the Future

20 Sep 2010

This list isn't designed to predict who the best five young players are, that exercise would be a waste of time since there are hundreds of great young players that I haven't played with, so there is no real way of me knowing.

The list I created is based on the following criteria: They will get plenty of TV time and people will like watching them play for various reasons. Each has something unique about them, whether it's personality, or even the way they play the game. Here are the top 5 players, 25 and under:

5. Annette Oberstad: She has an online deal which basically ensures that she'll be showcased on many made for TV programs, and being a woman is one of the key reasons she'll get a lot of invites. That's not the only reason, however, as she had so much success prior to her turning 21 that there was a lot of hype surrounding Annette's results when she turned 21.
Annette is also very outspoken and has been quoted with some real doozies in her short career as she really doesn't pull any punches. In her first magazine interview she called Ted Forrest "The weakest player at the table" and has since called out women , claiming that they " all suck at poker" and also implied that she'd love to have Doyle Brunson at her table.
She's also been featured on TV with plenty of controversy, from berating Huck Seed about his play in the Doubles championship, as well as showing some frustration on ESPN against respected pro Chris Bjorin.

Annette combines the skill and brashness that would excite TV producers because you can never be sure what she'll say.

4. Bill Reynolds: This kid is the most unknown player on the list and is just 21 years old. He plays online as Altum Altrus and recently qualified to play on the PokerStars.net The Big Game. That episode has yet to air, and Bill's only other televised appearance was at the PCA High Roller event that took place in January.

Bill wins the award for being the most witty young player in the game, and he also seems to have a natural knack for what it takes to make poker entertaining. He's talkative, but not abrasive, and has a cool look about him. A bit "out there" fashion wise and a recognizable mop of curly, blond, locks that make him look a bit like a young version of Chip Reese.

3. Viktor Blom: Not yet 21 years old this kid has become a legend in the poker world and what he did was reminiscent of Archie Karas when he made his epic degen run at the craps table. Blom took on the world's best... all of them, at the SAME time!
The way he manhandled Tom "Durr" Dwan in their heads up matches made the poker world take notice, and whatever this kid does, people will watch. I've never played against him, but people I respect have told me that his NLH skills are remarkable and he approaches the game like no other, absolutely fearless and fun to watch.
A tall, skinny, unassuming kid, people would watch him because of his poker skills and not so much his banter. He definitely has a "presence" at the table, but he lets his 7 bet all in over bet bluffs do the talking.

2. Jason Mercier: Mercier is the ultimate live tournament grinder who's also had success online. Since coming on the scene he's consistently been atop player of the year leader boards and he puts in a ton of volume each year. How long he can keep that up is debatable. He reminds me of myself in my early 20's when I was grinding the low buy in tournament circuit in the late 90's.
When Jason is at the table he plays table captain and is a player you don't want on your left. He's relentless, tricky, fearless, and smart. That's a pretty good combination.
Jason also has a unique look about him, and let's face it, that matters. Jason doesn't do a ton of talking, but is likable and says the "right things" in interviews.

Tom Dwan: Durr has already arrived on the poker scene and has become one of the central figures in the poker world, garnering plenty of attention for his Durr Challenge, his bracelet bets, his epic battles with Viktor Blom, and also his domination of televised poker. He brought life to High Stakes Poker when he was invited. Durr is a throwback to the old school player, an action guy not afraid to give a little action to get some. He is the anti-nit.
What I witnessed at the WSOP this year when Durr was heads up for a bracelet that would have crippled plenty of bankrolls, including mine, had he won, was like nothing I'd seen in years.
Durr has made so many creative plays on television that gets the public and the forums talking for weeks. Likable, unique, and a great player. He always makes watching poker on TV more interesting.


Honorable mentions go to:

Shaun Deeb: Has the potential to retire and un-retire as often as Brett Favre. Deeb is outspoken, passionate about the game, and is willing to stick up for what he believes in. He dressed in drag this year at the ladies event, and while I hate that decision, Deeb created a lot of buzz.
Deeb has had an amazing run online since "un-retiring," but has yet to have any real success in live tournaments. He'd be the first to tell you, "I hate live poker" and that would need to change if he is going to make an impact in the future.

Sorel Mizzi: Sorel may get attention, but it's for all the wrong reasons as he's been involved in shady dealings on several occasions and that tag will be hard to shake. I met him a few years ago and he was defending JJProdigy, a known cheater who showed no remorse or interest in stopping, and that was a red flag in my book.
Sorel is obviously an excellent tournament player who puts up consistent results, but he has a long way to go before he can repair his damaged image in the same way that a kid like Justin Bonomo has.

Sam Trickett: There is really a whole group of great young English players out there who share trade secrets with each other, but of the group I think Trickett has the best package of skill and media savvy that puts him in position to make for a good addition to a poker show.

Matt Marafioti: At the PCA earlier this year, I almost went to blows with this kid! For real, I was right up in his face, and I thought for sure we were going to throw down. Later that night, some of his friends were in my room so I invited him up to squash things and I'm glad I did.
Better known as ADZ on PokerStars, if you saw his self made reality show, then you'd know why he gets an honorable mention. He walks into a car dealership and says, "I don't want to pay anything less than $150,000." OK, so he's not the best negotiator, but you are looking at the poker world's next Mike Matusow, Luke Schwartz, Phil Hellmuth character all wrapped up into one!
He can be really nice and peaceful, but turn on the switch and ADZ goes into what I call "hot head" mode and I think he's going to make for some great TV moments in the future.


I'm sure I'm missing some people, but I didn't exactly put hours of effort into my list. I'm in a hotel room just waking up at 6:00am in London looking forward to another deep run in the WSOPE. I feel really good about it too. I know people always say that, but I really do feel like I'm going to make the final table for the third straight year.


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