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WSOP Fantasy News and Reviews

27 May 2011

We got 15 players to put up $25,000 each for this years WSOP Fantasy Auction Draft at Aria Casino. Aria hooked us up big time, with a full bar and an excellent room for the draft, complete with a projector screen. The draft works like this: each team gets 200 to spend on 8 players. A player is nominated, then goes to the highest bidder. So if you want Phil Ivey, you would have had to spend 108 of your 200 bankroll to get him, leaving you just 92 left to fill out the rest of your team. Here is a look at the teams, with comments:

Team #1 Joe Cassidy/Huck Seed

1: Tom Dwan 62
2: Vladimir Schemelev 33
3: Alexander Kostritsyn 58
4: Jennifer Harman 19
5: Sam Trickett 7
6: David Pham 1
7: Vitaly Lunkin 10
8: David Bach 1

Comments: Best value here may be David Bach who is set to play a full schedule of mixed game events, and also is a previous winner of the $50,0000 Players Championship. Sam Trickett is a no limit specialist, and 7 seems like a bit of a steep price for a specialist, but he is a good one. This team will rely heavily on a big series from Dwan, a repeat performance from Schmelev, and the always dangerous Kostritsyn. With Harman it's always a question of number of events played, if she plays 12+ then 19 is a fair price.

Team #2 Barry Greenstein
1: Barry Greenstein 64
2: Phil Ivey 108
3: Chau Giang 19
4: John Pham 2
5: Ralph Perry 3
6: Ted Forrest 1
7: Joseph Serock 1
8: Jimmy Fricke 1

Comments: Go big or go home! Barry chose to draft the most valuable player in the draft, Phil Ivey, to complement his own full schedule of events then fill the team with whoever he could get really. best value could be Jimmy Fricke as he's been playing mixed games more and will likely play a full schedule. Chau Giang at 19 seems a bit high as he is hit or miss in terms of events played. Ralph Perry and Ted Forrest are both potential superstars, but will they play?

Team #3 Robert Mizrachi, Greg Meuller, Jared Bleznick, "Crazy" Mike
1. Daniel Alaei 80
2: Robert Mizrachi 51
3: Josh Arieh 26
4: Hoyt Corkins 5
5: Chad Brown 24
6: Marco TraniŽllo 1
7: David Baker 5
8: Lee Goldman 1

Comments: Danny Alaei is a stud and his stock rose this year as the third highest paid player in the draft. Young, but a veteran who plays all the games well and puts up consistent results at the WSOP. The Hoyt Corkins pick was an accident, as Bleznick just yelled out "5" after Todd Brunson threw him out for 1. In a pool like this, the right price for Corkins was 1. Arguably the best value in the draft is David Baker at 5. An absolute steal there.

Team #4 Justin "BoostedJ" Smith, Ashton Griffin
1. Justin "BoostedJ" Smith 64
2: Huck Seed 50
3: Ali Eslami 35
4: David Chiu 32
5: Farzad Bonyadi 3
6: Amnon Filippi 1
7: Eli Elezra 4
8: Mike "SirWatts" Watson 10

Comments: A very strong team from top to bottom that will contend. David Chiu is a consistent performer and is a bargain at 32. Ali Eslami at 35 is a bit of a misstep in terms of value, he could have gone cheaper later in the draft and I don't think he warrants a bigger price tag than Chiu who's a proven workhorse. BoostedJ couldn't pass up on himself at 64, which was a bit of a trend with a few teams betting on themselves.

Team #5 Eugene Katchalov, Danny Alaei
1: Eugene Katchalov 72
2: Steve Sung 6
3: Matt Hawrlenko 32
4: Nikolai Evdakov 12
5: Pat Pezzin 14
6: Mikael Thuritz 28
7: Ville Wallbeck 15
8: Abe Mosseri 21

Comments: These guys came in prepared for the draft after having done their homework. if Wallbeck is playing a full slate of events this year, he's a steal at 15. Hawrilenko and Thuritz are question marks, not based on skill, but based on the number of events they'll actually play. Same goes for Mosseri. If Abe played a full slate of tournaments he'd go for close to 100, but he rarely plays more than 5 or 6. Another solid team.

Team #6 Casey Katz
1: Erik Seidel 43
2: John Juanda 53
3: Michael Mizrachi 50
4: Carlos Mortensen 19
5: Annette Obrestad 1
6: Jason Somerville 1
7: David Singer 20
8: Eric Baldwin 13

Comments: Lots of big names on this team, but it could be the wrong year for that. Juanda is normally a top 3 pick, but has said via twitter that he will be playing a reduced schedule this year. Same goes for Seidel, who tweeted not to pick him, because he'd be playing a lot of non-holdem events. If David Singer plays a full slate of events, he could be the teams best value.

Team #7 Scott Seiver, Justin Bonomo, Eric Froelich
1: Matt Glantz 58
2: Sorrel Mizzi 40
3: Justin Bonomo 43
4: Christian "charder30" Harder 5
5: Jon "PearlJammed" Turner 13
6: Andrew Brown 9
7: John Monnette 11
8: Greg Mueller 21


Comments: Another very strong team from top to bottom. Matt Glantz is a mixed game specialist and should play a full slate, but seems slightly overpriced here. If John Monnette decides to play a lot of tournaments in favor of cash games, that's great value at 11.

Team #8 Jason Mercier, Jason Somerville
1: Michael Binger 45
2: Dan "djk123" Kelly 36
3: Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier 18
4: David Oppenheim 6
5: Allen Bari 36
6: David "Bakes" Baker 40
7: Ben Lamb 15
8: Bryn Kenney 4

Comments: Not a big fan of this team. Oppenheim does not like/play tournaments really and won't play 5. Elky is a NLH specialist and 18 is too much for a one dimensional player. Best pick on the team is David "Bakes" Baker who probably should have gone for 50+. He plays all the games and is very hungry.

Team #9 James Bord, Toby Lewis
1: Nick Schulman 64
2: Scott Clements 45
3: Shaun Deeb 38
4: Luke Schwartz 1
5: Richard Ashby 28
6: Andy Bloch 6
7: Anthony Lellouche 1
8: James Bord 1

Comments: Nick Schulman is a great, versatile player, but has he EVER played a full slate of WSOP events? No. At 64, unless he decides that "this is the year" then 64 was too heavy for a part time player. Having said that, I think this team got great value with Clements 45, Deeb 38, and awesome value with Bloch at 6 who has money, and should play. As for the $1 players, Schwartz, Lellouche, and Bord, do they play mixed games? If not, they could have done better.

Team #10 Daniel Negreanu
1: Scott Seiver 73
2: Jason Mercier 74
3: Yuval Bronstein 18
4: Yueqi Zhu 5
5: Mike Matusow 12
6: Roland De Wolfe 1
7: Gavin Smith 1
8: Steve "MrSmokey1" Billirakis 16

Comments: Where do I start ugh. I do not like my team and made some crucial drafting errors that I shouldn't have made. My team should include David Baker as well as David Chiu, but I blew it in both spots then the pool of players dried up. I also pumped the price of Jason Mercier. I was bidding against him and thought he'd go up to 78-80, so I bid 74 and was shutting down at 75. He passed surprisingly, and I was "stuck with him." Luckily he doesn't suck, but after getting Seiver at 73, I couldn't really afford another top 10 guy (both are top 10 WSOP fantasy players for sure).

I'm fine with the Bronstein pick for 18. He'll be playing all of the mixed game tournaments every day and is a solid horse for that price.

Yueqi Zhu is my sleeper who I thought I'd get for 1. Unfortunately Barry Greenstein also knew about Zhu and bid me up to 5. If people knew what I knew, he would be a 45-50 player. He has 27 WSOP cashes, is great at all the games, and for the first time ever will be playing a full slate of tournaments. 4 WSOP cashes last year including a 3rd in Omaha H/L, his best game. He's better known as "Richard" or "YZ" and he's a steal I promise. Great player.

Mike Matusow for 12. Guy has a lot of heart. Issue here? Which Matusow shows up? The one with his head on straight...or the other one? I'm hoping for the sane Mikey.

Roland deWolfe. I threw him out for 1 and no one bit. I thought they would and didn't plan on having him on my team as he'll miss the first two weeks of the series. I've been begging him to come early, we'll see how that works out!

Gavin Smith for 1? I was a bit surprised by this one. I think Gavin is a good horse who will be in events every single day and he plays all the games. I let Gavin know he went for 1 and that lit a fire under his butt, so I'm hoping he crushes to prove a point.

Steve Billirakis. Where is this guy??? I can't find him! I had 16 left for one pick, and absolute cardinal sin when doing auction drafts. I let Baker and Chiu slip then there wasn't a lot of guys left so I took a shot with Smokey, who I know to be a great all around player, but where the heck is he??? I can't get a hold of him, and have no idea what his WSOP plans are.

My strong suit is auction drafts, but I really blew this one. Not that I can't win, but I didn't not put together the best, and most balanced team.

Team #11 Frank Kassela, Shaun Deeb
1. Daniel Negreanu 89
2: Frank Kassela 41
3: Dwyte Pilgrim 10
4: Alan Cunningham 25
5: Victor Ramdin 1
6: Rob Hollink 17
7: Thomas Koral 1
8: Dario Minieri 16

Comments: Looks like this team will depend heavily on me performing the way I expect to. Best value pick here could either be Rob Hollink or Allen Cunningham. Word on the street is that Allen won't play a lot of events, but that could change, and if it does, you have a top mixed game player for a bargain price. Dario Minieri is also overpriced as their last player, another drafting error leaving 16 left. Dwight Pilgram at 10? That's definitely overpriced for a NLH guy, especially when you had so many options for players like that. Kassela showed faith in himself, the WSOP POY big 41 on himself after a 2 WSOP bracelet performance last year.

Team #12 Erick Lingdren, David Oppenhiem
1: Erick Lindgren 61
2: David Benyamine 58
3: Shawn Buchanan 63
4: Eric Froehlich 6
5: Shannon Shorr 1
6: Kirill Gerasimov 1
7: George "Jorj95" Lind III 9
8: Brian Hastings 1

Comments: Depending who you ask, this is one of the best teams, or one of the absolute worst teams. They'll depend heavily on their big three, Lindgren, Benyamine, and Buchanen. Benyamine is guaranteed to play lots of events this year as he made some prop bets on himself which makes him an elite horse. Edog will also be out in full force coming off a 2nd in the High Roller at Bellagio. Shaun Buchanen was a $1 player last year, and went for 63 this year. I think that's a bit high. As far as I know Froehlich is also a NLH specialist, so 6 doesn't make much sense. Hastings could be a steal if he chooses to grind the tournaments this month, he plays all the games well.

Team #13 Todd Brunson
1. Todd Brunson 40
2: Scotty Nguyen 35
3: Phil Hellmuth 38
4: Freddy Deeb 23
5: Allan Kessler 41
6: Chris Feguson 4
7: Minh Ly 1
8: Shun Uchida 1

Comments: Otherwise known as "Team Old School." Allen Kessler might be the youngest player on the team! Freddie Deeb could be great value at 23, but Todd Brunson rarely wakes up in time for tournaments, so will be interesting to see if he plays more events. Hellmuth for 38 is really high for a NLH specialist that seems more interested in his new "inside to out golf swing" and dropping as many names as humanly possible. Hellmuth has 11 bracelets in hold'em, and zero in any other form of poker over a 20+ year span. Ferguson at 4 could be a steal if he decides to attend the WSOP.

Team #14 Mori Eskandani
1: Jeffrey Lisandro 50
2: Chris Bjorin 38
3: Men "The Master" Nguyen 27
4: Dan Heimiller 21
5: Tom Marchese 10
6: David Williams 14
7: Vanessa Selbst 5
8: Phil Galfond 35

Comments: Last year I think Mori drafted Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson Phil Hellmuth, Patrik Antonius, and Gus Hansen. Needless to say, he didn't win. This year Mori did much better, mixing in some young blood. His best pick: David Williams at 14. David has a chip on his shoulder this year about not getting his WSOP Grudge Match chosen, and plans on playing every tournament. Great value. A huge mistake, leaving 35 left for one player late, and Galfond was NOT the right player as he just doesn't play enough events. Heimiller, Bjorin, and Lisandro, the old guard on this team will have to carry the load and hope that Men "The Master" Nguyen can return to form.

Team #15 Vladimir Schmelev
1. Sebastien Sabic 40
2: Joe Cassidy 43
3: Brett Richey 37
4: Patrik Antonius 5
5: Jared Bleznick 8
6: "Crazy" Marco Johnson 43
7: Alex Kravchenko 21
8: Sergey "gipsy74" Rybachenko 1

Comments: Schmelev was a late addition to the draft and missed out on a lot of the big guns. He threw out a name I didn't know, Sebastian Sabic who went for 40, so obviously others did and said he's a great online mixed game player. We'll see. Not a lot of bright spots on this team, Sabic may be the best value, but again, I don't know him. Cassidy doesn't play enough events, Bleznick is a cash player with $18,000 in tournament cashes to his name, and Antonius "might" come out for the main event. When Schmelev got stuck with Patrik and Gypsy, while he doesn't speak English, he made it very clear how he felt about those decisions by slapping his forehead in disgust!


So there you have the 15 teams. I also did the ESPN draft with the media guys and a few other players, and in that draft, you'd have to be blind to not see how clear it is that I drafted the best team:

1. Erick Lindgren
2. Danny Alaei
3. Scott Seiver
4. David Benyamine
5. Justin "BoostedJ" Smith
6. Mikael Thuritz
7. Yuval Bronstien
8. Yueqi Zhu

For a frame of reference, that team would have cost 387!!! Anything can happen obviously, but this draft was just absurdly unbalanced. There is a lesson to be learned from this actually. If you look at what the "insiders" (the players) know about the relative skill of their peers, and compare it to the perception from many in the media, you see a major discrepancy. The biggest mistake those drafters make is not understanding the point structure. You get double points for 10k events, and final tables are worth lots of points. So, if you had a choice between drafting Tom Marchese and David Chiu, it's a no brainer. Chiu plays all the mixed games well, while Tom is, at this point, a no limit specialist. My ESPN team has ZERO NLH specialists, and 8 guys who will play lots of the 10k buy in mixed events.
Let's see how you guys do next year!






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