Anyone that’s played poker is aware that it’s a swingy game. There are times where it seems you’re printing money and there are others where you can’t buy a win. Tournament poker players often experience extended drought periods where they lack a significant score that’s picked up on by the rest of the poker world.
Many pros fall out of the public consciousness due to lack of notable results. However, all it takes is one big score to reestablish that pro in the minds of poker fans. Today we take a look back at six players who became relevant again in 2016.
It seems odd putting Griffin Benger on a list of players that returned to relevance considering he won the first season of Shark Cage in 2014 for $1 million. However, his live tournament results after that time were abysmal up until the WSOP Main Event in 2016.
Benger had managed just 8 live cashes for around $50k from October 2014 until this summer. Then Benger went on the run of a lifetime and made the November Nine. He also had the pleasure of eliminating William Kassouf out of the Main Event in one of the most epic confrontations of the summer. That confrontation alone will keep Benger in the minds of players for years to come.
Benger eventually finished 7th in the Main Event, earning $1.25 million. Unfortunately, he ran bad at the worst time ever to do so.
For the casual poker TV fan, Vojtech Ruzicka may have never been relevant before this year but the international community knows him well. The winner of the 2012 German Championship of Poker Main Event, Ruzicka also won the €10k EPT Deauville High Roller in 2013 for $426k.
However, from Early 2013 until the WSOP Main Event, Ruzicka had barely cracked $200k in combined earnings. He changed his fortunes in a big way during the Main Event, finishing 5th for $1.93 million.
Ruzicka has continued running well since then, racking up another $122k in live earnings, including a 3rd place finish in the High Roller Event at the WSOP Circuit Rozvadov last month. He has $2.08 million in live earnings in 2016, close to five times his previous career best.
Prior to 2016, Jason DeWitt’s last monster year in poker was 2010. He won his first WSOP bracelet that year in the $5k NL Event for $818,959. Since that time, Dewitt had a pair of final table near misses at the L.A. Poker Classic but nothing else to speak of. In fact, he had made six-figures in a year playing live poker since 2012.
Dewitt came back in a big way at the 2016 World Series of Poker, taking down the Millionaire Maker for $1.06 million. That not only gave him his first seven-figure score but it also made him a two-time bracelet winner.
James Bord is one of those players whose name “sounds familiar but not sure why.” Bord won the 2010 WSOP Europe Main Event for $1.28 million and had a bit of a run in TV events.
Prior to this year, the last time Bord cashed in a live tournament was the 2013 WSOP Main Event where he finished 452nd. This year, Bord decided to take a stab at the Big One for One Drop and he was able to make his way to the final table and a 4th place finish.
Bord earned $2.31 million for his 4th place run, more than doubling his career totals and putting him back into the collective poker consciousness. So much for the “no pros allowed” rule eh?
Cliff Josephy is always relevant to the poker world in terms of being a backer. In terms of playing, before the 2016 Main Event he was on a cold streak dating back to 2013 when he won his second career bracelet in the $3k NL Shootout.
Josephy went 0 for 2014 and just posted $98k in earnings last year. Making the November Nine in 2016 not only put Josephy back near the top of the poker pecking order, but also netted him $3.45 million in live earnings.
Up until 2013, Elton Tsang had earned nearly $500k in career earnings and was best known for making the final table of the WSOP-APAC High Roller. After finishing 3rd in that event, Tsang virtually disappeared from live tourney play and didn’t have another cash until the Big One for One Drop.
Tsang put together a remarkable run en route to winning the event for €11.11 million or $12.24 million USD. His win was the epitome of returning to relevance in the game and was a performance for the record books. Now the question is whether he will be the latest or the last-ever Big One for One Drop champion.