The 2016 World Series of Poker ended last week once the November Nine was reached. This summer’s series produced some of the greatest moments in WSOP history and some of the best stories we’ve seen since the early years of the Poker Boom.
Today we look back at this year’s WSOP and look at what was good for poker, what was bad for poker and the awesome runs by select players. We’ll also look into our crystal ball and give a few early predictions about what to expect for the 2017 WSOP.
Good for Poker – Jason Mercier and the Prop Bet Chase
As Uncle Jessie would say on Full House, “Have Mercier!” Ok, so maybe that isn’t EXACTLY what he said but that’s what the poker world was saying for most of the summer.
Mercier won his fourth and fifth career bracelets this summer by taking down the $10k 2-7 Lowball Championship and the $10k H.O.R.S.E. He nearly won a third bracelet after finishing runner-up in the 10k Razz. He also finished 8th in the $10k Omaha Hi-Lo and just missed his 4th final table of the summer after finishing 11th in the $2,500 Mixed O8/Stud 8 Event.
On the felt, he added over $960,000 to his career earnings. However, his biggest haul came from bracelet bets he made with several players. According to various reports, Mercier won over 7 figures in bracelet bets and would have won millions more had he won bracelet #3.
On way back to Florida after a 54 day stint in Vegas. It was an amazing summer… Scooped 2 bracelets, a fiance, and a ton of cash #Printing— Jason Mercier (@JasonMercier) July 20, 2016
Mercier claimed at one point that he is freerolling tournament poker for the next year or so. Oh, and he got engaged to Natasha Barbour.
Might as well retire now Jason. You likely won’t have a better summer in your career.
Bad for Poker – Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson Return
Prior to the WSOP, Howard Lederer enlisted the help of wannabe knee breaker Daniel Negreanu in issuing an apology to the poker public. After publicly rescinding his desire to inflict bodily harm to Lederer, Negreanu claimed that he believed Howard was trying to take responsibility for his actions.
After the apology, most figured that Lederer would come back to play in the WSOP. What they didn’t expect was the return of Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. While Lederer’s return was controversial, Ferguson’s return has been one of the hot topics of the summer. Negreanu has made it publicly known that he thinks Ferguson is scum for not even attempting to issue a public apology on the matter and Ferguson has been ridiculed, confronted and jeered all summer.
Shoutout to whoever that was yelling "Goodbye you scamming piece of shit! No shame!" as Chris Ferguson busted 4th in the 10K 6-max tonight— Alex Jacob (@whoisalexjacob) June 26, 2016
And Ferguson don’t give a f***. He more or less proved that karma means squat because after returning he put together an impressive run of 10 WSOP cashes and made the final table of the $10k NL Hold’em Six Max. Ferguson seems to be enjoying playing the role of heel in the poker world. At this point, what does an apology buy him? Lederer apologized, went 0 for the WSOP and people still curse him. Ferguson shows up, keeps quiet and cashes 10 times. “Apologize for what?”
Check out our Chris Ferguson Edition of Tweets of the Week
Good for Poker – Several Pros Add to Career Bracelet Totals
We saw several pros add to their career bracelet total this year. Robert Mizrachi took down his 4th title in the $10k Stud. Johnny World won his fourth bracelet in the $10k Triple Draw Event. George Danzer won the $10k Stud Hi-Lo for this fourth bracelet.
Ian Johns and Benny Glaser both won the second and third bracelets of their career.
Rep Porter won his third career bracelet. Michael Gathy won the $5k Six-Max for this third title. Brian Rast won his third bracelet and is the second person in history to win the $50k Poker Player’s Championship twice.
Marco Johnson, Jason Dewitt, Adrian Mateos, Doug Polk, Brandon Shack-Harris, Steven Wolansky, Shaun Deeb, Paul Volpe and Kristen Bicknell all won their second career bracelets.
Related: INTERVIEW – Benny Glaser and the Bracelets: Persistence Pays Off
Out of the 68 bracelets already awarded, 21 were taken by prior bracelet winners. If Cliff Josephy happens to win the Main Event, that will be 22 former champions. While it is great to crown new champions, seeing so many former champions add to their career totals is great for the game.
Awesome for Poker – Fedor Holz and His Summer Run
Up until the One Drop High Roller, Fedor Holz was having a so-so run at the 2016 WSOP. Then he put on a clinic in the High Roller to win his first career bracelet and $4.98 million.
While his run in the High Roller was great, his body of work over the summer is perhaps one of the greatest runs in modern poker history. After a min-cash in an Aria High Roller to start off the summer, he finished runner-up in the Super High Roller Bowl for $3.5 million.
GOOOOLD! 💚 for all the support. Means the world to me. pic.twitter.com/dKJN68Cq9n— Fedor Holz (@CrownUpGuy) July 11, 2016
He then went on an insane run in Aria High Rollers where he won three straight and then chopped another three handed between Isaac Haxton and Rainer Kempe.
After winning over $10 million this summer, Holz has claimed that he might be taking a few steps back from the game to explore other areas in life.
If he does leave the game, even in part, this is an awesome story for poker. A 22-year-old makes so much from the game to where he is financially secure to pursue his other passions in life. We wish him well.
Long-Term Awesomer for Poker – JohnnyBax Headlines November Nine
Is awesomer a work? It is now. JohnnyBax (Cliff Josephy) has made the November Nine with the chip lead. While a two-time WSOP bracelet winner, many know Josephy more for his staking exploits than for his on the felt performance.
One of his biggest success stories was having a major piece of Joe Cada when he won the Main Event. Half of Cada’s $8 million score went to JohnnyBax and a partner. While he has enjoyed success in staking players, this time it appears that he is taking matters into his own hands.
Michael Laake pointed out on Twitter that it is ironic that JohnnyBax has made the November Nine after his horses supposedly performed poorly this summer.
The comedic WSOP Valet account paints a different scenario for the November Nine.
We seriously doubt he has the entire November Nine staked but we are assuming he has the majority, if not all, of his own action.
Why did we list this as “long-term awesomer?” Imagine one of the game’s biggest stakers getting $8 million in money that he can use to stake other players. If you ever dream of getting staked, or are presently staked by JohnnyBax, you want him to win.
What to Expect in 2017 – More Gimmicks, More Players and More Bracelets
The World Series of Poker had an amazing and record-setting run in 2016 and they are already planning for the 2017 edition. Breaking out our crystal ball, we are predicting that we will see the return of several popular gimmick events (Colossus, Millionaire Maker, Tag-Team) plus possibly a couple of additions. We won’t speculate on which events might be coming but knowing the WSOP, they will command huge fields and monster paydays for first.
This year’s WSOP drew in 107,833 players and awarded over $221 million in prize money. Considering that the total number of players continues to grow every year, it’s safe to assume the same to happen next year. We set the line somewhere at 115,243 players.
Finally, we had 69 bracelet events this year with a 70th to be awarded in the Global Championship for the WSOP Circuit. Next year, we expect the number of bracelet to go up anywhere from three to five.
We hope that some of those additional bracelets are for online events on WSOP.com. At least three online bracelets events would be a great number for next year. Eventually, we would love to see at least 7 to 10 bracelets awarded each year on WSOP.com.
The OctoNine is just over three months away and we will discover poker’s newest World Champion. Afterwards, we can sit back and wait for the customary December news regarding the 2017 WSOP. We know most of you can’t wait and are probably already making your plans.
If you have never played in the WSOP, consider making plans to attend and play at least one event. Don’t be like Robbie Strazynski and fly across the world just to observe. The WSOP is where champions are crowned and dreams are made. “Anyone Can Win” and with a little luck and a lot of skill, you can be among those winning bracelets at the 2017 World Series of Poker.