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A few weeks before the start of the 2016 World Series of Poker, I penned an article about the five top new faces to watch at the series this summer. Four of them were players who had shown great promise and serious results leading up to the WSOP, and one of them was a shot in the dark.

I was wrong on most counts.


Cody Pack made the most money and a final table, though, so I will take credit for my foresight on that one.

WSOP Predictions are Rarely Correct

Tens of thousands of players trek to the WSOP each summer, all with a dream to win a bracelet … or two or three. They plan, prepare, and study. Those playing multiple events carefully plan their schedules and accommodations, try to mentally and physically prep for the seven weeks of poker, and enter the Rio with the best of attitudes.

But poker rarely happens as planned. In addition to bad beats and downswings, there are other factors that can play into the outcome. The weather – hot outside and cold inside – affects everyone differently, and some even catch the dreaded WSOP flu that throws a wrench into everything. Some players have emotional setbacks and bankroll challenges. Anything can happen.

For someone to predict who is likely to do well at the WSOP is difficult. In my case, I tried to choose new players who would be playing the WSOP at the Rio for the first time for big results. That is even tougher because none of them have a track record of playing tournaments at that level and intensity, as no other tournament series in the world is quite like the World Series.

(Okay, some people predict some things correctly sometimes.)

Predictions and Results

Dzmitry Urbanovich

This young Polish pro was making his first trek to the WSOP, and he was at the top of most lists of players likely to thrive. His young career was already off to an impressive start and included a victory in the EPT Dublin Main Event in 2016 for close to €562K. He also had extra incentive to play well, as three bracelet wins at the WSOP would have garnered a $2 million prop bet payout from Vanessa Selbst.

In the end, Urbanovich had a few deep runs but no final tables. While he still has amazing potential going forward, the WSOP wasn’t the place for his next big score.

Event 30: $3K PLO Six-Handed = 51st place for $5,264

Event 40: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball = 12th place for $7,762

Event 47: $10K 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball Championship = 13th place for $15,182

Cate Hall

The Yale graduate and former attorney who only recently made the jump from cash games to tournaments had been doing well on the World Poker Tour circuit, having finished second in the WPT Player of the Year race, and came to the WSOP with a lot of momentum. She was dedicated and ready for her first run at the summer of bracelets.

The experience seemed intense for Hall, though she seemed to form new friendships and come away with more determination to do well in the game. She also accumulated six cashes.

Event 2: $565 NLHE Colossus II = 879th place for $2,746

Event 14: $1,500 NLHE Millionaire Maker = 217th place for $6,551

Event 29: $1,500 NLHE 196th place for $2,542

Event 35: $5K NLHE Six-Handed = 62nd place for $7,960

Event 41: $1,500 NLHE Monster Stack = 238th place for $5,542

Event 54: $888 NLHE Crazy Eights = 821st place for $1,377

Cody Pack

The WSOP Circuit star did indeed go to Vegas for the WSOP. He had done swimmingly well in the 2015-2016 Circuit season, winning several in the fall of 2015 and then finishing at more final tables in the spring of this year. He was actually the top earner of the season, guaranteeing his place in the 2016 Global Casino Championship.

His summer consisted of some cashes away from the WSOP and one final table of a $365 NLHE Daily Deepstack at the Rio. And Pack’s two WSOP event cashes included one final table of the Monster Stack for a very impressive finish.

Event 2: $565 NLHE Colossus II = 1121st place for $1,584

Event 41: $1,500 NLHE Monster Stack = 9th place for $100,185

Farid Yachou

The Moroccan who lives in Holland made his first trek to the United States in May. After winning the WPT Amsterdam last year and a seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions in Florida for this May, he made his first trip across the Atlantic to play in the TOC … and he won it. After that success and winning more than $600K in just two WPT events, though, Yachou stayed in Europe for the summer.

Aaron Paul

The Emmy-nominated actor made his debut on the Global Poker League at the very beginning of the WSOP this summer, and his excitement about poker was palpable. After that memorable GPL win in Las Vegas, however, he had to hop on a plane to spend his summer filming the second season of The Path. He never made it back to Vegas over the summer for more GPL or any of the WSOP.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.