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Top Poker Stories of 2012 - Part One

There have been many highs and lows throughout 2012. To finish off the year, we decided to take a look back at some of the top stories from the poker year.  We won’t label this a “Top Ten” list as such, since moments like these affect each of us in different ways, and there are many others we could have easily included.  But the Poker Asia Pacific team felt these were the top stories of 2012 that were most relevant to the Poker Asia Pacific community and the poker industry as a whole.

Female success at the WSOP; Worst FT double-bubble in history?

Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann The World Series of Poker Main Event is always an exciting time, but this year, there was the smell of something special in the air.  Perhaps it was just perfume, as we had two female players making big waves on the way towards the final table.  Elisabeth Hille and Gaëlle Baumann were the names on everyone’s lips.  They were young, attractive, had chips and could both play really well.  It had been 17 years since we saw a female on the final table and never before had two women gone so far into a WSOP Main Event.

The entire poker community longed for one, or both, to reach the final table to provide a enormous boost for the profile of women in poker but unfortunately, and rather incredibly, both bubbled the final table in 10th and 11th places.

It capped off a tremendous year for women at the WSOP, with Australia’s own Jackie Glazier coming within a breath of WSOP glory while Vanessa Selbst confirmed her status as the world’s leading female player capturing her second WSOP bracelet.

Sam Razavi’s Jetlag

Sam RazaviIs there anyone in the world with more frequent flyer points in 2012 than popular Brit Sam Razavi?  It wasn’t until late in the year that Razavi got our attention when he was victorious in the APPT Melbourne Main Event for a $330,000 score.  But that was just the start of a wild adventure for Razavi who set on a mission to jet set around the globe chasing tournaments, POTY points and trophies.

Within a month Razavi picked up cashes in Mauritius, Melbourne, Manila and Panama.  Those places are not exactly next door to each other.  He followed that up with a deep run in San Remo at the EPT, grabbed another trophy in Macau, six cashes in the series in Cambodia, a Teams Event win in Auckland, another title in Goa in India to secure the Asian Poker Tour Player of the Year award before finishing off the year with a third place at the WPT China event.

Razavi was ranked 3rd worldwide for the number of cashes (38) in 2012 and his lifetime earnings cracked the US$1 million mark.  Interestingly, Razavi is now tied for 15th for cashes in different countries (16) and just a few continents behind the all-time leader in Casey Kastle (27).

73 players for Macau Super-High Rollers event

Stanley ChoiChina’s Stanley Choi is not exactly one of the most recognized players in poker, but he lays claim to winning one of the biggest poker tournaments the world has ever seen.

When it was announced that a US$250,000 buy-in tournament was going to be held in Macau, there were high expectations that a healthy field would take part, but no one in their right mind could have predicted that a massive field of 73 players would head to the gambling Mecca of Asia for this historic event.  Even more surreal was that 21 of those players opted to rebuy to produce a prize pool of over US$23.5 million!

The best in the world were there including Ivey, Dwan, Hansen, Seidel, Trickett and Australia’s own Joe Hachem, but in the end it was Choi who captured the title and a whopping US$6.5 million in prize money.  It’s Choi’s first, and only, poker result on record, but it’s the 11th largest prize of all time, instantly elevating Choi into the top 50 all-time poker money earners and China’s number one spot.

Dan Smith holla!

Dan SmithFor Dan Smith, 2012 was a year beyond his wildest imaginations.  From a moderate tournament record, Smith went on one of the greatest heaters of all time.  It all started with his win in the Aussie Millions $100k Challenge for his first seven-figure win, and from there, his success simply multiplied.  Three wins in six days at the EPT Grand Final, five WSOP cashes, a final table at the Partouche Poker Tour and another seven-figure win in the EPT Barcelona Super-High Roller event.

To cap things off, Smith proved his skills on the virtual felt as well, with a victory in the world’s premier weekly online tournament, the PokerStars Sunday Million.  Even more remarkable than Smith’s win was the fact that a final table deal netted Smith over $7,500 more than the advertised first place prize money.

Winning is a habit, and Smith proved that with a $3.6 million year that will be long remembered as one of the finest twelve months ever seen.

Phil Ivey busts Aussie Millions Main; Wins Super-High Rollers same day

Phil IveyThe return of Phil Ivey to the poker world after a long hiatus following Black Friday was always going to create a media spectacle.  However few would have predicted Ivey to make such an impact so quickly.  But then again, this is Phil Ivey.

In just his second tournament series back, Ivey went deep into the Main Event of the Aussie Millions before bowing out in 12th place.  Most of us would be disappointed to get so close to such a big final table, but Ivey dusted himself off and wandered upstairs to sit down in the $250,000 Super-High Rollers event.   Just hours later, Ivey had shipped the biggest tournament score of his career worth $2 million after defeating a field of 16 players, and Patrik Antonius heads-up, to claim the title.

If you’re going to make a comeback then why not win the biggest buy-in tournament on the planet?  That is Phil Ivey.  The greatest player on Earth and a lock for any “Top Ten” list.


We'll have Part Two of our top poker stories of 2012 list for you later in the week...

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Poker Asia Pacific Staff
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