WPT Rolls Out Its Own March Madness

You know, we have had some less-than-uplifting poker news the last couple days, what with PokerStars announcing that it is increasing rake and its big boss getting in trouble for alleged insider trading violations. So let’s enjoy a little nonsense today. Sports fans around the United States have been immersed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the past couple weeks (no offense to the women and their tournament by any means, but I think we all know that UConn is going to win it). There have been loads of upsets and buzzer beaters, setting the stage for the Sweet 16, which starts tonight. Even my wife – a sports dunce – finally filled out a bracket this year; of course, she is second place in our group with the highest possible points remaining. In conjunction with the tourney, the World Poker Tour (WPT) has created a “Big Dance” of its own, seeding the top 64 WPT title winners of all-time in a bracket-style WPT Champions Challenge.

Anthony Zinno Image credit: @AntZinno

Anthony Zinno
Image credit: @AntZinno

These WPT title holders, members of the WPT Champions Club, were seeded based on the number of WPT titles they have won, total final table appearances, and how much money they have earned on the World Poker Tour. It looks like titles has priority of all, as Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, and Anthony Zinno were awarded three of the four number one seeds, as they each have three WPT titles. Daniel Negreanu, a two-time winner, was given the last number one seed based on his seven WPT final tables and nearly $6 million in WPT earnings.

Fans can vote for who they would like to see win in each matchup by simply visiting WPT.com. Two rounds have already been completed, so like the NCAA tournament, the WPT Champions Challenge is down to its Sweet 16. Voting for the current round is open until Friday, March 25th.

No point in delaying; here is how the brackets look to this point (seed number precedes the player’s name, while percent of fan vote follows):

Spades Bracket – First round

1) Gus Hansen – 86 percent
16) Scott Clements – 14 percent

8) Nenad Medic – 35 percent
9) David Williams – 65 percent

4) Alan Goehring – 57 percent
13) Layne Flack – 43 percent

5) Tommy Vedes – 41 percent
12) Andy Frankenberger – 59 percent

2) Antonio Esfandiari – 82 percent
15) Yevgeniy Timoshenko – 18 percent

7) Tony Dunst – 80 percent
10) Howard Lederer – 20 percent

3) Freddy Deeb – 76 percent
14) David Chiu – 23 percent

6) Matt Giannetti – 27 percent
11) Phil Laak – 73 percent

No real surprises here. The top two seeds – Hansen and Esfandiari – are fan favorites and easily made the next round. Same goes for 11 seed Phil Laak. One would assume that Tony Dunst – a member of the WPT broadcast team – didn’t win by an even great margin over hated online poker figure Howard Lederer simply because those voting for Lederer don’t follow online poker and only remember poker television from a decade ago.

Spades Bracket – Second Round

1) Gus Hansen – 82 percent
9) David Williams – 18 percent

4) Alan Goehring – 54 percent
12) Andy Frankenberger – 46 percent

2) Antonio Esfandiari – 74 percent
7) Tony Dunst – 26 percent

3) Freddy Deeb – 44 percent
11) Phil Laak – 56 percent

Again, the fan favorites move on. Alan Goehring might be a bit of a surprise winner here, as I would assume that casual fans have no idea who he is. Based on seeds, though, he was supposed to get to this point.

Hearts Bracket – First Round

1) Carlos Mortensen – 89 percent
16) Roland de Wolfe – 11 percent

8) Erik Seidel – 90 percent
9) Shawn Buchanan – 10 percent

4) Marvin Rettenmaier – 84 percent
13) Shawn Cunix – 16 percent

5) Tuan Le – 69 percent
12) Lee Markholt – 31 percent

2) Erick Lindgren – 50 percent
15) Dan Harrington – 50 percent

7) Phil Ivey – 91 percent
10) Jared Jaffee – 9 percent

3) Michael Mizrachi – 88 percent
14) Andrea Dato – 12 percent

6) Aaron Mermelstein – 27 percent
11) Nick Schulman – 73 percent

Mostly blowouts, as we might expect when “names” like Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, and Carlos Mortensen are in the bracket. The most interesting thing here is that Erick Lindgren and Dan Harrington each got 50 percent of the vote, obviously the closest contest of the first round. The WPT advanced Dan Harrington, so we assume that he garnered something like 50.2 percent of the vote.

Hearts Bracket – Second Round

1) Carlos Mortensen – 42 percent
8) Erik Seidel – 58 percent

4) Marvin Rettenmaier – 57 percent
5) Tuan Le – 43 percent

15) Dan Harrington – 24 percent
7) Phil Ivey – 76 percent

3) Michael Mizrachi – 75 percent
11) Nick Schulman – 25 percent

A number one seed falls in the second round! No real shocker here, as while both players are well respected and liked by pros and casual fans alike, there’s just something about Seidel that elevates him above most players. Maybe it’s Rounders.

Diamonds Bracket – First Round

1) Anthony Zinno – 89 percent
16) Ryan Daut – 11 percent

8) Ted Forrest – 69 percent
9) John Phan – 31 percent

4) Mohsin Charania – 80 percent
13) James Calderaro – 20 percent

5) Cornel Cimpan – 54 percent
12) Steve Brecher – 46 percent

2) JC Tran – 65 percent
15) Bertrand Grospellier – 35 percent

7) Scotty Nguyen – 81 percent
10) Dylan Wilkerson – 19 percent

3) Barry Greenstein – 77 percent
14) Dominik Nitsche – 23 percent

6) Randal Flowers – 39 percent
11) Vivek Rajkumar – 61 percent

Not much to say here. A few upsets based on seed, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Diamonds Bracket – Second Round

1) Anthony Zinno – 59 percent
8) Ted Forrest – 41 percent

4) Mohsin Charania – 73 percent
5) Cornel Cimpan – 27 percent

2) JC Tran – 59 percent
7) Scotty Nguyen – 41 percent

3) Barry Greenstein – 83 percent
11) Vivek Rajkumar – 17 percent

Straight chalk.

Clubs Bracket – First Round

1) Daniel Negreanu – 96 percent
16) Joe Pelton – 4 percent

8) Gavin Smith – 56 percent
9) David Benyamine – 44 percent

4) Jonathan Little – 86 percent
13) Matt Salsberg – 14 percent

5) Chino Rheem – 61 percent
12) Kevin Stammen – 39 percent

2) Hoyt Corkins – 69 percent
15) John Hennigan – 31 percent

7) Nam Le – 57 percent
10) Noah Schwartz – 43 percent

3) Darren Elias – 89 percent
14) Alessio Isaia – 11 percent

6) Kevin Eyster – 20 percent
11) Doyle Brunson – 80 percent

Just as nobody puts baby in a corner, nobody gives Doyle Brunson a double-digit seed. Did we really think he was going to lose in the first round?

Clubs Bracket – Second Round

1) Daniel Negreanu – 92 percent
8) Gavin Smith – 8 percent

4) Jonathan Little – 85 percent
5) Chino Rheem – 15 percent

2) Hoyt Corkins – 67 percent
7) Nam Le – 33 percent

3) Darren Elias – 29 percent
11) Doyle Brunson – 71 percent

This is looking like Negreanu versus Brunson is an inevitability. Negreanu is straight crushing and Brunson is dominating, as well.

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