The most important poker-related event – possibly including online poker as well – since the five-card draw tournament aboard the Lauren Belle starts today May 31st when the 2016 World Series of Poker gets underway at the Rio Hotel and Casino, just off the strip in Las Vegas. The top story leading into the WSOP is the possible return of He Who Must Not Be Named. Howard “The Professor” Lederer is currently poker’s biggest heel, and has not appeared in a World Series since 2011, but a post on Daniel Negreanu’s blog may or may not hint to a comeback. Does this mean the Apokerlypse is upon us?
Lederer has not been seen since the aftermath of the Full Tilt Poker Black Friday scandal, details of which we will not go into because online poker fans are presumably very familiar with the case. On the aforementioned blog post, published on May 19th – a date that’s no stranger to infamy – Lederer issued an apology, as well as to assume responsibility, for said scandal. Whether or not the apology is sincere, its timing has sports betting fans – and make no mistake; poker is so a sport, like chess, or pool – speculating if the two-time bracelet winner will dare show his face in the 2016 WSOP – either that, or he’s buying time until he gets the Wolf of Wall Street treatment.
While Lederer may be given the cold shoulder, others will be given a warmer welcome. Case in point, Phil Ivey. Many online poker experts believe Ivey to be a shoe in for the Poker Hall of Fame. No Home Jerome is already considered the best all-around player in the world, but he’s currently tied with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan with ten World Series of Poker bracelets. Winning the 11th – and winning the 11th of something is kind of ‘in’ right now – and moving to the 2nd spot for most bracelets won would be a nice way of distinguishing himself at the WSOP 2016. Phil Hellmuth remains the record holder with fourteen World Series of Poker bracelets.
Switching gears and speaking of newcomers, Dzmitry Urbanovich will make his highly expected debut at the World Series of Poker this summer after coming of age in May. The Polish wizard has already accrued somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million – it’s a very upscale neighborhood – in documented live tournament winnings, not to even bring up multiple numerous online poker binks under the nom de guerre “Colisea.” And just to make things interesting, Urbanovich made a wager with former Global Poker Index No. 1 Vanessa Selbst that he would win three bracelets this summer, which if he succeeds would make him a cool $2 million richer.