Poker Greats Playing Card Deck: The Deuces

[LL] “You’re not going to believe what I just found on eBay!” Leroy the Lion gushed.

[RR] “That 3-speed bicycle that was stolen from you in college”, Roderick the Rock joked.

[SS] “No, probably something poker-related”, Stan the Stat suggested. “An original Dogs Playing Poker oil painting?”

[FF] “A poker chip that was used during the first World Series of Poker?” Figaro the Fish guessed.

[LL] “No, but you’re getting warmer. Remember those Saddam Hussein – Most Wanted playing card decks? I found a poker version.”

[RR] “What, the players you’d most want to knock out of a poker tournament or stack in a cash game?”

[LL] “No, more like collectable baseball cards. The Poker Greats deck has cards with pictures on one side and biographical data on the other.”1

[RR] “Cool. Did you bring the deck with you?”

[LL] “I just won the auction last night, so I haven’t gotten the package yet.2 But I can show you what they look like online.

Each denomination represents a category. For example, the Deuces are the Young Guns, players who recently made their mark on the poker world at an early age.

{ Leroy pulls out his iPhone and continues talking as he launches Safari. }

The front of each card has the suit and denomination, player name, and a caricature.3 The backs have the name, category, best WSOP Main Event finish, WSOP bracelets, WSOP cashes, WPT titles, career live tournament winnings, a poker-related quote from the player, and one to three factoids. A badge with the year appears if the player has been enshrined in the Poker Hall of Fame.

Here are the Deuces:4

Daniel Colman – Young Guns

2

Daniel Colman

2
Daniel Colman – Young Guns
Born: 1990 (Holden, MA)
WSOP Main Event: never cashed
WSOP Bracelets: 1
WSOP Cashes: 8
WPT Titles: 0
Live Earnings: $24,737,801
Quote: “As for promoting myself, I feel that individual achievements should rarely be celebrated. I am not going to take part in it for others and I wouldn’t want it for myself.” — Daniel Colman (July 2, 2014, shortly after declining to be interviewed after winning the Big One for One Drop).
  • Won the 2014 Big One for One Drop for $15,306,668.
  • Won $22,389,481 in tournaments in 2014, more than all but four other players have won in their entire careers.

Dominik Nitsche – Young Guns

2

Dominik Nitsche

2
Dominik Nitsche – Young Guns
Born: 1992/10/11 (Minden, Germany)
WSOP Main Event: never cashed
WSOP Bracelets: 3
WSOP Cashes: 25
WPT Titles: 0
Live Earnings: $4,955,481
Quote: “It’s funny to me how I’ve been around for so long, yet I’m much younger than most players.” — Dominik Nitsche (April 30, 2014 PokerPlayer interview).
  • Youngest to win 3 WSOP bracelets at only 21 years, 7 months, and 29 days.
  • Tied for the most WSOP bracelets in the 2010s with 3.
  • Finished 3rd in the 2013 WSOP Europe Main Event.

Greg Merson – Young Guns

2

Greg Merson

2
Greg Merson – Young Guns
Born: 1987/12/08 (Washington, D.C.)
WSOP Main Event: 1st (2012)
WSOP Bracelets: 2
WSOP Cashes: 15
WPT Titles: 0
Live Earnings: $11,283,954
Quote: “I want to continue to grow as a professional gambler and keep playing the biggest games I can find. I want to leave a legacy as one of the hardest working players of all-time and hopefully at some point be one of the best of all-time.” — Greg Merson (January 13, 2013 PocketFives interview).
  • Was named 2012 WSOP Player of the Year as the only multiple bracelet winner, having captured the $10,000 No Limit Hold ‘Em – Six Handed event just two days before the Main Event began.

Pius Heinz – Young Guns

2

Pius Heinz

2
Pius Heinz – Young Guns
Born: 1989/05/04 (Odendorf, Germany)
WSOP Main Event: 1st (2011)
WSOP Bracelets: 1
WSOP Cashes: 5
WPT Titles: 0
Live Earnings: $8,979,848
Quote: “The November Nine was an incredible bonding experience between players. You have exactly eight other people in the world who feel what you feel and are going through what you’re going through. Nobody else understands it…” — Pius Heinz (November 10, 2011 PocketFives interview).
  • Less than two weeks before the 2011 Main Event, Heinz recorded his first live cash, final tabling the $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em tourney for $83,286.

Footnotes:

  1. Each card in the deck is unique on both sides, so you can’t use them to play card games unless you have a really bad memory.
  2. Nor will he. The deck doesn’t really physically exist; the versions here are lovingly crafted but from JPEGs, CSS, and HTML. I’d consider Kickstarter to get real decks printed with better art if there’s enough interest and no legal issues, but Right of Publicity laws are probably fatal to the project.
  3. Caricatures and cards are Copyright © 2015 Robert Jen and were created with help from the iOS app Caricature Me, the Mac OS apps Photoshop Elements and Photos, and iCloud.
  4. Other top Young Guns include Jeff Madsen, Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel, Mike McDonald, Ryan Riess, et al.

    Cards may not display properly unless you view this post by itself.

    Stats current as of July 29, 2015. {Greg Merson’s career earnings updated November 23, 2015.}

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2015 November Nine Odds


[SS] “Place your bets!” Stan the Stat declared. “The 2015 November Nine odds have been set at Bovada.

November Nine Odds

Player Bovada
Odds
Percent
With Vig1
True
Percent
ICM2
Percent
Diff
Joe McKeehen 7/5 41.7% 33.1% 32.8% 0.4%
Zvi Stern 4/1 20.0% 15.9% 15.5% 0.4%
Neil Blumenfield 6/1 14.3% 11.4% 11.4% -0.1%
Pierre Neuville 6/1 14.3% 11.4% 10.9% 0.4%
Max Steinberg 7/1 12.5% 9.9% 10.5% -0.6%
Thomas Cannuli 12/1 7.7% 6.1% 6.4% -0.2%
Josh Beckley 12/1 7.7% 6.1% 6.1% 0.0%
Patrick Chan 25/1 3.8% 3.1% 3.2% -0.2%
Federico Butteroni 25/1 3.8% 3.1% 3.2% -0.2%
Totals 125.8% 100.0% 100.0%

Notes:

  • Unlike the past two years, this year’s Vegas odds barely differ from the chip stack sizes. J.C. Tran earned a whopping 8.0% strength bonus in 2013, while Jorryt van Hoof was plus 2.7% last year.
  • At 72, Neuville is the oldest November Niner ever, sixteen years older than Steven Gee in 2012. He could become the oldest Main Event winner, passing Moss, who was 66 in 1974. At 61, Blumenfield is the second oldest November Niner and helped make this group the oldest ever (average age of 35.3, topping 2009’s 34.6).
  • Six of the nine are Americans (Stern is Israeli, Neuville is Belgian, and Butteroni is Italian), and six are poker pros (all but Stern, Blumenfield, and Neuville), both typical numbers.
  • Joe McKeehen has the highest percentage of chips ever at 32.75%, beating Darvin Moon’s 30.24% in 2009 and Jonathan Duhamel’s 30.04% in 2010.3 Not surprisingly McKeehen also has the largest lead over second place with over double Stern’s chip count (Moon had 1.69 times Eric Buchman’s stack).
  • Only one player, Steinberg, has won a bracelet, which is exactly average. The 2008 and 2014 November Nines had no bracelets between them, and the 2012 and 2013 groups had two bracelet winners each. Both McKeehen and Neuville have won a little more money at the WSOP than Steinberg in their careers.
  • Cannuli, Beckley, Chan, and Butteroni all have a lower percentage of the chips than any winner has started from. Joe Cada entered the final table with 6.78% of the chips in 2009, and Martin Jacobson had 7.43% in 2014. Antoine Saout converted 4.88% of the chips into a 3rd place finish in 2009 though.”

[RR] “It’s hard to bet against the overwhelming chip leader”, Roderick the Rock admitted.

[LL] “If Stan takes the three foreigners”, Leroy the Lion suggested, “I’ll pick the remaining five Americans, and our odds will be about the same.”

[SS] “32.75% to 29.63% to 37.62% by chips? Not quite, Leroy. Give me Chan though, and it’s a deal. By the Vegas odds, we’d each have almost exactly a one-in-three chance.”

[RR] “What should the stakes be?”

[LL] “How about the losers serve the winner at our next tournament after the Main Event final table?”

[SS] “Food, drink, rebuys if necessary, and maybe a chair upgrade or two?”

[LL/RR] “I’m in!”

Footnotes:

  1. The Percent With Vig is simply the denominator of the odds divided by the sum of the numerator and denominator. The True Percent normalizes this by dividing by the total of 125.8%.
  2. ICM stands for Independent Chip Model.
  3. Moon finished 2nd while Duhamel won.

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WSOP Main Event Final Table Bubble Boys


[LL] “I’m so disappointed the Daniel Negreanu didn’t make the November Nine”, Leroy the Lion lamented.

[SS] “Sadly, that’s the second time he’s finished 11th in the WSOP Main Event, as he also did it fourteen years ago”, Stan the Stat added.

[RR] “Who was the Final Table bubble boy?” Roderick the Rock inquired.

[SS] “Nobody you’ve heard of before. Alexander Turyansky.”

[LL] “Well, he’s famous now.”

[SS] “Absolutely!” Stan agreed. “Since the post-Moneymaker poker boom, making the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event has become an incredible accomplishment. Being the final table bubble boy is painful but praiseworthy, much more so than being the money bubble boy. Here are the fifteen players who just missed reaching the final table since 2001, when the final table expanded from six players to nine:

WSOP Main Event Final Table Bubble Boys Since 2001

Year Bubble Boy Prize Notes
2001 Arturo Diaz $63,940 The Californian edged out Daniel Negreanu, who finished 11th.
2002 Don Barton $70,000 The Nevadan had finished 15th for $55,945 the previous year.
2003 Phil Ivey $82,700 The living legend went on to reach the Main Event final table in 2009, finishing 7th for $1,404,014.
2004 Marcel Luske $373,000 The Flying Dutchman had finished in 14th for $65,000 the previous year.
2005 Ayhan Alsancak $600,000 The Swede had finished 71st for $30,000 the previous year.
2006 Fred Goldberg $1,154,527 The Floridian went on to capture a bracelet in the $1,500 Mixed Hold ‘Em event the next year.
2007 Steve Garfinkle $476,926 The Washingtonian edged out Scotty Nguyen, who finished 11th.
2008 Dean Hamrick $591,869 The Michigander became the first November Nine bubble boy but went on to win a bracelet in a $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em event in 2010.
2009 Jordan Smith $896,730 The Texan had just won a bracelet in a $2,000 No Limit Hold ‘Em event three weeks earlier.
2010 Brandon Steven $635,011 The Kansas won an almost identical prize ($621,180) for placing 7th in the 2013 One Drop High Roller.
2011 John Hewitt $607,882 The Californian only has one other WSOP cash, and it was four weeks earlier.
2012 Gaelle Baumann $590,442 The Frenchwoman edged out the other woman in the final eleven, Elisabeth Hille.
2013 Carlos Mortensen $573,204 The 2001 Main Event Champion has also won a $5,000 Limit Hold ‘Em event in 2003 and three WPT titles.
2014 Luis Velador $565,193 The Californian won bracelets in a $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em event in 2008 and a $2,500 Pot Limit Hold ‘Em/Omaha event in 2010.
2015 Alexander Turyansky $756,897 The German was knocked out when his A♣K♥ was outraced by chip leader Joe McKeehen’s Q♥Q♣. Negreanu finished 11th again.

Notes:

  • Between 1981 and 2000, 7th place finishers included 1978 champion Bobby Baldwin (1981), three-time champion Johnny Moss (1985), 1983 runner-up Rod Peate (1990), two-time champion Johnny Chan (1992), and 2009 November Niner Jeff Shulman (2000).
  • Seven of the fifteen final table bubble boys since 2001 have a WSOP bracelet.
  • In 2006, Goldberg won more prize money for tenth place than every champion before 2000 got for winning.”

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WSOP Main Event Money Bubble Boys


[LL] “Why do players in our home tournament like to pay the bubble boy?” Leroy the Lion lamented. “It just makes a new bubble boy one place lower.”

[SS] “Well, I guess that makes it like the WSOP Main Event”, Stan the Stat suggested.

[RR] “What do you mean?” Roderick the Rock inquired.

[LL] “Some sponsor has given the official bubble boy a pretty decent prize, a buyin into the next year’s Main Event, for I don’t know how long now.”

[SS] “It’s actually only been since 2004, and two of the early years, 2006 and 2007, had a single-table tournament between the last ten or so players who missed cashing to determine who got the buyin.

Winning the buyin isn’t quite as good as cashing though, since the lowest payout has been around double the buyin since 2007.”1

[RR] “Sure does beat going home empty-handed though.”

[SS] “In the early days of the WSOP Main Event, only the winner got paid, so the money bubble boy was actually the runner up: Puggy Pearson (1971 and 1972), Johnny Moss (1973), Crandell Addington (1974), Bob Hooks (1975), Jesse Alto (1976), and Gary Berland (1977). The top five places got paid the next three years, leaving Ken Smith (1978), Sam Petrillo (1979), and Gabe Kaplan (1980) on the outside looking in.

From 1981 to 2003, I could only track down a few of the empty-handed bubble boys: Sam Moon (10th in 1981), Crandell Addington (10th in 1983), Jack Keller (28th in 1995), Chris Ferguson (28th in 1997), and Mike Magee (28th in 1998). The rest have been lost to history as nobody really cared or kept track.

Since 2004 though, the bubble boy or boys have gotten a little bit of press, so I’ve been able to put together this table:

WSOP Main Event Bubble Boys Since 2004

Year Bubble Boy Min Cash Notes
2004 Dewey Tomko,
Dave Combs
$10,000 Dewey Tomko and Dave Combs busted on the same hand in 225th/226th place, but instead of splitting $10,000, they each got $10,000 from Harrah’s.
2005 Carl Ygborn $12,500 The 25-year-old Swede flopped a pair of Tens with an Ace kicker, but Corey Cheresnick had flopped a straight. Harrah’s gave him free entry the next year, and he finished 628th for $19,050.
2006 Hoa Manh Nguyen $10,616 The Californian won the Milwaukee’s Best Light Bubble Playoff for a year’s supply of beer and free entry the next year, where he won $285,678 for 34th place.2
2007 John Sigan $20,320 His pocket Queens lost to Vandy Krouch’s 6♠5♠, which hit an inside straight on the turn. Entered into the Milwaukee’s Best Light Bubble Playoff for a seat into next year’s Main Event but lost.
2008 Steve Chung $21,230 The Hong Kong native couldn’t catch his opponent’s pocket Kings with his Eights, but he turned his free entry into 569th place and $23,196.
2009 Kia Hamadani $21,365 Had blinded down to a single ante before losing with 4♣3♥ to Reed Hansel’s 9♦2♦; turned his free entry into 459th place and $31,647.
2010 Tim McDonald $19,263 His Q♠Q♣ lost to Ismail Erkenov’s A♥2♥ after a A♣A♠2♦ flop despite a river Q♥ that gave him a smaller boat. Didn’t cash in 2011.
2011 Reza Kashani $19,359 Busted by Joseph Cheong when his K♠J♠ couldn’t catch up with Cheong’s Q♠Q♦ after a K♥Q♣9♣ flop. Didn’t cash in 2012.
2012 David Kelley,
Desmond Portano,
Steve Rosen,
Dane Lomas
$19,227 The four players split $19,227 ($4,806.75 each) for 666-669th and were supposed to have a 4-player single-table tournament to get the free buyin, but Kelley bought the other three players out (he didn’t cash).
2013 Farzad Bonyadi $19,106 The three-time bracelet winner busted with A♠J♣ when his pair of Jacks lost to Nick Schwarmann’s A♣Q♥ for a straight on a J♦5♠3♠T♠K♥ board. He converted his free entry into 238th place and $38,634.
2014 Zhen Cai,
Kori Hunter,
John Dwyer
$18,406 The three players all exited on the same hand and split $18,406 ($6,135.33 each); Kai drew the K♦ to beat Hunter’s 6♦ and Dwyer’s 6♥ to win the $10,000 buyin to the 2015 Main Event. { July 16, 2015 update: Cai finished 266th in the 2015 WSOP Main Event for $24,622. }
2015 Roy Daoud3 $15,000 Daoud, who had lost an all-in blind battle with 5h5c against 7h5d when the board hit two pairs (K♣9♠4♣K♠9♣), won a draw over Jonas Lauck (J♦ to 7♠), who busted on the same hand. Turyansky’s board was 7♥6♣5♥8♦J♦.

Notes:

  • Five of the nine players who obtained entry into the next year’s Main Event cashed, well above the expected ten percent rate.
  • Even in the last years, the identity of the empty-handed money bubble boys are mostly unknown, but they include Tim Duckworth (2007; although Sigan also ended up not winning the entry fee), Mickey Appleman (2008), William Blake (2010), and Yuri Dzivielevski (2013).”

Footnotes:

  1. The last officially paid prizes have been between $18,406 in 2014 and $21,365 in 2009. Before 2007, the amount had been all over the place, even dipping below $10,000 from 1986 to 1992.
  2. Nguyen had also just missed the money in 2005 by a mere three places.
  3. { March 16, 2016 update: } Added 2015 bubble boy.

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Stan’s Lists – WSOP Last Celebrity Standing


[SS] “I never liked to watch celebrity poker events back in the heyday of poker on television, but it’s definitely great for poker when famous personalities play our game. Last Celebrity Standing in the World Series of Poker Main Event is like Last Woman Standing with a smaller and lower-skilled set of players. Having a celebrity win the Main Event or at least reach the November Nine, is about the only thing that could increase poker’s popularity more than having a woman do it.”

[RR] “How about a female celebrity?”

[SS] “That could work double. Anyway, since 2005…”

Last Celebrity Standing at the WSOP Main Event

Year Celebrity Place Prize Notes
2005 Nick Cassavetes1 93 $77,710 actor and director did very well for his first tournament
2006 Rick Salomon 196 $42,882 ex-husband of Pamela Anderson and Shannen Doherty won an impressive $2,800,000 in the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop ($1,000,000 buyin); Sully Erna also cashed
2007 Sully Erna 237 $45,422 lead singer of rock band Godsmack lost with quad aces to a runner-runner royal flush2
2008 Kara Scott 104 $41,816 poker commentator previously hosted martial arts and backgammon shows in Canada and the U.K.3
2009 Lou Diamond Phillips 186 $36,626 actor busted out with pocket Kings against two opponents with pocket Aces
2010 Bruce Buffer 478 $27,519 ring announcer busted out when his pocket Queens lost to Ace-King on a river King; Vince Van Patten also cashed
2011 Mars Callahan 94 $64,531 actor and director of “Poolhall Junkies” was doing research for a “Poker Junkies” movie; Sam Simon was in 24th after 2 days and finished 500th for $23,876
2012 Kevin Pollak 134 $52,718 actor reached Day 5 but busted with Q♦Q♣ vs. Q♠Q♥ when his opponent hit a heart flush
2013 Ray Romano $0 actor reached Day 3 for a personal best but has yet to cash in eight tries
2014 Paul Pierce $0 NBA player reached Day 3 and finished around 800th out of 6,683 players
20154 Fatima Moreira de Melo 286 $34,157 The Dutch field hockey player lasted quite a bit longer than Australian cricket player Shane Warne, who finished 597th for $17,282.
20164 John Arne Riise $0 The retired Norwegian soccer player reached Day 3, lasting just a little longer than actor Ray Romano.

Notes:

  • Top celebrity finishers from 1970 to 2004 include Gabe Kaplan (6th place bubble boy in 1980, 21st place in 1986 and 13th place in 1991 for min-cashes), Telly Savalas (21st place in 1992 for a min-cash), and Hal Kant (26th place in 1995 and 24th place in 1996 for min-cashes and 21st place in 1999 for $27,950 for the Grateful Dead’s lawyer).
  • Percentage-wise, Callahan’s finish was the best (top 1.37%), ahead of Scott (1.52%) and Cassavetes (1.66%). All the in-the-money finishes since 2005 except Buffer’s were better than all the finishes before 2005.
  • Pierce became by far the most famous American athlete to make a deep run.5

[SS] “Acting has probably been the most common profession of poker celebrities in the WSOP Main Event, possibly because Hollywood is within driving distance of Las Vegas. Among the actors and actresses to contribute their $10,000 buyins to the tournament have been Aaron Paul, Alexia Portal, Anthony Rapp, Ben Affleck, Brad Garrett, David Alan Grier, Dean Cain, Ed Norton, Hank Azaria, James Garner, James Woods, Janet Jones, Jason Alexander, Jennifer Tilly, Matt Damon, Norm Macdonald, and Shannon Elizabeth.

A few of these actors have had poker success outside of the WSOP Main Event: Affleck won the 2004 California State Poker Championship for $356,400. Tilly won the 2005 WSOP Ladies Championship for $158,335. And Elizabeth placed 3rd in the 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Championship for $125,000 and 2nd in the 2010 Ante Up For Africa Charity Event for $79,776.

Athletes, male athletes at least, have also been well-represented: baseball players David Wells, Jose Canseco, and Orel Hershiser (5th place in the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship for $75,000); basketball players Charles Barkley, Earl Barron (5 WSOP cashes but none in the Main Event), John Salley, and Jordan Farmar; boxers Antonio Tarver, Audley Harrison, and Lennox Lewis; football players Emmitt Smith and Richard Seymour; hockey players Brad May and Robert Luongo (who placed 634th for $19,227 in 2012); and martial artists Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Georges St. Pierre, and Martin Kampmann.”

Footnotes:

  1. On the flip side, actor Tobey Maguire busted out on the very first hand of Day 1A when his full house lost to a bigger full house.
  2. Erna immediately commemorated his bad beat by getting a tattoo with the phrase “No Justice in Poker”.
  3. Scott left her job with Sky Poker and officially became a poker pro one month after this cash.
  4. July 15, 2015 update: added 2015’s Last Celebrity Standing. Patrick Bruel did even better, but he no longer counts as he’s a professional poker player. March 7, 2017 update: added 2016.
  5. Not that we’ve forgotten Gabe Kaplan’s moment of athletic fame on the Battle of the Network Stars (nine and a half minute video). By coincidence, Telly Savalas was also one of the three team captains.

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