Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the WSOP [Editorial]

Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the WSOP [Editorial]

Friday, 10 June 2011

We might have a terrible football team, a below-average cricket team and a useless rugby team (I don’t know if we do have a bad cricket or rugby team, I just assume so [Find an Aussie and ask him about the Ashes. Ed]) but at least we’re great at tournament poker. Let’s face it, that’s a far better game than ninety minutes of overpaid wimps kicking a ball back and forth.

Last year’s 2010 World Series of Poker was dubbed “The Year of the Brit” after WSOP bracelets given to Richard Ashby, James Dempsey, Praz Bansi, Steve Jelinek and Mike Ellis. All told we took home more than $7.5m from the 2010 WSOP without counting the value of five bracelets at $25,000 apiece.

So far this year the British crowd seem determined to keep their record, beginning with Jake Cody’s win in what will no doubt be one of the toughest fields ever assembled, the $25,000 No Limit Heads-Up Championship. Let’s just take a gander at the 2011 WSOP so far:

Event #2, $25,000 Heads-Up NL Championship – Jake Cody wins $851k for first place of 128 entrants.

Event #5, $1,500 7-Card Stud – Jon Spinks wins $35k for fourth place of 357 entrants.

Event #7, $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold ‘em Championship – Stephen Chidwick wins $199k for fourth place of 249 entrants.

Event #8, $1,000 NL – Sadan Turker wins $377k for second place of 4,178 entrants.

Event #9, $1,500 2-7 NL Single Draw – Matt Perrins wins $102k for first of 275 entrants.

Event #10, $1,500 NL 6-max – David Vamplew wins $141k for fourth of 1,920 entrants.

Event #11, $10,000 Omaha 8 Championship – Richard Ashby wins $161k for fourth of 202 entrants.

By my count that’s seven final tables and two wins for British poker players thus far at this year’s World Series of Poker – pretty good going, especially considering that we’ve only had twelve bracelets total awarded thus far for 2011. If we can keep up the 58% final table and 15% bracelet ratios then we’re looking at UK players making 31 final tables and winning eight or nine bracelets this year.

I obviously wrote that last sentence as facetious hyperbole but the funny thing is that would not be a surprising result. I wrote a week or two ago about the Brits most likely to win a bracelet and we had a great list of Jake Cody (check one off for me), Roberto Romanello, Toby Lewis, Sam Trickett, Neil Channing, Ben Grundy, Chris Moorman... and that’s just players up for their first bracelet. Throw in the Devilfish, Roland de Wolfe and all our other bracelet winners and we have a formidable Barmy Army.

Speaking of which – I love the British rail. One side of a final table heads-up match is a few dozen, politely-applauding friends and family hoping their loved one can win the bracelet. On the other side, a score-strong group of boorish drunkards chanting and jeering like it was a football match. It’s absolutely awesome.

Incidentally, the best chant thus far has to be the one directed at the US rail in the Jake Cody match: “Stand up, if you can play online!” followed by “VPN? You’re having a laugh!” I literally laughed out loud when I saw a Tweet from @taopauly showing the sign that WSOP staff had posted outside the final table spectator area – NO FOOD OR BEVERAGE IS TO BE BOUGHT TO THE FINAL TABLE STANDS.

We got around that by standing just before the stands on the rail.
The way I see it, if you’re going to have a stadium-esque set-up for the final tables this year with bleachers and surround seating then you’re setting poker up for becoming a spectator sport. Thus, you can’t be surprised when people start chanting. You can definitely not be surprised when British people are drunk; that’s just what we do.

One of my favourite poker moments was at the 2010 WSOPE where James Bord’s rail blew the roof off The Empire with their brilliant chants in support of their friend. (Almost) never were they overly offensive and Bord’s heads-up opponent, the most Italian-named man ever Fabrizio Baldassari, took no offence to anything.

I think a lot of US fans are bitter because they’re just so, so bad at sporting chants. “De-fence, de-fence, de-fence...” De-fence? You’re having a laugh.

Tags: WSOP 2011, Editorial, Matt Perry, Jake Cody, Matt Perrins