Tuesday, June 8, 2010

THe Aces Casino Blog: Here Comes "The List:: Aces Casino's Top 5 Poker Players of All-Time (What, I'M Not On The List? There MUST Be Some Mistake)



Every year about this time, you'll hear wild cheering and general merriment coming from at least two prominent groups of people I can think of that celebrate the coming of another summer: All of the kids in grade school, and all of the poker players waiting for the start of the World Series Of Poker, known herein as the "WSOP." For, when summer comes, the WSOP heats up just like the weather, and we here at Aces Casino, SoCal's top orange county casino night party company, can't WAIT for the action to begin in Las Vegas.

This "reporter" (and I use the term loosely) has considered the annual pilgrimage to first Binion's Horseshoe (back in the 70's/90's) and currently the Rio Suite Hotel and Casino to be the ultimate vacation, and have been involved in more than a few of the WSOP events over the years. And, just like most (if not ALL of you), we've also loved watching tournament and cash-game action televised by the ESPN's and GSN's of the world. Those broadcasts (IMHO) make for some GREAT television. Those shows have it all: Drama, big money payouts, the ability to play along with the participants, as well as a GREAT learning tool for those that would like to see how the game is really played.

It seems like everyone has their favorites among the poker elite, players that have shown their uncanny reading abilities and nerves of steel time and time again on the gaming felt of the WSOP. At some of our many events that have poker tourneys as part of their entertainment, invariably, the question is asked: "Hey, Aces, who are YOUR favorite poker players?" Well, since you ASKED this orange county casino night supervisor, we thought it was time to set the record straight, and post out official list of our top 5 faves of poker.....

#5 -- Mike Matusow

If you're looking for the poker player that's possibly the most misunderstood of ALL the poker players in Vegas, Mike Matusow HAS to be at the top of the list. Let's skip over the fact that Matusow is truly gifted as a poker pro (fearless, great reader of people, grounded in the numbers, you name it), he's possibly one of the most charitable players on the circuit, as well. I've heard so many stories about Mike helping out his many friends in the industry, I couldn't count them all. But, when he's got the camera on him, he's one of the most entertaining players out there, bar none. I've played with him a couple of times, he is all of what you see on TV, but so much more away from the tables. His book is called, "Check Raisingthe Devil." IMHO, it's a MUST-read. He really is one heck of a guy....

#4 -- Kenny Tran

I wonder if some people actually realize just how good this guy is. Hopefully, you got a chance to see him play in the 2008 WSOP Main Event. Loves the action, reads all the players at the table with incredible precision, thinks everything through before acting on a hand at every street, and trusts his reads. Total pro's pro, I wouldn't be surprised to see him pop up on the ESPN 2010 WSOP broadcasts more than once. Never have crossed with Kenny, but if I did, i'd hope that I was sitting behind him.

#3 -- Doyle Brunson

OK, is there ANYONE (besides those anonymous CardPlayer.com troll posters) that doesn't just LOVE Doyle Brunson? Truly a patriarch of the industry, and you'd best believe that the players still respect him, AND his talents. "Ain't NUTHIN' missin' from HIS skills," my friends. Will go down in history as one of the best (if not THE best) NLHE players of all-time. I crossed with the big Texan once: I was lucky enough to bust him out of a WSOP tourney a few years back, then, when a short break came up moments later, he was gracious enough to pose for a picture with me, this RIGHT AFTER he'd been felted by the same guy asking for the picture. True class, no question, and you'd never go wrong picking up any of his many books on poker AND life, or reading HIS blog. A living legend, we wish him luck in 2010.

#2 -- Gavin Smith

When we were putting this list together, I thought SURELY Gavin Smith would be top gun of our list. (I know, 'don't call me Shirley.') Flat-out, I LOVE Gavin Smith. This guy is another in the "Matusow" mold: EXTREMELY talented, knows all the games, and probably mentioned in any discussion of "the best player in the world without a bracelet," and rightly so. But, what sets him apart for MY money is just that- Money. THis guy's a walking side-bet.

I had never met him, but after watching him on TV, you could just TELL he LOVES action. We're sitting together up in the bleachers at final table of a WSOP event in '07/'08, the one where Jeff Madsen ended up beating Eric Lindgren heads-up to win his second straight WSOP bracelet. I'm discussing how things are going for Madsen (who i'd never seen before), and how Madsen's 4-1 chip advantage might spell doom for Lindgren, when Gavin Smith heard me say that, looked at me, and said, "i'll take E-Dog for some action. How much?"

 Well, Madsen's getting hit by the deck at this point of the tourney, and i'm seeing $$$$-signs, but knowing how good Lindgren is, and that Smith and E-Dog are FTP buds and he's just backing up his friend, i'm not interested. I tell Smith that i'm pulling for Lindgren, which must've been the straw that broke the camel's back -- Madsen eliminates E-Dog 15 minutes later, after Smith offered the side bet. Should've done it, but i'm glad I didn't. Smith's at his best in front of the microphone at PokerRoad Radio, ya gotta check him out.

#1 -- Tom "Durrrrr" Dwan

It seems like there isn't ONE poker player on the face of the earth that doesn't have an opinion one way or the other on Tom Dwan. "Durrrrr" broke onto the poker scene during a not-so-recent NBC "Heads-Up" TV poker tourney, and made headlines when he busted out "Poker Brat" Phil Hellmuth with a two-outer. (Gee, ya think Phil took that well?) Hellmuth railed on about how "stupid" he thought Dwan was, but this kid just fired back at Hellmuth, and repeatedly challenged Phil to a cash-game heads-up game. Hellmuth must have known what he was up against - He declined.

For MY money, Tom Dwan is the most incredibly fearless player that i've EVER seen at the tables. He plays for the highest stakes imaginable, has uncanny timing, and reads other players so well, it's scary. Yes, I know that there are some players out there that think Dwan's just a luck-box, but to that, I say this: If that's true, he's been a luck-box for three years, now. That's too long a time to be sucking out on everyone. He's no doubt the real deal, and almost grabbed his first WSOP bracelet this year, finishing second in a $1500 event, of all things. Oh, one more thing -- He's got so much side action bet on himself to WIN a bracelet this year, it's make the payouts of the main event look like peanuts. Tom Dwan is the ultimate action guy, and a fantastic poker player, #1 on OUR list, no question.

Well, there you have it, straight from the top orange county casino night company in Southern California. We'd love to see YOUR lists, too. There are so many players that deserved to be on one of these lists, post your faves, and have fun with it. And, by all means, if you have the chance to go and see this year's WSOP in person, please DO. You'll love it!

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