THESMALLSTAKES
BY BENCONOLEY
My WSOP Invitational Wish List
March 12, 2022

With the World Series of Poker’s Tournament of Champions safely behind us the World Series of Poker has opted to expand on the idea by hinting at an all-star tournament featuring 20 popular past bracelet winners.  By expanding the eligible player pool and attaching a buy-in to the event, they should get past the snooze-fest that resulted in the glorified-freeroll-sit-n-go that we saw last year.  Sure, some people are no-brainers when it comes to who should be invited, but we don’t, however, want two tables full of Tom McEvoys and Johnny Chans.  With all due respect, it just doesn’t make for very exciting television.  That being said, there are some fringe bracelet winners who deserve invites if only because they could “spice up” the event.

Here’s the list:

Russ Hamilton: Assuming he makes it through the Rio and to his seat without being assaulted, Hamilton’s presence would provide viewers with the possibility for more awkward moments than an entire season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.  My first requirement is that he has to sit next to Mike Matusow.  My second requirement is that he is to be referred to as Potripper…or maybe Neo Neo.

Lukasz Dumanski: Think of Dumanski as the Polish David Williams.  Before grinding “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments, Dumanski worked in the adult foot fetish movie industry.  Dumanski’s only bracelet came during the 2007 World Series when he took down a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo Split 8 or Better tournament and the $227,454 that came with it.  But don’t let Dumanski’s modest success stop him from being invited; would you have much time for poker either if you played in Wind!Breakers, an indie rock band that covers pop songs?  No other bracelet winner has a resume like Dumanski, and that’s why gets an invite.

Layne Flack, Scotty Nguyen, and Men Nguyen: The condition attached to all three of these invitations is that each of them has to promise to show up drunk.  Tournament staff might want to cover the table with a plastic sheet, and give Scotty a few extra feet of buffer room in case he loses his temper.  Flack gets the invite because he’s hilarious and smokes cigars.  If Gavin Smith wins a bracelet before this event and gets off the “sober positive-thinking train”, then he should be included in this group too.

Prahlad Friedman and Jeff Madsen: These two are only invited if they sign a contract stipulating that they are going to communicate exclusively through song.  Also, if they get heads-up they can chop and play for the last $10,000 or so by having a freestyle battle, though we risk everyone losing if this happens.

Phil Ivey: No catches here.  He’s Ivey.

I’ll let the World Series of Poker’s tournament organizers figure out who else should be invited to the tables, but if the preceding eight don’t make the cut, the event will never be able to live up to is true potential.


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