The 2012 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is in full swing! In this first week, 13 of the coveted gold bracelets and millions of dollars in prize money have already been handed out to the few players who were skilled enough, and lucky enough, to cash. So far, Americans have fared quite well in the events, taking down the crown in 9 of the 13 events, an average that would be respected in any sport. The earnings of the winners alone have totaled more than 2.16 million dollars for an impressive average of over $240,000 per champion.
While in some respects, strong American showings should always be expected, the advent of online poker has greatly increased the popularity of the game worldwide. For example, 4 of the last 10 winners of the WSOP have been international players. That trend masks the sheer volume of cashes made by American players during every tournament. When counting final tables or the top 2 players in heads up matches, players from the U.S. have has made up over 80% of the top finishers in this years tournament series.
So far, the 2012 WSOP has been a lucrative affair for a number of established players. We’ve reported on the success of online phenom Brian Hastings, but the biggest news of the week has been the breakthrough victory of Andy Bloch. He won $126,363 and the bracelet in Event 4, Seven-card Stud. He beat a field of 366 other players to take home the most important piece of jewelry in gambling. This MIT and Harvard Law School graduate was known as the best player to never have won a WSOP bracelet. He has a number of final tables and runner-up finishes to his credit and nearly 5 million dollars in lifetime live tournament winnings. Andy Bloch was the loser of the longest heads-up poker match in WSOP history when he fell to the late Chip Reese in the inaugural $50,000 horse event, though he placed just above Phil Ivey and took home a million dollars for his trouble. This year was Bloch’s 18th WSOP and the final table was star-studded, including pros David Williams and runner-up Barry Greenstein.
Another American, Cory Zeidman, won Event #4, the 7-card Stud Hi/Lo event. Up to this point, Zeidman’s claim to fame had been his poor poker etiquette in a high profile WSOP tournament, but now he has overcome that stigma to take down the bracelet. The final table included multiple bracelet winners, including Todd Brunson and Michael Mizrachi.