Last week I talked about the year in the live poker world, which is often intersected with the online world of poker. This week I would like to focus on the online world. Specifically, online tournaments. It has been an unbelievably crazy year. From the biggest first place prize ever in online history to one of the biggest scandals to ever hit online poker, it has been a newsworthy year to say the least.
Without a doubt the most noteworthy moment of the year was the 1.4 million dollar first prize in the Main Event of the World Championship of Online Poker held by PokerStars. Not only was it the biggest payout in online tournament history, but it was one of the biggest payouts in tournament history, period. After nearly a full day of play, a winner was crowned, by the name of TheV0id. Unfortunately, the biggest tournament in online history was marred by controversy as weeks after it was discovered TheV0id allegedly multi accounted in the tournament and first place was awarded to the 2nd place finisher, ka$ino. Despite the circumstances, this tournament was absolutely awe inspiring. With arguably the greatest structure for play ever seen online, the players played in the longest single day online tournament ever. There has never been a tournament like that before. While Full Tilt had has two day events during their FTOPS, the fact that these players played for nearly 24 hours is just unbelievable. Not only was there the pressure of all that money on the line, but the fatigue had to be massive by the end of the tournament.
If you talk about online tournaments, you have to talk about Issac Baron. Known as WestMenloAA on PokerStars and also known as mr. menlo, he is quite possibly the most fearsome tourney player online. He plays a lighter load than most tournament pros, but has incredible results. This year he has won the Sunday Million for $254k+, the Full Tilt 750k for $132,788, and final tabled the 13th event of the latest Ultimate Bet Online Championship series. He took 3rd in that 1k event for $74,648. Amazing results. Not to mention the numerous cashes he’s had in 1k freezeouts, 200 rebuys, 300 freezeouts, and pretty much any other high stakes tournaments known online. Issac also plays some of the highest stakes cash games online and is known to be a fearsome player in those as well. Without a doubt, he is one of the most talented players online, and in the world.
Unfortunately, online poker took another hit on the chin this year when the Potripper scandal busted out from Absolute Poker. The commotion started when Potripper won a 1K freezeout on Absolute, and made an extremely unusual call heads up to win the tournament, getting it in with ten high versus a prominent online player, CrazyMarco, who conveniently had 9 high. Many people found it odd, but it wasn’t until weeks later when CrazyMarco received the hand history from Absolute which showed the hole cards of every player that was at Potripper’s table during the tournament, including his own. This blew everything wide open and that became the indisputible evidence that some foul had gone on. There was a great deal of work done by a lot of members of the online community into blowing this story wide open in the search of the truth. At first Absolute denied anything had gone wrong, but after some time and more evidence coming to light, there was nothing they could do but concede. Unfortunately, their final statement did not completely match up with a lot of the facts that were discovered by the vast amount of players who did research into the matter. However, in the end of it, Absolute paid out over $1.6 million in returns to players. There were at least seven accounts closed over the scandal. An Absolute employee was terminated soon after. He was allegedly the culprit responsible for the 40 day period of cheating on Absolute from August 14th, to late September when everything came to the attention of the online world. These events rocked the online poker world, and it will undoubtedly take some time for the scars to heal. As of now, many players are still leery of putting money on Absolute, or playing on it.
One of the most discussed and disputed players this year has to be Vietcong01. Once a little known player from Spain, he has had ridiculous results in a short time. He just started playing a volume of tournaments on PokerStars this year, and within the past 12 months he has cashed for over 725 thousand dollars, and has a 205% ROI, which is unheard of in tournaments. In this span, he’s won 10 tournaments, taken 2nd in 9, and has won the 1k Tuesday event on Stars multiple times, won the Sunday Million and won the Sunday Warmup the week after. However, despite his results, there are so many people who think he is just a product of incredible luck. While he appears to play a very unconventional and sometimes -EV style, he is also proof that aggression, even if blind, can be extremely profitable in tournaments. While he can be seen making a ton of borderline plays, he is clearly doing something right to make that amount of money in this time. It is almost certain that he is running extremely well right now, so it remains to see just how well he does next year. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to be a force in online tourneys.
Multiple occurances of multi accounting in well known tournaments throughout the year. Besides the WCOOP Main Event, the Sunday Million on PokerStars, and the varying weekend major on Full Tilt have seen winners stripped throughout the year due to multi accounting. While it is something that makes online poker looks extremely bad, PokerStars and Full Tilt have done well in catching and stripping the multi accounters of their ill gotten money.
The most dominant player this year has to be lilholdem954. Between PokerStars and Full Tilt, he has cashed for over 1.7 million dollars this year. Known as lilholdem954 on PokerStars and jse81 on Full Tilt Poker, he has been simply phenomenal this year. Between the two sites he has won an astounding 36 tournaments this year, and was the runner up in 26 of them. Chad Batista, the man behind the screennames has been on an unbelievable tear for the last year. Aggressive and young, he has played over 3500 tournaments this year, and profited nearly 900 thousand dollars. He has been consistently finishing strong in tournaments all year long. He’s won 3 1k tourneys this year, a 1 million dollar guarantee on Full Tilt, and a ton of high stakes rebuys and freezeouts. He’s one of the strongest players online and has been for a long time.
2007 featured many historic events, some good, and some bad. It’s been a bit of a rough year for the integrity of online tournaments, but as long as sites continue to punish the offenders and as long as they stay vigilant towards future cheaters, the online tournament world will thrive.