The Nuts is a recurring feature that takes a look at the best poker players in the world. This feature aims to produce a list of the best players at the moment. Our panel of 10 is composed of ESPN.com's poker contributors (Bernard Lee and myself); ESPNdeportes.com Poker Editor Nahuel Ponce; Bluff Magazine Editor-in-Chief Lance Bradley, Senior Writer Tim Fiorvanti and Information Manager Kevin Mathers; WSOP.com Managing Editor Jessica Welman; PokerNews Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peters; World Poker Tour's Eric Ramsey; and PocketFives' Dan Cypra.
Just as the poker world revolves around the World Series of Poker in June and July, when fall approaches, the biggest and best action is in Europe. From EPT Barcelona to EPT/UKIPT London and the recently started World Series of Poker Europe, the focus of the industry is far away from the United States, despite a few larger domestic efforts. Europe is not only the place to go because of the massive amount of live play, but with the World Championship of Online Poker taking place at the same time, going to Europe provides professionals the opportunity to soak up more action. WCOOP is the biggest online tournament series in the world, and proved again in 2013 that no other effort can truly compare.
To nobody's surprise, Phil Ivey retained the top spot this month. Although he's down so far this year in the online cash games, he had a strong recovery last month by pocketing more than $500,000. Ivey also found his way into WCOOP and just missed the final table in the $10,300 eight-game event; he finished 57th in the $2,100 no-limit event earlier in the series. Ivey now turns his sights to capturing his 10th WSOP bracelet, and with a 25,600-euro event on the schedule, he'll be sure to make the most of his trip to France.
While Ivey coasts at No. 1, the battle for No.2 continues between Daniel Negreanu and whoever else makes competitive strides each month. Negreanu solidified his spot with his runner-up finish in the EPT Barcelona high roller event, and then a 17th-place in the $2,100 HORSE WCOOP event. Vanessa Selbst jumped from ninth in the rankings to challenge him for No. 2 with a second-place finish (out of 1,189) at the Borgata Poker Open and two weeks later, a victory in the 2,000-pound high roller event on the UKIPT.
In addition to Selbst, some other members of the top 10 earned additional hardware over the past month. Marvin Rettenmaier, ranked fifth, found another tour to win on in September as he captured a Eurasian Poker Tour title. David Baker dropped to seventh despite winning one of the Sunday Majors on PokerStars for nearly six figures, and Phil Hellmuth, eighth, found the winner's circle in an Open Face Chinese event at UKIPT London.
Replacing Matthew Ashton and Sam Trickett on the list are Ole Schemion and Steven Silverman. Schemion is far from recognizable if you only follow the American poker scene, as the 20-year-old has conquered the European poker market for $3.3 million over the past two years. He's a stalwart in the European high roller events and will go down as the final Partouche Poker Tour champion, winning their main event title last September. Silverman, aka "Zugwat," will get national TV exposure in a few months because of his victory in the $100,000 Alpha8 debut. The Washington, D.C., native has more than $2 million in live earnings this year and may be finally getting his due.
Did we leave out your favorite player? Who should be ranked higher? Who should be completely off the list? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below. Here's a look at August's top 10:
On the bubble
November Niner JC Tran is the bubble boy in this month's rankings. The WSOP main event chip leader followed up his main event run with a second-place finish in the Alpha8, and is on the way to Europe looking for more. Tran is a few eliminations away from making this his most profitable year yet, and panelists came close to putting him on the list before the action plays out in Vegas next month. ... Dan Kelly was the bubble boy last month, and although his eight-cash WCOOP would get him back in the top 10, it wasn't enough. Kelly has been outstanding this year and should contend for Player of the Year honors this fall. … Jason Mercier earned a big cash with a third-place finish in the $700 no-limit WCOOP event and seems to be back on track. Nobody doubts his ability, and he's often one of the most debated players month after month. … Steve O'Dwyer peaked on this list in 2012 and is easily making his case once again. O'Dywer, the EPT Grand Final Champion, added $550,000 to his bankroll since August and is currently 11th on the 2013 money list. … Viktor Blom, David Sands, Sam Trickett, Chris Klodnicki, Martin Finger, Igor Kurganov, David Benefield, Mike McDonald and Paul Volpe also received consideration this month.
Bradley: Spots 2-4 are all occupied by players who are having strong years. Ivey continues to sit atop the rankings, and that doesn't shock me at all. He's clearly cemented his reputation as the best player in the world, but he's going to need to show he can win something other than a new badge on IveyPoker with Negreanu and Selbst (who just won an EPT side event) hot on his tail.
I'm somewhat surprised to see Hellmuth still in the Top 10, but I guess with WSOP Europe kicking off this weekend, he could snap up another bracelet to crack the top five next month.
Feldman: In my opinion, the most interesting results this month come in spots nine and 10. Ole Schemion is crushing the poker world ... where he can. He become a true star on the European Poker Tour, but being younger than 21, he can't play in the U.S. It's hard to imagine where his career will take him, but without any hesitation, it's easy to say he'll be the rookie everyone is watching in Vegas next summer.
Silverman's stock has never been higher, and perhaps a debut at 10 is too low. Regardless, I'm glad to see him on the list and finally getting a little love from the group.
One player I feel is missing from the list this month is Viktor Blom. The high-rolling Swede remains one of the most swingy cash game players online (currently up $1.5 million this year), but he also had a strong WCOOP showing. He seems to always fall on the bubble and unfortunately, I'm not quite sure what it would take for him to actually break through. Others who I feel are deserving for ranking: David Sands, Steve O'Dwyer, JC Tran and Dan Kelly.