Last week, Daniel Negreanu, Mark Seif, Scott Fischman, Bernard Lee, Steve Rosenbloom, Chops from WickedChopsPoker.com, and I held a poker fantasy draft. Each of us chose eight players competing in this year's World Series of Poker, which will include a total of 45 events. The team that earns the most points using our scoring format (below), wins the first-ever ESPN Poker Club fantasy league and a brand new ... well, they just win the league and get some bragging rights.
Here are the teams, and although I'm not Eric Karabell, I'll give some analysis on how these teams could do:
Seifed by the river -- owner Mark Seif, professional player: John Juanda, David Pham, T.J. Cloutier, Howard Lederer, Doyle
Brunson, Minh Nguyen, Marcel Luske, David Benyamine.
Feldman's take: A total of 24 bracelets can be found on Seif's roster, but will his team be playing many events? I know it's tough to say that someone other than Doyle will be leading this team, but in truth, it will be Juanda. He comes into the 2006 WSOP with three WSOP bracelets, and after an extremely deep run in the main event last year, Juanda has proven that he can go deep in large fields. Brunson will earn a standing ovation for every event he plays, but how many will he play this year? Same goes for Cloutier. Seif doesn't have much youth on his squad, but when his team sits down at the table, everyone else knows they mean business.
Surprise pick: Lederer. How long has it been since he's seen a poker table? Seif's hoping the "felt rust" doesn't hold him down too much and he can teach his way to another WSOP victory.
Full Contact Fantasy Poker -- owner Daniel Negreanu, professional player: Erick Lindgren, Ted Forrest, Huck Seed, Scotty Nguyen, Josh Arieh, Juan Carlos Mortensen, Jennifer Harman, Todd Brunson.
Analysis (from Negreanu): My team is full of versatile players that can play most all of the games well. Every one of my players is a "legit" all-around poker player that would do well in the cash games.
There are some question marks, Huck Seed and Jennifer Harman being two of those. Ted Forrest seems committed to the tournament circuit, as does Lindgren, but Jennifer may end up skipping events for more lucrative cash games. As for Huck, he is a risky pick for lots of reasons ... which Huck will show up?
Feldman's take: Pardon the awful use and promotion here, but Daniel's team is STACKED. Thankfully, he doesn't have himself on his team. I do.
Logging in -- owner Scott Fischman, professional player: Scott Fischman, Allen Cunningham, Patrick Antonius, Darrell Dicken, Tony Cousineau, Alan Goehring, Jordan Morgan, Max Pescatori.
Feldman's take: Scott hopes that he does well, because his team is completely dependent on him. Fischman's team is full of young Internet players ... and Cunningham and Alan Goehring. Tied for the fewest number of bracelets with Feldman's team, Fischman went with youth, knowing that they'll be playing in almost every event. Darrell Dicken recently won a WSOP circuit event and cashed at the WPT Mirage event a couple weeks ago. He's proven on the smaller scale that he can handle these events, but can he keep it up at the WSOP?
Surprise pick: Although most of these players can be considered surprises, Morgan takes the crown. Cashing live six times over the last eight months in $1,000 buy-ins or bigger, Morgan makes his living on the Internet, dominating huge fields. Most participants wouldn't have even thought of his name, but Morgan could be the breakout player of this year's WSOP if he translates his online success to the real felt.
Team Rosenbling -- owner Steve Rosenbloom, ESPN Poker Club columnist: Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, Robert Williamson III, Kathy Liebert, Cyndy Violette, Phil Laak, Amir Vahedi
Feldman's take: Apparently, Steve wanted to secure himself points from the women's-only event. The only team to have two women on it could easily score lots of points with success there, but there's much more to Rosenbling than the women. Led by three powerhouses in Ivey, Hellmuth and Chan, Rosenbloom is hoping that the poker brat and Chan get into a head-to-head battle for more bracelets after each event. A combined 28 bracelets can be found on the roster, and if Ivey wins another five, Rosenbloom could be writing another book about the best fantasy league he's ever played.
Surprise pick: Umm ... Liebert, Violette, Laak, Vahedi? Rosenbloom went with some interesting picks at the end of the draft, but if they pay off, he'll be the only one laughing. Take a look at his post on his team here and he'll explain some of his choices.
Kiss the kids -- owner Bernard Lee, ESPN Poker Club columnist: Chris Ferguson, Erik Seidel, Layne Flack, Phil Gordon, Freddy Bonyadi, David Chiu, Hoyt Corkins, Chau Giang.
Feldman's take: Lee missed his chance to pick himself, but that didn't stop him from taking a team full of talented players. Led by Ferguson and Seidel, Lee's team will bring in 28 WSOP bracelets and the toughest table image. Lee's team will mean business as everyone on the team knows how important winning a WSOP bracelet can be. Nobody knows better than Gordon. Can Lee win? If team Full Tilt does well, Lee will take this thing home.
Surprise pick: Gordon. He wants a bracelet. He needs it. He's announced he'll be playing plenty of events and has the potential to be the biggest sleeper if he can pull off a couple of final tables, as he did last year.
We'll play any two -- owner Andrew Feldman, ESPN Poker Club editor: Daniel Negreanu, Michael Mizrachi, Mike Matusow, Kenna James,
Bill Edler, John D'Agostino, Lee Watkinson, Peter Feldman.
Feldman's take: Although optimistic after the draft, this team will hope that youth prevails at the WSOP. Leading the way is Negreanu, who hopes to ride his recent victory in Tunica to further WSOP success. After cashing seven times last year at the WSOP, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi is looking to win his first bracelet and prove once again that he'll be one to fight at the table for a long time. Will "The Mouth" just play some cards? There's no doubt the potential is there after the final table at last year's main event. If Matusow can keep his head, this team could be stronger than initially thought. A combination of youth and experience has the potential to lead this team to the top of the pack.
Surprise pick: Peter Feldman. I needed a Feldman on my team. No, really, I did. After "Nordberg" (his online screen name) won the WSOP circuit event in New Orleans, he'll be full of confidence heading into this year's WSOP.
The Phantastic Ngyueners -- Chops, co-founder of WickedChopsPoker.com: Barry Greenstein, Men Nguyen, Gavin Smith, Chad Brown, Mark Seif, John Phan, David Williams, Mike Gracz
Feldman's take: Talk about a team with potential. Chops' roster (which includes 11 WSOP bracelets) is led by Greenstein, WPT Player of the Year Smith, and Cardplayer Player of the Year Men the Master. Chops has plenty of youth in Phan, Gracz and Williams, who will be playing plenty of events. In this setup, the more events your players enter, the better your chances. Because of this fact, Chops could show off his Wicked Fantasy Victory Skills on his blog Aug. 11.
Suprise pick: OK, not a surprise, but a steal because I can't believe he lasted until Round 5: Seif. How did he not take himself? Obviously, there's a confidence issue, or he didn't want to jinx himself and his team. Either way, the 2005 double bracelet winner should've been gone much earlier in the draft and was a steal at Round 5. Can Seif double up again this year? He's got the skill and motivation, so why not?
Here's the scoring breakdown:
1 point for making the money
5 points for top 20
10 points for the final table, then:
+1 for ninth
+2 for eighth
+4 for seventh
+ 6 for sixth
+ 10 for fifth
+ 15 for fourth
+ 20 for third
+ 30 for second
+ 40 for first
Double points will be awared for the main event.
So for example: Phil Gordon comes in eighth in the $2,000 pot-limit hold 'em event:
One point for the money.
Five points for top 20.
Ten points for final table.
Two points for eighth place.
Phil would earn Bernard Lee's team 18 points for his efforts.
Each day of the World Series of Poker, we'll keep a running scoreboard on the site, so be sure to check back to see who will win. Remember, the World Series of Poker starts next Monday!