The Party Poker Premier League Poker VI starts next week in London, an extravaganza which has always resulted in poker gold. The game is great, but you can throw the game out the window. You can throw the game out the window because what you have is sixteen of the top poker players and personalities in the world all spending every minute with one another for seven days straight. Just based on that fact alone, by the fourth day about half of them have cracked up completely. To say it’s entertaining to watch is an understatement.
The format is simple
Sixteen players will be split into two groups of eight, selected by random draw on Saturday night. Each group will then play four one-table tournaments and receive points for where they finish in each heat. The top three point earners from each group go through to the final table along with the winners from the heads-up playoffs between the fourth and fifth spots. Players earn prize money for every point earned in the league and on the final table. The buy-in is $125,000.
3’s The Magic Number
There are three keys to winning in the Premier League. One of them is experience. Having played this particular sit’n’go structure before is a distinct advantage. Another key is the ability to adapt to complex game situations. And you also have to run good. The fact that the PartyPoker.com Premier League VI is going to be streamed on the internet this year is a new realm for the event. It’s an immersion. It is twelve hours of poker a day for a week of these superstars only playing amongst themselves. I don’t recall something like this ever having been done.
The Final Table
A mouthwatering line-up to start, with about half the players making their Premier League debut, including One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari and 2010 world champion Jonathan Duhamel. But here are the eight that I think will make the final table.
1) Scott Seiver:
The defending champion, last season Seiver made the game look easy. He took Patrik Antonius and spun him like a top. But his verbal is also sublime. Scott would knife in a beauty every time Daniel Cates lost a pot, a zinger to the gut which would harden the Jungleman’s face and sit him steaming from his ear holes and forking down a Chicken Caesar salad like it was his last meal.
Seiver seems to be at his happiest when inventing card games at will, and he should be a strong favorite here. Saying that, I saw play him this week in London and he looked distinctly like a man who was trying to catch a bus. We’ll put it down to jetlag.
2) Luke Schwartz:
As good as Luke Schwartz was during season four of the Premier League, that’s as bad as he was during season five. Full Flush is still the phenom who has yet to bloom. At table talk he has no equal, a fantastically worded outburst recorded last week in London showing that Luke has flying form. He boasts a great record in this format, Schwartz is actually a no limit Hold’em beast. And in London, Full Flush is playing on his home court. That’s a big advantage.
3) Marvin Rettenmaier:
Mad Marvin Rettenmaier figures to do well for just one reason alone. Even though he may struggle with the format, and even though the cameras may throw him off. Even though he’s a Premier League first timer, among this group Marvin is playing as far as I can see the best tournament poker in the world right now. Rettenmaier is currently number one on the Global Poker Index. It’s well deserved. Marvin is torching the game.
4) Phil Laak:
If in a couple of thousand years it turns out that Phil Laak was actually a prophet sent by the ruler of the universe to lead us all home, I’ll think to myself, “You know, I kind of thought that might be the case.” You really don’t want to underestimate Phil Laak. I’ll just say that. I have no earthly idea what level he’s on.
5) Jason Mercier:
Mercier is a strong poker player. I spent a day watching him grind an average stack at the WPT Prague, and for a man who could never show down a hand he was pretty awesome. Mercier’s well-known Open Face Chinese prowess speaks well of his ability to adapt on the fly in his Premier League debut.
6) Daniel Negreanu:
Daniel loves games. Last year when Yevgeny Timoshenko was sitting with kings and staring at permutations on a white piece of paper for ages before folding, I could think how much Daniel would have loved that spot. In PLP IV he shoved on Luke Schwartz in a similar situation, knowing Full Flush could only call if maybe he had the aces. Full Flush had the aces.
Daniel has a poker edge here, but his form is suspect. It’s been nearly one year since his last six figure cash. Though Negreanu notoriously hates to travel, London has to be one of his favorite cities abroad. They have vegan restaurants, after all.
7) Tony G:
Tony G is the only man to play in every Premier League Poker season. And it kills him that he has still never won. It gnaws at him to the thick and thin. Tony has come close, once melting down against Andy Black after accidentally exposing his hand, and in season three singing Juha Helppi off the final table before succumbing to JC Tran.
Tony G is not the best poker player in the game. Some people consider him completely terrible. Tony will go for one street of value when he should get two, and he’ll snap call 27 big blinds with a pair of twos quicker than he’ll shake your hand.
Never underestimate Tony G when he’s trying, and never expect too much when he’s not. And when Tony G gets half cranked up on railroad gin, you can light fire to everything in his way. Because he will mow you down. We haven’t seen that Tony G in a while. But I have a feeling that here we will.
8) Phil Hellmuth:
For Hellmuth, Premier League Poker is like being in the whipping shed. But it always seems like that for Phil on TV. No one in the history of poker has more consistently had worse results in made for television formats as Phil Hellmuth. In the art of ridiculousness he has no equal. Hellmuth also owns thirteen World Series of Poker bracelets and will likely go down as the greatest that has ever played the game. Thankfully we still have the time to make up our minds for ourselves.