While it may not garner the attention as its summer edition in Las Vegas, the World Series of Poker Europe is underway at Kings Casino in Rozvadoz, Czech Republic. The property has now become an annual stop for the series and the WSOP Player of the Year title will be on the line with American pro Shaun Deeb way out in front of the pack.
Deeb sat in first place after the summer edition and traveled to Europe to compete for the title. He had a huge summer in Las Vegas and hopes that continues in the Czech Republic. That run in Vegas included a massive 16 cashes and two bracelets, bringing his total to four. In June, he took down the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller for $1.4 million and followed that up in July by winning the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Big Blind Antes Championship for $814,179.
In Europe, Deeb is already off to a nice start with two small cashes. He now has a lead over Ben Yu by 846 points, which was about 600 points before the WSOPE kicked off. Yu didn’t attend the WSOPE last year and has expressed reservations about attending the event because of the 2017 controversy surrounding King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik, who was accused by Australian high-stakes player Matt Kirk of not paying back a $3 million loan while playing at the Aria in Las Vegas.
Other players higher up in the Player of the Year standings include Joe Cada (third) and John Hennigan (fourth), but both may not be in attendance either. Scott Bohlman and Paul Volpe sit in fifth and sixth, but also have not tweeted at all about the events. It’s a good bet many American players high on the leaderboard may avoid the tournament simply because of the cost involved with traveling overseas to chase a title that Deeb seems to have a firm grasp on. Others in poker have expressed similar views as Yu in regard to the venue.
A quick look at social media finds many among the leaderboards haven’t made the trip and the title may be Deeb’s. Bracelet chasers like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu appear not to be heading to Europe as well.
“I am not,” Hellmuth said this week. “I love Kings Casino, but it’s too far away for this California boy. It will be the first time I’ve skipped WSOP Europe or WSOP Asia.”
Last year’s Player of the Year Chris Ferguson made the trip and has already cashed in three events. Ferguson, however, sits in 12th place and will have some work to do to surpass Deeb.
North American players have no lack of options this time of year, and many may choose to stay and play at home rather than head to Europe. There are a plethora of upcoming tournaments from which to choose including the World Poker Tour bestbet Jacksonville, with a Main Event kicking off Oct. 19 in Florida. The tour is also teaming with partypoker for an event in Montreal beginning Oct. 28. The WSOP Circuit has a stop underway in Hammond, Ind., (near Chicago) then follows that up with a stop in Lake Tahoe and then at the Choctaw in Oklahoma.
In action so far in Rozvadov, Israel’s Tamir Segal won the first event, the €550 Colossus, for €203,820. Another Israeli, Asi Moshe, won the second event as well. He took down the €1,650 No-Limit Hold’em for €82,280. Hahn Tran won Event #3: €550 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed and Mykhailo Gutyi took down Event #4: €1,100 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Bounty Hunter
As of events continue to play out, Deeb is ahead in the race and looks to be in the driver’s seat for 2018 WSOP Player of the Year.
Image from WPT/Flickr