The World Series of Poker kicks off on Friday with 88 bracelet events running through Nov. 23. With live action returning to the Rio after a break in 2020, players should be out in force seeking championship bracelets.
Which players will rise to the top? Who will break out for that first bracelet? Which grinder will push through for a huge score in some of the big-field events like the Colossus and Millionaire Maker?
The Catena Media poker team is hoping to answer some of those questions – or at least earn some bragging rights for winning this three-person battle.
However, this competition isn’t as easy as simply picking names like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Justin Bonomo, Adrian Mateos, and other highly-decorated pros. That seems too easy.
So this year, these poker prognosticators must pick players with only $1.5 million or less in live tournament winnings. The results will be posted as part of USPoker’s WSOP coverage this fall. Here are some grinders to watch as events kick off in Las Vegas.
♠♠♠ For a complete WSOP preview and schedule, click here. For a complete guide to all fall Las Vegas poker tournaments, click here. ♠♠♠
Sean Chaffin, USPoker editor/site runner
- Career live winnings: $674,843
- Recent scores: 1st – $1,600 Venetian PLO Championship (June 2021, $81,485); 3rd – $1,100 Wynn Signature Series NLHE (May 2021, $89,486)
This New York grinder has been the model of consistency this year. He sits atop the Global Poker Index Mid-Major Player of the Year rankings and could be primed for some deep WSOP runs.
- Career live winnings: $989,187
- Recent scores: 1st – $1,600 Wynn Classic NLHE Bounty (March 2021, $39,182); 3rd – $600 Venetian MonsterStack (May 2021, $54,026)
This is another New Yorker finding some deep finishes in Las Vegas over the last few months. That may continue at the Rio, look for him to be among those in contention this summer.
3rd in the Venetian $400 out of 800 entrants for $22,000. This doesn’t feel real pic.twitter.com/42G1Mprpel
— Francis Anderson (@FrancisPoker123) September 19, 2021
- Career live winnings: $634,391
- Recent scores: 1st – MSPT RiverSide Main Event (March 2021, $162,781); 2nd – $1,100 Venetian UltimateStack (June 2021, $105,450)
It’s already been a banner year including a massive win on the Mid-States Poker Tour earlier this year. He continues to excel in events around Vegas and an even bigger finish may now be in store.
- Career live winnings: $1,394,834
- Recent scores: 1st – $600 Venetian UltimateStack (May 2021, $70,000); 2nd – $1,000 Venetian Double Stack (March 2021, $55,066)
This player from Pasadena, California, seems poised for a big fall and puts in plenty of Sin City tournament volume. He seems to excel in these big stack tournaments and will be a tough customer.
Valerie Cross, content manager
- Career live winnings: $1,472,861
- Recent scores: 1st – $15,000 PokerGO Aria High Roller (July 2021, $151,800); $10,000 WSOP 6-Handed NLHE Championship (July 2019, $630,747)
This SoCal native broke through with a huge bracelet win in 2019 and will likely be coming back for more in the first live WSOP since that win.
- Career live winnings: $573,938
- Recent scores: 3rd – $5,000 WPT Venetian Main Event (July 2021, $448,755); 3rd – $1,100 MSPT Main Event Iowa (March 2021, $73,782)
This Illinois native is on a tear this year highlighted by a nearly half-million-dollar score in the WPT Venetian Main Event. Currently in the top 100 of the GPI POY ranks, England could be looking to carry the strong momentum into the WSOP in search of gold.
- Career live winnings: $582,732
- Recent scores: 2nd – $2,200 SHRPO Deepstack (August 2021, $95,363); 2nd – $3,200 WSOP Online High Roller (July 2020, $219,089);
Hailing from Sewell, New Jersey, Funaro has been in strong form the past year-plus. He’s clearly hunting bigger scores with multiple final tables in PokerGO events in Las Vegas this summer. He’s currently No. 58 on the GPI POY rankings.
- Career live winnings: $1,240,715
- Recent scores: 3rd – $1,100 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (April 2021, $63,320); 2nd – $2,200 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open (January 2021, $93,566)
Originally from Russia, Magnus has been a regular on the tournament circuit for more than five years and currently sits in the top 20 of the GPI POY race. She has had great success in her local South Florida market, and could find similar success at the WSOP this fall if she makes the trip.
Anthony Cicali, USPoker contributing writer
- Career live winnings: $308,382
- Recent scores: 1st – $500 WSOP Rio Circuit event (August 2021, $16,681); 4th – $888 WSOP PLO event (July 2021, $27,094)
The YouTuber is headed to Vegas and is attempting to grab his first live bracelet. Last summer he won some gold after grinding online in a parking lot. Look for Depaulo to put in some serious work this October – in the casino this time.
What WSOP Final Tables look like in 2020 pic.twitter.com/my9kQ4GbK8
— Ryan Depaulo: Degenerate Gambler (@depaulo_ryan) July 13, 2020
- Career live winnings: $1.3 million
- Recent scores: 9th – $500 WSOP Online event (July 2021, $7,578)
Marder is a well-respected player who is used to the grind. Expect to see him put in a lot of volume this year at the WSOP.
- Career live winnings: $890,555
- Recent scores: 2nd – $1,000 WSOP Online (July 2021, $90,811) ; 3rd – $500 PA WSOP Online (August 2021, $7,835)
Rivkin had a memorable summer. He got married, has a child on the way, and has made multiple WSOP final tables. After a few deep final tables in the past, Rivkin is headed to WSOP on a mission to score his first gold bracelet.
- Career live winnings: $184,943
- Recent scores: 94th – $10,000 Wynn Millions (June 2021, $31,842); 3rd – $275 Nevada Ladies Championship (April 2021, $8,874)
This Vegas resident may not have millions in scores but has a plan to tackle a bunch of events this fall. Deardoff has been grinding all year and is looking to cash in on some WSOP events.