The World Series of Poker Online kicks off tomorrow and promises plenty of bracelet-chasing action. The series is available to players in New Jersey and Nevada, and some of the Catena Media poker team recently noted a few players to watch.
Selecting online players isn’t always easy. But the scope of the WSOP Online at least means some of the regulars will be in action.
A chance at a gold bracelet also brings out some of the bigger name pros. As the WSOP action continues, USPoker will offer regular updates. That includes how our selectors are making out. Here’s a look at some players who may just have a big summer this year.
Anthony Cicali, USPoker contributor
Frank Funaro Jr. (Sewell, New Jersey)
Major wins: $3,200 High Roller event online bracelet event 2020 runner-up ($219,089); $2,000 High Roller winner 2020 ($44,489); $215 WSOPC online winner 2021 ($15,347)
After finishing runner-up for an online bracelet in 2020, Funaro will be back for vengeance this summer. He currently sits as the top online grinder in New Jersey and scored his first WSOPC ring online in May.
Ryan Dodd (Runnemede, New Jersey)
Major wins: $1,100 NLHE MSPT 2021 (runner-up, $236,927); $1,090 Eight-Max Borgata 2019 (runner-up, $24,500); $525 Spring Super WSOPC online 2021 ($51,300)
Ryan Dodd is the definition of being on a heater. In the last three months he’s cashed in for over $500,000 between live and online events. This includes two online WSOPC rings this spring. Expect to see a full lineup of events this July for Dodd.
Yong Keun Kwon (Palisades Park, New Jersey)
Major wins: $400 WSOP online bracelet 2019 ($165,263); $525 WSOPC online 2019 ($121,730); $320 WSOPC online 2021 ($24,000)
In 2019 Kwon scored his first bracelet after defeating Phil Hellmuth. Currently ranked seventh in the US, “LuckySpewy” should be putting in a lot of volume this summer.
Kwon was WSOP 2020 player of the year and recently won his first online WSOP Circuit ring online in April.
Jarred Gabin (Las Vegas)
Major wins: $50 WSOP Sunday Kickoff 2020 ($6,204); $320 WSOPC Online 2021 (8th, $4,415)
Most players know Jarred Gabin from his popular Twitch streams. Keep an eye out for “GodsBigToe” this summer. He may not have some of the deep runs as some other players on this list, but his grind and study habits may cash in big. He plans on playing a lot of WSOP Online events.
Michael Lech (Alma, Arkansas)
Major wins: $888 Crazy Eights WSOP 2016 (runner up, $401,888); $1,500 WSOP High Roller online bracelet 2020 ($164,249); $2,200 WSOPC New Orleans 2017 ($106,377)
Lech is a grinder who currently holds eight WSOPC rings and a bracelet. He has been grinding throughout the pandemic and is ready to grab another piece of jewelry this summer. Lech is an all around player with success live and online.
— Michael Lech (@Miguel_Fiesta) June 28, 2021
Valerie Cross, content manager
Ian Steinman (Carson City, NV)
Major wins: $400 WSOP.com bracelet event 2020 ($110,557); $2,200 Benny Binion Summer Shootout 2021 ($65,000); $3,500 WPT Rolling Thunder 2018 (runner-up, $201,428); $1,500 NLHE WSOP 2018 (runner-up, $197,461)
Ian Steinman is a crusher from Northern California and Lake Tahoe poker tournaments. He’s poker-famous for his unreal, yet correct, fold with top set versus Joe McKeehen at the 2018 WPT Rolling Thunder final table.
He’s ice cold on the felt, which keeps the mountains blue on the Coors Light he sips as he accumulates chips with patience and grit until he’s heads-up for piles of cash. Steinman not only won his first WSOP bracelet in the 2020 online series, but also finished as overall points leader.
Steinman is coming fresh off a win in the recent South Point Benny Binion Summer Shootout. This provides a nice bankroll and confidence boost just ahead of the 2021 WSOP bracelet series. Beware.
Jonathan Dokler (Las Vegas)
Major wins: $500 Kick-Off WSOP online bracelet 2020 ($130,426); $5,100 WPT Borgata High Roller 2020 ($100,829)
His first Hendon Mob cash is from the 2019 WSOP. But his results over the next two years are impressive, even with the long live poker break.
Dokler had 14 WSOP.com cashes in 2020, including his bracelet win in the Kick-Off event. That was after he kicked off 2020 by taking down a live WPT High Roller at Borgata. If last year is any indication, Dokler will be grinding the majority of the 2021 series, hunting for bracelet No. 2. And maybe even No. 3.
Ryan Torgersen (Granby, Connecticut)
Major wins: $600 Monster Stack WSOP online bracelet series 2020 ($172,362); $1,000 Six-Max WSOP online bracelet 2020 ($116,379)
Torgersen notched an extremely impressive breakout with back-to-back final tables in the 2020 online bracelet series. After finishing in second and first, he navigated to another final table before the series concluded.
He already proved he has what it takes to run deep in WSOP.com events. Now armed with a healthy bankroll and another year of experience, Torgersen should be a major threat in 2021. His online moniker may be “im.sorry” but he’ll have no remorse about adding some bracelets to his collection of one.
Ruth Ruffman (Colts Neck, New Jersey)
Major wins: $1,100 Wynn Summer Classic Seniors 2019 ($61,914); $365 WSOPC ring 2018 ($12,718)
Ladies continue to be under-repped in number, but not in heart. As I waded through pages of recent results among Nevada and New Jersey players, it was more apparent than ever women are under-represented in poker, but especially online.
Though there are plenty of strong contenders, Ruffman shined through. Ruth had some solid 2020 WSOP Online results including a fourth-place finish in a $1,000 Six-Max for $58,000. Incidentally, Torgersen (second) and Steinman (sixth) accompanied her at that final table. Ruffman can carry that momentum into the 2021 WSOP.com online bracelet series.
Joon Kim (Las Vegas, NV)
Major wins: $800 Knockout Deepstack WSOP online bracelet 2021 ($106,127); $400 Monster Stack Venetian 2020 ($33,333)
Joon Kim shipped not one, but two tournaments in 2020, showing his versatility with both an online and live victory. His first and only six-figure win on record came in the WSOP Online $800 Knockout last summer.
This Las Vegas-based player carried the momentum from that win into another in a Venetian Deepstacks $400 event in the fall. A lot like hitting streaks in baseball, no one can argue the importance of momentum in poker. Watch out for Kim to add to his bankroll and bracelet wins in 2021.
Sean Chaffin, USPoker editor and site runner
Dan Buzgon (Marlton, New Jersey)
Major wins: WSOPC Online $500 PLO 2021; NJSCOOP $100 NLHE 2021
This New Jersey grinder and Borgata Poker ambassador is no stranger to the winner’s circle. He already has a recent WSOP.com win, taking down a Money Madness event in June for $14,500.
Dan Lupo (West Milford, New Jersey)
Major wins: WSOP.com $500 Turbo Deepstack bracelet win 2019; WSOP.com Circuit rings (2019 and 2021); numerous NJ online titles
Not many US online poker players are as decorated as Lupo. He’s won just about everything a US online player can win. That includes a WSOP bracelet, WSOPC rings, SCOOP titles, and more.
That record includes four NJSCOOP titles this year alone. Look for him to make a run at another bracelet this summer. He’s an online poker monster and should be ready to roar.
Phil Hellmuth (Palo Alto, California)
Major wins: 15-time WSOP bracelet winner; 1989 WSOP Main Event
This may be a bit out of the box when it comes to an online series. But Hellmuth always craves a bracelet and actually has some decent runs the last few years online.
He took fifth in a $400 online bracelet event in 2019 and an 11th-place finish in 2020. Can he put together another deep run online this summer?
Hellmuth plans on playing in Vegas all summer. He’s also got some “positivity” (the title of his latest book) after a huge run of matches on High Stakes Duel.
Nathan Gamble (LasVegas)
Major wins: WSOP $1,500 PLO Hi/Lo 2019; WSOP Online PLO 6-Handed 2020
This is obviously a bit of a “gamble” considering this Texan only plans to play the Omaha events. That gives him only four shots at a title, but Gamble excels in four-card poker.
His name is certainly fitting for the games he plays, but he has a knack for running deep in Omaha events. That should continue in at least a few of those events this summer.
Upeshka De Silva (Katy, Texas)
Major wins: WPTDeepStacks title 2017; three WSOP bracelets
De Silva had the misfortune of making the WSOP Main Event US final table, but missing out on playing due to COVID-19. After some recent nice finishes online, he may be looking for more deep runs at WSOP.com
De Silva already has success winning a bracelet online. In 2019, he took down the $600 Online Knockout Bounty for his third bracelet. This summer’s events offer a chance for this tough player to add another.