I have spent the last seven weeks in the dessert scrambling from one WSOP tournament to the next. Between a couple of well-timed swaps, selling some action to my bigger buy-ins and a decent bet on Ivey/Negreanu winning a bracelet (kids, never bet against Ivey!), I actually managed to have my first winning summer out there. However my own results were pretty mediocre, and with just three small cashes over the entire summer and only one really deep run, this was my worst result yet.
When you go on downswings online it's different, even when I have a bad month online I am still consistently winning some tournaments or at the very least making a lot of final tables due to the amount of tables I can play and the smaller fields. But when you come out to the WSOP as a NL player, you end up playing just around 30 events, and I find that it can be tough to keep a sharp focus and the right positive attitude when you seem to be stuck in a Groundhog Day of losing a crucial flip a few hours in. And yet after coming home my drive to get back playing and improving has actually never been higher. A lot of the reason for that is that I look back at the people who did put up good results over the summer and realise how much work I have to do and how many things I have to learn before I can join that elite group.
Some of the people who are the hardest workers and most feared tournament players online picked up bracelets this year: Daniel Kelly (djk123), Bryn Kenney, Calvin Anderson (Cal42688), Justin Bonomo (Zeejustin) and Paul Volpe (Paulgess81) just to mention a few. You can also add to that list two of the worlds absolute best heads-up players in respectively cash games and sngs in the form of Doug Polk (WCGRIDER) and Daniel Colman (mrgr33n).
And while they might not have quite as big of a presence online as they do in live tournaments, Vanessa Selbst, Davidi Kitai and Dominik Nitsche all managed to snatch up another bracelet as well. While they all have distinctively different styles, they all seem to have figured out a slightly different approach to tournaments than what most people are currently doing and considering the standard play. I think those are always the kind of people that you want to try extra hard to figure out and pay attention to if you really want to improve.
The fields in the mixed game events are smaller so it's not surprising that there is always someone having a really impressive year. Still I found George Danzer, Brandon Shack-Harris and Melissa Burrs runs very inspiring, all having multiple final tables across all sorts of different games. And then there are also the legends like Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and John Hennigan who just always seem to put up sick results in these tournaments. It definitely makes me want to learn and improve my other games so that hopefully I compete in some of them next year.
There are a lot of other great players that I didn't mention or just don't know about, and while there is always a lot of luck involved in who gets to have a good summer I do find the list this year extraordinarily impressive, probably the best group ever in fact. The one thing that all of those people have in common is that they have spent countless hours trying to perfect their craft, and nothing is more motivating to me than seeing other people's hard work paying off.
As always, right after the Series ends I need a little bit of time off to recharge, but once I return I have no doubt I will be studying and playing harder than ever before. With enough hard work, I might even be able to join that elite list one day, and there is no reason that you can't as well!