WSOP 2014: Europe's most likely
At the start of our Main Event coverage we predicted success for several players who had demonstrated over the summer that they were in peak form, with big results over the summer. Well, they're all out now. But let's not dwell on the past. Let's instead look forward, at the current field and the potential stars to come out of it.
There are some 160 players left in the main event. Inevitably people start to pick out the players they think might have what ti takes to reach the November Nine.
The field remains largely American, but in among the 20 tables in the Amazon Room are some European players with the right kind of experience, as well as a pretty convincing looking resume, who might surprise a few people on this side of the Atlantic having turned heads on the European Poker Tour.
Chief among them is Vitaly Lunkin, whose two World Series bracelets hardly make him the new guy. The Russian pro won his first silverware in 2008 before adding a second a year later, winning the $40,000 40th Anniversary no-limit hold'em event worth nearly $1.9 million.
Lunkin's latest big win came at the tail end of the EPT's tenth season, victory in a €10,000 turbo 6-max side event worth €180,400. Right now he has 647,000 chips.
Elsewhere, Martin Jacobson may not have the WSOP bracelets on the mantel piece, but he does have an enviable record on the EPT and around Europe.
It's probably best to list them in order: third place at EPT Budapest, second at WPT Venice, second at EPT Vilamoura, second at EPT Deauville, fourth at EPT Berlin, sixth at WPT Paris and 10th in the PCA Main Event.
The only thing missing from that is a major title. But he has nearly 2.5 million chips in the Main Event. A big number one on his resume come November would turn those near misses into distant memories in no time at all.
Then there's Frenchman Yorane Kerignard, who might sound relatively obscure but is the type of player that would not surprise those who follow the European circuit if he made it to November.
Like Jacobson, he has a series of close calls on the EPT. A fourth in EPT Deauville, a sixth place finish at EPT Sanremo and another fourth at EPT Copenhagen. He impressed in each appearance, but topped all of them by winning WPT Malta in 2012. Right now he has close to 1.5 million chips.
Their training ground may be in Europe, but all look at home on WSOP soil.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter. Photos by Joe Giron and Jayne Furman/Poker Photo Archive