WSOP 2014: Picking Winners, or, Bokking the Best

Does form have any say in who wins and who loses in the Main Event? Is careful study of the form a useful indicator as to who might book a ticket for the November Nine, or would the time be better spent closing your eyes and picking out a name from a hat, perhaps while playing roulette?

Actually, the summer has produced countless players who are performing well and whoa appear to be at the top of their game. Does that mean they have a better chance of winning the title, with success breeding success? Or, is it something else?

In poker terms it would be difficult to pick a winner from the thousands expected to clog to Rio's halls. But if it were based purely on form a few names have stood out this summer, repeatedly appearing in the pay-out lists fairly close to the top.

Does this make for a good way to forecast potential winners? Probably not, but let's have a look anyway.

Here are the last five Main Event winners, and how they were performing in Las Vegas in the run up to their title bid (it would have been the past six winners, but Peter Eastgate recorded his one and only cash that year with his win).

2009 - Joe Cada - Two cashes prior to his win, a 64th, then a 17th.
2010 - Jonathan Duhamel - Scored two cashes before his win, with a 50th and a 15th.
2011 - Pius Heinz - Finished seventh in an event in the week before the Main Event began.
2012 - Greg Merson - five cashes and a bracelet win prior to his main event title.
2013 - Ryan Reiss - four cashes, including an 11th place finish.

Based on results from the series there are plenty who would justify a seat in the final nine. So who are they? Here are a few:

Humberto Brenes
The Team PokerStars Pro leads the 2014 WSOP in cashes with ten. Alas, only one is in the top 20 but still, the man knows who to make the money, and you can't win unless you do that.

Daniel Negreanu
Negreanu is now the highest earning player on the WSOP, thanks to his runner-up finish in the Big One for One Drop. If that alone wasn't enough, he has made two other final tables this summer alone.

daniel_negreanu_wsop_me_d1a.jpgNine cashes for Daniel Negreanu (Photo: Poker Photo Archive)

Melissa Burr
Burr has scored five cashes this year, finishing in the top ten on four of those occasions, including a seventh place finish in the Poker Player's Championship.

Bryn Kenney
The EPT regular is in sparkling form, and may have timed things perfectly. This week he took the bracelet in the $1,500 10-Game Mix event but had already recorded three cashes before that, and three final tables in all.

Brandon Shack-Harris
Anyone keeping tabs on the WSOP results from the start of the series will have noticed how oven Shack-Harris's name appeared in the pay outs. Shack-Harris has five cashes so far, including four final tables, a third, two seconds and a win in the $1,000 PLO event.

George Danzer
The German cannot seem to go wrong this summer, with seven cashes including those two bracelet wins. He has a third final table also and with the Mohawk, looks good in a winner's photo.

Ismael Bojang
The German pro is another who has notched up the cashes this summer, with eight in total, including three final tables.

Gabe Nassif
The Team Online Pro has finished in the money seven times this summer, reaching three final tables, the best of which was a third place finish in the $1,500 PLO.

Gabriel Nassif_2014WSOP_EV65_Day1A_FUR_3295.jpgGabriel Nassif (Photo: Poker Photo Archive)

Calvin Anderson
Anderson won the Seven Card Stud Hi-Low event, to go with a third place finish in the $10,000 buy-in equivalent event.

Will Givens
Four cashes, and two final tables speak a lot for a man in form, not to mention his win in the $1,000 no-limit hold'em event last month. Not to mention a degree of obscurity, which can is a pre-requisite for someone wanting to break out.

Good results up to now don't necessarily mean you will win, or that previous form will ensure a deep run - the Gods of Variance still have their say on that. But essentially good players, playing well, will always have a good chance. Time will tell if any of this theory actually holds any water, and you'll no doubt have your own picks for success this week.

You can let us know your favourites, or tell us how wrong we are, on Twitter (@PokerStarsBlog). In the meantime our apologies to any player mentioned who may suddenly feel bokked and subsequently doomed.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.