Team PokerStars Pro starring in WSOP 25K Fantasy contest

It's never enough, is it?

It would seem that the brass ring--or in this case, a few dozen gold bracelets--just can't satiate the ravenous need for action among poker's summertime grinders.

Today marks the beginning of the 2015 World Series of Poker, a festival that will take us to mid-July and through what many people predict will be a history-making summer. On its own, the WSOP would be enough for most people. But not for people who treat action like the greatest drug never invented.

By now, we've seen it all: flop props, bracelet bets, and last longers. Swaps, percentages, and stable-horses. And who could forget prop bet loser Garry Gates wearing a toga and fanning Evelyn Ng? (We don't own the pictures, but you can Google them.)

By now, the side action has developed enough of a following that it can sometimes overshadow what's happening in an actual event. Just last night, in fact, we witnessed the 2015 version of the $25,000 Fantasy Draft in Las Vegas, an event that drew eleven teams that put up $25,000 apiece to play fantasy manager for a team of eight WSOP grinders.

While the contest itself often seems like a bunch of friends goofing off, it's developed a mainstream fanbase among hardcore poker junkies. Last night's draft drew thousands of viewers on Jason Somerville's Twitch stream as it played out in an Aria suite. The 25K Fantasy contest has its own website and a side contest run by David Baker for people who can't afford the big buy-in. For an informal event, it's become pretty legit.


Somerville and Remko Rinkema broadcast from the 25K Draft

For $25,000 and a prize pool worth $275,000, you can feel sure the people behind the teams don't take it lightly. The amount of research that went into the draft itself in some cases required teams of people with spreadsheets, intelligence experts, and money men. You could do worse than to ride their coattails if you're playing in your own poker fantasy group this year.

At its core, the 25K Fantasy draft is a practice in predicting which 88 players will play the most tournaments and perform the best through the WSOP. If you followed the 2014 WSOP, you could probably guess that the team who had Team Pro George Danzer in its stable won the whole shebang last year.

George Danzer_pca2014_med2.jpg

Yeah, he won a few bracelets last year

For the $25,000 buy-in, each team received an imaginary $200 to spend at auction on players who were nominated for the draft. When it was all over, the three most expensive players on the board were members of Team PokerStars Pro.

Daniel Negreanu drew the highest bid in the entire draft. Mike Leah's team paid $96 for Kid Poker, a big enough price to outbid Negreanu's own team. Negreanu, who was in Los Angeles and thus not able to bid on himself, promised to do his best for Leah's cause.


Think about it...

While Negreanu drew the highest price, newly-crowned SCOOP Player of the Series Jason Mercier came in as the second most expensive player. After winning three SCOOP titles this year, he was a hot item and got picked up by Dan Fleyshman's team for $91. Mercier is going to have to race to Vegas to make it for the first flop.

If Negreanu and Mercier went #1 and #2, there was little doubt who would get the third highest price. Danzer propelled the 25K Fantasy champions last year, and this year Jason Somerville's Team Run It Up (aka Team Media) grabbed Danzer for $86.

You can see how all the teams ended up by checking out this Google doc. Team PokerStars Pro is well represented in the draft. Here's where each of the red spade brigade ended up.

Daniel Negreanu (Leah) $96
Jason Mercier (Fleyshman)$91
George Danzer (Run It Up)$86
Eugene Katchalov (Waxman) $42
Vanessa Selbst (Kroko-Ushan)$21
ElkY (Leah) $1
Barry Greenstein (Glantz/Volpe) $1

So, yes, as the WSOP kicks off today, we'll also be keeping an eye on the fantasyland version of events, if only to entertain our notion that the only good action is action with side action. Or something like that, anyway.

is the PokerStars Head of Blogging

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker