The Ultimate Poker Fantasy Team3 years ago
Last month, the WSOP announced the return of Team Poker in Las Vegas. Alex Dreyfus already had similar plans in place, creating two interesting team concepts in the last couple of years: Global Poker Masters - a stage where the countries of the world would compete on the green felt - and the Global Poker League- the first ever professional poker league. And since talking about the game we all love as a team sports is trending, let’s put our imagination to work and create the ultimate poker fantasy team.
The rules are simple; all you have to do is pick five players either from the present or from the past who could actually thrive in such a team environment and dominate their competition. Have you picked your team yet? If you haven’t,we'll give you a head start and talk about one possible poker fantasy team that could really blow your mind. And what a better way to start than with this guy?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, ‘No Home Jerome’ Phil Ivey. For years, he has been considered the best poker player in the world, clicking on all cylinders, live or online, in tournaments or cash games, at No Limit Texas Holdem or the mixed events. Ok, maybe he’s not the best right now, but remember, we’re talking about some of the best players of all-time and Ivey definitely fits that category. He was a beast back when Full Tilt was on top of the online ladder, earning and defending his worthy title - biggest online poker winner - for many years.
Live, Ivey’s currently fifth in the all-time tournament money list with almost $24 million in cashes. And by the way, he also used to top that leaderboard in the good ol’ days. At the WSOP, only the ‘Poker Brat’ Phil Hellmuth has more gold bracelets than the Tiger Woods of Poker, and most importantly, he has shown his domination in many different formats, Stud, Omaha, mixed games and of course Holdem.
So can you really think of a reason why Ivey shouldn’t be on your poker team? Because we surely can’t, and trust us, we tried to find one. Definitely a must-have in our books.
Compared to the 90s and the early 2000s, the game has changed dramatically. Now we don’t put our adversaries on a single hand anymore and we’re less interested in the Sklansky Dollars. Now we talk about ranges and G-Bucks and how well do we fare against group hands in the long run. And guess who started all this… Yes, that’s right, ‘OMGClayAiken’ Phil Galfond.
Galfond revolutionized the game with his thought process, and baffled his opposition with his balanced play for many years on the online felt. That’s why he’s ever present in the winners’ online leaderboard and he continues to be one of the most respected poker players ever. He may not be an established live tournament player but he can definitely adapt and compete with pretty much everybody. He’s won only $2.4 million in live cashes throughout his career but most of those cashes are from the WSOP where he also won two gold bracelets. One in 2008, in a PLO event, and the other last year, in a game not that familiar for him, 2-7 Triple Draw.
Not fit for tournament play? C’mon now, we’re talking about Galfond, the poker mastermind of the 2000s. A very tough adversary for anyone who battles him on the poker felt, no matter the format, cash, or tourney.
Can we have an unstoppable tournament team without ‘KidPoker’ Daniel Negreanu? Some might argue against picking Negreanu, but we must remember, we’re talking about live tournament play, basically Daniel’s own turf. So how could we possibly leave him behind? He’s currently the biggest all-time winner, according to HendonMob DB with over $32 million in live cashes. He has six WSOP bracelets and 83 WSOP cashes and he’s the only player to win the WSOP Player of the Year accolade more than once (2004 and 2013). Negreanu was also the WPT Player of the Year and was named by the GPI the best player of the past decade.
But enough about titles and accolades. Can he actually fit in our (and possibly your) ultimate poker fantasy team? How couldn’t he, since he’s been playing tournament poker all his life. Daniel is definitely one of the best in the business at reading souls with all of his extensive experience.
He’s also a very likeable person at the poker table. That can become a very important asset, especially live. It’s definitely an underrated talent with all those poker wizkids out there and it can do wonders when having doubts on the green felt. With opponents relaxing and enjoying their time at the table, they can let their guard down and start giving away important tells so Daniel’s teammates can finish the deal. Good riddance opponents!
Before you start screaming and cursing, wondering what in the world Viktor Blomis doing in any poker fantasy team, bear with us for the next paragraph or so. Yes, like Galfond, ‘Isildur1’ isn’t an established live tournament player. In fact, his only major cash was back in 2012, when he won the PCA Super High Roller. He also doesn’t like live play that much since it’s slow and boring, but think how threatening our team would look like in the eyes of the opposition.
In the famous strategy book by Lee Nelson, Tyren Streib, and Steven Heston called ’Kill Everyone’ a new interesting concept was introduced: the fear factor. Basically the authors explained that a very aggressive player can intimidate his opponents who fear for their tournament life whenever they play against such player.
Now think of a degenerate like Blom. How would the opponents feel if ‘Isildur1’ started betting, raising and re-raising the whole table? Not that comfortable. And bear in mind that Blom isn’t just a reckless over-aggressive whale; he’s a very talented player with the unique ability to learn the game on the go. We’re sure that if he puts his mind into it, he can become a very, very dangerous live tournament player. Now who’s really overreacting?
And since we’re talking about over-aggressive and super-talented players, let’s also add ‘The Kid’ Stu Ungar into the mix as our last but not least pick. Many regarded him as the greatest Holdem and gin player of all-time; some still do. Every time he sat at a poker table, he amazed his opposition with his unique style and well-timed bluffs. He was even described as having a ‘clairvoyant ability to see his opponents' hole cards’.
Feared like Blom and respected like Galfond with many feats like Ivey and Negreanu, Ungar could have really crushed the games if not for his tumultuous life. Not that he didn’t: he is the only player to win three WSOP Main Events in history - 1980, 1981 and 1997. Johnny Moss also has three but the first wasn’t truly won, it was handed to him after a players’ vote. If we also look at his HendonMob page we can see many, many first places which is truly impressive in a game like poker.
Indeed Ungar was ahead of his time and we can only imagine what would have been if Ungar had lived to see Chris Moneymaker and the poker boom of the 2000s. Definitely a worthy consideration for any ultimate poker fantasy team.
Don’t you agree with us? Then share your ultimate poker fantasy team with the rest of us by using the comment section below. Let the games being!
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