The Internet – No matter what happens in Las Vegas in July, the World Series Main Event champion for 2016 will be Phil Ivey.
According to Poker National Committee chairperson Diana Waxman-Binion, leaving the Main Event up to chance and actual results is too risky. When you do that, as in last year, the person who is supposed to represent the poker world to the non-poker world could be someone like Joe McKeehen, who has no interest in acting as a poker ambassador. And that, according to Ms. Waxman-Binion, is not acceptable, which is why the champion has to be chosen in advance.
While Ivey is the presumptive champion, and barring an unforeseen turn of events will win the championship bracelet along with millions of dollars, the game still will be played, with all but the top three places available to the general public as long as interested parties raise enough money to get in the game.
The second place finisher is expected to be Daniel Negreanu, the likable and passionate northerner who has the ability to provide enough of a challenge to Ivey to make it seem like a legitimate competition. Third place will go to Vanessa Selbst, marking the highest ever Main Event finish by a woman. And fourth, according to Waxman-Binion, could be you.
The main reason for choosing Ivey as champion, rather than the more popular Negreanu, is his perceived qualification for the title. Ivey is an experienced and talented poker player who has long been seen as arguably more deserving of the championship than anyone else. He has come close multiple times, including once in the late 2000’s when, fairly late in the game, it looked like he was going to win the whole thing. His qualifications are so impeccable that a relative lack of recent success, and allegations of cheating in casinos which held up in court, do not serve as deterrents. Barring a series of unforeseen events, he will be the winner, and that’s that.
Waxman-Binion further explained that Ivey, Negreanu, and Selbst will not be required to play in July since preliminary rounds, when conducted remotely fairly, can be far too unpredictable. Instead, the non-chosen candidates for WSOP prize money will play until six players remain, and those six will join the chosen professionals in November. At the final table, Ivey will start with 60 percent of the chips, Negreanu will have twenty percent, Selbst will have ten percent, and the remaining ten percent will be divided among the six others, proportionally, based on their chip stacks at the end of July.
Ivey, Negreanu, and Selbst are all expected to object to this arrangement, claiming they want to win fairly based on talent and a little bit of luck, but their objections will be irrelevant. This is bigger than they are, it has already been decided, and it cannot be changed.
At least, it cannot be changed without something unexpected happening. And unexpected things can’t be expected to happen.
*Timely update: The 2016 World Series of Poker champion was not Phil Ivey, perhaps because the PPC read this article and decided a change of plans was in order.