Saturday, Dec 31, 2011 The 21 Most Memorable Moments in Poker in 2011
Photo: Jonathan Epstein
More so than any other year perhaps, the poker world has been filled with memorable moments in 2011.
As in life, however, not all the big moments of the past year have been good for the game.
Here's a look back at the 21 most memorable moments in the poker world for 2011.
21. Man Makes WSOP Women's Event Final Table
Jonathan Epstein became the first, and last, man to make the Women's World Championship final table at the 2011 World Series of Poker.
Amid boos, cat calls, and poor treatment from Caesar's staff, Epstein finished 9th and was cheered for being knocked out.
Nevada law will allow casinos to exclude men from women's events starting January 1, so Epstein's record is a permanent one.
20. Portuguese Prodigy Leaves Poker Amid Scandals
Jose "Girah" Macedo was the heralded "Portuguese poker prodigy" that was supposed to be the next Isildur1 or durrrr.
Instead, he turned out to be more like the next potripper after being disqualified from the Lock Pro Challenge for multi-accounting (and chip dumping as it was later discovered.)
Also, he was part of a high-stakes coaching scam online that saw players taken for around $30,000.
19. TV Poker Programs Cancelled
Black Friday brought a bevy of televised poker program cancellations.
Among them were High Stakes Poker, the PokerStars Big Game, the NBC National Heads-Up Championship and Poker After Dark.
Since most programs were sponsored or funded by online poker sites, it made little sense for them to pour money into a product that wasn't going to net them a profit.
18. Sam Barnhart Becomes First WSOP-C "National Champion"
For the first time ever the WSOP-C held a tournament that would both crown a "WSOP-C National Champion" and award a WSOP bracelet.
A field of 100 players qualified for the event via WSOP-C events over the 2010-2011 WSOP-C season.
Barnhart would navigate through the field and emerge as the victor to receive the first WSOP bracelet of 2011 and $300,000.
17. Chino Rheem Wins First Epic Poker League Event, Then Get Suspended
Loved by some and not loved by others, the Epic Poker League kicked off in August with its first event.
Former November Niner Chino Rheem came under scrutiny during the event due to his outstanding poker debts, but overcame that criticism to take home the first Epic Poker title.
While Rheem received $1 million for his victory, reports claim that all of that money went towards repaying his poker debt, some of which is reportedly still outstanding.
16. QuadJacks Radio is Born
When the Black Friday indictments hit, Marco Valerio of QuadJacks took to the internet airwaves to bring live commentary and coverage of the event.
The hours turned into days as Marco committed a marathon radio session that drew the attention of the entire world.
From there, Marco and his team have grown their brand into one of the more recognized, and in some circles respected, information sources in poker.
15. Brian Rast Wins $50k Poker Player's Championship for Second Bracelet
After taking down a bracelet earlier in the 2011 WSOP, Brian Rast pulled off an unlikely comeback win over Phil Hellmuth heads-up to take the $50k Poker Player's Championship.
Rast became the only two-time bracelet winner of 2011 yet still failed to win Player of the Year.
14. PCA Main Event Final Table First-Ever "Live" TV Poker Event
Casual poker fans were exposed to poker as it is really played when the PCA Main Event final table was broadcast live on ESPN2.
The coverage was highlighted by Galen Hall's breakthrough win in the event and paved the way for the live coverage fans enjoyed during the WSOP Main Event.
13. Barry Greenstein and Linda Johnson Inducted into Poker Hall of Fame
Linda Johnson became only the 2nd woman in the history of poker to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
She joined Barry Greenstein, likely the best overall player not named Phil Ivey that wasn't yet in the Hall of Fame, in the class of 2011.
12. Vanessa Selbst Wins NAPT Mohegan Sun Title For Second Straight Year
In April, Vanessa Selbst took down the North American Poker Tour Mohegan Sun Main Event for $450,000.
While this was an impressive feat by itself, it was made more impressive by the fact she won the same event in 2010.
11. 2011 WSOP Main Event Broadcast Live
For the first time in WSOP history, coverage of the Main Event was broadcast on a 30-minute delay with hole cards available at the completion of each hand.
ESPN2 set ratings records for their broadcasts and the coverage was heralded by serious players and pros.
On the other hand, many casual fans tuned out.
10. Erik Seidel Wins Super High Roller at Aussie Millions
Seidel took down the largest buy-in event in poker after defeating Sam Trickett heads-up for AUD$2.5 million.
This would kick off a banner year for Seidel that would see him win over $6.5 million and move him up to the top spot on the All-Time Money List.
9. Phil Ivey "Sits Out" the WSOP and Sues Full Tilt
The first day of the 2011 WSOP answered the question of whether Phil Ivey would play when he revealed that he would sit out the entire WSOP in protest of Full Tilt not repaying players.
He then filed a $150 million lawsuit against Full Tilt that was later dropped.
Turns out that Full Tilt only had about $6 million on hand in cash anyway at the time Ivey filed his suit per the September modified complaint from the Departmenr of Justice.
8. WSOP Live Broadcasts Main Event Final Table
For the first time in WSOP history, the WSOP Main Event final table was broadcast virtually live on ESPN2 and later ESPN.
Antonio Esfandiari came into his own as a live broadcaster in the event and poker fans got to see what playing the final table of the Main Event is really like.
7. Full Tilt Poker Sale Approved
Groupe Bernard Tapie put in a bid to purchase Full Tilt Poker after the Alderney Gambling Control Commission revoked FTP's license in September.
Since that time, the US Department of Justice and GBT struck a deal that would see GBT purchase the assets of Full Tilt Poker and repay players outside the US.
US players will still have to contact the DOJ to get their funds.
6. Ben Lamb Wins WSOP Player of the Year
A monster year for Ben Lamb was capped off with the 2011 World Series of Poker Player of the Year award.
Lamb finished 2nd in the $5,000 PL Omaha Event at the WSOP, made the final table of the $50k Poker Players Championship, and won the $10,000 PL Omaha World Championship bracelet.
Oh, and he finished 3rd in this little event called the WSOP Main Event.
5. DOJ Releases Opinion Stating Wire Act Only for Sports Betting
In a memo just released last week to the public, the DOJ clarified that the Federal Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports betting.
As such, many feel that this clears a major hurdle for states in their quest to legalize online gambling and poker.
4. Nevada Adopts Online Poker Regulations
Earlier in the year, Nevada passed a law requiring online poker regulations be in place by the end of January 2012.
Those regulations were passed last week and the state is currently in the process of accepting applications from those wishing to provide online poker services in Nevada.
3. Pius Heinz Wins 2011 WSOP Main Event
Pius Heinz showed why aggressive poker is winning poker in his complete domination of the 2011 WSOP Main Event final table.
However, the story everyone will remember is how Ben Lamb started the final three second in chips and was eliminated in just four hands, giving an unlikely Martin Staszko a shot at poker immortality.
2. U.S. Department of Justice Calls Full Tilt a Ponzi Scheme
Just when the poker world thought that the news surrounding Black Friday was bad enough, the DOJ released a modified complaint in September that added Full Tilt's board to the civil suit.
US Attornye Preet Bhahara even went so far as to call Full Tilt a Ponzi scheme, which showed up in headlines in mainstream newspapers around the world.
Full Tilt was shown to have not segregated accounts and continued to pay out owners from player deposited funds.
1. Black Friday
April 15th is the day that changed online poker history in the United States as PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and 11 defendants were indicted on UIGEA charges, money laundering and running an illegal gambling business.