Tournament poker can sometimes wear on people. For poker pros, the bustouts far outweigh the victories of even the most successful players. In order to keep their heads during the downswings, these dedicated players have to remind themselves that, in the long run, the right plays will pay off, the cream will rise to the top, and consistency will be rewarded.
If you need any reminder that this is the case, just look around the Rio. Each day, we’ve seen just how consistent poker pros can be.
Over the course of ten events, five players have accomplished a feat that no one managed to do over the same period of time last year—final table the same event they final tabled the previous year. Making a final table at the World Series of Poker is tough. Making more than one is an impressive feat. Making the same one is nothing short of phenomenal.
Yet, here we are, seeing it every day. It began, improbably enough in Event 3, the giant-field re-entry event that drew over 3,100 entries. Despite facing so much competition, Ryan Olisar battled his way to the same final table he took sixth place in back in 2012. Between the two fields, Olisar outlasted more than 6,500 players and earned more than $335,000. It was a remarkable feat, but it was only just the beginning of a string of consistent performances.
The next day, the $2,500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 event reminded us what a specialized set the split pot games can be with both the 2011 winner, Owais Ahmed, and the 2012 runner-up George Danzer, at the table. Danzer was hoping to improve on last year’s second place finish, but instead settled for sixth place.
The string of repeat mixed game success continued in the $2,500 Eight-Game tournament. Like Danzer, Greg “FBT” Mueller came into the final table hoping to avenge last year’s runner-up finish to good friend David “ODB” Baker and earn a third bracelet. Mueller came close to that goal. He battled hard at the final table, enduring a long stretch of three-handed play before busting in third place.
Yesterday, we saw the ranks of repeat final tablists grow to five. Alessandro Longobardi of Italy improved upon his sixth place finish in last year’s $3,000 Shootout event by taking fifth in the event, which was won by Cliff Josephy.
Meanwhile, over at the $1,500 Limit Hold’em table, Alex Queen of Bethlehem, PA was quintessentially consistent, finishing in the exact same position as he did in 2012—eighth place.
With ten events in the books, we’ve had repeat final tablists in half of them. When you consider that, like 2012, there are two new events in that batch ($5,000 Eight-Handed No Limit Hold’em and the Millionaire Maker), the success rate of repeat final tablists is all the more impressive.
The mystery remains why these players are finding so much repeat success when last year they found none. Perhaps the players are getting that much better, perhaps it is sheer happenstance. That is the thing about upswings though—you may not always be able to explain them, but they are always fun to watch.
About the author
: Jessica Welman is an aspiring Hollywood mogul turned aspiring academic turned actual poker media member. A graduate of University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television with an MA in Communication and Culture from Indiana University at Bloomington, Welman first started in poker at the 2008 World Series of Poker as part of a grad school research project. That research project quickly turned into an unexpected career shift.