The World Series of Poker (WSOP) National Championship presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof is quickly becoming not only a proving ground for WSOP Circuit grinders, but also a badge of honor for some of the top players in the game. Last year, the WSOP opened the National Championship to the top 100 performers at the WSOP and WSOP Europe, allowing them to buy their way into the event for $10,000 and compete with the top 100 Circuit qualifiers for a piece of the National Championship prize pool that features $1 million in added money. This group of 100 qualifiers is back again for this year's event and the crop of players are some of the most notable in the game.
In order to get a chance to buy into the event, you have to prove yourself on poker's biggest stage--the WSOP. Using WSOP Player of the Year (system powered by BLUFF) points earned during 2011 and 2012, the list of 100 WSOP POY qualifiers for the National Championship tabulates the top performers from the past two years. Winning but one bracelet is not enough to earn a spot on this competitive list. Players have to be consistent and notch multiple cashes and final tables in order to make the cut.
Case in point: from last year's list of 100 players, only 39 managed to earn a second invite to the National Championship, which will be held May 21-23 at Harrah's New Orleans. The top qualifier, Phil Hellmuth, racked up an astonishing 1,644.58 POY points that came from 16 cashes, seven final table appearances, and two bracelets. Hellmuth was the most dominant player of the 2011 and 2012 WSOP races by a margin. The next highest qualifier, reigning WSOP Player of the Year and Main Event Champion Greg Merson, was the only other player to crack 1,000 points, earning 1,007.38 thanks to his two bracelet victories and three additional cashes. Here is a look at the top ten WSOP POY qualifiers for the 2013 WSOP National Championship:
1. Phil Hellmuth - 1,644.58
2. Greg Merson - 1,007.38
3. Michael Mizrachi - 978.70
4. Ben Lamb - 909.05
5. John Monnette - 884.13
6. Jason Mercier - 818.64
7. Brian Rast - 775.30
8. Chris Moorman - 753.95
9. Antonio Esfandiari - 753.10
10. Shawn Buchanan - 739.37
Three of the top ten, Merson, John Monnette, and Big One for One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari, are first-time qualifiers. Five of the qualifiers, Hellmuth, Michael Mizrachi, 2011 WSOP Player of the Year Ben Lamb, Chris Moorman, and Shawn Buchanan, were top ten qualifiers for the 2012 WSOP National Championship as well.
Qualifying for this year's event was slightly tougher than last year, according to the points. Last year, Sami Kelopuro was the 100th qualifier with 311.25 points. This year, Carter Phillips was the last player in with his 323.50 points. The 2014 National Championship will almost certainly take more points to qualify for, as WSOP Asia-Pacific will count towards the WSOP Player of the Year standings, adding even more qualifying events to the 2013 POY race.
Here is a look at the 100 players who earned the right to buy-in to the 2013 National Championship for $10,000. A list of players in order of points earned is available on BLUFFMagazine.com as well. Hope to see many of you in New Orleans come May:
David “Bakes” Baker
David “ODB” Baker