A betting preview of the World Series of Poker's 2009 Main Event

2 July 2009

LAS VEGAS – The energy that rushes through the cabin of an airplane about to land in Las Vegas never ceases to amaze me. There is hope. There is excitement. There is optimism. And you can feel it oozing out of everyone around you as soon as the bright lights of the Strip come into sight.

But every time I fly to Vegas and start to hear the enthusiasm boil throughout the aisles as my plane make its descent, I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a guy sitting next to me during a flight to Sin City.

"You know why those casinos are so big and shiny?" Max from Phoenix asked me as he peered over my right shoulder as the pilot announced to the flight attendants to prepare for landing. "Because almost every single person on this flight is going to lose money. And the few who do win, will end up giving it back anyway."

It was a poignant point. And it's something I always think about when I'm at a casino and happen to have the good fortune of being ahead of the game.

Max was right. If you want to win money as a gambler, you have to hold on to your hard-earned winnings when you actually beat the dreaded house edge. Because it's so damn easy to give it all back when you push your luck.

For those of you who read our 2009 World Series of Poker betting preview back in May and actually followed our advice, you are in that very position. Heading into the Main Event, we are 3-for-3 with our prop bets with three outcomes still pending. The very worst we can do is end up with a $980 profit. And we still have an outside chance to cash in for over a grand. Not bad.

Now, with the 2009 Main Event upon us, we can't help ourselves. Go ahead and call us an action junkie, but we're going to do what so many Las Vegas "weekend warriors" usually regret on Sunday night and let our winnings ride on the Main Event.

Sorry Max. The temptation was simply too much for us to handle. So let's head over to BetUS and Bodog, and take a shot at five more prop bets. Here's hoping that when the dust settles we'll still be able to afford an all-expenses paid trip back to Vegas for the November Nine.

1. Top Former Champion in Main Event

Scotty Nguyen -- 8/1

Phil Hellmuth 8/1

Chris Ferguson 10/1


Huck Seed -- shown here after winning the 2009 National Heads Up Poker Championship -- is a good bet to have the best Main Event out of this list of former champs. (photo by Stephanie Moore)

Greg Raymer 10/1

Joe Hachem 12/1

Dan Harrington 12/1

Peter Eastgate 12/1

Doyle Brunson 14/1

Johnny Chan 14/1

Carlos Mortensen 14/1

Huck Seed 14/1

Berry Johnston 20/1

Jim Bechtel 20/1

Bobby Baldwin 25/1

Brad Daugherty 25/1

Jamie Gold 25/1

Jerry Yang 25/1

Tom McEvoy 25/1

Chris Moneymaker 25/1

Amarillo Slim Preston 25/1

Russ Hamilton 25/1

Robert Varkonyi 25/1

Noel Furlong 30/1

Hamid Dastmalchi 30/1

We think we have two good value plays in this group. Greg Raymer began the 2009 WSOP with a bang by taking a third place in the special 40th Anniversary $40,000 No Limit Event, proving he's still on top of his game. When we spoke to Raymer after he got bounced from the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship he told us he felt rested and ready for the Main Event. He's got two-career cashes in the Main Event – his win in 2004 and a 25th place finish in '05 – which tells us that when he makes a run in this event, he goes pretty deep. So we're willing to take a shot with FossilMan.

We'll also get behind Huck Seed here at what we think is a very generous 14-to-1. If we were making the odds here, we would have placed Huck among the favorites and certainly ahead of Joe Hachem, Carlos Mortensen and Dan Harrington. And how can Seed have better odds in this bet than Chris Ferguson – who's having an absolute brutal WSOP? For those of you not keeping score, "Jesus" went on a mind-boggling 0-for-17 non-cash streak to start the Series and heading into Thursday he had just one in-the-money finish this year after cashing in three or more events in nine out of the last 10 years.

Seed has had a great 2009 WSOP with three Top-10 finishes, including one in the $40,000. Seed at 14-to-1 is a bargain and we love bargains.

Play Raymer -- $50 to win $500

Play Seed -- $50 to win $700

* * *

2. Will a woman finish in the Top 25 of the Main Event?

Yes -- +160

No -- -200

This line is out of whack due to the publicity Tiffany Michelle got last year when she made a run at the final table and ended up finishing 17th. Tiffany got a ton of face time on ESPN and we're guessing the oddsmaker is putting too much stock into her notoriety. We realize that a women has finished in the Top 25 in two out of the last four years (Tiffany Williamson was 15th in 2005) but, truth be told, women are few and far between on the leaderboard when it's all said and done. Only two women placed in the Top-100 in 2007. In 2006 only three did it and in 2005 Williamson was one of two women to make the Top 100.

And 2009 hasn't exactly been the year of the woman at the WSOP as other than the annual Ladies Championship there hasn't been a female bracelet winner and there have only been a handful of final tableists. And by the way, Tiffany Michelle -- who announced yesterday that she will not play in this year's Main Event -- made a grand total of $0 at this year's WSOP (although it seems she's had perfect attendance at every WSOP party).

Sorry girls, but we think this bet is a steal. And when you're already playing with the house's money, you can afford to lay a big price.

Play No -- $500 to win $250

* * *

3. Top Women Finisher in the Main Event

Annie Duke 16/1

Jennifer Harman 16/1

Vanessa Selbst 16/1

Cindy Violette 20/1

Clonie Gowen 20/1

Kara Scott 20/1

Kathy Liebert 20/1

Lika Gerasimova 20/1

Sandra Naujoks 20/1

Vanessa Rousso 20/1


While we don't expect a woman to place in the Top-25 of the Main Event, we like the 20-to-1 odds on Vanessa Rousso being the top female finisher this year.(photo by Stephanie Moore)

Anna Wroblewski 25/1

Beth Shak 25/1

Sabyl Cohen 25/1

Erica Schoenberg 25/1

Liv Boeree 25/

Liz Liu 25/1

Tiffany Michelle 25/1

Cecilia Reyes 30/1

Evelyn Ng 30/1

Jennifer Tilly 30/1

Karina Jett 30/1

Katherine Hartree 30/1
Katja Thater 30/1

Kristy Gazes 30/1

Lisa Parsons 30/1

Maria Ho 30/1

Maria Stern 30/1

Melissa Hayden 30/1

Isabelle Mercier 30/1

Mimi Tran 30/1

Nancy Todd Tyner 30/1

Shannon Elizabeth 30/1

Stacy Matuson 30/1

Svetlana Gromenkova 30/1

Thu Nguyen 30/1

Victoria Coren 30/1

Allyn Jaffery Shulman 40/1

Carmel Petrescu 40/1

Jerri Thomas 40/1

Olga Varkonyi 40/1

Barbara Enright 50/1

Pam Brunson 50/1

Ester Rossi 50/1

Jennifer Leigh 50/1

Marsha Wagonner 50/1

Maureen Feduniak 50/1

Nani Dollison 50/1

Susie Isaacs 50/1

Suzie Kim 50/1

Speaking of the female players, one of Tiffany Michelle's friends and frequent companion on the party scene – Maria Ho – is having a pretty good 2009 WSOP with two cashes including an impressive 11th place against a tough field in the $10,000 World Championship Limit Hold'em event. She was the top women finisher in the Main Event back in 2007 when she took 38th and we're getting some decent odds on her in this field.

And why isn't Vanessa Rousso one of the top choices here? She has been, by far, one of the top women players in the world during the last calendar year and has four WSOP cashes this year. At 20-to-1, a bet on Lady Maverick is too good to pass up.

Play Rousso -- $50 to win $1000

Play Ho -- $50 to win $1500

* * *

4. Which player from the 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Table will last longest in the 2009 WSOP Main Event ?

At least 1 player must cash for wager to have action.

Dennis Phillips -- 7/1

Craig Marquis -- 11/2

Ylon Schwartz -- 11/2

Scott Montgomery -- 11/2

Darus Suharto -- 7/1

Chino Rheem -- 7/2

Ivan Demidov -- 7/2

Kelly Kim -- 7/1

Peter Eastgate -- 9/2

Last year at this time, the general poker public had no idea who the majority of these players were. Now, they will forever be known as the original November Nine.

We can't help but like Demidov here. He's the only player to ever make the final table in both the WSOP and the WSOP Europe in the same year, which in our mind may be one of the most underrated feats in poker history. The steely-eyed Russian is one of the best No Limit players in the world. So we have to take a shot.

Our second pick in this bet will be Schwartz. We talked to him the other day as he was wondering the Amazon and he said he hasn't had a great 2009 WSOP, but always feels good about his chances. He said he thinks he's even more ready for this year's Main Event than he was last year. Schwartz was a few hands away from making the heads-up portion of last year's final table and of all the guys on this list, he's the one that will be most unfazed by the attention this group will receive during this year's Main Event. As we found out last year, Schwartz is an odd duck who skips to the beat of a different drummer. And we're going to try and ride that unique trait to a nice profit.

Play Demidov -- $50 to win $175

Play Schwartz -- $50 to win $275

* * *

5. Which player will last longest in the 2009 WSOP Main Event?

At least 1 player must cash for wager to have action

Annie Duke +130

Daniel Negreanu –170

Simply put, Negreanu is on a mission this year. Not only has he played in nearly every event possible in the 2009 WSOP but he's played pretty damn good. You can tell he has something to prove after being bounced very early in last year's Main Event. And at a price of less than 2-to-1, we're willing to bet he cashes and Annie Duke doesn't.

Play Negreanu -- $170 to win $100

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