|ESPN.com: Poker||[Print without images]|
The Nuts is a monthly feature that takes a look at the best poker players in the world. This feature aims to produce a list of the best players at the moment. Our panel of 10 is comprised of ESPN.com's trio of poker contributors (Gary Wise, Bernard Lee and myself), ESPNdeportes.com poker editor Nahuel Ponce, Bluff magazine editor-in-chief Lance Bradley and managing editor Jessica Welman, PokerNews editor-in-chief Matthew Parvis (replaced this month by managing editor Elaine Chaivarlis) and tournament reporter Don Peters, Pocketfives' Dan Cypra and Poker Road's Court Harrington.
At the midway point between the establishment of the 2011 November Nine and the final table, the major action and biggest games are found overseas. Those live tournaments in Europe appeal to more players than ever this year as it is the biggest time of the online year, with World Championship of Online Poker beginning in September. With online play restricted in the United States, numerous players have left the country and we can expect September and October's European events to set records once again.
In past years, August hasn't really offered much to the tournament poker fan. This year, a little more could be found, as the debut of the Epic Poker League, the start of Season X of the World Poker Tour and the return to a flourishing European Poker Tour scene highlighted an incredible month, which was capped off with Will Failla's victory at WPT Legends. Other victors include McLean Karr (two titles -- Macau, Parx), Brian Hastings (earned his first live career win at the WPT Regional Summer Splash in Florida), Ronny Kaiser (EPT Tallinn) and Randy Pfeifer (Heartland Poker Tour Turning Stone).
Erik Seidel's second-place finish at the Epic Poker League debut was very impressive as he added his fifth $600,000-plus payday in 2011 against an extremely tough field. With $6.2 million in earnings on the year, Seidel, strongly supported by the panel, retained his second-place spot behind Jason Mercier, who by the way finished third in that event.
The biggest mover this month is Eugene Katchalov, who at the time of the panel's rankings submission reached the final table at EPT Barcelona. Katchalov, moving from sixth to third, finished eighth at the Epic event. He is currently seventh on the 2011 money list and in the top 40 all time. He started out the year with a win in the $100,000 buy-in event at PCA, then won a WSOP bracelet. Now, he has his sights set on an EPT title and becoming the next owner of poker's triple crown.
It's hard to discuss these rankings without addressing the nagging question about what to do and where to rank Phil Ivey. This month, Ivey barely held on to the ninth spot and it appears, if Ivey doesn't return to the felt in the next month to put up some results, August may be his last month in the rankings until he returns. It might not be the fairest evaluation of our former No. 1 player, but without any poker results since last December, how long can he retain his spot?
The only addition this month was Vanessa Selbst, jumping back to the No. 8 spot and knocking out Jake Cody from the rankings. Selbst's two cashes this past month gave her six on the year for more than $560,000. She currently ranks second on the women's all-time money list.
Here's a look at August's top 10, and of course, feel free to leave your feedback and reactions in the comments section below.
On the bubble:
The bubble this month was owned by the youngest triple crown winner, Jake Cody. His last cash came at the WSOP main event, but the player nominated in the "Best Tournament Player" category at the 2011 British Poker Awards is still on an incredible run with $2.6 million in earnings over the past two years. The odds seem to be against Chris Moorman making the top 10, but each month he finds himself in the bubble category. Moorman had some small scores online in August and just like Cody, will be ready for the WCOOP. Shawn Buchanan finished 13th at the Legends of Poker and barely missed the final spot in these rankings. If he's able to put down another big score in the coming months, expect the panelists to look at his five WSOP cashes and deep WPT run a little more seriously. Tom Dwan still received some love from the panelists, but he fell further away from the bubble in August. Others who earned substantial consideration include Phil Galfond, Owais Ahmed, Sam Stein, McLean Karr, Scott Seiver, Marvin Rettenmaier, Victor Ramdin and Sorel Mizzi.
Final thoughts: Bradley: August is always an interesting month because the schedule is on the lighter side. As we head into the craziness that will be September (three WPT, one EPT, one EPL and the Partouche Poker Tour) this list is bound to change. It seems inevitable that unless he makes a return to the felt, Phil Ivey is going to be off this list next month. Negreanu's hanging on by a thread in the No. 10 spot and unless he posts a result he's going to fall off as well. The man at the top is no surprise though. Jason Mercier has gone from running good to just running the show. Hard to imagine him not being No. 1 on this list for the foreseeable future.
Feldman: The real lack of movement in this month's rankings addresses the limited nature of the August schedule. Online action is picking up once again as players have regained their accounts and with WCOOP starting in September, we can expect a higher weight of online play calculated into next month's rankings. September is going to be a great month for us to evaluate the talent around the world, and I'm excited to see who we are going to call September's best.
As for the actual rankings, I'm happy to see Vanessa Selbst back on the list. In my eyes, it was a mistake to leave her off last month. I feel that Chris Moorman continues to be the biggest snub and I'm really not sure what it's going to take to get him into the top 10. Even if Eugene Katchalov wins EPT Barcelona, he may have hit a ceiling. It's strange to say this, but I slightly feel the same way about Erik Seidel. As Lance said above, Jason Mercier rightfully deserves the top spot.