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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 Elaine Chaivarlis and tournament reporter Don Peters, Pocketfives' Dan Cypra and Poker Road's Court Harrington.
What a month! April was filled with highs and lows on the cash game felt, massive tournament buy-ins and familiar faces holding up trophies and huge bricks of cash. It was a month that highlighted the variety and depth of Europe's poker scene while maintaining that the United States tournament circuit is far from struggling one year after Black Friday changed the industry forever.
A few major events stole the show in April, but perhaps the Party Poker Premier League topped them all. The innovative concept featured 16 players putting up $125,000 and resulted in a big $500,000 score by Scott Seiver. Sam Trickett was able to maintain his spot on this list with an eighth-place finish in that event. The action headed to EPT Berlin and a massive turnout that witnessed Davidi Kitai capture a $930,816 first-place prize and spark debate about whether or not he earned poker's Triple Crown with the victory. Kitai has $2.7 million in tournament earnings for his career, but failed to make the list this month.
The EPT Grand Final then took center stage and a 100,000 euro buy-in attracted the top players in the world, including many on the list below. Justin Bonomo earned more than $2 million for his victory while Tobias Reinkemeier, Bertrand Grospellier, Patrik Antonius, Masa Kagawa and Daniel Negreanu all turned their expensive buy-ins into something greater. The rich got richer as Bonomo and Negreanu were joined by Phil Ivey in the final nine of the 25,000 euro high roller event there as well. (At the time of this posting, the results of that final table were not included in April's rankings).
There were a number of players that really stood out in April, but perhaps nobody more than Grospellier. The French owner of the Triple Crown continued to dominate the high roller felt and, in addition to his third-place finish in the 100,000 Super High Roller, he also won the 10,000 euro re-entry event at EPT Berlin for $301,992. Grospellier has earned $1.2 million on the year and the panel recognized his run with a move from seventh to fourth this month. At his victory in Berlin, Grospellier defeated Chris Moorman heads-up for the title. Moorman also moved up one spot, to fifth, this month.
The World Poker Tour was busy in April with Morten Christensen winning the WPT Vienna stop and Tommy Vedes winning his second World Poker Tour title at the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown. November Niner Phil Collins won the Heartland Poker Tour event at the Palms in Las Vegas and Tripp Kirk won the record-setting WSOP Circuit main event title in St. Louis.
Despite all the successes, the top two players, Jason Mercier and Jonathan Duhamel, failed to earn some of their own. Both Duhamel and Mercier played in the biggest events in Europe this month, but came away empty-handed. They maintained their spots at the top of this list given their recent performances while Erik Seidel continues to slide down the rankings albeit earning a cash in the EPT Grand Final main event.
Who should be ranked higher? Who should be completely off the list? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!
Here's a look at April's top 10:
On the bubble
The bubble boy this month was Steve O'Dwyer. Since August, O'Dwyer has made 13 final tables and has earned more than $1.2 million. We often wonder what feat could put a player into the top 10 and, really, O'Dwyer has accomplished them all. It is only a matter of time that O'Dwyer is finally off this bubble list. Daniel Negreanu finished sixth in the 100,000 euro Super High Roller in Monte Carlo and earned $409,279 and also cashed in the High Roller event just days later. Justin Bonomo won the Super High Roller and also cashed in the High Roller. Both received good support for their performances in April and are likely to move into the top 10 next month. Tommy Vedes and Will Failla also earned some love for the panel for their recent WPT accomplishments. Others receiving substantial consideration include Patrik Antonius, David Sands, Joe Serock, Phil Hellmuth, Viktor Blom, Ben Lamb, Mickey Petersen, Isaac Haxton and Faraz Jaka.
Bradley: Steve O'Dwyer belongs on this list. Without question. He has breezed through Europe over the past few months and has done everything you'd expect of a top-level poker player.
This list is meant to reflect who the best players on the planet are right now. If O'Dwyer's not a top-10 player right now, with five final tables since February, then how do Buchanan and Seidel -- with two cashes between them in 2012 -- make the list? I'm baffled.
Feldman: April was filled with a lot of events and provided every member of the panel with plenty of opportunities to evaluate the talent on this list. While I think we hit it on the head perfectly with Grospellier moving up and the top three staying the same, I think the bottom of these rankings are extremely questionable.
Just as Lance mentioned, O'Dwyer needs to be on this list after what he has done this year. Last month in this space, I called for O'Dwyer and Haxton to find a spot, but neither found their way on to the list. I think the entire group missed out on Scott Seiver, and it's hard not to recognize the feats of Tommy Vedes, Justin Bonomo and Davidi Kitai with a little more support. Negreanu has been a player with an insane amount of support in the past, but a sixth-place finish in the Super High Roller wasn't enough to move him up? The bottom of this list needs an overhaul and I hope that next month, we'll see some new faces hoping to earn their way up.
The great thing about our next rankings is that the WSOP will be underway and there's no better time to explicitly the define the best players in the world than watching them day in and day out. The WSOP is the best time of the year for poker players and fans, and I'm extremely excited for what's in store for Las Vegas this summer.