The Nuts: Sam Trickett moves to fifth
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.
When poker action in November is mentioned, the thoughts of poker fans quickly turn to the WSOP main event final table. The November Nine finally reconvened in Las Vegas and viewers around the world watched live as Pius Heinz captured the biggest title in all of poker. The 22-year-old German has seen his life change in just the weeks after his victory, but in doing so, he provided the poker world with a highlight reel full of his creativity on the felt.
As Heinz grabbed the attention of the world (in addition to his $8.7 million in first-place prize money), Sam Trickett continued his dominating year with a victory on the Partouche Poker Tour. Trickett moved up to fifth this month and for the doubters that don't give the British superstar much respect, he's had three seven-figure scores in 2011. Not even Erik Seidel can say that. Seidel held on to second this month, but still trails Jason Mercier, who retained the top spot, for the sixth straight month. Neither player notched any tournament cashes in November, but this wasn't the most action-packed month on the tournament trail.
The events that did take place were well attended. Anthony Ruberto earned his first major victory at the untelevised, but very successful WPT Jacksonville. The WSOP Circuit continued to roll with Bryan Schultz earning the main event ring in Lake Tahoe and Jerry Monroe earning $112,779 in Biloxi, MS. Randy Lew managed to outlast the returning Phil Ivey en route to his victory in the APPT Macau main event, Scott Clements defeated the field of 265 at the Venetian's semi-annual Deep Stack Extravaganza and Andrew Badecker won the Borgata Fall Poker Open and the top prize of $388,657. The $2,500 to $3,500 buy-ins were very popular in November.
The biggest event of the month occurred in a place you probably wouldn't expect: Brazil. The Brazil Series of Poker Million event attracted a field of 1,446 players and crowned Flavio Reis champion. It was the largest poker tournament in Latin American history and it paid off quite well for Reis, who earned $245,342 and a seat in the 2012 WSOP main event.
As the calendar turns to December, some big events that could dramatically shake up these rankings are on the horizon. The WPT's Five Diamond highlights the list of majors that also includes the third Epic Poker League main event, EPT Prague and the WSOP Circuit stop in Atlantic City. The biggest question for next month's rankings might not be who is going to move up or down, but what to do with Ivey. Will he earn his way back on the list? Maybe he should already be back. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Here's a look at November's top 10:
On the bubble
Pius Heinz. Pius Pius Heinz. Na na na na na na na na na na na. Pius, Pius Heinz. Yes, that chant is still ingrained in all of our heads, but no, he's not the official bubble boy of this month. His run to the WSOP main event bracelet put him in contention for a spot as he earned a lot of support from the panel. If he can overcome the fact that everyone has seen his strategies and what he's capable of at the felt, he might join this group soon. The actual bubble boy this month was Sam Stein. Have any doubts about how good Stein is? Understand the fact that he was one of Ben Lamb's primary poker discussion partners as the final table approached. Stein's 2011 includes 11 cashes and $2.1 million in tournament earnings. Others receiving substantial consideration include Andy Frankenberger, Jonathan Duhamel, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, John Juanda, Matt Giannetti, Eric Baldwin and Elio Fox.
Final thoughts Bradley: Including Hellmuth, who rode his summer success to a spot on this list but hasn't done much else since, but not including Ivey, who panelists said would need to be playing again before he'd be considered, seems strange to me. Hellmuth had a great summer, but it's almost Christmas time. Ivey's playing again in the big games in Macau and that has to make him eligible for votes again. If he's not a top-10 talent, nobody is.
Feldman: Not a lot of movement on the list this month and in all reality, that had to be expected. With all the hype surrounding the final table, the real question, in terms of these rankings, was whether or not Ben Lamb would either win and move up or get knocked our early and drop down. Partouche provided a good vehicle for Trickett to continue to rise and, besides a few other smaller events around the country, there wasn't anything that I'd weighed heavily when composing my rankings this month.
Seeing consistency in the list is a good thing when it comes to realizing the stars of the game and I feel that November's group is representative of the game's elite right now. Sure, there are a couple people I think are deserving of a spot, but in general, I don't have the one regret that often accompanies the publication of this list each month.
Two final, final thoughts. First, Pius Heinz's performance at the WSOP main event final table immediately made him a candidate for this list. The ability he demonstrated during those days of play was simply impressive. Second, to Mr. Phil Ivey, I'm glad to see you back at the tables and I expect you to make this list in the very near future.