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2010 WSOP Best Bets: Sam Stein
Last year, PokerListings picked its best bets to win a World Series of Poker bracelet and revealed them to the public in advance of the series.
Out of five picks, our very own blogger Jason Mercier managed to win his first of what is sure to be many bracelets to come.
However, our other four choices were shut out. This year, after deciding one isn't nearly enough, we have chosen a line-up sure to be bringing home the bling from Las Vegas this summer.
Plus, when we're done, we'll tell you Negreanu's own 2010 WSOP Best Bets right before the 2010 World Series of Poker kicks off.
After three major runner-up finishes on tour this year and a WPT final table appearance, we think Sam Stein sits on the edge of poker greatness.
As a result, we've made him our second best bet to win a WSOP bracelet this year:
Sam Stein experienced something brand new to him at the 2009 World Series of Poker: Losing.
"It was probably the only stretch I've ever gone on in poker where it didn't really go well at all," he said. "I had one cash and I probably played nine tournaments, which isn't a lot. But other than the World Series, it seemed like every other tournament I played in went really well.
"It was really the only rough patch I've had."
But with the woes of the 2009 WSOP behind him, Stein, who started playing the game online four years ago, immediately started winning again.
Just days after the WSOP wrapped up, he exploded onto the live tournament scene with a ninth place finish at the World Poker Tour's Bellagio Cup.
A month later he got over the hump and made the final table of the WPT's Legends of Poker in his home town of Los Angeles, and although the 22-year-old could manage no better than a fifth place finish, it was just the beginning.
He kicked off 2010 with a runner-up finish in a $5k prelim at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
Then he hit the biggest score of his career with another runner-up finish at the inaugural North American Poker Tour Las Vegas main event.
Throw in a third in a $2k NAPT prelim at Mohegan Sun and another second place finish to Jason Mercier in the $25k High Roller just a few days later and although Stein seems to be having some trouble jumping the final hurdle needed to get himself a win, it also appears he is on the verge of something rather big.
"Coming second is never fun," he said. "But the last one was much less frustrating than Venetian. Jason and I are very good friends and there was really nothing I could do. I got my money in good three or four different times and he was able to get a chop or win every single time.
"That was definitely less frustrating than Venetian, where I felt like I kind of gave it away."
And while the frustration of a string of second-place finishes might destroy the spirit of some players, it has only served as motivation for Stein.
"I have a ton of confidence and I feel like I don't really need to change anything up," he said. "If things start out bad at the World Series, maybe I'll consider doing something different, but so far everything seems to be working really well.
"I was considering doing a bracelet bet. I'd have to get some odds though. I know it would push me a little bit harder, although I really want to win a bracelet, so I don't know if it will make me even more motivated than I already am."
And having earned almost $1 million in the year since the 2009 WSOP, Stein feels like his bankroll is in the kind of shape it needs to be to let him concentrate on one thing this year: Winning.
"It makes it easier when you've been winning and don't worry about the buy-ins for the events," he said. "You just play your game and the buy-in doesn't affect how you play. It definitely helps your results when you can have full disregard for the money and I feel like I have that at this point."
Depending on how many Day 2's he makes, Stein plans on playing just about every No-Limit Hold'em event he can get his hands on, including the $25k Six-Max.
Right now he's looking at about 15 shots at a bracelet and since he's been working on his Pot-Limit Omaha game, there's a chance he could take a swing in those tournaments as well.
Having a house in nearby Henderson, Nevada means Stein will be playing the 2010 WSOP on home turf and he's considering hiring a personal chef to make sure he's eating right to fight through the long grind ahead.
"Winning a bracelet means a ton to me," he said. "I really want to win a bracelet, hopefully I can get two, you never know."