Every year we kneel by the sides of our beds and pray that the next world champion will be marketable. We want someone with a story, someone who can string a few words together and isn’t afraid to get in front of the camera.
We also want someone with personal ambition. We want someone visible, someone who’s going to be available, both as a player and an ambassador for the game of poker.
With these criteria in mind we’ve got a few clear-cut favorites for who we’d like to see as the next world champion.
1. Michael Mizrachi
The Grinder is an easy choice. He’s already one of the most recognizable poker players in the world, there’s a built-in story since he’ll be smashing the record for all-time tournament earnings and, let’s face it, he’s a pretty camera-friendly dude.
From a media perspective Mizrachi is our number one pick but a big-name pro world champion does have a downside.
While Chris Moneymaker showed people that a rank amateur could compete on poker’s biggest stage, a tournament expert like Michael Mizrachi may have the opposite effect.
That said Grinder could act as a role model for a generation of male poker players who dream of making millions while rocking chin straps and Affliction tees.
2. Matt Jarvis
Matt Jarvis hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention in the poker world but he’s our number two pick for who we’d like to see win this thing.
Jarvis satisfies most of our criteria. He’s camera-friendly, he’s got a compelling story and he’s definitely ambitious.
Poker players can be happy about Jarvis winning since he’ll definitely be playing every major he can get his hands on in the next year. Media will like him for the same reason.
You can hear his story in this video interview I did with him on my balcony in Vancouver.
The biggest thing working in his favor, however, is the fact that he’s Canadian. If Jarvis won it would become nationally reported news. It might sound a bit quaint but we don’t have that much going on up here. Seriously, the stories of the month will be “Winter’s Almost Here” and “Matt Jarvis Wins Big Poker Tournament”.
3. Filippo Candio
Usually we wouldn’t vote for someone with limited English language skills but in this case we feel the net benefit to the poker world outweighs any problems we’re going to have interviewing him.
Poker is already gaining serious popularity in Italy and, to put it bluntly, Italians usually aren’t that great at poker. I don’t think it’s anything inherent to Italian people that’s to blame; it’s just a function of their limited experience, like North Americans in 2003.
Even though it’ll be tough for us to cash in on this influx of Italian fish, because of the online poker restrictions in Italy, we believe the overall effect will be positive.
Indeed, having a European world champion will be big news over there. Europeans are always looking for evidence that they’re better than North Americans. Despite usually distancing themselves from Italian players we think they’ll make an exception for Filippo Candio.