Everybody seems to agree: it's absolutely impossible to pick a winner for the Main Event this year. With up to 8,000 players in the starting field, the highlight of the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is more of a lottery than a poker tournament. The most likely scenario is that some totally unknown player will become World Champion of Poker in 2006.
The problem with totally unknown people is that you don't know who they are. So, how do you pick likely winners from a category like that? The only way is to make people up, and hope to get lucky. That is exactly what I have done. And I think I have as good a chance as anyone else of finding the winner.
These are my totally unknown picks to win the Main Event in the 2006 World Series of Poker:
Darren Worthington, Las Vegas - 53 years old
Darren visits all the major casinos (and strip clubs) in Vegas on a regular basis. He works as a lumberjack, but has been playing poker for more than 30 years, and finally wants to give the World Series a try. Seven-Card Stud is Darren's favorite poker game, and he prefers cash games to tournaments, but I think his vast experience will pay off. He is of the old school but has adapted well to the modern, aggressive poker game.
Miranda Johnson, Chicago - 32 years old
Miranda became interested in poker when she dated a friend-of-an-enemy of Phil Ivey's. She started to study the game and soon discovered that she has a natural talent for it, especially semi-bluffing. She is probably the best semi-bluffer in the world today. Miranda qualified for the Main Event through an online satellite, and is preparing for the tournament by playing in a home game with a group of lumberjacks.
John Smith, New York City - 35 years old
This guy isn't a very good poker player, but he has a very common name and lives in a very big city. There should be a good chance that a player like this at least makes it to the final table. And from there, anything can happen. That's poker.
Phil Hellmuth Sr., Palo Alto, Calif. - 67 years old
Wouldn't that be funny?
Sven Svensson, Partille, Sweden - 27 years old
One of many skilled young poker players from Sweden. He listens to ABBA on his iPod, eats meatballs during the dinner breaks, and doesn't know how much to tip, but he's absolutely fearless at the poker table. Partille is a suburb to Sweden's second largest town Gothenburg, and this will be the first time Sven has left the country. That could be a problem, but there will be lots of other Swedes around to help him feel comfortable at the World Series.
Some totally unknown players I don't think will win the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event:
Henry Laviere, Paris - 46 years old
There are not that many good French poker players, and I don't think that this café owner will make it.
Maria Espinosa, Los Angeles - 22 years old
Maria is not even interested in poker. She wants to be a lumberjack.
Kim Po, Pyongyang, North Korea - age unknown
Kim Po is a really good poker player, but they won't let him out of the country.