Look Out for Uncle Tom!
Who are you and where did you come from? Although Tom Schneider is no stranger to the game of poker (he frequents many cash games) no one would have pegged him to win two bracelets at this year's WSOP. A friendly guy, that reminds me of the stereotype fun uncle that likes playing cards, Schneider is not exactly the most marketable player in the world (he's not Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth or Jeff Madsen). He also plays decidedly non-high profiles games like Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo which don't help him get a lot of recognition.
Schneider is getting hard to ignore, however. He won Event 5 (surviving Annie Duke, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and John Phan!) and Event 46. He also made it to the final table of Event 16 and is currently in the lead for player of the year consideration.
Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Schneider set these goals for himself at the beginning of the year. After winning his first bracelet he told reporters that he planned to make three final tables this summer. A lot of people scoffed at this (including myself I must admit) but Schneider actually pulled it off.
There's no way around it - Schneider is one of the 2007 WSOP's bonafide stars.
The Thater Invader
It's been awhile since a female won a non-women only event. In fact it has been three years since Annie Duke did it at Binions. Well wait no longer. Katja Thater proved she could play with the big boys in the $1,500 Razz event.
Thater made a fantastic run that saw her defeat Larry St. Jean in heads-up play. Playing with composure and a seriousness that could only be called, well, German.
There have also been plenty of female players that made final tables this year. Duke, Beth Shak, Anna Wroblewski, Oriane Teysseire, Erica Shoenberg all made their presence known at the 2007 WSOP. It's a huge victory for women playing poker and should only escalate as we head into next year's World Series.
Trapped in a Box
Not really a surprise - it was going to happen according to the schedule - but the sequestered tent has been a very unpleasant addition to this year's series.
Harrah's position on poker becoming a spectator sport is perplexing. On one hand they are trying to do everything to get people into watching poker but on the other hand they create "The Box." It's arguable that it does make for an interesting viewing experience on the internet but what about the excitement of a live game? Phil Hellmuth winning his 11th bracelet with no one actually watching him do it live was a travesty. No article on the 2007 WSOP is complete without a little bit of box bashing.
Probably the worst surprise of the entire summer.
Negreanu and Ivey Shut Out
There are tons of great players that haven't won bracelets this summer but two players really stand out. Both Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey have made final tables but haven't walked away with WSOP gold. Both players are relatively young, very sharp and obviously have a lot of game left in them. So why haven't they been able to close out a WSOP event in the past few years? It's tough to say.
Before the series started this year Negreanu sounded tired of the game and generally depressed in his blog. Despite that as soon as Event 1 came around the normal excited Negreanu was in the house. Yet he still doesn't have another bracelet. Some wonder if he just doesn't have his A-game anymore.
Ivey is even more confusing because he's been playing very, very well but he has issues with heads-up play.
It's tough because these are two guys that everybody is rooting for but they can't seem to finish lately. Here's hoping they can get a handle on their issues before the Main Event and hopefully make serious runs.
That's a look at some of the biggest surprises of the 2007 WSOP. There are many more (you are welcome to email me your own at email@example.com) but those are the ones that really seem to have the media talking this year. Of course the best surprises are likely to come during the Main Event so keep it locked on PokerListings.com to see what develops.