The cards hit the air today for Event 33, the $10,000 World Championship of Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Split Eight-or-Better, so it's time to look at a few favorites.
Stud used to be the big game. Many of the top pros cut their teeth playing Seven-Card long before Hold'em was popular - or even heard of.
To compile my list of the top Stud players, I went with a mix of proven tournament results and respect from other players. As there are very few straight Stud tournaments, I've taken into account results from all tournaments that include Stud or a variant thereof. This includes mixed games, Razz and Stud Eight-or-Better.
Enough with the preamble; this is my list of the top five Seven-Card players.
5) Daniel Negreanu. Maybe it's because he's a fellow Canadian, maybe it's because he's such a likable personality or maybe it's because of his $9.9 million in tournament winnings and regular appearances in some of the highest-stakes games around.
Lots of people don't think of him as a Seven-Card player, but he has 17 cashes in Seven-Card events, including four wins. One of those wins being a WSOP bracelet.
4) "Miami" John Cernuto. Full Tilt pro Miami John is viewed by some as one of the greatest Seven-Card players of all time. His tournament resume backs up this view. Out of his $4.2 million in tournament winnings, 80 of his cashes have been in Seven-Card-related events. Sixteen of the 80 have been wins.
His career stretches all the way back to 1989 and he spent years dominating the Seven-Card scene in California, constantly winning and placing in championship events around L.A.
3) Ted Forrest. Unless this is your first day looking into the world of professional poker, you'll be very familiar with the name Ted Forrest. Ted has been a professional poker player for a long time and a winning one for the vast majority of it.
He spent most of his early professional years playing Seven-Card games, and all the practice has paid off. Lifetime tournament winnings of over $5 million and 33 in-the-money finishes in Seven-Card events prove that Ted's not to be taken lightly.
Eight of the 33 finishes have been wins, three of those WSOP bracelets. Not many players can claim to have won three bracelets period; Forrest can claim three in Seven-Card.
2) Phil Ivey. Those of you who know a bit about Full Tilt pro Ivey will not be surprised in the least to find his name near the top of this list. Phil was playing Seven-Card professionally in Atlantic City before he was legally old enough to gamble, using the fake ID of a guy named Jerome.
Ivey says that Hold'em is his best game these days, but that doesn't stop him from making the mixed Big Game in Bobby's Room a regular stop for him. He's willing to play the highest stakes at any variation of poker, confident that he'll dominate in most all of them.
His tournament winnings are just under $9 million, and he boasts 18 cashes in Seven-Card type events - seven of them being wins, three of which resulted in WSOP bracelets (tying him with Ted Forrest in that regard).
1) John "World" Hennigan (also pictured above). John Hennigan has amassed just under $3 million in tournament wins, with four cashes in Seven-Card events, one of them being a WSOP bracelet.
So how could someone with the least tournament winnings and least Seven-Card tournament cashes make it to the top of the list? If you ask any professional poker player who the best Stud player is, you will almost exclusively hear the name John Hennigan.
Lots of players have been quoted as saying that he's the best player they have ever faced.
Just four days before beating a final table including Phil Ivey and Men Nguyen for a 2002 WSOP bracelet, Hennigan made another WSOP Stud final table. In 2005, he made it to two more final tables.
Even though he only has limited tournament results (in comparison to some other big names), based on sheer respect and admiration from the other top players in the game, John Hennigan is a simple choice for the top slot.
To follow all the action in the Stud Hi-Lo Split World Championship, jump to the PokerListings.com live 2008 WSOP coverage section here.