Negreanu, November Nine Among Big WSOPE Storylines

Daniel Negreanu
Can Daniel Negreanu yet again?

The World Series of Poker of Europe begins later this week with a new location and loads of intriguing storylines.

First up you have the new location of Enghien-les-Bains, which is just outside of a little city named Paris.

Next up you have Daniel Negreanu and Brit Matthew Ashton embroiled in a POY race that could go down to the wire.

It’s all setting the stage for what could be one of the most memorable series of poker tournaments ever played and PokerListings will be there every day as the official live coverage provider.

Not familiar with everything heading into the final WSOP event of the year? Check out the official WSOPE homepage to get information about the venue and schedule.

Looking for something a little more exciting? We’ve compiled a primer below that lists five potentially huge stories going into WSOPE.

French Connection: The Move From Cannes to Paris 

Looks decent.

Perhaps the biggest story heading into this year’s WSOPE has nothing to do with individual players.

Instead it’s about the new venue just outside of Paris at Casino Barriere in Enghien-les-Bains.

This will be the third time the WSOPE has moved since the inaugural series in London. After taking up residence in London for four years the WSOPE stopped for a couple years in famous Cannes but it’s now headed to the big city in France.

It seems like a great fit for the WSOPE, which has already always been more of a destination-based tour.

Paris is a world-class city and there are plenty of enthusiastic French poker players.

Of course there are still some questions surrounding the move.

Last year numbers were good at the WSOPE but not great. While WSOP events outside of North America have been very good at drawing high rollers, there’s no question organizers would like to see some bigger fields in the smaller buy-in events.

The first open-event – a No-Limit Hold’em re-entry tournament – will likely be a good test.

In addition the series will not take place in central Paris, which is a downside for players looking to spend all their time downtown.

Negreanu, Ashton in Desperate Race for Player of the Year 

Matthew Ashton
Ashton in control of POY.

Last year saw one of the best Player of the Year races in the history of the WSOP go down when Greg Merson narrowly edged Phil Hellmuth by winning the Main Event.

This year could be one for the ages as well as big-name pro Daniel Negreanu is trying to chase down Brit Matthew Ashton to win his second WSOP POY title (he won his first in 2004).

Negreanu (thanks to a massive showing at the WSOP APAC) amassed 598 points but is still looking up to Ashton’s 649.

If Kid Poker takes down a bracelet in Paris, than the title may be his.

The top 10 on the POY leaderboard is full of notable players including David “Bakes” Baker, Tom Schneider (another former WSOP POY winner) and Marco Johnson but the most interesting is Loni Harwood.

Harwood (who had three final tables and one bracelet win this summer) is currently in third place with 487 points and could become the first women to win WSOP POY if she records a big WSOPE.

Whatever happens it won’t be boring.

Will Phil Ivey Go Back to Crushing Tournaments at the WSOPE?

0017a Phil Ivey
Is it Ivey's time?

Phil Ivey skipped the entire 2011 WSOP and then came back with a vengeance in 2012 winning five final tables and narrowly missing out on POY.

Ivey was barely a factor in this summer’s WSOP and registered only one paltry cash.

There is a silver lining to Ivey’s WSOP experiences this year, however.

He was a force down under at WSOP APAC and demolished the tiny 81-player field in the $2,200 Mixed Event to win his ninth gold bracelet.

If he can capture some of that fire than he might be able to slay one of the French events to win his 10th bracelet.

The only problem for the mixed-game master is that all the tournaments at WSOPE are either No-Limit Hold’em or Pot-Limit Omaha. Ivey has never won a bracelet in Hold’em.

Ivey tends to bring his A-game for the big events, however, and that €25,000 high-roller tournament at the end of the French series might be just the ticket.

How Will the 2013 November Niners Fare?

David Benefield
David "Raptor" Benefield is crushing.

Since the inception of the November Nine the WSOPE has become the one big tournament series that nearly all the most recent Main Event final table contestants will play before heading to Vegas for their showdown.

Traditionally November Niners have also performed very well there.

In 2008 Ivan Demidov made it all the way to third place in the WSOPE Main Event before falling to eventual winner John Juanda.

The next year French poker pro Antoine Saout finished seventh in the WSOPE Main Event.

This year David “Raptor” Benefield has been on one hell of a streak since making the Main Event final table in Las Vegas.

Benefield made a deep run in the EPT Barcelona main event and final tabled both the €48,000 Super High Roller and the €10,000 High Roller.

Even more recently Benefield finished seventh in the EPT London High Roller for $226,348.

Since making the November Nine Benefield has accumulated well over half a million in profit so he’s the one to watch as the WSOP descends on Paris.

Will a French Player Win the WSOPE Main Event?

ElkY Grospellier
One time!

Since it’s inception the WSOPE Main Event has counted Annette Obrestad, John Juanda, Barry Schulman, James Bord, Elio Fox and Phil Hellmuth amongst its winners.

In the first year the WSOPE was held in France, Arnauld Mattern painfully bubbled the final table.

Last year there were three French players at the final table but none were able to stand in the way of Phil Hellmuth.

French poker has come a long way and players like Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Ludovic Lacay and Nicolas Cardyn are at the forefront of the new wave of French poker.

A French winner Main Event winner would be huge for the host country.

It’s easy to forget just how relevant the WSOP is but the recent explosion of poker in Quebec, in part thanks to Jonathan Duhamel’s historic win, proves that Main Event winners still mean something.

If a French player were to take down the WSOPE Main Event it would help set the standard for what could be years to come in Paris.

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