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Negreanu, Sexton among WSOP stud contenders
At just over 120 players, the $10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championship event has one of the smallest fields that will be seen at the 2009 WSOP.
But despite those numbers, this Stud bracelet will probably be one of the toughest to win.
The field is loaded with pros, thanks to the $10,000 buy-in, which the WSOP raised from $5,000 in 2008 before officially labeling the event as the World Championship.
The higher buy-in has filtered some of the amateurs out of the event, but the championship is still a highly-coveted title for the pros, all of whom will need to play at top form to get a bracelet.
"Any time you elevate the buy-in and add a little more prestige to it, you get a little more cozy feel," said Daniel Negreanu, who finished 10th in the event in 2008 to take home $33,417. "You have a higher concentration of pro versus amateur, so you can't just get lucky with idiots giving you money."
"You have to play a little better in terms of you can't get sloppy. You're not going to get as much dead money so you have to be sharp."
Eric Brooks stunned the field in 2008 by winning the event, which was his first cash at the WSOP.
With a field that's top-heavy with pros, however, there's a good chance that a big-name player will take home this year's bracelet.
"It's a really hard one to win, aside from the fact that the numbers are low. The quality of the players is extremely high. It's going to be a hard tournament to win. And the final table will be really good."
Lisandro, who has 23 lifetime cashes in WSOP events, is amongst the contingent of pros that would like to see Seven Card Stud become more popular in the mainstream.
"Keeping it alive is important," Lisandro said. "The younger generation that started playing poker 10 years ago, most of them didn't get exposed to Seven Card Stud.
"But you know what, if the game is around long enough, it's part of the H.O.R.S.E. game, eventually these younger guys will get some confidence to start playing the game. As long as it's still in existence there's always a chance of it re-emerging as a popular game."
"When you play Stud you have to really work at the game," Sexton said. "You have to follow all the cards that are thrown away, and pay more attention when you're playing stud poker than you do at Hold'em.
"You can play Hold'em in your sleep. You don't have to memorize any cards that are thrown away or none of that stuff, and it makes the game much simpler to play."
When asked for his predictions for who might win the tournament, Sexton kept his list short.
"I like Phil Ivey, obviously," Sexton said. "You have to put him at the top of the list of Stud players."
Check out the PokerListings.com WSOP section for daily recaps of the Stud World Championship.