Pro's Picks - Who to Watch at the 2012 WSOP

pros picks

The 2012 World Series of Poker is approaching fast so we spoke to five top tournament pros to see who the favorites are.

What we got back were 15 solid bets for big results at the WSOP, and these sources should know what they’re talking about.

Between them they’ve won more than $24.5 million playing live tournaments, and many millions more playing online.

Kevin Macphee, Davidi Kitai, William Reynolds, Jason Mercier and David Williams give us their top three picks for the 2012 WSOP.

Kevin MacPhee

With over $4.5 million in earnings Kevin “ImaLuckSac” Macphee is one of the biggest winners ever in online tournament poker. He’s also a force on the live circuit with a win at EPT Berlin and eight cashes at the WSOP, including two final tables.

My first pick is Calvin Anderson, he goes by “cal42688” online. He plays the highest stakes mixed games and prides himself on his 2-7 skills. He’s considered to be the best 2-7 player in the internet community and he won two SCOOPs last year. He’s an excellent mixed game player and he’s well respected by all the best players.

Jim Collopy
Jim "MrBigQueso" Collopy

My second pick is Stephen Chidwick who goes by “stevie444” online. He was famous for winning over 100 WSOP seats online when he was like 18 and too young to play in the Main Event. He’s also been playing mixed games at the highest stakes and he’s an incredibly smart person. And he’s got the bankroll to play every event this summer so he’s a great bet to win a bracelet. And he’s sort of under the radar because people don’t know he plays mixed games. He also got his tutelage from David “Bakes” Baker. They were really good friends and Bakes is an amazing mixed game player.

The last person is Jim Collopy. He’s “MrBigQueso” online and he’s been playing poker since he was like 15 years old. He also plays mixed games. He plays Stud and Razz at the highest levels. All these guys are fantastic No-Limit players too. Queso’s been living with Dan “djk123” Kelly down in Australia who’s obviously on the radar as one of the best. If Jim comes to Vegas and plays a lot of events he’s going to bring a lot of focus and will crush.

Those three guys are the ones I’ve seen come up. I’ve known them since they were like 18 and now they’re 21, 22, 23 and they’ve got live experience and they’ll be winning bracelets over the next few years.

Davidi Kitai

In 2008 Davidi Kitai became the first Belgian player to win a WSOP bracelet, and since then he’s completed a Triple Crown with wins on the EPT and WPT. $2.7 million in live earnings and a spot on Team Winamax represent his credentials and he’s got a unique perspective on up and coming players in Belgium and France.

My first pick will be Tristan Clemencon, a French player on Team Winamax with me. He’s a very good tournament player and he’s very motivated. Last year he turned 21 and it was his first year in Vegas. He played a lot of tournaments, even the $50,000 8-Game. He’s very young but he can play every game and he trained the entire year online at microstakes to master all the games. Last year was his first year so I think this time he will be more comfortable and will do well.

My second choice is Hugo Lemaire who’s a French tournament player. He used to play on the .com sites so he knows exactly how the American players are thinking. He knows how to change gears but also he only plays to win. He never plays for second place.

Kyle Julius
Kyle "KJulius10" Julius

The third one is a Belgian player named Joël Benzinou. He’s been getting really unlucky this year in every tournament, losing with aces and kings, so I think his run-good has to come sometime. Maybe it will come in Vegas at the Main event. I know he’s really excited and will be really motivated.

William Reynolds

William Reynolds has proved to be a top player both online and live. A win in the $25k High Roller event at the 2010 PCA and a fourth place finish at EPT San Remo the year before stand out as his biggest live scores, while a big victory in the Full Tilt Poker $1 Million Guarantee in 2008.

For my first pick I’ll go with Kyle Julius. He started the year off hot with a second place at the PCA and I think people who start the year off well have the potential to just keep the ball rolling.

Second I’ll go with another person who’s just been crushing lately: David “Doc” Sands. He’s been playing really good poker and getting respect from a lot of his peers. And he had a deep run in the Main Event last year so now he’s got to go back and get a bracelet.

And for my third pick I’ll go with myself because I’ve done nothing at the World Series. I’ve had two min-cashes over two years so I’m going to use the “I’m due” phrase. I feel like I play well there but I just haven’t been able to get a chip stack.

Jason Mercier

Jason Mercier’s list of accomplishments is too long to fit comfortably in one paragraph, but his $7.6 million in earnings should get the point across. He’s got two WSOP bracelets, an EPT title and an NAPT High Roller win under his belt.

Alexander Kostritsyn
Alexander "PostflopAction" Kostritsyn

My three picks for players to watch out for at the WSOP this summer start with my friend Dan O’Brien. I think he’s really hungry and he’s going to be playing a lot of events. He played a ton last year and he actually cashed five straight events, and had a fourth and a seventh and just came up short of the bracelet so I think he’s going to be really motivated and hopefully have a big summer.

Another one to watch for is Alexander Kostritsyn. He’s a Russian pro that’s really tough to play against. I’ve been playing mixed games against him a lot on Stars and he’s really tough.

Third is someone I’m actually going to be rooming with this summer, Isaac Baron. He’s known as westmenlo and he’s sort of unknown to the casual poker fan but all the top players know who he is. A few years ago he was known as the best tournament player in the world. He’s very good and I think you’ll see him deep in a couple big-bet tournaments.

David Williams

David Williams has been cashing in live tournaments since 2004 and in the last eight years he’s racked up over 8.2 million in winnings. He’s got a WSOP bracelet, a WPT title and he’s a member of Team PokerStars Pro.

I gotta go with Eric Froehlich, one of the best players around. He plays all the games pretty well and he’s had some bad luck but that can’t last forever so I think this could be a good year for him.

Next I’m going with Noah Schwartz. He’s been killing it this year and he’s just a great player so I know he’s going to go out there and play his hardest.

Third I’ll take Jason Mercier. Not exactly a hidden pick but he just always seems to win so I think he’s a safe bet.

PokerListings.com will be on location at the 2012 World Series of Poker, shipping live coverage, videos, interviews and news all summer long.

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