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The 20 Best Moments in Poker from 2006-2016: #20-16
Is it audacious - perhaps even a little bit unhinged - to try and condense 11 years (4,105 days) of poker moments across the globe into just 20 "best" and "worst?"
Absolutely. But why not, right?
Instead of our annual Best and Worst Moments of the Year series we’ve aimed a little wider this year with a stab at the 20 Best/Worst Moments of the 'Decade.'
We know 11 years is more than decade. But let’s throw mathematical accuracy to the wind and go for it anyway.Thoughts, feelings and feedback about events we've missed/overestimated are welcome in the comments.
If you prefer the darker side of life, check the 20 Worst Moments in Poker from 2006-2016 right here.
16. PokerStars Sign Nadal, Neymar, Ronaldo
Football is the world’s biggest global sport. Neymar Jr. and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the most famous practitioners of the game ever.
Rafael Nadal is one of the Top 5 tennis players in history and one of the biggest sporting figures in the world.
Bringing them all onboard as ambassadors for the game of poker has quantifiably increased its legitimacy and credibility in the global mainstream.
It's brought untold numbers of new poker players into the game and injected much needed dollars into the poker economy.
That’s a big deal. You can say all you'd like about the path PokerStars has gone down since the Amaya takeover but you can't argue high-profile sports stars deliver big bang for the (admittedly big) bucks.
That fact PokerStars Portugal is the second-most trafficked online poker site in the world right now is pretty good evidence it works.
17. Mark Newhouse's Back-to-Back November Nines
Mark Newhouse’s back-to-back WSOP Main Event November 9 appearances is one of poker's greatest accomplishments ever.
The Main Event is such a special, pedestal-worthy tournament that just making the final table twice is mind-boggling in and of itself.
It was amazing in the pre-Moneymaker era, and it's downright unfathomable in the post-Moneymaker era. That Newhouse finished 9th both times, while equally astonishing, does nothing to diminish the accomplishment.
Newhouse himself might not consider it one of the 'best' moments of the post-Jamie Gold era (yet, anyway), but it'll stand in the poker history books as one of the greatest.
18. Holz, Colman, Seidel, Schemion Go Nuclear
As much as we love when an "average Joe" poker player makes a surprising and life-changing deep run in a mega tournament, it’s equally satisfying when the game’s best rise above the pack for an extended period of time with incredible, high-wire tournament poker.
We’ll cut you off before you even say it: We know you need to run well. But when those stars of elite skill, run-good and momentum align it leads to some truly spectacular poker runs.
Fedor Holz, Dan Colman, Erik Seidel, Niklas Heidecker and Old Schemion's eye-popping heaters stand out as a few of our favorite over the past 11 years.
Holz's eye-popping 2016 and Colman's $22m 2014 are likely at the top. What were your favorites?
19. Duhamel Hits 8 on River, Affleck Devastated
"Best" isn't the best adjective here, sure. And it’s definitely not one of the sweetest moments of the past decade for Matt Affleck.
But as far as dramatic, life-changing moments in poker go there were few more scintillating, in living color jaw-droppers we've seen than that one.
Aces cracked for the chip lead with 15 players left in the Main Event? Good god. But even seeing the losing end makes us punters desperate to be part of the greatest poker tournament in the world one day. Watch it again if you don’t remember just how eviscerating it was:
20. Maratik/Darvin Moon/Billy Pappas Play For Us
“Poker is dead,” they’ve been telling us for years. (“They” being an elite group of poker pros and grinders who made a fortune in the ultra soft games of the early 2000s.)
But “dead” is really just a stand-in for “harder,” and if you’re not playing at "make a living" stakes poker is, you might say, as alive as ever.
Mid- to low-stakes players are coming out to live events around the world in droves. Record-breaking droves. Over and over and over again.
The average game is tougher, sure. But the same age old maxim still applies: On any given day, anyone can win.
We’ve been fortunate enough to see hundreds of examples of it over the past 11 years. A few of our favorites:
- Russian microgrinder Maratik wins the 2012 WCOOP Main Event off 40 FPPS and declares "I Wont Million" in chat box
- Affirmed luddite and Saints fan Darvin Moon outlasts Phil Ivey (!) to finish second, win $5.1m in 2009 Main Event
- Yoshi-loving, poker dealing, Foosball champ Billy Pappas sits alone on Final Table breaks, ladders up to 5th
There have been many, many more. “Every” player can still have his or her poker day in the sun and we look forward to it every time it happens.