In any other year Andy Bloch finally winning his first WSOP bracelet and a federal judge declaring poker a game of skill would be top five moments. Not in 2012, however.
Best 2012 Moments in Poker 20-16 takes a look at durrrr winning big in Macau, a Federal judge declaring poker a game of skill, Japan finally getting on the poker map and more.
20. James Woods: Online Poker is Good for America
Online poker doesn’t always have a lot of allies. Politicians and celebrities are both reluctant to endorse something that is still seen as shady by the general public.
That’s why it’s great when celebrities like James Woods defy convention and speak publically about their support for the game.
“I think online poker is worth fighting for because it’s good for the country,” said Woods in an interview with PokerListings this summer.
Woods has a long history in poker and played the WSOP on numerous occasions. Woods related that it’s been tough since Black Friday for actors like him and Tobey Maguire to find games where they can play without the public eye on them.
Thanks James Woods.
19. durrrr Allegedly Wins $3.8 Million Pot in Macau
There is still something mystical about the high-stakes games that run in Macau.
This year brought one of the best stories ever when Tom “durrrr” Dwan, who spends plenty of time in Macau, allegedly won a $3.8 million dollar pot. That’s in U.S. dollars.
Information on the hand is scarce but PokerPortal.Asia reported that Dwan was playing $1,300/$2,600 No-Limit Hold’em and hit two-pair with Ace-Ten on an Ace-Ten-Deuce flop.
Dwan's opponent had Ace-Deuce for a lesser two-pair and it didn't take long for a massive amount of cash to get pushed into the middle.
Perhaps the sickest thing about the story is that it wasn’t known if Dwan even finished the session as a winner.
We have to assume that Dwan's gotta be up a significant amount of cash in Macau overall as he keeps going back.
18. Federal Judge Declares Poker a Skill Game
Chalk this one up as a positive step for online poker regulation in the United States.
In August U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein ruled that a New York electronics dealer hadn’t violated federal gambling laws in the United States by running a Hold’em game because poker isn’t “predominated by chance.”
The ruling marked the first time a federal judge had directly considered poker’s status although it has been treated as a game of chance in the past.
It remains to be seen what effect the ruling will have on the legal climate for online poker in the U.S. but it certainly didn’t hurt the case for legal online poker.
17. Naoya Kihara Wins First Bracelet for Japan
Thirty-year-old professional poker player Naoya Kihara became the first Japanese player to win a bracelet at the WSOP this summer.
It might be surprising to the rest of the world but live gambling, including poker, is outlawed in Japan and online poker only became accessible to the Japanese in the late 2000s.
The game is picking up momentum in the country however.
“Now I make a living from poker but I want to be a sponsored player. So being the first Japanese bracelet holder means that the possibility of that gets bigger,” Kihara told the media assembly following his historic win.
Kihara outlasted 419 players in the ultra-tough $5,000 PLO 6-Handed event to win a tidy sum of $512,029.
He went on to say that he hopes to be an ambassador for poker in Japan.
Kihara could very well become the Chris Moneymaker for a country that has been decidedly underrepresented in the poker world.
16. Andy Bloch Finally Secures a WSOP Bracelet
It was a long time coming but veteran poker pro Andy Bloch finally won his first WSOP bracelet this summer.
Bloch has been playing WSOP tournaments for nearly 20 years but despite close calls over the years – most notably finishing second to Chip Reese in the inaugural $50k HORSE – had never been able to close out an event.
That all changed this summer when he beat Barry Greenstein heads-up to win the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event.
With all the hoopla surrounding Full Tilt Poker and the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop, Bloch’s victory didn’t get near the press it would have normally. The veteran pro didn’t seem to care.
“This is something they can never take away from me,” he told PokerListings after winning.
It was an all-around good summer for Bloch as he went on to finish third in his old favorite - the $50k Players Championship - for $561k. Perhaps next year he'll be able to close that one out too.
More of the 25 Best Moments in Poker in 2012: