Years from now poker fans might remember 2012 as the most important year in the history of the game.
There have been positive steps to legislate online poker in the U.S., unbelievable changes in the industry and unforgettable performances by poker legends.
So much interesting news has broken this year that we’ve compiled the 25 biggest moments of 2012.
Best Moments in Poker 25-21 takes a look back at a resurgent Jonathan Duhamel, Phil Ivey’s incredible run in the Aussie Millions, Gavin Griffin’s uplifting honestly and more.
25. New Wave of Poker Commentary
It goes without saying that Lon McEachern and Norman Chad are fixtures in the poker commentary biz but over the last year we’ve seen some fantastic new voices emerge.
Poker players like Olivier Busquet, Antonio Esfandiari and Dan O’Brien provided a new level of insight into the game.
We still believe the humorous appeal that McEachern and Chad bring to the table is important for satisfying the mainstream audience but it’s great to actually learn a few things from veteran poker players.
Unlike some players who have difficulty teaching (we’re looking at you Phil Ivey) Busquet, Esfandiari and O’Brien are generally able to explain complex strategy in a manner that most people will understand.
Beyond the commentators, the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table offered a live stream with hole cards for the first time with hours of nearly-live coverage.
We hope we’ll see more of Busquet, Esfandiari and O’Brien doing commentary next year. Ditto on the live stream.
24. Jonathan Duhamel Crushes PCA
2010 WSOP Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel proved that he was no one-hit wonder by going on a rampage at this year’s PCA.
Duhamel began his epic PCA by finishing fourth in the $100k Super High Roller for $313,600. From there he finished fifth in the 8-Max Turbo event for $17k, first in the regular 8-Max for $238k and finally second in the $25k High Roller for $634,550.
In total Duhamel made four final tables at the 2012 PCA for a total of $1,205,970. Duhamel added eight more cashes in 2012 to finish an exceptionally strong year.
It’s even more impressive considering the Quebec-native was the target of a home invasian scheme by his ex-girlfriend in late 2011. Duhamel was beaten and robbed but that didn't affect his poker game.
It certainly didn’t hurt the Duhamel brand as he’s currently the only Canadian to ever win the Main Event and has $11 million in lifetime winnings.
We have a feeling if PokerStars ever gets bored of its famous French Canadian pro there will be a line of online poker rooms looking to enlist his services. Especially with government-run sites in Canada now.
23. Gavin Griffin Gets Real
There is plenty of dishonesty in poker.
Perhaps it’s to be expected, as bluffing people out of cash is one of the key elements of the game.
There are scandals. Players lie about how much money they have, whether they are backed, etc.
That’s why it strikes a chord whenever you see some real honestly from poker players.
We had the fortune of interviewing former EPT Grand Final winner Gavin Griffin earlier in the year and the first Triple Crown winner held nothing back.
Griffin talked about he necessity of dropping down in stakes after a year that “shattered many of his dreams, and most of his ego.”
The poker life isn’t always glamorous and Griffin showcased what can happen when players hit the inevitable patch of bad luck.
The industry would be a better place if more poker players took Griffin’s approach. Check out the complete Gavin Griffin interview here.
22. Phil Ivey Returns, Wins $2m in Aussie Super High Roller
In 2011 Phil Ivey, arguably the best poker player in the world, did the unthinkable: he stopped playing tournaments.
Thanks to the events of Black Friday, Ivey decided to sit out the entire 2011 WSOP Main Event in protest of online complications with Full Tilt Poker.
For over six months Ivey avoided the tournament circuit altogether and with Full Tilt’s ongoing problems some started to wonder if it would be years before Ivey played another event.
Instead Ivey returned at APPT Macau with very little fanfare and did not even record a cash in the tournament. Ivey made up for lost time, however, at the second tournament series he played: The 2012 Aussie Millions.
Ivey went on an astounding run in the Aussie Millions Main Event, just barely missing out on the final table by coming in 12th place for $102k.
Unperturbed Ivey immediately walked upstairs to the high stakes room after busting and entered the $250k buy-in Super High Roller Event. About 12 hours later Ivey had won the event for $2 million.
“It feels good to be back,” he told us after the tournament.
21. World Series of Poker Expands to Australia
There was plenty of exciting poker news coming out of Australia this year, not the least of which was the announcement that the WSOP will be making an appearance in the country in 2013.
The inaugural WSOP Asia-Pacific will take place at the Crown Casino from April 4-15, 2013 with five gold bracelet events.
It remains to be seen how the series will affect the long-standing Aussie Millions but Australians love poker as much as anyone.
It’s clear the WSOP is now a global brand with three signature series in Europe, Australia and of course Las Vegas.
More of the 25 Best Moments in Poker in 2012: