The 2022 World Series of Poker will go down as a classic to any poker fan who looks back on the action in future years. In the weeks after the WSOP Main Event was claimed by Norwegian grinder Espen Jørstad, many players have revisited their series and looked at what they’d like to change, about their own plans and those of the tournament organizers.
In the first part of this two-article series, we spoke to WSOP Player of the Year Daniel Zack, his closest challenger Daniel Weinman and the 16-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth on balancing their expectations with their success at the felt.
We started our discussion with six-time bracelet winner Negreanu and the four-time champ Arieh by asking each of the former Player of the Year winners how they felt the 2022 World Series of Poker lived up to their expectations.
Daniel Negreanu: “Results wise, it was a huge disappointment, but my biggest takeaway is the resilience I showed, being able to get up the next day and do it all over again.”
Josh Arieh: “Financially yes, mentally no. Every year going into the WSOP, I know that if I stay engaged and focused, I will make some dollars. This year I was lucky enough to hit big early while I was on my A-game. I faded midway through the six-week stretch and, sure enough, my results did too. If I decide to play a full schedule in 2023, I will definitely do more mental preparation and planning so that I deal with the fatigue that comes with the WSOP grind.”
Each man loved the new venues of Bally’s and Paris, but we asked them both if they’d make any improvements to the Player of the Year race in 2023.
DN: “The biggest change would be to limit the number of cashes that count to either 12 or 15 so you don’t force guys to punt in small tourneys just to pick up points with a min-cash.”
JA: “I never really felt like I was in the POY race this year. ‘Donkey Dan’ Zack raced off to such a great start, I kinda put that in the back of my mind and said top five would still be a cool personal accomplishment. That didn’t happen because of the above-mentioned mental fatigue. Huge congrats to Dan for finishing it out! I’m also super proud of [Daniel] Weinman! He battled until the very end and gave it his all! He’s such an amazing player that I try to learn from all the time. He will have many more POY runs if he decides to put his mind to it.”
The new venues themselves landed to almost universal dread but when the series ended virtually every player praised the staff at Bally’s and Paris for their work in transferring the WSOP so successfully from the Rio. Could either man improve how they approach it next year?
JA: “What a huge success! I loved the central location; the venue is amazing. After learning my way around, we found plenty of food spots! Everyone expected a sh** show and it was the exact opposite!”
DN: “Yeah [but] in hindsight the $100k bounty idea doesn’t work. Guys won’t late reg or rebuy, but more importantly, the schedule has a few too many conflicts so I’d like to see the $10k+ buy-in events separated out smoothly with a $10k mix event every three days.”
JA: “Yeah, I’d change a few things. Maybe offer up better or quicker delivery and food options for players. Some sort of break lounge area too – there’s nowhere to relax on breaks.”
Both men were at the forefront of their own campaign but took some time to sweat pals. For Arieh, this meant more selling via the Pocket Fives Sponsorship platform, while for Negreanu, it meant going for glory in the $25k Fantasy Draft. In that competition, Negreanu’s team came second for some serious profit, ahead of Team No Gamble, No Future, who we spoke to before the WSOP kicked off.
DN: “My only sweat outside of my own play is the $25k Fantasy draft and it was smooth sailing ‘til the very end where my horses got a flat tire and team Maria Ho put on a later heater to win it. I did well in side bets though, winning all but the one against that team.”
Arieh’s series had its share of near-misses at a handful of final tables, but the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year tried to get those close shaves out of his head as quickly as possible.
JA: “Tracking bad luck is one of the worst things a player can do. When I’m thinking about something bad that happened, it’s directly impacting the positive, constructive thoughts that should be going through my head! I always feel like I’m in it, no matter how many chips I have. I did go on a sick rush in the PLO8 [event] when I went from 200k to 1.8m in an hour! Eventually, I ****ed those chips off.”
The 2023 World Series of Poker may seem like a long while away, but with the 2022 WSOP Online Main Event already underway, it’s sure to be a thrilling build-up to the next long, hot summer in Vegas where poker players turn dreams into gold.