2012 was a pretty amazing year on World Poker Tour, with too many exciting moments to count both on and off the felt. Of course, that didn’t stop us from asking WPT Host Mike Sexton to share his top moments of the year with us. Take a look at which plays, players, and events caught the attention of the Poker Hall of Famer, and let us know what your favorite moments were from the past year on tour.
Moment #5: The Kickoff of Season 11 at the WPT Parx Open Poker Classic in Philadelphia, PA
This was our first visit to Philly and to PARX, and the casino was quite impressive. What really impressed me, however, were the six finalists – all from the East Coast and all in their 20s. Kudos to the champion, the highly respected Anthony Gregg, a truly terrific player from Maryland.
Moment #4: Antonio Esfandiari Makes the Final Table of the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Poker Classic for the Third Consecutive Year – A Feat Unseen in WPT History
Antonio is the all-time tournament money winner in poker history. he won this event two years ago, made the final table last year, and came to this year’s final table with the chip lead. Although he didn’t win (Ravi Raghavan did), making a final table in the same event three years in a row gets a special salute from me.
Moment #3: WPT National China at the MGM Grand Sanya This event, held just a couple of weeks ago, was the first major poker tournament ever held on Chinese soil. It sold out and included American superstars Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan, and was hosted by WPT Champions Club member David Chiu. The winner was Zheng Hua Lei. Hats off to WPT CEO Steve Heller and WPT President Adam Pliska for bringing the WPT to China. In my view, this historical event could lead to massive inroads into the Chinese market. It not only deserves to be a top WPT moment of 2012, it could become a top moment in poker history.
Moment #2: The Season X Player of the Year Race
This was the closest POY race in WPT history. Will “The Thrill” Failla won the kickoff event of Season X (Legends of Poker) and held the POY lead nearly all year, but the real buzz didn’t start until March 2012 when Joe Serock took back-to-back third-place finishes and POY lead with just two events left to play. After predicting he would reclaim the lead, Will did just that by making a final table with just one event left to go. The WPT Championship became very exciting because numerous players could have taken the POY lead with a high finish (since Will busted early). Joe had to finish in the top 10 to retake the lead – which he did. Nice going, Joe.
Moment #1: Back-to-Back Wins by Marvin Rettenmaier
“Mad Marvin” won the season-ending WPT World Championship at Bellagio for $1.2 million in Season X and then came back to win the first event of Season XI, WPT Cyprus to accomplish a feat never done before in WPT history – back-to-back tournament wins. Congratulations to Marvin.