Phil Ivey and Maurice Hawkins In The Ascendancy Ahead of 2018 WSOP

Phil Ivey and Maurice Hawkins In The Ascendancy Ahead of 2018 WSOP

Last week, Valentin Vornicu captured two gold ring at the World Series of Poker Circuit New Orleans to top the WSOP Circuit Ring Winners list with twelve titles. Whatever clear daylight the Californian player had between himself and Maurice Hawkins, however, has now been narrowed to just one after the Florida pro won the $2,200 High Roller Event at Harrah’s New Orleans for $71,680.

In the meantime, Phil Ivey has been making quite a splash of his own at the Triton Super High Roller Series in Montenegro, having already captured a title, and having finished third in another event for more than $2 million in combined winnings.

Hawkins Triumph at WSOPC New Orleans

The World Series of Poker Circuit took place in Louisiana from May 10-21, with Valentin Vornicu taking down the $365 NLHE Re-entry Event for $64,205, followed a day and half later by the $365 NLHE Event for $24,084. As Vornicu commented at the time:

“I’ve never won back-to-back tournaments. Definitely not live. Maybe online, but usually after I win a tournament live, the next one I play I just bust before the first break.”

The 34 year-old pro had previously been tied with Maurice Hawkins as the WSOP Circuit’s top title holders, but Vornicu’s double victories subsequently propelled him to a two gold ring lead. A month earlier, however, Hawkins became the first player to win 10 WSOPC rings, and when asked at the time whether he was the best player to ever compete on the WSOP Circuit, he replied that “women and men lie, numbers don’t.”

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In other words, Hawkins is determined to do all he can to preserve his fearsome reputation on the WSOP Circuit, and is not about to let Vornicu or any of his other competitors trample upon his legacy so easily. Hearing about Vornicu picking up back-to-back titles in New Orleans seemed enough to stir Hawkins into action, and last weekend he then made his way past a field of 128 players at the $2,200 High Roller to eventually face 3-times WSOPC winner Peter Vitantonio heads-up for the ring. Despite starting out at a 3-2 chip deficit, Hawkins managed to get the job done, while increasing his career earnings to $3,124,955.

Ivey Riding High in Montenegro

Maurice Hawkins may be a legend of the WSOP Circuit with 11 gold rings, but Phil Ivey has shown his class by capturing an incredible 10 WSOP bracelets over the years, placing him just behind Phil Hellmuth (14), Doyle Brunson (10) and Johnny Chan (10) on the all-time winner’s list. For several years, however, the 41 year-old pro has been sadly missing from the prestigious live tournament series as he has been too preoccupied with legal matters concerning his edge sorting cases at two major casinos, namely the Crockfords in London, and Borgata in New Jersey.

While poker fans have been left disappointed by Ivey’s absence from the tournament scene, at the start of 2018 they received welcome news after he announced that he intended to start playing more tournaments, including this year’s World Series of Poker. Ahead of its May 29th to July 17th schedule in Las Vegas, Ivey has been making the poker headlines recently for all the right reasons, and over the past couple of weeks has won $2,271,472 playing at the Triton Super High Roller Series in Montenegro.

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Ivey’s winning streak kicked off after he bested a field of 61 players at the HKD$250k (US$32k) Short Deck Event to claim a top prize of HK$4,749,200 (US$604,992). Less than a week later, and Ivey subsequently made his way past a field of 103 players to reach the final table of the HK$1 Million (U$127,400) Short Deck Ante Only Event, eventually finishing in 3rd place for a whopping HK$13,082,000 (US$1,666,480) payday.

With the WSOP kicking-off at the end of the month, Ivey seems to be in good form and fully motivated to make further waves at the Rio this summer. Needless to say, poker fans from all around the world are now looking forward to following his pursuits on the biggest stage as far as live poker is concerned, and as Daniel Negreanu tweeted recently:

“A @philivey return to the WSOP and tournament poker in general is a ratings bonanza! Of late we have seen the return of @GusHansen @Patrik_Antonius @TomDwan. Ladies and gentlemen, THESE are bonafide poker superstars.”


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