(This column is running in the current Bluff Magazine. Funny thing is if we had waited a month, we would have altered some of these, but whatever.)
As any regular reader of our site knows, the Entities who comprise Wicked Chops Poker have a truly sick ability at making accurate predictions. Our call on Chino Rheem on Day 1 of the 2008 WSOP Main Event solidified our status in that respect for awhile.
We could go on a Nostradamus-esque 500 year run of off-base whack-job vague and ambiguous prognostications now and nobody would care. Our rep is secured. Our track record for accurate predictions in Bluff Magazine ain’t so bad either. Let’s look back at last year’s Bluff column: We predicted that Daniel Negreanu would have a monster year (check), Jerry Yang will fade into oblivion (check), female poker players will continue to prove us wrong and win a few things (check), the UIGEA will not shrink the number of online poker players (check), Shawn Sheikhan won’t be deported (check), then a couple that we got wrong but whose counting? Bottomline is we make the aforementioned Nostradamus look like Neville Chamberlain when it comes to accurate takes on the future.
On with our official Wicked Chops Poker predictions for 2009.
:: The World Poker Tour will stop the bleeding. While we’re not predicting a resurgence and record profits for the WPT in 2009, we actually think they’ll start righting the ship this year. With a partnership in place with Full Tilt Poker, cutting some more events, and staffing itself more efficiently, the WPT may only lost eleventy billion dollars this year instead of four gazillion.
:: The November Nine™ concept will be an unequivocal success. If there’s one thing that Jeffrey Pollack and crew have shown us it’s that they learn from their mistakes and get better and better each and every WSOP. From June to July, this year’s WSOP was the best on the books. But the much trumpeted November Nine™ hostage concept fell flat. There was zero mainstream build-up or appeal. Even hardcore poker fans gave it a big “meh” for the most part. Not this year though. Look for the November Nine™ to be an actual TV spectacle event in 2009. Or at a minimum, look for it to be a few ticks above the Stanley Cup Finals in the public’s general consciousness.
:: Annie Duke will be in the spotlight. We’ll just keep this one simple. We predict a deep run on the Celebrity Apprentice for the super-smart Annie Duke and a switch of online poker site affiliation away from UltimateBet and to something that rhymes with Bull Filt Moker.
:: This will be Doyle’s last WSOP Main Event. We’ve watched Doyle’s enthusiasm for big tournament poker wane over the years. At the few tourneys we saw him at, he showed about the same amount of enthusiasm as Kim Kardashian did in her sex tape with Ray-J (i.e. not much). So it just feels like he’ll throw his cowboy hat in after completing the WSOP Main Event in ’09. Let’s just hope he has a Jack Nicklaus ’86 Masters run left in him.
:: Michael Phelps will no show. The poker world was in ecstasy after Michael Phelps declared his love of online poker in 2008 and showed up at a few tournaments. “Hey, look at us world! We’re legitimate!” Things look even more promising now that he’s rumored to be dating Las Vegas cocktail waitress Caroline “Caz” Pal. “He’ll definitely be in Vegas playing more poker now!” Well, one of two things will happen: 1) Caz will step in and say, “Michael, stop playing so much poker and spend more time with meeeeeeeeeeeee,” which he’ll do because she’s hot and because all women except our current/first wives do that, or 2) his handlers will get a hold of him and say, “Uh yeah Michael, see, palling around with a bunch of degenerate gamblers is kind of like Barack Obama having barbeques with Bill Ayers. We’ve got $100 million in endorsements lined up so can you just stay out of the Rio Amazon Room for six weeks this summer, please?”
:: Either UltimateBet or Absolute Poker will fold. It’s got to happen, right? The fact that anyone still plays on either of these sites, especially UltimateBet, whose co-founder Russ Hamilton is allegedly implicated in cheating players out of hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more), baffles us. Sure, they’ve come together to form a network called CEREUS, but either mounting public pressure for regulation or hopefully through some form of karmic retribution, one of these sites will go under. If it doesn’t happen, we’re going to go club some baby seals and immediately go buy lottery tickets afterwards.