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Five Pros, Three Writers, One WSOP Fantasy League

Chops here.

Ludacris, or as his friends like to call him, Christopher Bridges, once said in his Homerian-epic-style poem, “What’s Your Fantasy,” that:

“We go-bots and robots or they got to wait till the show stop
or how 'bout on the beach with black sand
lick up your thigh then call me the pac man
table top or just give me a lap dance
the rock to the park to the point to the flat land”

Keeley_hazell_4While you may have no idea what the fuck that means, other than it alludes to some form of oral sex, a lap dance, and perhaps everyone's favorite Go-Bot, Cy-Kill, Luda's wicked flow chops can make any lyric work, even those as asinine as, say, Nickelback's.

This would be on par with how Keeley Hazle (at right, one of our most popular Parting Shots of all time) could make a sundress made out of eyeballs look sexy as hell. Some people just have talent.

What all of the above clearly illustrates though is that I have absolutely no idea how to intro a post about fantasy sports--even if it's a poker fantasy league--and make it sound cool.

Even if the guys playing in it collectively own 7 WSOP bracelets and 4 WPT titles...

For me, admitting I play fantasy sports has the same affect that hard-core Catholics must feel when they admit that they do, in fact, frequently masturbate.

The guilt and shame are unbearable.

Sure, I know just about every male is in some sort of fantasy league. But that doesn't make it right.

Cause there's just no way to positively spin wasting time playing fantasy sports. Essentially, we're grown men throwing hours a week away while tracking the stats of other grown men as if we were GM's of some franchise.

"Kevin Jones is gonna go for 1,500 and 12 TD's this year! I can feel it!" Embarrassing.

I'd wager most real GM's don't spend as much time crunching stats and proposing trades as some of the guys in my regular fantasy football league do during the season (Chocolate Milk and Sammy "Killer" Reid, I'm looking right at both of you).

But let's say you're one of the "lucky" few who actually get to play the role of pseudo-GM for a living. Pretend you are, I don't know, Scott Engel at ESPN. Here's a guy that knows his fantasy shit so much that he's actually banking checks from one of the world's most recognizable brands (again, ESPN, in case you couldn't put 1 and 1 together there). He should be universally praised and applauded by anyone and everyone, right? Living the dream. Doing what he loves to do. But when he's at a bar and a girl sidles up next to him and the conversation eventually gets around to, "What do you do for a living," and when Engel is forced to reply with, "Well, actually, I write about fantasy sports for ESPN..." the girl will have 951278g_1made an exit stage left before Engel even got the chance to say the "ESPN" part.

And as much as I've ragged on my old high school friends who (inexplicably) played Dungeons and Dragons back in the day, are my fantasy leagues really that much different? Essentially they're Dungeons and Dragons for jocks.

With one caveat.

We put money on fantasy sports.

And you can put money on almost anything and make it cool. 

At least that's what I tell myself.

So if you haven't actually stopped reading yet, then I gotta say I was pretty excited when Andrew Feldman over at ESPN.com asked me to join his WSOP Fantasy League.

“Will there be money involved?”
"It’s been brought up."
"Then I’m in."

The league consists of an assortment of three “writers” and five “pros” playing for what equates to about ¼ of a small blind in the Big Game.

Along with myself and Feldman, the participants include: Steve Rosenbloom, author of The Best Hand I Ever Played and feature ESPN.com Poker Club writer; Daniel Negreanu, who I understand is a pretty good poker player or something and apparently a decent mentor to one young protege; Bernard Lee, the 13th place finisher at last year’s WSOP and recently named spokesperson for the online site Poker Syndicate; Phil Gordon, omnipresent poker player and personality; Scott Fischman, 2004 back-to-back WSOP bracelet winner and crew member; and Mark Seif, 2005 back-to-back bracelet winner and recent WCP Heads-Up subject.

Here’s how the league shakes down: We each pick 8 players in a “snake” draft format.  Using a point system similar to the totally rigged league I played in with Feldman earlier this year where he ran away with the league finishing in the 99 percentile of all players in the entire league that he is in charge of running for all of ESPN yes I’m bitter I hate losing BLUFF/ESPN fantasy system, we earn points based on how those 8 players perform and finish in WSOP events.  So clearly you want players who will play in multiple events and are good in all forms of poker, save maybe Persian Poker

So I call into the conference number that Feldman set up for the draft. 

When the automated hostess asks me for my name, I believe I say something along the lines of, “Chops here.”

I’m greeted by Rosenbloom, Lee, and Feldman.

Rosenbloom says something along the lines of, "I love your site.  You’re like the fraternity site of poker blogs.  I know people think you’re a bunch of assholes but I think it’s great."

I believe he is complimenting us, although I’m not sure. But I don't feel like further digging for facts, because facts get in the way of things.

Eventually all of the participants phone in, except Gordon, who is speaking at a fundraising rally for his 2008 presidential run, and Fischman, who is in London, but has sent his list of picks.

Negreanu notes that, "A Phan or Ngyuen must be on your team."  While joking, it’s true, as I’ve targeted both a Phan and a Ngyuen for mine (and end up eventually snagging the Master and the Razor and naming my team the Phantastic Ngyueners). 

Feldman drew the draft order "randomly," so given his complete annihilation of the fantasy league which, as mentioned earlier, he put together the scoring system for and was in charge of I’m shocked to learn that he isn’t picking first and Mark Seif ends up with the first pick. 

Seif leads things off by picking John Juanda, the guy I would’ve had targeted as my first pick. Luckily my back-up first pick, Barry Greenstein, remained available after Scott Fischman took himself with the second pick.  While I’ve never met Fischman, I fully expected this move from him, and I like it.  If I was a pro, I’d do the exact same thing. I respect the confidence. 

Next up, Rosenbloom takes Phil Ivey. Feldman snags Negreanu.  Negreanu admits he was gonna take himself before selecting his buddy Erick Lindgren. And Bernard Lee rounds out the first round by taking Chris "Jesus" Ferguson.

All solid picks. No shockers.

OkoyeNow if this were a regular fantasy football draft, I'd bust out some sort of joke with my second round pick. Do I go with the obvious joke, Peyton Manning? Or do I go for a more obscure reference, say, Christian Okoye.

After a brief situational analysis, I go with the Okoye joke. Feldman follows with a joke about "drafting the kicker." You are probably poking your eyeballs out right now if you're still actually reading this.

So I won't bore you with a pick-by-pick breakdown. You can read about all of our picks here.

I will note though that Rosenbloom went an interesting route, as he picked the first female (Leibert)...and second female (Violette). His team was instantly dubbed "Team Slumber Party" by Negreanu. Rosenbloom also picked Phil Hellmuth and Phil Laak. His team, at least while the cameras are rolling, could possibly be an assembly of the most annoying group of poker players on the planet.

While I am contractually obligated to pick MY team as the eventual winner, I certainly do like Negreanu's squad. It's solid.

And finally, some interesting bits of convo during the draft:

Gordon may be hosting a new TV show featuring amateurs poker player vs. the pros. It allegedly will be on TBS.

Mark Seif will be playing in "a ton" of events this year.

David_benyamineKenna James has a good size bet on himself doing well in the WSOP this year so he's got some extra motivation for a good showing (and being one of our picks)

David Benyamine (at right) is up around $20M in the big game the past few months. 

That's all I got. I'll provide some updates of how we're all doing when the WSOP kicks off next week, unless I'm not doing well, in which case this will be the last article I'll ever write on fantasy poker. 

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Kid Dynamite

yeah Chops... one of the originals... that whole initial crew: Jay, Derek, Alton Evil, Sammy - made up my homegame... which is where i get my Wicked Poker Chops!

One other rule of Fantasy Leagues: you MUST have a smokin' hot token chick who has absolutely NO clue what she's doing in the league... Keeley would have been perfect for yours... So you can see her "random" picks outperform yours.



can't wait to see chops ride david williams' surge.


Wow, such bitterness. Let's see how you do in this one...


KD, you wrote for PokerSavvy? You never told me this. Next thing I know you're gonna tell me that you're name isn't even really KD. I don't know who you are anymore...

Daybek, I do believe I rode LJ's second half surge and won last year's FFL. How quickly we forget.


you must be better at this than fantasy football. you must. really. it would be impossible for you to not be.

because you have no clue in fantasy football. seriously.

Kid Dynamite

Chops -
true story: I actually INVENTED fantasy poker back when i wrote for Pokersavvy.com. Totally true... My main man Jay Greenspan ran the site, and we got a crappy little version running... Nothing on par with the money they throw at development now, but I'm not ashamed to say we were first.

remember, when in doubt, "Nothing fazes Bill Gazes"

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