2012 was truly an incredible year for poker. After Black Friday tarnished 2011 for the Poker world it was good to see Poker get back into the headlines for the right reasons in 2012. The Big One For One Drop tournament, the incredible final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event and the reopening of Full Tilt Poker were some of the biggest stories of the year. However, the question remains who were the best poker players in 2012? We have come up with a list of five players who we believe were a cut above the rest in 2012.
5. Dan Smith
Dan Smith truly had a breakout year in 2012. He started the year by defeating a star-studded field in the Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge which was only a sign of things to come for the popular American. Smith went on to dominate the Monte-Carlo Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final and had a consistent World Series of Poker without winning a bracelet. He continued his winning ways by finishing the year with two more European Poker Tour victories. Smith truly had an incredible year and the only thing stopping him from being higher on this list was his failure to win a World Series of Poker bracelet.
4. Marvin Rettenmaier
Marvin Rettenmaier made history in 2012 by becoming the first player in history to win back to back World Poker Tour events. Rettenmaier scored the biggest win of his career by taking home $1,196,858 in the World Poker Tour $25,000 Championship and backed it up with victory in the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic $4,000 Main Event. As well as a deep run in the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event he finished the year with victory at the European Poker Tour Prague Event. The incredible achievement of winning back to back tournaments of such size puts Rettenmaier just above Smith on our list.
3. Phil Hellmuth
Phil Hellmuth had a terrific 2011 but he took his game to a whole new level in 2012. The ‘Poker Brat’ finally won his elusive 12th World Series of Poker bracelet in the $2,500 Seven Card Razz event and went on to record good results in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E and $1 million Big One For One Drop events. But Hellmuth wasn’t finished there. He headed across the Atlantic for the World Series of Poker Europe and absolutely dominated the field in the Main Event to take home his 13th bracelet and become the first player to win the main event of both World Series events. It was a truly banner year for a player who seems to keep on getting better.
2. Antonio Esfandiari
With one fell swoop Antonio Esfandiari became the most successful player in the history of tournament poker. The Big One For One Drop tournament was the biggest in poker history with a $1 million buy-in and featured a small but tough field of professional poker players and wealthy businessmen. Esfandiari showed just how good he really is by winning the tournament and taking home the incredible prize of $ 18,346,673. That wasn’t his only successes in 2012 as “The Magician” went on to claim another World Series of Poker bracelet at the WSOP Europe. While Esfandiari didn’t win his as many tournaments as those below him on the list his victory in the Big One For One Drop tournament will go down as one of the most memorable in poker history and makes him worthy of this spot on the list.
1. Greg Merson
Greg Merson dominated the 2012 World Series of Poker like no other. He started the Series by winning his first bracelet as well as the biggest payday in his tournament poker career. Having already had a successful World Series Merson entered the Main Event despite stating that he doesn’t like tournament poker. Merson not only went on to claim the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event World Championship he also stole the title of World Series of Poker Player of the Year away from Hellmuth. Amazingly, just over a year ago Merson was battling a drug addiction that appeared as though it might derail not only his poker career but his life. Thankfully, Merson got his career and his life back on track and is an extremely deserving winner of our player of the year award.
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