Monday, March 1, 2010

Shooting Star: Eric Baldwin

Eric Baldwin was born in Peoria, Ill and grew up in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. He graduated from Wisconsin-Whitewater where he was a baseball star. He started playing poker professionally in 2008. In his young career, Eric has 8 WSOP cashes including a bracelet. In 2009, he made 17 final tables of major events and was named Cardplayer Magazine’s 2009 Player of the Year.

Shooting Star: Steve Brecher

Steve Brecher was born in San Diego and grew up in Queens, NY. A retired software engineer, Steve has become an accomplished poker player. He has 13 WPT Main Event cashes, including the 2008 Bay 101 Shooting Star WPT Main Event title. Steve finished sixth in the 2004 WPT World Championship Main Event, and he finished third in the 2005 United States Poker Championship.

Shooting Star: Todd Brunson

Todd Brunson, son of Doyle Brunson, was born in Texas and grew up in Nevada. He quit law school to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a professional poker player. He is now one of the world’s best cash game players. He has a WSOP Omaha hi-lo bracelet, and he won Fox Television’s 2006 Superstars Tournament. Todd is a regular on various televised poker shows.

Shooting Star: “Miami” John Cernuto

“Miami” John Cernuto was born in New Jersey and graduated from Florida State. A former air traffic controller, John is one of the most consistent players on tour. He has three WSOP bracelets and is 11th in number of WSOP cashes with 47. In 2009, he cashed twice in European Poker Tour main events. John has accumulated $4,762,448 in tournament winnings.

Shooting Star: TJ Cloutier

TJ Cloutier grew up in the Bay Area and played for Cal in the Rose Bowl and for Montreal in the Canadian League. He is one of the world’s greatest poker players. With four trips to the WSOP Main Event Final Table, TJ is ranked 6th in WSOP cashes with 56, and he was named Player of the Year in ’98 and ’02. He has $9,776,099 in career tournament winnings, and is in the Poker Hall of Fame.

Shooting Star: Allen Cunningham

Allen Cunningham was born in Riverside, CA. He quit his engineering studies at UCLA and became a great professional poker player. In World Series of Poker stats, he has 5 bracelets and is ranked 22nd in number of cashes with 41. He finished 4th in the 2007 WSOP Main Event. Allen has accumulated a grand total of $10,398,118 in career tournament earnings, the eighth most by any player.

Shooting Star: Freddy Deeb

Freddy Deeb grew up in Lebanon and attended Utah State. One of the world’s best all-around players, he won the 2007 World Series of Poker HORSE Event, considered by his peers to be the event requiring more skill than any other. He also won the 2005 Ultimate Bet WPT Main Event and the 2009 LA Classic WPT Invitational Main Event. Freddy has $7,321,431 in career earnings.

Shooting Star: Annie Duke

Annie Duke grew up in Concord, New Hampshire and graduated from Columbia. Her family taught her how to be competitive in card games. In 1991, she began playing poker to make the mortgage payment. In 1994, she tried the WSOP, and the rest is history. In World Series stats, Annie has more cashes, more earnings, and more final table appearances than any woman in history.

Shooting Star: Tom Dwan

Tom Dwan grew up in New Jersey and discovered poker while a student at Boston University. Starting with a $50 account, he became an online sensation, eventually playing in the internet’s biggest games and outplaying the world’s finest players. Tom is a regular on many televised poker shows and once won a $920,000 pot, at the time considered to be the largest televised pot ever.

Shooting Star: Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari emigrated from Iran to San Jose at age nine. While working as a professional magician, he discovered poker at the Bay 101 and soon rose to the top, winning the 2004 LA Classic WPT Main Event and $1.4 million. Antonio, who finished 24th in the 2009 WSOP Main Event, is on many poker shows, including High Stakes Poker and Poker after Dark.

Shooting Star: Chris Ferguson

Chris Ferguson grew up in LA and has a Ph.D. in computer science from UCLA. He has sixty-one WSOP cashes, third best all time. He has five World Series bracelets, including the 2000 Main Event. He has three WSOP Circuit main event titles and ten World Poker Tour cashes. In NBC’s National Heads-Up Championship, he finished second in 2005, second again in 2006, and first in 2008.

Shooting Star: Layne “Back-to-Back” Flack

Layne “Back-to-Back” Flack was born in South Dakota and grew up in Montana where he became a poker dealer and then a player. He earned his nickname when he won two no limit hold’em events in a row at the 2002 WSOP. He returned to the WSOP winner’s circle in 2008 and now has five WSOP bracelets and a WPT title. Layne has accumulated $4,275,795 in tournament earnings.

Shooting Star: Ted Forrest

Ted Forrest was born in Syracuse, New York. A great all-around player, he has five WSOP bracelets in five different games. He won the 2005 Mirage Showdown PPT title, he won the 2006 NBC National Heads-Up Championship, and he won the 2007 Bay 101 Shooting Star WPT Main Event. Ted has $5,742,558 in tournament earnings and much more from big cash games.

Shooting Star: Chau Giang

Chau Giang fled Vietnam in 1978 and became a cook in a restaurant in Colorado. To make ends meet, he tried poker and never looked back. For years now he has successfully competed in the world’s biggest games. He has 51 WSOP cashes, 3 WSOP bracelets, and 13 WPT cashes. He finished 7th in the 2009 WSOP $50,000 HORSE Event. Chau has $3,560,239 in tournament earnings.

Shooting Star: Barry Greenstein

Barry Greenstein grew up in Chicago and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at Illinois. He retired from Symantec at age 36 to pursue a poker career. Barry has 44 WSOP cashes, including 3 bracelets and 15 WPT cashes, including 2 titles. Known as the “Robin Hood of Poker”, Barry has donated most of his $6,971,029 in tournament winnings to charity. He is a regular on many televised poker shows.

Shooting Star: Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier

Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier grew up in France and became a world renowned Starcraft video game player. He switched to online poker and became the first ever Poker Stars Supernova Elite. His land-based tournament efforts are equally impressive, having won an EPT Main Event and a WPT Main Event. In just over two years, Elky has accumulated $5,871,735 in earnings.

Shooting Star: Jennifer Harman

Jennifer Harman grew up in Reno and graduated from the University of Nevada. Every day she competes in the biggest games in the world and is a regular on High Stakes Poker and Poker after Dark. She has 25 WSOP cashes, including 2 bracelets, and she is fifth among women in career tournament earnings with $2,377,215. Jennifer wrote the limit hold’em chapter in Super System II.

Shooting Star: Phil Hellmuth, Jr.

Phil Hellmuth, Jr. grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He discovered poker at the U. of W. and became one of the world’s best players. He is first in WSOP cashes with 75 and he is first in WSOP bracelets with 11. The self styled poker brat was 2005 National Heads-Up Champion. He has $10,941,556 in tournament winnings, fifth best all time. Phil is in the Poker Hall of Fame.

Shooting Star: John Juanda

John Juanda grew up in Indonesia and graduated from Oklahoma State. He is one of the most consistent players on tour. In Player-of-the-Year competition, he finished second in both 2001 and 2002, and third in 2004. He has four WSOP bracelets and eight WPT final tables. He had five cashes at the 2009 WSOP, including four final tables. John was 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event Champion.

Shooting Star: Phil “The Unabomber” Laak

Phil “The Unabomber” Laak was born in Dublin, Ireland and grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts where he became a backgammon expert before poker. Phil has 7 World Poker Tour cashes, including winning the 2004 LA Classic WPT Invitational title. He took second in the 2005 WSOP $2500 Pot Limit Hold’em Event. Phil is on many televised poker shows including High Stakes Poker.

Shooting Star: Nam Le

Nam Le grew up in Riverside, California. A fierce competitor, he has 18 WSOP cashes. He won the 2006 Shooting Star WPT Main Event and the 2006 Scotty Nguyen Main Event. In 2008, he won the High Rollers Championship in Macau. Nam, who is a regular at the final table of the world’s largest tournaments, was listed in Bluff Magazine’s top ten players, three years in a row.

Shooting Star: Howard “The Professor” Lederer

Howard “The Professor” Lederer grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. While at Columbia, he became a chess master. He left chess for poker and was immediately successful. He has eight WPT cashes, including two titles. He has forty-three WSOP cashes, including two bracelets, and he finished second in the 2009 WSOP Europe PLO Event. Howard has $5,585,507 in career tournament earnings.

Shooting Star: Kathy Liebert

Kathy Liebert grew up in Long Island, NY and graduated from Marist College. She left her Wall Street job and became a top poker player. She has 32 WSOP cashes and a bracelet. She has 13 WPT cashes, including the 2002 WPT Party Poker title, and she finished second in the 2009 WPT Shooting Star Main Event. Kathy is number one on the all-time women’s money list with $5,667,594.

Shooting Star: Erick Lindgren

Erick Lindgren was born in Burney, California and was a standout high school and junior college athlete. He has 16 World Poker Tour cashes including 2 titles and was named WPT Season II Player of the Year. He has 23 World Series cashes, including a bracelet and was named 2008 WSOP Player of the Year. His tournament winnings stand at $7,391,504, twenty-second all time.

Shooting Star: Mike “The Mouth” Matusow

Mike “The Mouth” Matusow was born in Los Angeles. Famous for his trash talking and his deep runs in WSOP main events, he has 23 WSOP cashes including 3 bracelets and 2 Main Event final table appearances. He won the 2005 WSOP Tournament of Champions, and he won Fox Television’s Season III Superstars Invitational. Mike has career tournament earnings of $7,292,237.

Shooting Star: Jason Mercier

Jason Mercier grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and switched his plans from teaching math to playing professional poker. In just two years, Jason has three EPT Main event final tables, including two titles and nine WSOP cashes, including a bracelet and a fourth place finish in the WSOP Europe Main Event. Jason, who has $4,106,449 in earnings, was named 2009 Bluff Magazine Player of the Year.

Shooting Star: Greg Mueller

Greg Mueller grew up in Vancouver, BC and played professional hockey for nine years in Europe. He learned poker while traveling with the team. Since 2005, he has five WPT Main Event cashes, including a final table and 19 WSOP cashes, including two bracelets. Greg, who has nearly $2 million in tournament earnings, is considered to be one of the world’s best limit hold’em players.

Shooting Star: Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu

Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu grew up in Toronto, Canada. He has 43 WSOP cashes, including 4 bracelets. He has 17 WPT cashes, including 9 final tables and 2 titles and is the all-time leading WPT money winner. He was named 2004 Player of the Year. In the WSOP Europe Main Event, he finished 5th in 2008 and 2nd in 2009. Daniel has $12,427,047 in tournament earnings, number one all time.

Shooting Star: Men “the Master” Nguyen

Men “the Master” Nguyen fled Vietnam by boat in 1978. His poker accomplishments are extraordinary. He is second in WSOP cashes with 67, and he is tied for eighth in WSOP bracelets with 6. He has been on 206 final tables and was named Player of the Year an amazing four times (1997, 2001, 2003, and 2005). Men is twelfth on the all-time money list with $9,217,287 in tournament earnings.

Shooting Star: Scotty Nguyen

Scotty Nguyen came to the United States from Vietnam and discovered poker while working as a bus boy in Las Vegas. He is one of poker’s biggest winners with $10,955,557 in career tournament earnings, fourth best all time. He has 5 WSOP bracelets, including the Main Event in 1998 and the HORSE Event in 2008. Scotty has 15 WPT cashes including the 2006 World Open title.

Shooting Star: Annette Obrestad

Annette Obrestad grew up in Norway and started playing poker on line when she was 15. Starting with zero dollars, she amassed over $900,000. When she turned 18, she entered the WSOP Europe Main Event and won it. Annette, who in 2010 will finally be old enough to compete in the Las Vegas WSOP, already has $2,848,519 in tournament earnings, third best on the all-time women’s money list.

Shooting Star: David “The Dragon” Pham

David “The Dragon” Pham came from Vietnam and learned poker from his cousin, Men Nguyen. One of the tour’s biggest stars, David has 26 WSOP cashes including 2 bracelets, and 14 WPT cashes including 8 final tables. He was named Player of the Year in 2000 and 2007, and was second in 2008. David has $8,194,767 in career tournament earnings, seventeenth on the all-time money list.

Shooting Star: Vivek Rajkumar

Vivek Rajkumar was born in India and grew up in Seattle, earning a computer engineering degree from the University of Washington. After working for one year, he turned to poker. He has nine WSOP cashes and seven WPT cashes, including the 2008 Borgata Open WPT Main Event title. Vivek, who has $2,556,480 in tournament winnings, won the 2009 LA Classic Heads Up Championship.

Shooting Star: Vanessa Rousso

Vanessa Rousso was born in New York and grew up in Paris. She has a degree in economics from Duke. While at Miami Law School, she became interested in game theory and eventually professional poker. She has six WPT cashes, including three final tables. She has ten WSOP cashes and she won the 2009 European High Roller Championship. Vanessa is a regular on many TV poker shows.

Shooting Star: Joe Sebok

Joe Sebok grew up in the Bay Area. He is President of, a site founded by Joe and his stepfather, Barry Greenstein. He started playing professionally in 2005. He has fifteen WSOP cashes, including two final tables, and twelve WPT cashes, including three final tables. Joe, who has $1,872,163 in tournament earnings, cashed in the Shooting Star Main Event in both 2007 and 2009.

Shooting Star: Erik Seidel

Erik Seidel grew up in New York City. He was a backgammon champion before poker. Erik is 5th in WSOP bracelets, 4th in WSOP cashes and 19th in WSOP earnings. In 2008, he won the Aussie Million Main Event and the Foxwoods Classic Main Event. Regarded by his peers as one of the best in the game, Erik has $9,814,424 in career tournament earnings, 9th on the all-time money list.

Shooting Star: Mike Sexton

Mike Sexton was born in Shelbyville, Indiana and graduated from Ohio State, where he was captain of the gymnastics team. A former ballroom dance instructor, he is 12th in WSOP cashes with 46, including 2 bracelets. Known as the Ambassador of Poker, his life’s work has been dedicated to bringing poker main stream. As WPT announcer, Mike is revered by amateurs and pros alike.

Shooting Star: Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith was born in Guelph, Ontario. He discovered poker at a charity event and continues to be involved in raising money for multiple charities. He has fifteen World Series of Poker cashes and ten World Poker Tour cashes, including the 2005 Mirage Showdown WPT Main Event title. Gavin, who has $4,830,057 in career earnings, was named WPT Season IV Player of the Year.

Shooting Star: Jennifer Tilly

Jennifer Tilly grew up in Victoria, BC and graduated from Stephens College. She has performed in many stage plays, films, and television shows, and she has a 1994 Oscar nomination. She has proven herself to be an excellent poker player, having won two titles in 2005, including her first World Series of Poker bracelet. Jennifer has $514,573 in tournament earnings.

Shooting Star: Yevgeniy Timoshenko

Yevgeniy Timoshenko was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine and grew up in Washington State. He has taken the poker world by storm. In 2007, he won the Paddy Power Open in Dublin, and in 2008, he won the Asian Poker Main Event in Macau. In 2009, he won the Five Diamond WPT Main Event and the World Championship of on line poker. Yevgeniy has $3,233,454 in tournament earnings.

Shooting Star: JC Tran

JC Tran came to the US from Vietnam and has a business degree from Sacramento State. Known as one of the best players in the game today, he has 11 WPT cashes, including 8 final tables. In Player-of-the-Year competition, he finished 3rd in 2006 and 2nd in 2007. JC, who is ranked 19th on the all time money list with $7,956,635, was named WPT Season V Player of the Year.

Shooting Star: Kenny Tran

Kenny Tran hails from Arcadia, CA. He began playing poker at a bowling alley while working at MacDonald’s. Renowned as a cash game expert, he tried tournaments in 2006. He has four WPT cashes and eight WSOP cashes, including a bracelet for winning the 2008 WSOP Heads Up Championship. Kenny, who has $2,183,103 in earnings, has made two deep runs in the WSOP Main Event.

Shooting Star: David Williams

David Williams grew up in Dallas. His Southern Methodist friends talked him into trying an on-line satellite for the Ultimate Bet Tournament in Aruba. He won the seat, laying the groundwork for his big break-out score, a second-place finish in the 2004 WSOP Main Event for a cool $3.5 million. David has $6,360,875 in tournament earnings, ranking him thirty-first on the all-time money list.

Shooting Star: Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang was born in Laos. His family escaped to Thailand and came to the United States in 1979. Jerry has a health psychology degree from Loma Linda U. He began playing in small poker tournaments in 2005. Then in 2007, he won a World Series satellite and went on to win the 2007 WSOP Main Event, taking home $8,250,000. Jerry’s generous nature has made him a popular champion.