Online Highstakes Review – First six months of 2011

Gus Hansen
Di "Urindanger" Dang

While all the headlines surrounding the online poker community over recent weeks have concerned the actions of the American DOJ, so called “Black Friday” and the subsequent events and ramifications of these actions it is easy to forget what a stellar year 2011 had been for all those involved in the highstakes online scene.  The action came thick and fast, new heroes emerged and old ones proved their mettle doing battle on the virtual felt.

Let’s take a brief look back over the first six months of 2011 and remind ourselves of the highs & lows, the successes and the failures and the talking points which made the first few months of 2011 such a fascinating spectacle.

The new year started in much the same vein as the old one had ended with the likes of Gus Hansen, Daniel “Jungleman12” Cates, Di “Urindanger” Dang, Scott “Urnotindanger2” Palmer and Patrik Antonius all booking decent wins in January. The biggest single winner was Di Dang who amassed nearly $1.5m in winnings between his Full Tilt (Uringdanger) and PokerStars (ilvdnfl) accounts, closely followed by Draw game specialist and Chess prodigy Eugene “fishosaurusREX” Yanayt with +$1.34m profit. Big losers in January, perhaps surprisingly given the calibre of player included Phil Galfond (-$915k), kagome kagome (-$730k), Phil Ivey (-$665k) and durrrr (-$609k).

There were a considerable number of less familiar names making their presence felt in 2011 and a sizeable contingent of limit specialists occupied space on the leaderboards due in no small part to the addition of Draw games to Full Tilt’s burgeoning roster back in early November 2010.

Draw games became in many respects THE games to rail in 2011 as they succeeded in attracting not only the limit and mix-game specialists but also the NL and PLO players who found the games a decent outlet for the comparative lack of ring game action in their chosen field of expertise. The games were fast and furious and generated the kind of swings more in line with big bet games than limit games and monthly swings in excess of $1million became the norm among the most active players. Players such as fishosaurusREX, bixiu, O fortuna pls, Seb86 and Gus Hansen created most of the ring game action, with great heads up matches featuring the likes of Matt Hawrilenko and Kagome Kagome (playing under the controversial moniker IHateJuice at the beginning of the year) also providing great entertainment.

When the dust settled, the biggest winners in the Draw games in 2011 have been Matt Hawrilenko ($1.44m),  bixiu ($1.4m) and Seb86 ($1.18m) with the biggest losers being durrr (-$1.66m), Gus Hansen (-$1.44m) and fishosaurusRex (-$1.4m). Interestingly Gus Hansen is actually still a winning player in the draw games overall having accumulated in excess of $1.5m winnings in the last 2 months of 2010 but a particularly degenerate session resulting in a $1.3m loss in one day rather ruined Gus’s draw game profit graph!

February saw the draw games continuing to attract a lot of attention but it was Gus Hansen’s domination of his opponents at the PLO (especially HU) tables which grabbed a lot of headlines. Seemingly having ironed out a lot of his tilt issues and plugged a few leaks Hansen repeatedly beat up on two of the most feted phenoms of the last year or two, namely Dan “Jungleman12” Cates and Scott “Urnotindanger” Palmer. Hansen emerged as a +$2m winner overall for the month of February with over $1.5m coming at the PLO tables. The rise in popularity of the CAP tables worked very much in Hansen’s favour as they enabled him to play relatively shallow (which has always been his preference) and also to play PLO more like a limit game. Also faring well in February were Matt Hawrilenko, Phil Ivey, Skjervoy and Gavin “gavz101” Cochrane. Hawrilenko had been absent from the tables for around a year (leading to some wild speculation that he had gone busto) before coming back strong in the newly installed draw games, taking $1.7m profit in February. Cochrane meanwhile showed us a little of what was to come as the highstakes newcomer walked away with over $780k profit at the PokerStars PLO tables.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


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