There is no clear cut formula for ranking an individual's poker achievements when it comes to making a top 10 list. If it were done by most money earned, Greg Merson would have had to win the World Series of Poker Main Event twice to even be in the same realm as Big One for One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari. If it were a rags-to-riches story, micro-stakes grinder Marat "maratik" Sharafutdinov would certainly have to be up there for parlaying frequent player points into more than a million dollars. However, if one thing does stick out of the first half of our Top 10 Stories of 2012 list, it is consistency throughout the grueling poker calender.
Greg Raymer and Marvin Rettenmaier earned their respective seventh and eighth places on our list because of their multiple wins over the course of the year. For as good as they both were, we are giving Dan Smith the slight edge and the No. 5b ranking. In case you're wondering why we're skipping out on No. 6 and going to No. 5b, that's because there was a tie in the votes amongst our staff members.
While certainly no stranger to the live tournament scene, Smith's staggering 2012 success nearly sextupled his previous career live earnings. He began the year with a bang, winning the Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge in January. The modest field of 22 was packed with some of the biggest names in the game. Among them were Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, Jason Mercier, Erik Seidel, Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey. The win earned Smith a cool AUD$1,012,000 (US $1,041,828) and his first career seven-figure pay day.
His next batch of cashes came in Europe, starting at the European Poker Tour Berlin in April. Two minor scores there, including a min-cash in the EPT Berlin Main Event for $9,805, was the prelude to an incredible showing at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final.
In a six-day span, Smith earned victories in three different €5,000 buy-in side events. It began with his topping a field of 101 players in the €5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Max Turbo on April 26, and Smith earned €152,980 (US $201,972) for his triumph. Two day later, Smith took down the €5,000 No-Limit Hold'em tournament outright, outlasting 175 entries for €250,500 (US $330,724). From there, he concluded his stay in Monaco with a win on May 1 in the €5,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Max. After a heads-up deal, Smith came out on top of the field of 98 for €118,000 (US $155,790). A win in any poker tournament is impressive, but to win three events at one series in less than a week's time is absolutely remarkable.
Next came the 2012 World Series of Poker where Smith cashed in five events, made one final table and narrowly missed out on a second. It started with his 17th-place result from 2,101 entrants in Event No. 2, a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em. He bubbled the final table in Event No. 21, a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em, finishing 10th of 2,799. With cashes in two more $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em events in the next 10 days, Smith saved the best for last.
Event No. 50 was the only traditional $5,000 no-limit hold’em event on the WSOP docket (the other $5,000 no-limit hold’em tournament was a mixed-max format). With three players remaining from the starting field of 1,001, Smith held the chip lead. Ultimately, though, he finished in third place when his failed to hold up against the for Peter Vilandos when a 10 hit the turn. For his efforts, Smith earned $368,943.
This was the half-way point of the year, and for the first time, Smith was on top of the standings for Global Poker Index Player of the Year. He was briefly bumped from No. 1 until he got back to business in the middle of August with a trip to Spain. He took down the EPT Barcelona €50,000 No-Limit Hold'em Super High Roller, topping a field of 55 entries and defeating JC Alvarado heads up for €962,925 (US $1,183,100). Later in the week, he placed fourth out of 31 runners in a €10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Heads-Up event for €38,000 (US $46,689). Following his win the Super High Roller, PokerNews' own Kristy Arnett caught up with Smith.
Next up for Smith was a final-table showing in the now defunct Partouche Poker Tour Main Event in early September. A field of 489 participated in the €8,500 buy-in affair, and Smith took seventh place for €178,496 (US $224,430). Later in the month came the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe, and Smith cashed once, finishing in 17th place out of 206 in Event No. 6, €1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha for €3,752 (US $4,895).
In October, Smith cashed twice at the EPT Sanremo in side events before closing out 2012 in style. Less than two weeks ago at the EPT Prague, Smith closed out his European onslaught by taking down the €5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max event. He bested a field of 42 to add another €68,120 (US $80,039) to his 2012 earnings, which, when all was said and done, clocked in at $3,739,797.
Smith’s marvelous year is going to earn him GPI Player of the Year honors and here are his counting scores:
|Series (Jan. 1 — June 30)||Event||Place||Prize|
|Aussie Millions||AUD$100,000 No-Limit Hold'em||1 of 22||AUD$1,012,000|
|EPT Berlin||€5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event||90 of 745||€7,500|
|EPT Grand Final||€5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Max Turbo||1 of 101||€152,980|
|EPT Grand Final||€5,000 No-Limit Hold'em||1 of 175||€250,500|
|EPT Grand Final||€5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Max||1 of 98||€118,000|
|World Series of Poker||$5,000 No-Limit Hold'em (Event #50)||3 of 1,001||$368,943|
|Series (July 1 — Dec. 31)||Event||Place||Prize|
|EPT Barcelona||€50,000 No-Limit Hold'em Super High Roller||1 of 55||€962,925|
|EPT Barcelona||€10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Heads-Up||4 of 31||€38,000|
|Partouche Poker Tour||€8,500 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event||7 of 489||€178,496|
|EPT Sanremo||€2,000 No-Limit Hold'em Re-Entry||17 of 450||€8,900|
|EPT Prague||€5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max||1 of 42||€68,120|
With his six best cashes from the first six months of the year to go along with his five best from the latter half of 2012, Smith just edged out Marvin Rettenmaier, who came in as our No. 8 story. However, there is more…
Though it doesn’t count toward the various player of the year races, nor does it show up on his Hendon Mob page, Smith made waves on the virtual felt as well. On October 21, he topped a field of 7,060 to win the PokerStars Sunday Million. While navigating through a massive field is a feat in itself, Smith accomplished something extremely rare as he managed to earn more than the original first-place prize money. Even more impressive, he did so without even asking for it. With the first-place prize set at $211,800, the final five players agreed to a deal that guaranteed Smith $199,504.25. With $20,000 still on the line for the winner, Smith went on to take it down for $219,504.25, earning $7,704.25 more than the original first place.
While it's impossible to predict whether Smith can keep up his torrid 2012 pace in 2013, it's a safe bet that Smith will continue to rub elbows in many of the biggest tournaments that the live circuit has to offer.
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