10. Doyle Brunson
Brunson, who turns 75 in August, is one of the true legends in the game and he can still bring it. It will be fun to see if he can capture bracelet No. 11 and tie Phil Hellmuth for the record.
9. Gavin Griffin
Griffin won a WSOP bracelet 2004, and has since won both a WPT event and an EPT event. But the 26-year-old feels like he's ready to accomplish more. And he told Casino City's Gary Trask that he's cooking his own food now so he can be healthy, energized and rested for this year's WSOP.
8. Vanessa Rousso
Lady Maverick told Casino City that she's taking a slightly different approach to preparing for this year's WSOP. Rousso says she will keep her poker skills sharp by playing 10 hours or so a week online at PokerStars in May, but other than that it will be all about enjoying the outdoors, going to shows and working out three to four hours a day. "You really need to take advantage of the time off and keep your mind and body fresh and the best way to do that is limit the amount of poker you play and to work out," she says. "The World Series is such an intense period of time. It's basically six straight weeks of playing tournaments every day. You've got to be mentally ready for that kind of competition."
7. Scotty Nguyen
Speaking of mental preparation, we're wondering how the Prince of Poker has recovered from last year's Main Event. For a while, it looked like Nguyen would coast into the final table with a sizable chip stack. Then wham! Two bad hands later and he was out of the tournament. It will be interesting to see how Nguyen recovers from that devastating turn of events.
6. Mike Sowers
Sowers, who turned 21 eight months ago, is an Internet superstar with about $800,000 in winnings. If his eight place showing at this year's WSOP Pot-Limit Hold'em World Championship (Event #1) is any indication, his game is going to translate well.
5. Tom Dwan
Dwan is another Internet superstar who has already made a name for himself by eliminating Phil Hellmuth at the 2008 NBC Head's Up Championship and refusing to back down when the Poker Brat complained about his play. In fact, Dwan said his play was "standard," asked Hellmuth to learn something about heads-up poker and offered to play Hellmuth any time, any place for any amount of money. What's not to love about this kid.
4. Kathy Liebert
Liebert is a GREAT tournament player. And as her third-place finish in Event #1 at this year's WSOP (Pot-Limit Hold'em World Championship) indicates, she's on top of her game and ready to make some noise for the ladies.
3. Mike Matusow
Win or lose, Matusow is the single most interesting player to watch from the rails. He talks to himself. He talks to other players. He's funny. He's bombastic. And if you're lucky, he'll tack Mr. Peanut right before your very eyes.
2. Phil Hellmuth
Watching Hellmuth win is fun. Watching Hellmuth take a bad beat is even more fun. He doesn't like it. And we won't hesitate to get on a player's case for playing poorly and then sucking out against him. The entertainment value when Hellmuth is around is so high that you have to watch him. Plus, any time Hellmuth plays, there's a chance he's going to win a bracelet. He already has a record 11 to his name, and he's looking for his twelfth at this year's WSOP.
1. Andy Bloch
Bloch might be the best poker player on the planet right now. Two years ago, he finished second to the late Chip Reese in an epic H.O.R.S.E. tournament. He finished second at this year's NBC Heads Up Championship. He finished second at the WSOP's first event this year. And he's so good at every game in poker that he's a pure joy to watch.