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by Jesse May
 The Players to Watch at the World Series of Poker
TJ Cloutier is the outright favorite for the World Series of Poker Championship event, the $10,000 No Limit Hold'em with a $1.5 million dollar first prize. TJ might be the best in the world at that particular event. With a second, third and sixth in recent World Series final events, TJ is a threat whenever he has chips. The only other player with Championship results like that is Erik Seidel, who just always seems to be there. Two time Champion Johnny Chan is too talented to ever be counted out, as is Phil Hellmuth. Bracelet winners Donnachea O'Dea and Chris Bjorin are two of Europe's best hopes in the limit events as well as the big one.
 The Contenders  
Padraig Parkinson Results have seen this Irish player always giving himself a great chance to win big tournaments. An impressive string of finishes in European majors highlighted by a third in the 1999 WSOP plus dead on recent form will make Padraig a threat in all the pot limit and no limit Hold'em tourneys. And if he ever catches some cards, he's liable to quit playing.

Noel Furlong This Irish businessman doesn't play poker very often, but when he does watch out. In his first ever WSOP he came sixth in 1989 to Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan in a situation he described as "I had all the chips." So when he got another final table chance in only his fourth World Series attempt in 1999, Noel Furlong took the gold bracelet, pointedly knocking out former world champion Huck Seed from a final table that also included Erik Seidel, Padraig Parkinson, Chris Bigler, and George McKeever. Furlong is also a three time Irish Open champion.

Dave "Devilfish" Ulliot The Devilfish plays too good to ever be out of anything. Only missed out on another bracelet last year when his aces got cracked heads up. With multiple final table appearances and a history of upping his game for the money, the Devilfish looks to be there.

Ben Roberts Ultra solid Brit with Iranian decendents. Probably the best Holdem player around for money, pretty good in a no-limit tournament situation as well. Ed.

Huck Seed Young winner in 1996. Technically proficient having first started as a pro in the Backgammon world where bad beats make poker stories look childish. Clearly a smart head on his shoulders, but is it as strong as Helmuth's? Ed.

Danny Negreanu This young Canadian now transplanted to Las Vegas is firing on every cylinder. For the last four months, he's figured in just about every tournament he's been in, littering the leaderboards with his name. An easy tip to take home some kind of bracelet from the 2001 WSOP.

Phil Ivey This player got hot at last year's World Series and hasn't let up since. Phil beat Amarillo Slim heads up for the bracelet in the big pot limit Omaha competition, besting a final table that contained some of Europe's best Omaha players. Phil Ivey grew up in Philadelphia and honed his game at the Trump Taj Mahal in the cash games in Atlantic City. In the past year he's had a slew of final table appearances in major tournaments around the USA and looks to be among the favorites in any tournament he plays in.

Alan Betson The winner of the big hold'em tournament in Paris this year, Irishman Alan Betson is clearly in the zone.

Ian Dobson "The Reindeer" finished third in the Poker Million and made a final table in Atlantic City. The limits to Brit Ian's game have yet to be tapped. Watch out if he gets a hold of any chips.

Surindar Sunar One of the best tournament players in the world. This Midlands player is deadly when he's on his game.

Simon Trumper Former Late Night Poker Champion won the World Series Trial in Vienna. Is focused.

Barney Boatman They call him "The Humor", this member of the Hendon Mob has a style of play that produces big results like in last year's final event, when he was the highest placed British finisher.

Hamish Shah Winner of a recent tournament in Atlantic City to add to a title he took at the Orleans in Vegas last year, this Londoner is primed to make a mark in the World Series of Poker. Strong at Omaha.

David Colclough This British player had an impressive run last year, with a second and a sixth in WSOP tournaments. He figures big in the pot limit events.

Pascal Perrault This Frenchman joked that he had qualified for the World Series of Poker this year in Las Vegas. He said he had "the right to pay". But Pascal has been in stride, with a victory in London plus top finishes in Amsterdam and Paris.

Richard Tatalovich This American is hot. He won the big one in Atlantic City and was always dangerous in the Isle of Man.

"Syracuse" Chris Tsiprailidis Chris the Greek from Syracuse, New York, broke through with his first WSOP bracelet last year after many years spent honing his game on the tournament trail. Several big finishes since then all over America make this player a threat whenever he's laughing.

Asher Derei is a top tournament player. With firsts in every corner of the world, this Israeli player may figure in the 2001 World Series of Poker.

Cristof Haller - Experience is a question talent is not, for this young German player who has won titles all over Europe. Will he break through at the World Series? Men Nguyen, Jack Keller, Mickey Appleman, and Allen Cunningham, who is rated very highly by the Luma Kid, also figure to be dangerous.