Who Are The Favorites At The 2004 World Series of Poker?

Published on February 19th, 2004, 9:06 pm EST

With the 2004 WSOP rapidly approaching, it is time to lay out who we think are the top 5 players to beat in this year's tournament, based on past history and play over the last year. Some of you may or may not be surprised to see Chris Moneymaker absent from this list; we have nothing against him, but we don't think he'll make the final table this year. Our top 5 players to watch in this year's tournament, in no particular order are:

1) Phil Ivey - continued his strong play in 2003, and eventually he is going to break through and win the big one. Still young, he has had great success in some of the WSOP's secondary tournaments, winning a number of golden bracelets, but hasn't won the big show yet. It's just a matter of time, and Ivey should be seated at the final table. His youth will be a big advantage this year, as the finals are going to be stretched over 5 days, and some of the older players may flame out before the final day.

2) Phil Hellmuth Jr. - always dangerous, and always a favorite. His game seems to be as sharp as ever, with a couple of high finishes in major tournaments to finish up 2003. Phil's aggravating style of play should be extra effective this year, considering the amount of online qualifiers expected to appear at this year's tournament. These "rookies" are much more likely to go on tilt when they are up against Hellmuth.

3) Men Nguyen - Another player who had a solid 2003. Men always plays well at the WSOP, and should finish high. Another player who can aggravate his opponents, but in a more kind-hearted way. Men is well-known for drinking and laughing with his opponents as he takes their money.

4) Chip Jett - Had an absolutely phenomenal 2003, and if he can carry this momentum over into 2004, should be a force to be reckoned with in the big dance. His style of play is well-suited to a big tournament, with 1000+ players expected to play.

5) The Internet Qualifier - the big question known. The unknown variable. With Varkonyi winning in 2002, and Moneymaker winning in 2003, you have to ask, will another unknown win the 2004 tournament? With more than 1000 players expected in this year's tournament, many qualifying from online poker sites, you have to wonder if another unknown will take it all. You have to think that there is a good chance that some unknown player will catch some cards and get to the final table. With online poker sites booming in popularity, you have to think that there are some very good poker players out there that we have never heard of.