The Contenders – A New Series for the 2013 WSOP

Eric BaldwinBLUFF is excited to announce a new series for the 2013 World Series of Poker focused on the ups and downs every player experiences during a long summer at the Rio. “The Contenders” will be a regular feature throughout the summer following  Eric Baldwin, Tristan Wade, Jason Koon, Xuan Liu and Huy Nguyen.

From the first day of the WSOP BLUFF will follow these top five pros in their effort to win a coveted gold bracelet and carve out some profit while playing a full tournament schedule this year.

Eric Baldwin

The Wisconsin native has almost $3.9 million in career earnings dating back to 2006. He won his WSOP bracelet in 2009 in a 2,000 player field good for over half a million dollars. His largest cash of his career came less than a year later when he finished runner-up to David Williams in the 2010 WPT World Championship for over $1 million.

Baldwin is a fixture at WSOP events – in the past two years he has entered 65 bracelet events with seven cashes.

Tristan WadeTristan Wade

Wade cut his teeth playing poker online as “Cre8ive” and has ascended the ranks to become one of the sharpest young live MTT players. Wade has booked over $1 million in his live career with sporadic cashes between 2006-2009 before breaking out in the 2010 WSOP with four cashes.  He made a deep run in the Main Event, where he finished 113th place, and

Wade won his WSOP bracelet in the 2011 WSOP Europe series in a shootout event for a little over $240,000 that featured Mike Watson, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Steve O’Dwyer and James Dempsey at the final table. Since the win Wade has stepped us tournament schedule; he played in 13 bracelet events in 2011 for $40,500 in buy-ins versus his 23 events for $71,000 in buy-ins for 2012.

Xuan Liu_Xuan Liu

Liu is the only woman to make the Contenders and all signs point to her doing some big things at the WSOP. Liu is a native of the Toronto area and has more than $1.3 million in career live MTT earnings. Her largest cash came in early 2012 when she final tabled the PCA Main Event and finished in fourth place – making her the first woman to final table that event.

Liu has played in 40 WSOP events in the past two years where she played a mix of big field, low buy-in No Limit Hold’em events, Omaha events and some Mixed Game events.  She has just one tournament win on her resume – from a IPT San Remo side event in 2010 – but a few months later she managed a third place finish at the EPT San Remo Main Event.

Huy-NguyenHuy Nguyen

Nguyen is one of the best young players advancing through the ranks of poker and is on the verge of becoming a household name. He is just shy of the million dollar mark in career earnings, has three WSOPC rings to wear and earned some serious TV time in last year’s National Championship finishing in third place for $186,265. He bubbled the final table for the National Championship in 2011 with a tenth place finish.

Nguyen played a full schedule of events last year with 23 and $62,000 in buy-ins, up from 15 events in 2011 for $31,000 in buy-ins. He played nearly every No Limit Hold’em event on the calendar and can play two cards stronger than just about anybody.

Jason Koon_Jason Koon

Koon’s poker game saw some serious improvement in 2012 after he traded his personal training services for poker mentoring from Chris Moorman and Jamie Rosen in Cyprus. Koon has banked upwards of $1.2 million with a huge uptick in results in 2011. Koon was a card away from winning his first bracelet in 2012 in the Heads Up No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha mixed event. He made the finals against Leif Force but could not overcome the Omaha specialist and finished runner-up.

Koon played 19 events last year for $67,500 in buy-ins and cashed six times for $205,960.

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Paul Oresteen

Senior Writer: Paul Oresteen originally joined BLUFF in 2008 as an intern. He covered two World Series of Poker’s before leaving to join After a two year hiatus Oresteen returned to BLUFF in November 2012. Since starting as a poker journalist Oresteen has covered the World Series of Poker, WSOP Circuit, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. He graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in Communications in 2008.
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