The game of poker has been searching for ways to make itself more appealing as a worldwide sport. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and professional soccer are all recognized as major international sports, but the game of poker does not command the same respect in the competition world.
The Caesars Cup, along with a new professional poker league, is starting to change all of that. The Caesars Cup is expected to do for poker what the Ryder Cup and Davis Cup have done for golf and tennis, respectively. The Caesars Cup puts the top American players against a team of top European poker players and has them battle it out on the felt.
In 2009, the US was heavily favored in the event, bringing some of the most recognizable names in the game to the Cup competition. Instead of staking their claim to the notion that the US has the best poker players, the team flopped, falling to a team of Europeans that cam mainly from the online poker generation.
Phil Hellmuth was involved back in 2009, and he has been chosen as the captain of the US squad for the rematch, starting on October 19th. Bertrand Grospellier, a well-known pro, is the captain for the European team. Despite the fact that it is a competition, the Americans have a clear goal in mind when they arrive next month.
“Team American has a score to settle after what most considered a colossal upset in London,” World Series of Poker Executive Director Ty Stewart told ESPN. “You see a real rivalry developing as European players continue to win more tournaments around the world.”
The US players had long been considered the best in the world, but recent events at the Caesars Cup of 2009, and the WSOP, have balanced the playing field, or at least created the perception that the field had been leveled. The European players had a strong WSOP this year, and several are still in the running to win the main event when it resumes in November.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the selection of the 2011 Caesars Cup team is whether or not Phil Ivey will be involved. Hellmuth mentioned Ivey as a possible teammate, but the player many consider to be the best in the world, has been boycotting the game since Full Tilt Poker was indicted in the US.
Ivey has taken exception to the idea that the site still has not paid customers back the funds that were in their accounts at the time of the indictment. The poker pro filed a lawsuit against Full Tilt, and has maintained that he will not represent the company to which he is contractually obligated at any poker events. Hellmuth did, however, already name one player to his squad, the legendary Doyle Brunson.