U.S. Poker Open Preview: The Contenders

THE FIRST-EVER USPO IS LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY, HERE ARE THE PLAYERS THAT SHOULD COMPETE FOR THE USPO CHAMPIONSHIP

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Bryn Kenney has one of the world's best High Roller resumes and a WSOP bracelet in a 10-Game Mix event. That makes him a serious contender in this year's U.S. Poker Open. (Photo: Poker Central)

In the buildup of last year’s Super High Roller Bowl, Poker Central rolled out 25 days of player previews to get fans ready for the biggest event of 2017. Over the next month, Poker Central will again preview a massive series, the first-ever U.S. Poker Open. The entire eight-event series will be live streamed on PokerGO and until cards get in the air on February 1, Poker Central will preview the USPO with weekly articles surrounding the brand-new high stakes series.

One of the best parts of the Super High Roller Bowl is that players and fans know who will be competing in the year’s biggest event weeks before the event begins. Unfortunately, the same is not true of the other PokerGO majors. Just like during Poker Masters, the poker world won’t know who is competing in the U.S. Poker Open until the cards get in the air. Fortunately, that unknown won’t stop us from tabbing a few contenders who should compete for USPO glory next month.

Daniel Negreanu

Based on his 2018 goals, “Kid Poker” is motivated heading into the new year. Prior to Poker Masters, Negreanu made nearly two dozen must-win bets and few would be surprised if he didn’t replicate that action heading into the USPO. Negreanu has shown well over the last month, final tabling two $100,000 buy-in events after taking time off to work on his game, and as one of the game’s best all-around players, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Phil Galfond

The U.S. Poker Open will be the first high stakes series that incorporates both No Limit Hold’em and mixed game tournaments. The first foray into mixed games during the eight-event series is the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. After headlining Poker After Dark during “PLOMG” week, it will be interesting to see if Galfond, who is arguably the best PLO player on the planet, shows for PLO’s USPO debut. With two WSOP bracelets and a handful of High Roller results on his resume, if Galfond does elect to play, the cash game regular could find tournament glory.

Bryn Kenney

Everyone knows that Bryn Kenney crushes High Rollers. He has earned nearly $14 million over the last two years, playing primarily big buy-in events. What some people don’t know about Bryn Kenney, his lone World Series of Poker bracelet is in a $1,500 10-Game Mix event. With one of the world’s best High Roller resumes and a mastery of games that aren’t No Limit Hold’em, King Kenney could find himself on the USPO throne.

Nick Schulman

Poker fans are used to hearing Nick Schulman’s voice calling the action on PokerGO, but during Poker Masters, Schulman traded in his mic for a $50K Prelim victory. Schulman had some other High Roller success in 2017 and is a regular in some of Las Vegas’ biggest mixed game cash games. If he isn’t in the commentary booth for the U.S. Poker Open, Schulman will be in the mix for the title.

Brian Rast

Two Poker Players Championship wins at the World Series of Poker. One Super High Roller Bowl victory. If Brian Rast’s tournament resume was just those three items, he be a top contender for the U.S Poker Open Championship. When you add the rest of Rast’s resume, it is easy to see why he is considered one of the world’s best. Rast also has five ARIA High Roller Series victories, meaning the 2015 SHRB champion could have a home felt advantage at ARIA.