Here are my unsolicited suggestions for Monkey's Minions candidates that I'll pass on to the Monkey himself:
So, in no particular order here are my endorsements of players that I know who have submitted or probably will submit.
Gene, my partner at GCP (and there would be no GCP without a fateful conversation years ago), is a family man, poker advocate, all around great guy, and a player with the style and patience to succeed in the WSOP main event. Coolers, bad beats, and bad luck aside, he's got to be a favorite to cash. He's not going to bluff off 200 big blinds. We know that. He's also able to pick off a bluff and to play against his image, to pick up chips in those long periods of being card dead in a 10 hour day and survive and advance. We know that too. Lately, he's played less. He's a family man first. Having to forsake the long hours of tournament poker, the travel and the weeks away from home that go into is an easy trade when you put your wife, son and job first.
That doesn't mean that his love for the game has diminished any less. I'm sure this chance to play in the Main Event, possibly cash in the Main event, and represent Team Monkey might mean as much or more to him than any other applicant. He's literally been a lover of poker since BEFORE Chris Moneymaker, growing up with the game, grinding in the student union in college, early games in back room of pool halls and bars, all the way to him winning a Casino Championship in the WSOP-C series and qualifying for the National Championship. I'm pretty confident he'd have many people willing to buy into the cause. Reading Will's requirements this year it almost sounds like he's describing Gene.
Kenny Milam, is another mentor of mine. Kenny shared some of my biggest successes with me and used to be a backer/partial backer of many on the coast. As such he's always been willing to put players in action in the past. Kind of cool that the Minions might be able to put him into the biggest tournament in the world this year if he applies. Kenny's also a good friend, and another all around great guy. He too lives poker and probably plays online, in a bar, or at a casino every single day of the week. He has results at this level too. The last two main events he's lasted just a little bit longer than me (argh! silly bragging rights). His bust out hand last year when he also finished in the low 200s... King King. That's fitting of minion I think.
Steve Bierman, is relatively new player that I've been helping fine tune his game. His progress from one year ago to now is incredible. He's already in the top 100 of earners in Louisiana and he's only been playing for a little over one year. Like the players above I can't say enough about this guy either. He studies poker digesting almost a book a week, grinds cash and tournaments and is laser focused on getting better. He's also got a pretty good coach (ahem). His intangibles are a gift for gab at the table and an ability to get under somebody's skin when necessary or to charm somebody into a fold when it calls for it. Even when he was a neophyte, his fearlessness and his presence earned him results maybe you'd think somebody with his lack of fundalmentals shouldn't earn. Since then he's fine tuned his game, plugged some leaks, and probably is one of the best tournament players in Harrahs New Orleans. What growth. The pic above is after he crushed the January Million Dollar Heater at the Beau (Steve's in the middle Jeff Sager on the right, the fat guy on the left? I don't know).
David Chocheles, kid has been on a bit of heater this year. David has joined Steve, I and others (hello cash gamers Lee McAllister, Ben Saxton etc) in regular little group study sessions of poker. Yes, we are poker geeks who meet to talk poker. Always room to get better replaying hands, strategizing, discussing poker books and training sites. David's in my opinion has really grown as a player. He's fearless and puts people to tests and grinds out results. I'm a big fan of his game, and consider him one of my toughest rivals in the local tournaments. Like I've done with Steve and others on this list, I've also bought small pieces of David in the past and will continue to. Think he's a good investment. I believe David played in the Main a couple of years ago, and won't be overwhelmed by the moment. A worthy selection.
Joe Hebert, another local player, I believe in. Joe's had some deep cashes and is a devoted player. Not many hands that end up with a fold on the turn stick in your head over a poker career. But the fact, I remember one with him over a small pot, that I thought he played super creative, based on stack sizes, probably is a testament to his ability. It may be the only such hand that's affixed itself to my long term memory. I think Joe, who will play a pretty impressive schedule in Vegas this year, would also be a worthy minion. I know that he, like Monkey, came out to play a small charity event in Metairie last year, with the goal of helping out the cause not to exploit a soft game. Speaks to what kind of person he is (Monkey too).
Chris Canan, who I don't think has applied, yet, reminds me of Steve. He's the Saints super fan that looks like Coach Payton above. He's been devoting himself to the game and focused on improving. He's playing a lot at the world series this year and is strictly about tournament poker. He's shown a similar trajectory to Steve and is willing to put in the time. I think he'd be a great selection too.
Regardless, there are a ton of great players and friends that I haven't mentioned here. Plus, I think all the past Minions are still deserving. Several keep binking big cashes too. My apologies if I missed anyone. Happy to add on to my blog post later, I'm sure there are some obvious choices I'm missing. Regardless, I don't envy Monkey there's going to be hard choices.