After a year of poker that was primarily dominated by High Roller events, it should not come as a surprise that one of the High Roller regulars is poised to take the major Player of the Year awards. Ali Imsirovic’s play on those High Roller circuits has been nothing short of stunning, giving him a sizeable lead in one countdown and a slim lead in the other. It also will lead to some questions as to whether there is any legitimacy to the POY award if all that has to be done is dominate the upper echelons of the game.

Imsirovic Holds Large Lead on CardPlayer Board

Imsirovic’s lead in the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race is as close to a lock as you will get. Imsirovic drew most of his points from buy-ins that skew northward of the $10,000 mark – the High Roller circuit that is pushed by PokerGO and the poker room at ARIA, in particular. He has been able to rack up 29 final tables and 13 wins, mostly in these events with smallish fields of players he is used to playing against. Along the way, Imsirovic has been able to earn $5,213,800 and 7218 points, with his earnings only eclipsed by Michael Addamo and World Champion Koray Aldemir (neither of those players are in the overall POY Top Ten).

If you are looking for someone who has done it the “old fashioned way” – actually played with the “riff-raff” in tournaments under $10K that can be highly unpredictable – you need to look no further than Qing Liu. The March champion of the 2021 World Poker Tour DeepStack Showdown at the Venetian, Liu normally plays in the smaller buy in events, defeating all comers and racking up over $1.2 million in earnings for 2021. His 5080 POY points, however, lag way behind Imsirovic.

Here is the current Top Ten on the CardPlayer leaderboard with only one month to go in the 2021 season:

1. Ali Imsirovic, 7218 points
2. Qing Liu, 5080
3. Sean Perry, 4945
4. Chad Eveslage, 4535
5. Sam Soverel, 4518
6. Matas Cimbolas, 4490
7. Alex Foxen, 4228
8. Chris Brewer, 4190
9. Sergi Reixach, 3932
10. Brian Altman, 3878

Closer Race on GPI POY Standings

In the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race, Imsirovic has a lead, but it is far closer than the CardPlayer rankings have it. With his 3250.06 points, Imsirovic is less than 96 points clear of Chance Kornuth in the battle for the GPI POY award. Imsirovic has a problem on the GPI board, however.

Because he has amassed his limit on tournaments that would count towards the 2021 GPI POY, the only way that Imsirovic can add points is to top one of his previous efforts, which will be VERY difficult to do at this point in the year. Kornuth, however, has more play in his numbers and, with only 96 points to make up, it is possible for him to take the title.

Possible…but not likely. Here are the current standings on the GPI Player of the Year leaderboard:

1. Ali Imsirovic, 3250.06 points
2. Chance Kornuth, 3154.47
3. Sergio Aido, 3090.55
4. Uri Reichenstein, 3058.07
5. Sean Perry, 2997.08
6. Chad Eveslage, 2971.32
7. Alex Foxen, 2926.56
8. Stephen Chidwick, 2926.50
9. Daniel Negreanu, 2917.94
10. Brock Wilson, 2912.25

Time to Fix the POY System

All you have to do is look at the rankings – and note the domination of the High Roller events on the standings – to understand that there is a need to revamp the POY methods.

While the GPI rankings take many varied factors under consideration, including the buy-in of a tournament, number of players, prize pool, and other factors (the CardPlayer rankings supposedly do the same), it is obvious that the criteria used by these two institutions are not weighing the results properly. Does it take more skill to beat 30 players you take on all the time? Or does it take more skill to navigate through a hundreds (maybe even thousands) player strong field?

It is time that the GPI and CardPlayer simply create a “High Roller” leaderboard. If PokerGO is going to create a tour around events of this nature, remove them from the rank-and-file “normal” poker tournaments. They can have their own standings while those who actually have to research their table daily through a four- or five-day event to learn about your opponents – you know, actually PLAY POKER instead of shuffle money between backing factions – earn their own POY award.

This would do two things. It would show who is the best among the 50 or so players who frequent the High Rollers. It would also allow for REAL poker players who fight it out on any battleground, at any price, to receive recognition for the work they have done. Right now, it is simply who has deeper pockets to buy a POY award.

With one month to go, it is going to be difficult to catch Imsirovic. There is another “High Roller” event on the PokerGO Tour schedule at the Bellagio from December 2-14 and wrap their season up with the PokerGO Tour Championship on December 22. There are also stand-alone “High Roller” tournaments at the WSOP Europe, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock event currently running and the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. That will about do it for the poker tour season, as the European Poker Tour’s stop in Prague has been postponed. With that said, anything can happen, and it is not a done deal for Imsirovic yet.

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