As we come to the close of another year, it is always good to look back at the previous twelve months, in particular at the tournament poker grind. There were plenty of challengers in the two major Player of the Year races, but there was only one man who took control of the standings early on and maintained that lead to the end. It was a fevered battle on the Ladies’ side as a former Ladies’ POY came back to claim her place on the throne.

Bin Weng Captures Both Major POY Titles

On the two major POY races, it was Bin Weng who staked himself to an early lead and, despite some challenges along the way, maintained his lead to the end of the year.

The CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race was where Weng faced the biggest challenges. For most of 2023, Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero tried to keep pace with Weng, but he would fall off toward the end of 2023 and end up in third place. The challenge to try to catch Weng fell to three men, Ren Lin, Chris Brewer, and Isaac Haxton.

Lin took down the title of the World Poker Tour Alpha8 after making a deep run at the WPT World Championship, but it wasn’t enough to overcome his slow start as he finished in fifth. Brewer was a master of consistency, cashing 26 times over the year (for more than $13 million in earnings), but he was not able to garner enough POY points to make a difference in finishing fourth. Haxton was the man who mounted the biggest challenge, playing in both the WPT World Championship/Alpha8 and the World Series of Poker Paradise in the Bahamas, but he could not get enough points to pass Weng in the end.

Here is the rundown of the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race for 2023:

1. Bin Weng, 12,256 points
2. Isaac Haxton, 10,013
3. Jose Barbero, 9492
4. Chris Brewer, 9455
5. Ren Lin, 9380
6. Stephen Chidwick, 8779*
7. Danny Tang, 8700
8. Jason Koon, 8582
9. Alex Foxen, 7281
10. Quan Zhou, 6743

(* – 2022 Player of the Year)

The Global Poker Index Player of the Year race saw Weng once again at the top of the standings but with a different ranking behind him. Barbero was the runner-up on the GPI rankings, but he was quite a distance in arrears to Weng. Lin also made a charge but would come up short in finishing third. Haxton was the odd man out here, finishing in fourth despite his end-of-season surge.

Here is the rundown of the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race for 2023:

1. Bin Weng, 5008.99 points
2. Jose Barbero, 4387.72
3. Ren Lin, 4260.94
4. Isaac Haxton, 4168.62
5. Daniel Tang, 4107.14
6. Jason Koon, 4043.74
7. Chris Brewer, 4013.23
8. Stephen Chidwick, 3904.93
9. Jesse Lonis, 3823.02
10. Quan Zhou, 3776.80

(2022 Player of the Year Stephen Song finished in 39th place in 2023)

Weng’s 2023 tournament performance is certainly one for the ages. He started the year winning “The Return,” the first tournament held by The Borgata to reopen their poker room following the COVID pandemic. After that, Weng’s performance in back-to-back WPT events in May (the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and the WPT Choctaw), where he won one and finished fourth in another at the HyperX Sports Arena in Las Vegas, catapulted him into prominence. Weng would cap off a sterling 2023 with a victory at the WPT EveryOne for OneDrop and, in December, finish the year with a victory in a $25,000 High Roller tournament during the WPT World Championship for almost $900,000.

Kristen Foxen Surges to 2023 Ladies’ Player of the Year Title

Using a massive closing run, former Ladies’ Player of the Year champion Kristen Foxen reestablished herself atop the mountain in 2023, taking down the Ladies’ POY title in a surprising fashion.

Demonstrating how big the 2023 WPT World Championship was, Foxen’s deep run in that tournament thrust her over the top of the other women in the race. Foxen’s 33rd place finish not only was good for over $132,000 in prize money, but it also earned her 345.07 points towards the POY standings. On the Ladies’ board, that was enough to push her into first place for the year with 2461.25 points.

Nadya Magnus was also in contention for the Ladies’ POY, but her efforts would be a bit short. In one of the preliminary tournaments for the Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open in November, Magnus bubbled the final table of a $1000 tournament. That event brought her 145.06 points which pushed her up to 2431.92 points that would have been good enough for the Ladies’ POY…except for Foxen.

Defending Ladies’ POY Cherish Andrews did not have enough fuel in the tank to defend her championship, but she came pretty damn close. Andrews mustered up 2298.75 points in defense of her belt, which was good enough for the Top Three. Here is a look at the final Ladies’ Player of the Year standings for 2023:

1. Kristen Foxen, 2461.25 points
2. Nadya Magnus, 2431.92
3. Cherish Andrews, 2298.75*
4. Victoria Livschitz, 2220.78
5. Angela Jordison, 2139.81
6. Kitty Kuo, 2020.64
7. Maria Ho, 1997.65
8. Loni Harwood, 1872.67
9. Rania Nasreddine, 1868.03
10. Christina Gollins, 1751.29

(* – 2022 Ladies’ Player of the Year)

With that, the 2023 tournament poker season will come to a close. The PokerGO Tour will be holding its season-ending tournaments in early January, but those tournaments will be counted towards the 2024 standings. Congratulations to Bin Weng and Kristen Foxen, the Players of the Year in the 2023 tournament poker season!

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