When it comes to the different Player of the Year races in the poker world, the end of the World Series of Poker is usually the time when everything resets. Players that jump out to a huge lead over the first half of the year are normally reeled in as the WSOP schedule closes. In 2017, this has held true – at least partially.
Prior to the start of the WSOP, poker professional Bryn Kenney was atop the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard. Kenney, however, decided to sit out the entirety of the WSOP roster of tournaments (and other events around Las Vegas), which gave the pack a chance to either close on him or pass him. When it comes to the CardPlayer POY rankings, all it did was allow them to get closer.
Kenney, whose last cash was his victory in Monte Carlo at the PokerStars Championship €100,000 Super High Roller event in April, still has had a year that others would sell their mother for. With four tournament wins, 13 final tables and 17 cashes overall, Kenney has racked up 4162 points to the midpoint of the season. Perhaps more importantly for Kenney, he has earned a stunning $5,192,223 in just the first four months (remember, he didn’t play at the WSOP) of the season.
The field isn’t content to sign off the POY award to Kenney, however. Justin Bonomo utilized the High Roller tournaments around Las Vegas – the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl and the ARIA Summer High Roller Series – along with a final table at the WSOP to accrue enough points to slide into the second-place slot on the CardPlayer POY. As the second half of the tournament poker year gets ready to kick into action, Bonomo is within shouting distance of Kenney with his 3841 points.
Another player that is slowing down a bit after a blistering start to the year is Nick Petrangelo. Although he cashed in both the WSOP “One Drop” tournament and the Championship Event, Petrangelo was passed by Bonomo for the second slot on the ladder. Petrangelo, who is also one of the serial High Roller cashers, is sitting at 3639 points, good enough for the third-place spot on the charts.
The man who is poker’s newest World Champion, Scott Blumstein, settles into the fourth-place slot on CardPlayer’s board, but his presence also demonstrates another problem with the CardPlayer rankings that Blumstein has absolutely nothing to do with. Blumstein had four cashes prior to the WSOP, but none of those cashes earned any POY points. The 3300 points that Blumstein has are purely derived from his win in the WSOP Championship Event; in NO RANKING should one tournament alone catapult you into the upper echelons of a yearlong pursuit.
For a guy that says he’s “retired” from poker, Fedor Holz seems to be playing quite a bit of cards. At the end of May, Holz won two ARIA Summer High Roller tournaments (both $50K buy ins) that added not only 916 points to his POY total but also added $748,200 to his poker bankroll. His overall play in 2017 has Holz currently in fifth place with 3272 points as he looks for the POY award that he barely missed last year.
Rounding out the CardPlayer Top Ten rankings are players such as Koray Aldemir (sixth place, 3262 points), 2016 POY champion David Peters (seventh, 3202), Nadar Kakhmazov (eighth, 3080), Adrian Mateos (ninth, 3076) and Andreas Klatt (tenth, 3068).
While Kenney continues to rule supreme on the CardPlayer rankings, the Global Poker Index tells a different story.
Instead of taking some time off during the WSOP, Dario Sammartino was an active participant in the festivities in Las Vegas. Sammartino cashed eight times during the WSOP and four of those tournaments earned him points in the GPI system (the GPI takes the 13 largest point-scoring tournaments of a player to give the player their total points). Those four adjustments – a lower scoring tournament for a higher one – have pushed Sammartino to the top of the GPI Player of the Year rankings with 2928.47 points.
Petrangelo picked up two better tournament finishes, one at the WSOP in the “One Drop” and the other at the Venetian’s Deepstack Extravaganza in maintaining his second-place spot on the GPI board. In tabulating 2881.97 points, Petrangelo came up just short of passing Sammartino for the top slot on the rankings. Perhaps more importantly, however, Petrangelo has some room to work on improving his point totals by getting better finishes whereas Sammartino is hamstrung.
The third-place slot on the GPI POY race is held by a man who didn’t even appear on the CardPlayer rankings. Since the close of the PokerStars Championship in Monte Carlo, Dan Smith has been on a tear in mostly the High Roller events. Two ARIA High Roller wins and two deep runs in WSOP events (the $10,000 Heads Up Event and the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament) have pushed Smith into the POY debate (for the GPI at least) with his 2841.98 points.
Kenney finally appears on the GPI rankings in fourth place. Because he didn’t play during the run of the WSOP, he didn’t have a chance to earn more points, but he’s also facing the difficulty of finding events that will give him more points to replace a lower event. With that said, Kenney’s 2840.97 in points will still improve over the last half of the year.
Aldemir rides high on the GPI rankings (fifth place, 2833.85 points), just not as high as he does on the CardPlayer board. For the remainder of the Top Ten, there are players that were already on the CardPlayer rankings and those that weren’t making the cut. Sergio Aido (sixth place, 2809.01 points), Peters (seventh, 2684.63), Ari Engel (eighth, 2652.8 points), Charlie Carrel (ninth, 2618.77) and Bonomo (tenth, 2616.7) all are part of the GPI POY and well set into their slots.
The halfway mark has passed and it is time to head into the second half of the tournament poker season. The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Hollywood, FL, is going to have a significant impact on the standings as will the restarts of both the PokerStars Championship roster of events and Season XVI of the World Poker Tour. There’s still quite a bit of time for someone to come from the back of the pack to catch these men, but they are the solid contenders for the Player of the Year awards given out in poker.