Can Bryn Kenney Hold onto Player of the Year?



With roughly six weeks to go in the tournament poker season, there is virtually only one question left:  can Bryn Kenney, who has led the various Player of the Year races since the start of the year, hold onto those leads as the year comes to a close?

On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race Kenney, through the usage of the High Roller tournaments, built up a tremendous lead by the halfway mark of the year. The lead was big enough that Kenney took off the entirety of the World Series of Poker and nobody came close to his point total. Although he was only able to tack on 224 points in the last month through a €25,000 non-bracelet event at the World Series of Poker Europe, Kenney has a dominant lead over the field with his 6708 points.

But is it enough? Last year the man who is currently in second place in the POY standings, Fedor Holz, thought that he had racked up enough points to take the honors. Holz took his foot off the gas and, in the final six weeks of the calendar year, saw David Peters storm past him. Peters used a third-place finish in the last-ever European Poker Tour event, a fifth-place finish in the $25,000 WPT Five Diamond High Roller event and won the last $25,000 Aria High Roller tournament on December 28 to steal the POY title from Holz.

Now Holz is in that position, at least on the CardPlayer rankings. Holz has earned 5497 points, which included a runner-up finish in the $1 Million (HKD) Triton Super High Roller Series for a $2,131,740 payday and 800 POY points. With more than 1200 points between him and Kenney (1211, to be exact), it may prove to be too tough a river to cross.

Behind Holz, the players are all jockeying to make their mark on the Top Ten for the 2017 calendar year as going for the top of the heap may be out of the question. Koray Aldemir has been able to move up the ladder into the third-place slot with his 4956 points, but he has more to worry about than trying to catch Holz. Right behind Aldemir is Adrian Mateos, who 4892 points have him right on Aldemir’s heels. Should both men falter, Justin Bonomo is lurking in the fifth-place slot with 4598 points and could pass them both.

The bottom half of the CardPlayer Top Ten has more of the “usual suspects” from the High Roller world. Stephen Chidwick (4522 points), Benjamin Pollak (4460), defending champion David Peters (4422), Steffen Sontheimer (4352) and Jason Koon (4334) are ranked in sixth through tenth places, respectively. All five men routinely can be found in the High Roller events, but it is going to take more than a decent finish in those High Rollers (perhaps a win in another tournament) to mount up enough points to even challenge Holz for second.

Kenney’s in the lead on the Global Poker Index standings, but it is a bit more precarious there. Because the GPI rankings only tabulate the best 13 finishes of a player in a complicated formula, there isn’t much room for Kenney to expand his lead. In Kenney’s case, he currently sits in first place with his 3478.06 points, but he cannot add any more points to his total unless the calculated finish beats his lowest finish of 194.27 points (from his runner-up finish in a 33-player preliminary event during the PokerStars Championships Bahamas). While it is possible that another High Roller finish might do it, it is not going to be for a huge amount of points.

The player chasing Kenney – and the one with the best chance to pass him – is Chidwick. With his 3236.07 points, Chidwick has taken the second slot from Aldemir and has low enough finishes to improve his standing. Chidwick’s 58th place finish in the $3000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the WSOP in Las Vegas only got him 111.37 points; another strong finish in a High Roller or even another major tournament could push him past Kenney with ease.

Aldemir is only about 40 points back of Chidwick, but he doesn’t have the room to grow that Chidwick does. With 3197.38 points, Aldemir could work his way up, but the High Roller events he favors have set his bottom level of points quite high. The same could also be said for fourth place Nick Petrangelo (3134.62 points) and fifth place Adrian Mateos (3128.58 points).

The players in the second tier of the Top Ten are probably going to have to be happy with their Top Ten finish. Dan Smith (3057.16 points), Dario Sammartino (3006.34) Stefan Shillhabel (2996.56), Steve O’Dwyer (2930.15) and Dejuante Alexander (2919.11) are the holders of the sixth through tenth slots, respectively. Alexander is notable in the fact he has amassed his point total through events with a buy in of less than $4000; most of his competition’s point totals have been built through the smaller fields but bigger buy in ($10,000 and up) “High Roller” tournaments.

With only six weeks to go, the players are going to have to do some globe hopping if they are going to get every point available. The World Poker Tour’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas will have some effect on the standings, as will the PokerStars Championship Prague. A slew of WPT DeepStacks events and other minor events could be critical to those looking to climb into the standings also. It promises to be an interesting six weeks as Bryn Kenney looks to fight off the challenges and hold both Player of the Year awards come December 31.

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