Dan Kelly Mounts Charge On Daniel Negreanu’s WSOP POY Lead

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With a third of the 2013 World Series of Poker in the books, Daniel Negreanu’s once dominant lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race has dwindled due to the strong play of Dan Kelly during the first two weeks at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Negreanu got out to a huge advantage at the inaugural WSOP Asia/Pacific back in April. In making one final table before taking down the WSOP APAC Championship Event, Negreanu leapt out to a huge lead in the POY race. Since that time, however, Negreanu has only been able to add some miniscule points in cashing in two events in Las Vegas to sit with 435.9 points.

The story of the early third of the WSOP in Las Vegas has been the run of Kelly on the tables. Kelly made two final tables in the first week of the WSOP, a sixth place finish in Event #2 ($5000 Eight Handed No Limit Hold’em) and a fifth place finish in the “Millionaire Maker” only days later. Since those finishes, Kelly has tacked on four more cashes and, along with his cash at the WSOP APAC “Accumulator” tournament, has been able to put together 323.7 points to challenge Negreanu’s leadership of the table.

The “Millionaire Maker” champion, Ben Chen, used his victory in that tournament to take down the third place slot on the WSOP POY with 300 points, while newly minted two-time WSOP bracelet winner Mark Radoja used his championship in Event #16 ($10,000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em) to power his way into the fourth place slot with 292.5 points. Rounding out the Top Five is another player who has had a decent run so far in Sin City, Matthew Ashton, who has three final tables so far at the 2013 WSOP to garner 289.75 points.

Leading the way in the next five slots is Charles Sylvestre, who earned the bracelet in Event #3 ($1000 No Limit Hold’em) to pick up 260 points and the sixth place slot on the ladder. Another bracelet winner, Matthew Waxman, has cashed in four events for a combined total of 253.25 points and seventh place. Daniel Marton (252 points), Athanasios Polychronopoulos (241 points) and Davidi Kitai (240.72 points) round out the Top Ten.

To give you an indicator of how close the race is, the next ten men behind Kitai trail by only 20 points. Bracelet winners Trevor Pope, Josh Pollock, Taylor Paur, Mike Matusow and Martin Finger are all in this category and, with another strong final table finish or even a second WSOP bracelet, would move into strong positions in the Top Ten to challenge the leaders.

Negreanu has already set his schedule out for the Vegas WSOP. Through the first two weeks, Negreanu has taken part in seven tournaments (today will mark his eighth start in the $5000 H.O.R.S.E. event) and still has a dozen tournaments left on his agenda. Of those tournaments, Negreanu will be going against smaller fields in non-No Limit events (something that has drawn the ire of Negreanu at the 2013 WSOP is the abundance of No Limit Hold’em events at the sacrifice of those non-Hold’em tournaments) and should have a great opportunity to rebuild his once dominant lead.

Kelly could be the “wild card” in this mix as he has shown a willingness to play pretty much any event at any time. With his six cashes to this mark, he is the leader on that count and, add in a couple more final tables or a WSOP bracelet win, he would storm past Negreanu for the lead. Of course, a bracelet victory by anyone in the Top 25 (roughly) would announce their presence on the WSOP POY leaderboard.

There is a great deal of action to go at not only this WSOP but also later this year. Two-thirds of the schedule remains in Las Vegas, including the big events in the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship and the $10,000 Championship Event, but the scoring for POY points won’t end there. This fall, when the world’s best poker players gather in Cannes, France for the 2013 WSOP Europe, there will be seven more events that will be part of the count before a champion is known.

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