As the players reach the home stretch of the 2019 Player of the Year races, there is one thing that is plainly evident. Through their calculations, the two major POY races – the CardPlayer Magazine leaderboard and the Global Poker Index standing – try to offer their interpretations of who is doing the best in the poker world for a calendar year. But disparities abound in examining both of the races, perhaps clouding the issue rather than offering any clarity.
Stephen Chidwick Leads CardPlayer POY
Coming into the final six weeks of the tournament poker calendar – essentially four weeks as most major tournament action shuts down in mid-December – Stephen Chidwick is the surprising leader of the CardPlayer Player of the Year race. While Chidwick has had a phenomenal season, including winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet and picking up a championship on his home turf in the British Poker Open, he hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to the POY race. Leading the way he is, however (at least on the CardPlayer rankings), as he has been able to compile 6609 points as we enter the final moments of 2019.
The pursuers of Chidwick are many and strong. Coming in the second slot is one of the recent champions of the 2019 Poker Masters schedule, Sean Winter, who used his victory and three other cashes to push his way into second place on the leaderboard with 5688 points. He is closely followed by the overall champion (and Main Event winner) of the Poker Masters, Sam Soverel, who has basically locked up the 2019 High Roller of the Year title (a repeat win) and is looking to tack on the CardPlayer POY along with it; with his 5688 points, he’s in third and within striking distance of Chidwick.
Going deeper than these three men, the chances of the players to rise up and pass Chidwick get a lot slimmer. There just aren’t enough major events on the schedule – or High Roller tournaments that may or may not be counted (more on this in a moment) – left for the players to accumulate a huge amount of points and be able to run down the Brit. Thus, the players on down the list may have to be satisfied with finishing in the Top Ten in 2019.
1. Stephen Chidwick, 6609 points
2. Sean Winter, 5688
3. Sam Soverel, 5431
4. Cary Katz, 5269
5. Bryn Kenney, 5174
6. Rainer Kempe, 5061
7. Ali Imsirovic, 4921
8. Paul Phua, 4907
9. Kahle Burns, 4816
10. Manig Loeser, 4807
Sean Winter Edges Stephen Chidwick for GPI POY Lead
While Winter may come up in the runner-up slot on the CardPlayer board, he’s atop the standings when it comes to the Global Poker Index’s Player of the Year tabulations. Winter has been able to compile 3480.58 points over his 13 top finishes (stay with us, we’ll explain), good enough to hold the current lead on the GPI POY. The problem that Winter may face? He’s maxed out the points that he can get for the year; because the GPI only computes the top 13 finishes for a player, it will be extremely difficult for Winter to add any more points to his total.
This issue potentially faces some of the other players at the top of the GPI ladder. Chidwick is in second place with his 3402.91 points, but he’ll have to find a tournament that gives enough GPI POY points to replace his lowest effort from the British Poker Open (155.21 points). Considering that he has to make up an 80-point deficit to Winter (and not have Winter improve any of his positions) in the limited time remaining, that might be a bit difficult, even for Chidwick.
Looking down the board, there is some room for movement from the players. In reality, however, it looks like it may be decided between the top five or six players on the GPI rankings to decide the POY.
1. Sean Winter, 3480.58 points
2. Stephen Chidwick, 3402.91
3. Rainer Kempe, 3402.80
4. Kahle Burns, 3333.63
5. Manig Loeser, 3327.95
6. Sam Greenwood, 3294.67
7. Anthony Zinno, 3277.14
8. Bryn Kenney, 3254.17
9. Shannon Shorr, 3251.53
10. Dario Sammartino, 3186.18
Kristen Bicknell Deserves Kudos…and Where’s Soverel on the GPI?
There are a few other interesting subplots to the different POY races.
Kristen Bicknell is making a move towards not only winning the Women’s Player of the Year race, she’s making serious inroads into finishing in the Top Ten on the GPI rankings also. Ranked #13 with 3120.95 points, Bicknell could very well end up in the Top Ten, something that hasn’t occurred since Vanessa Selbst was ranked in the Top Twenty over five years ago. Bicknell has already essentially locked up the Women’s POY – she has more than a 700-point lead over second place Maria Ho in her chase to repeat as the women’s champ – and getting on the overall POY would be a significant feather in Bicknell’s cap.
And where is Soverel on the GPI ratings? Soverel doesn’t even show on the GPI 2019 POY, simply because some of the High Roller events he’s played haven’t met the criteria for earning points on the GPI POY. CardPlayer’s criteria are a bit more lenient than the GPI, thus the reasoning for Soverel being rated higher on that board than on the GPI. The same holds true for another player, Paul Phua, who hasn’t won a tournament in 2019, but every cash he has made is in a High Roller event (thus his $10 million-plus in tournament earnings that lead the poker world, his eighth place ranking on the CardPlayer board and his #29 entry on the 2019 GPI POY).
It’s one of the things that should be examined in the POY races. The way that High Rollers have overwhelmed these races – basically disregarding the “tournament grinder” in favor of the “High Rollers” – makes it extremely difficult to determine who are the best players. While it provides grist for the mill, it doesn’t exactly give credence to either countdown being a legitimate entity.