As they say in horse racing, the wire is in sight. There are about five men battling it out for the right to call themselves the Player of the Year, but two of them right now are defending those positions. On one list, Jake Schindler is battling to hold onto his edge, while Alex Foxen is fending off several challengers on another.
Schindler Enjoys Solid CardPlayer POY Lead
Although he is enjoying a solid lead on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race, Schindler hasn’t been sitting back on his throne. In October, Schindler enjoyed two deep finishes in Aria High Roller tournaments, but he saved his best for another Aria event. In their $100,000 ARIA Fall Madness event, Schindler finished behind David Peters and Rick Salomon to tack another wad of points onto his total. Adding 558 points onto his total since September, Schindler now sits with 8647 points to lead the way.
There is only one other person who is over the 8000-point mark and he is the player who has had the POY lead at one point or another this year. Stephen Chidwick became the first British player to ever hold the #1 ranking in poker and he has been trying to fight back against Schindler. Over the past couple of months, Chidwick has been able to amass more points (662), but his total of 8045 points is only good enough for second place.
From this point on, it becomes a bit difficult for anyone to catch up. Justin Bonomo’s outstanding first half of the year hasn’t been sustainable (and Bonomo has said he has no interest in chasing the POY) but it is good enough to keep him in third place on the CardPlayer board with 7752 points. David Peters is arguably the hottest player on the planet right now, putting up 1909 points in the last two months, to land in the fourth place slot (7197). Rounding out the Top Five is the final person with a shot at the top – albeit a long one – in the form of Alex Foxen and his 6739 points.
The reason that nobody else has a shot? There aren’t that many events left in the year and, for those that are being played, they aren’t offering a huge amount of points. Although the World Poker Tour has stops in Hollywood, FL and the Bellagio and the European Poker Tour has a stop in Prague, Czech Republic, those tournaments are the last chance for a sizeable chunk of points (800-1200 points or more). Even if there are High Roller tournaments held, those only offer 360-600 points, dependent on the number of entries (which show how much the Aria High Roller series skews the rankings).
For the remainder of the CardPlayer Magazine Top Ten, they have to be thankful for being ranked. Adrian Mateos (6277 points), Rainer Kempe (5714), Jason Koon (5427), Steve O’Dwyer (5338) and Mikita Badziakouski (4926) are in the sixth through tenth place slots and a strong finish to 2018 will only move them up the ladder a bit, not to the lead.
Foxen in a Battle on the GPI POY
While Schindler might have some comfort level on the CardPlayer board, Foxen has a bit of a battle to keep his spot on top of the Global Poker Index Player of the Year mountain. Just when you thought he couldn’t find any more points from his finishes (the GPI rankings take the top 13 finishes by a player), Foxen picked up points at the World Series of Poker Europe in October and at the partypoker Caribbean Poker Party Main Event to replace some weaker finishes. Those two tournaments have pushed him up to 3836.72 points and the overall lead on the GPI POY.
Bonomo not only makes an appearance here on the GPI rankings, he’s prominently in the second place slot. With his 3763.02 points, all he would need to do is replace his worst point-scoring finish – that is currently his 190.41-point finish in a €50,000 tournament during the EPT Monte Carlo back in May – with one that gives him about 74 more points. While it might be highly difficult at this point in the season, there’s some chance it could happen.
It could also happen for Chidwick. At 3691.67 points, Chidwick needs less than a 150-point improvement to pass both Bonomo and Foxen for first. The other two members of the Top Five, Peters (3677.32) and Schindler (3625.15), are also in the hunt for the 2018 GPI POY award.
When you get below this point, finding the points necessary to climb becomes more difficult. O’Dwyer (3531.55), Mateos (3412.43), Shaun Deeb (3346.66), Benjamin Pollak (3313.33) and Ryan Riess (3284.31) hold the sixth through tenth places, respectively, and look to be too far back to make a difference.
Once the tournament poker world gets by the WPT Five Diamond at the Bellagio in mid-December, then the chances are almost nil for movement. There is, however, one event that bears watching. On December 17, there will be another $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl conducted, which should draw out all the players on the two Top Tens and players bubbling underneath that level. If history can be used, the winner of that tournament will get 600 points (what Bonomo earned in May for winning the same event) and MIGHT be able to make a late move to upend the current status quo in the POY races.