Heading into the final quarter of the 2018 calendar year, what once looked like a runaway has actually turned into a battle. In the first half of the year, Justin Bonomo looked like he would run off and hide from the rest of the poker world with his performance at the Super High Roller Bowl and the “Big One for One Drop.” As October begins, however, it is two different men – Jake Schindler and Stephen Chidwick – who have the inside rail in the major Player of the Year races.
Schindler Eclipses Chidwick, Bonomo on CardPlayer POY
On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race, Jake Schindler has used a rush during the “dog days” of August and September to take command of the contest. After winning the $25,000 High Roller tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Hollywood, FL, in August, Schindler came into the 2018 Poker Masters on a hot streak. During that High Roller series, Schindler racked up three more final table finishes to bring his total to 26. Along with his five victories for the year, Schindler has earned over $6.6 million in 2018 and has 8089 points on the CardPlayer rankings.
Chidwick hasn’t been resting after the 2018 World Series of Poker, either. After seizing the lead from Bonomo in August, Chidwick has added on to his point total with final table finishes at the Hard Rock (the $10,000 tournament that made up the “Big Four”) and at the European Poker Tour stop in Barcelona (a Turbo event). While these points weren’t enough to keep him in the lead over the onrushing Schindler, Chidwick has accumulated 7383 points to keep second place on the CardPlayer POY (not to mention his $7.7 million-plus in earnings).
While both Schindler and Chidwick have been active in the late summer, Bonomo hasn’t. After winning the “Big One for One Drop,” Bonomo took a long hiatus from the tournament circuit. He did come back for the Poker Masters, making one final table, but he has also said that he has no interest in chasing the POY championship. Nevertheless, Bonomo is in the mix with his 7053 points (320 points behind Chidwick) that put him in third place and will more than likely be atop the standings for wins (10 for this year) and earnings ($24,952,941) for 2018.
After these three players, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to make a run to the top. Spain’s Adrian Mateos is in fourth place currently with 5867 points, but he is going to need 1200 points (a major tournament victory) to simply catch Bonomo. The story is the same for the remainder of the Top Ten, including Jason Koon (5307), David Peters (5288), Rainer Kempe (4797), Alex Foxen (4764), Benjamin Yu (4461) and Shaun Deeb (4270) in fifth through tenth places, respectively. They’ve done well enough to be on the Top Ten, but they aren’t going to get much further short of a sizzling tournament run over several events.
Chidwick Edges Bonomo, Schindler on GPI POY
The picture on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race is a bit different than the CardPlayer rankings. Chidwick is the top dog here, with 3691.67 points built up for the year. Bonomo is nipping at his heels with 3660.28 points, while Schindler’s 3625.15 points gives him the third spot on the podium. Even Peters (3561.52) and Mateos (3364.20), who round out the Top Five, can say that they’ve had excellent years.
The problem is that there is very little room for movement among these players. Using the GPI formula, players can only use their top 13 finishes to make up their yearly totals. In virtually every case for the players in the Top Ten, however, the players have maxed out their potential points. With few tournaments on the remainder of the yearly schedule that have a huge point value, the potential for players to move up is minimal, if it exists at all.
The remainder of the Top Ten do have that chance, even though it is a slim one. Alex Foxen (3263.6 points), Deeb (3230.72), Koon (3191.17), Yu (3191.07) and Christopher Soyza (3147.81), holding down the sixth through tenth spots on the GPI ladder, might be able to pick up some points, but they would have to win major events and replace lower point-earning tournaments on their resume; once again, whether there’s enough major tournaments to do this is the question.
WSOP Europe…and Then?
The World Series of Poker Europe begins next week, with its 10-event schedule offering a chance for the world’s best poker players to come together. After that, however, there are slim pickings for major tournament poker events. The EPT will not hold an event until December (the EPT Prague) and the World Poker Tour only has four events on its Main Tour schedule – in Jacksonville, FL, Montreal, Hollywood, FL and the Bellagio in Las Vegas – before the end of 2018, meaning that there aren’t many “big” tournaments left on the calendar. Barring a huge move from someone, we may have only three players – Bonomo, Chidwick and Schindler, in alphabetical order – who are the real contenders for Player of the Year.