It is one of the “shadow competitions” that the poker world seemingly does not pay attention to. We’re not talking about the bracelet bets that go on or the other props that are running around Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas. We are talking about the race for the 2022 World Series of Poker Player of the Year, which will be awarded once again at the close of this year’s schedule. Currently the leader in the competition is noted high stakes pro Jake Schindler, who has been battling through accusations on his character for over a month now (and who did not sit for a post-WSOP bracelet win interview).
More Emphasis Placed on Winning Over Cashing
In the past, the WSOP Player of the Year race has been criticized for giving more credence to those players who were serial cashers than those who won events. When he won the POY in 2017, Chris Ferguson’s efforts were roundly derided (for other reasons too) because he did not win often enough (only once), but he cashed 23 times. That was enough to push him into the title.
Last year, Phil Hellmuth made much the same claim against defending champion Josh Arieh. Hellmuth was a bit off base, however, because Arieh did win twice on the 2021 WSOP schedule and had seven final tables in the mix. The WSOP has heard these complaints, however, and tried to produce a computation that would give heavier credit to winning bracelets rather than just making the money.
To make winning the tournament more prestigious, the winner now earns twice the points towards the POY that the second-place finisher takes. For example, Event #2’s High Roller Bounty event had 46 players and David Peters took 1138 2022 WSOP POY points for winning. The second-place player, Chance Kornuth, picked up 569 points for his efforts. Alas, there is not much that can be done for the price differential; Henry Acain’s win in ‘The Housewarming’ only netted him 1297 points, but he is at least in the mix with the “high rollers.”
Schindler’s Lead Not Dominant in Early Action
Schindler’s lead in the 2022 WSOP POY comes from his performance in two tournaments to this mark in the 2022 WSOP. His runner-up finish in the $25,000 Eight Handed No Limit High Roller tournament, along with his bracelet win in the $50,000 version of the same event, have earned Schindler 1842.34 points. That is not a dominant lead at all, especially with five more weeks left in the 2022 WSOP.
Right behind Schindler on the countdown is Peters, who has added two other High Roller finish along with his Event #2 bracelet to come up with 1680.08 points. Daniel Zack’s victory at the $10,000 Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better Championship (technically not a “high roller,” but a Championship Event on the schedule) drives a majority of his total of 1339.38 points.
It is at this point the 2022 WSOP POY race starts tightening up a bit. Brad Ruben, the champion of the $1500 Six Handed Dealer’s Choice tournament, has added in two more finishes (also in $1500 tournaments) to push his total just short of Zack at 1319.27. The aforementioned Acain settles in fifth place with his only cash of the 2022 WSOP in ‘The Housewarming’ to his record – that earned him 1305.42 points.
Here is the remainder of the Top Ten, including these gentlemen:
1. Jake Schindler, 1842.34 points
2. David Peters, 1680.08
3. Daniel Zack, 1339.38
4. Brad Ruben, 1319.27
5. Henry Acain, 1305.42
6. Dario Sammartino, 1304.87
7. Dan Smith, 1296.59
8. Chad Eveslage, 1249.20
9. Chance Kornuth, 1235.04
10. Alex Livingston, 1225.76
The thing about this list? In a couple more weeks, it could very well feature ten new names. It is not out of the question for someone to put together a string of strong finishes, or even win a couple of bracelets, to quickly surpass the men listed here. The eventual victor in the 2022 WSOP POY race will receive a buy-in to the 2023 World Series of Poker Championship Event, a dedicated WSOP Player of the Year trophy, and their banner will be displayed during the 2023 WSOP at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas, so there is certainly something worth fighting for between the competitors.