Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth is having a tremendous 2021 World Series of Poker. With a record 16th gold bracelet and multiple final tables, he is having a WSOP that few can match. But despite this, he went on record Monday with his dissatisfaction of the WSOP Player of the Year rankings and specifically the formula that goes into them.

Hellmuth currently ranks third in Player of the Year standings with 2,598.59 points. Ahead of him are Anthony Zinno with 2,627.88 and Jack Schwartz with 2,614.45. Shaun Deeb is in fourth, just behind Hellmuth at 2,518.89.

In a tweet, Hellmuth asked if the WSOP POY was “losing its luster,” complaining that not enough weight is given to final tables and bracelets. Hellmuth specifically has issues with Deeb being close in points to both himself and Schwartz. Deeb has two final tables, including one bracelet win, while Schwartz and Hellmuth have both made five final tables (and Hellmuth has won a bracelet).

He continued, writing, “Who cares about 10th- and 14th- and 300th place?!? Who wrote @WSOP POY 2021 rules? It’s not right. POY isn’t about cashes!”

Though he is the all-time bracelet leader by a mile, Phil Hellmuth has never won the WSOP Player of the Year title, finishing second three times, in 2006, 2011, and 2012. He looked like he was easily going win the crown in 2012, but Greg Merson leapfrogged him by winning the $10,000 Main Event.

Hellmuth’s gripe is not completely invalid; there is really no wrong way to determine the Player of the Year. It just depends on what you value more: quality or quantity.

Shaun Deeb responded, saying that the Player of the Year should “be about the overall grind” and that rewarding cashes is a great way to get top players to play as much as possible, which in turn can draw more casual players. After all, poker is one sport (or game, whichever you prefer) where every day schlubs like you and me (ok, just me) can compete – and even beat – the best in the world.

Daniel Zack, who ranks 12th at the moment, had an idea, a sort of compromise between rewarding the sheer grind versus deep runs. He replied to Hellmuth, saying, “Best ‘x’ number of finishes is the best solution to this. Just take the top 10 or so results for each player.”

Hellmuth thought it was a good idea and his “frenemy” Daniel Negreanu also liked it, adding, “This idea isn’t new. I’ve been clamoring for it for years. Top 12 finishes count. The rest discarded.”

And it isn’t new. The Global Poker Index uses a version of it. In its Player of the Year rankings, among other weighting factors, the GPI counts just a player’s best 13 scores from the calendar year.

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