We’re down to the final six weeks of 2023 and the two Player of the Year races in tournament poker look to have come down to two men. Both men have been among the Top Five for most of the year if not the Top Two, so it isn’t a surprise that they are vying for the crown. What will be of interest is to see if anyone among the Top Ten can make a charge, especially with some major events on the horizon, and knock off our top two performers to make a late-year steal of the crown.

Bin Weng Leads ‘Nacho’ Barbero on CardPlayer POY

In the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race, Bin Weng has continued to hold down the top slot on the leaderboard. For most players, cashing 47 times in a year would be unheard of, but Weng has devastated the tournament poker world over the last twelve months. In that mix of cashes, Weng has taken down a World Poker Tour title, won the WPT’s EveryOne for One Drop, and made the final table of another WPT tournament. All those efforts have put Weng as the only player over 10,000 points on the CardPlayer leaderboard (10,180, to be exact), which would have crushed previous POY champions (defending champion Stephen Chidwick, for example, scored 6499 points on his way to winning in 2022).

With that said, Weng doesn’t have a lock on the CardPlayer title.

Right behind Weng has been a constant nemesis, Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero. Barbero doesn’t have the resume that Weng has, but he’s done well for himself with his 37 cashes through 2023. Two runner-up finishes in the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series – one in August in London, one in October in Monte Carlo – have booked Barbero over $5.6 million alone. He’s within shooting distance of Weng as we come to the close of 2023, holding 9492 points and only a tournament win away from passing Weng.

The other men in the Top Five are nipping at Barbero’s heels. Isaac Haxton (9467), Chris Brewer (9305), and Chidwick (8775) are contenders for the POY crown. They might need a bit more than just one win to take over the POY lead, however, as would anyone else who is in the Top Ten rankings.

With only six weeks remaining in the 2023 tournament poker season, here’s how the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race sizes up:

1. Bin Weng, 10,180 points
2. Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero, 9492
3. Isaac Haxton, 9467
4. Chris Brewer, 9305
5. Stephen Chidwick, 8775
6. Ren Lin, 8685
7. Danny Tang, 8108
8. Alex Foxen, 6973
9. Jason Koon, 6620
10. Jeremy Ausmus, 6112

Weng, Barbero Battle for GPI POY

The song remains the same on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race in that the top three men are all the same. The difference is that, because of the way that the GPI computes the points for their race, they are much closer together and a cash of any type might be enough to move someone up – or down – the leaderboard. It’s still better to be the Lead Dog, however, and Weng is that here also.

Weng has compiled 4485.16 points to this mark in 2023, but he’s beginning to run out of low-hanging fruit to bump off. With only thirteen performances counting towards the GPI POY, you must look at the “low end” of Weng’s performances. A cash that Weng earned at The Lodge’s High Roller event in Round Rock, TX, back in May (152.3 points) and a finish at the Potomac Poker Open Main Event in August (163.74 points) are the two low marks, which might be tough to beat for Weng unless it is a big score.

Surprisingly, it might be Barbero who is in a tougher spot here than Weng. Of Barbero’s thirteen finishes, all are between 210.22 and 556.72 points. That’s a huge number of points to have to top, especially with the number of tournaments, their size, and their player numbers being major components of the GPI computations.

Haxton faces a situation quite similar to Barbero. Haxton’s range goes between 232.15 and 583.57 points, meaning that Haxton would have to win one of the major events left on the schedule to even inch his points total upward. Therein lies the problem for Haxton – there aren’t that many events left that would give him that many points.

As the calendar says there are six weeks to the end of 2023, here’s the Top Ten on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year standings:

1. Bin Weng, 4485.16 points
2. Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero, 4387.82
3. Isaac Haxton, 4168.62
4. Danny Tang, 4047.65
5. Chris Brewer, 4013.23
6. Ren Lin, 3978.52
7. Stephen Chidwick, 3904.93
8. Jesse Lonis, 3695.39
9. Jason Koon, 3673.79
10. Daniel Dvoress, 3571.33

Some monster events are coming in the next six weeks that might affect both races. Of course, there’s the WPT World Championship at the Wynn in December, with its $40 million guaranteed Main Event, which is sure to draw a throng of players. There is also the World Series of Poker trying to carve into that game with their trek to The Bahamas for the WSOP Paradise. For the Europeans who don’t want to have to jump on a plane for their poker fix, the European Poker Tour’s highly popular stop in Prague’s Hilton Hotel should be just the answer. Additionally (even though it might not qualify for the POY races) the PokerGO Tour has a slate of tournaments, wrapping up with their PGT Championship at the end of the year (limited field size might disqualify it). It’s going to be a fun battle as poker’s hottest players try to work out who will walk off with the major Player of the Year races for 2023.

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