Twelve months…literally hundreds if not thousands of tournaments annotated, counted and compiled…so what do we find as we reach the end of 2018 regarding the Poker Player of the Year? It’s a split decision with plenty of players who can claim to be one of the Top Ten in the world and two who can lay claim to POY honors.
CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year – Jake Schindler
On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard, Jake Schindler enjoyed the lead through much of the final quarter of the year. He had built up a decent 600-point lead over Stephen Chidwick as December closed out the calendar. While Chidwick would make a charge to try to overtake Schindler, Schindler turned out to be up for the challenge.
The Bellagio was the playground for Schindler in December, where he took on two of the bigger tournaments on the World Poker Tour stage. In the $25,000 event held during the run of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Schindler took down a third-place finish for a very important 280 points. But Schindler wasn’t done yet; he would enter the $100,000 Super High Roller on the very same WPT schedule and win that tournament, earning $1.332 million and 480 more POY points. It was enough to push him to the overall POY for the year on the CardPlayer rankings, putting together a stellar season of over $8.7 million in earnings, six titles, 31 final tables and 9407 points.
The points that Schindler earned at the Bellagio were important because, without them, Chidwick is your 2018 CardPlayer POY. Chidwick also made the trek to the Bellagio for the Five Diamond, finishing in second place in a $5000 preliminary event that earned him 480 points. As Christmas approached, Chidwick did what many of the high stakes pros did and entered the Super High Roller Bowl V (moved to December permanently from May). Chidwick battled his way to a third-place finish in that tournament, earning $1.512 million for his work and picked up 320 POY points. Those two tournaments gave Chidwick over $9.9 million in earnings for the year, five titles, 26 final tables and 8845 points…good for second behind Schindler.
These two men were the contenders for the CardPlayer POY, but that didn’t mean Alex Foxen didn’t want to take a run at the top. Foxen came from fifth to finish in third in the final POY, raking up 8259 points courtesy of his runner up finish in the SHRB V and at the Bellagio. David Peters held his fourth-place spot with his 8059 points and Justin Bonomo rounded out the top five with 7752 points. Going on down the Top Ten, you will find Adrian Mateos (6477 points), Rainer Kempe (5924), Jason Koon (5827), Steve O’Dwyer (5688) and Pavel Plesuv (5626) in sixth through tenth places, respectively.
Global Poker Index Player of the Year – Alex Foxen
While Foxen’s late-season charge fell short on the CardPlayer board, it only solidified his place on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year rankings. Because of the different methodology in the GPI rankings – each player’s best 13 finishes are totaled instead of an accumulated number of points – Foxen earned the title because of better quality finishes. He was the only player who eclipsed the 4000 mark in points (4095.52) and every finish he had in December at the Bellagio and the SHRB V counted towards his 13 finishes.
Chidwick would also come up a touch short on the GPI rankings for 2018. His December work did, however, push him from third place into the runner up slot with 3787.26 points. Peters also moved up the leaderboard in December, going from fourth to third with his 3776.97 points. The odd man out moving down? Bonomo, who entered December in second, didn’t earn any points during the month and STILL was able to finish in fourth place with his 3763.02 points.
The CardPlayer champion, Schindler, didn’t make the most of his finishes in the GPI computers, only racking up 3716.07 points for fifth place on the rankings. O’Dwyer (3596.30,sixth) got a bit more love from the GPI, as did Plesuv (3503.07, seventh). Our last repeat name comes in eighth place, Mateos, who would earn 3412.43 points for the year.
Here’s where the GPI and CardPlayer deviate. Christopher Soyza (3389.65, ninth) and Joe McKeehen (3381.56, tenth) weren’t even in the running on the CardPlayer board. According to CardPlayer, Soyza was the 17th best player in the world, while McKeehen received even less acknowledgement by finishing in 21st place (in comparison, the players they supplanted from the CardPlayer board – Koon and Kempe – finished in 16th and 18th places on the GPI). While these differences are good for making arguments between poker fans, which is the real statement about talent?
Wipe the Board Clean!
As Father Time prepares to hand the scepter over to the Baby New Year, poker will do the same in wiping the board clean. The 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will be starting in mere days, with their contenders taking the first POY points for 2019. And, come 365 days from now, we will be discussing what? Another split decision on the POY polls? Or will there be one dominant player emerge? As they say, that is why they play the games…