Player of the Year Wars Heating Up After Conclusion of WSOP
22 July 2018
PokerBrave (921 articles)

With the 78 tournaments that made up the 2018 World Series of Poker, it had to be expected that there would be some major shifts atop the different Player of the Year races. And while many may think that the run by Justin Bonomo – winning before the start of the WSOP the Super High Roller Bowl and closing off the WSOP by winning the “Big One for One Drop” – has him a prohibitive favorite to take these titles, the reality is he’s still in a fight if he wants to take either POY award.

Chidwick over Bonomo for CardPlayer POY

On the CardPlayer Player of the Year race, it isn’t Bonomo who has worked his way to the top. That spot goes to the United Kingdom’s Stephen Chidwick, who made his way to the head of the pack through the High Roller route. After making the final table of the Super High Roller Bowl, Chidwick added two more cashes at the WSOP in the $100,000 No Limit Hold’em event on June 4 and a $5000 Big Blind Ante tournament. Chidwick then basically eschewed the WSOP, heading over to Aria and its Summer High Roller Series.

Chidwick basically took up residence at Aria for the rest of June, winning two events (one $10K, one $25K) and finishing at the final table of two more. Two of those tournaments earned him points towards the CardPlayer POY, but it was his fourth-place finish at the Venetian in their $2 million guaranteed $5000 buy in tournament that garnered him big points (840). Put it all together and Chidwick has the CardPlayer POY lead with his 6986 points.

As good as Chidwick has been, Bonomo’s year has been better. With only seven months down in 2018, Bonomo has won ten titles and earned over $24.8 million. The “Big One” was a big part of that chunk of change ($10 million), but he didn’t get as many points towards the POY (360) because the field was only 27 entries. If the field had been a few players larger – in fact, if it had met its 48-player field limit – Bonomo might have tacked some more points onto his 6883 total and passed Chidwick.

More “High Roller” regulars fill out the Top Five. Jake Schindler, Adrian Mateos and Rainer Kempe fill out the third through fifth slots, but they have a long way to go if they are to reach the top two players. Schindler (4978 points), Mateos (4731) and Kempe (4357) have a good fight going amongst themselves, though. Rounding out the remainder of the Top Ten on the Cardplayer rankings are Jason Koon (4332 points), Nick Petrangelo (4174), Joseph McKeehen (3909), Toby Lewis (3780) and Pavel Plesuv (3716).

…and Bonomo over Chidwick for GPI POY

One POY leaderboard that Bonomo gets to lay claim to is the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race. With his success to this point in 2018, Bonomo has racked up 3660.28 points. That’s enough to get by Chidwick (3494.34 points) for the pole position, but the competition is much closer on this list – and has more opportunity for improvement.

Mateos is the player to take Slot #3 on the GPI POY, with 3096.99 points. McKeehen gets a great deal of love from the GPI and takes the fourth position with his 3086.82 points, while Schindler rounds out the Top Five with 3036.82 points.

It is in the bottom of the Top Ten where some stories are breaking out. While Benjamin Yu (2934.5 points, sixth), Kempe (2923.53 points, seventh), Shaun Deeb (2886.93 points, eighth) and Sam Greenwood (2717.55 points, tenth) are all having great years, there is a surprise in the #9 slot. It has been some time since a female player has finished in the Top Ten of ANY Player of the Year race but, with July easing its way out the door, Kristen Bicknell currently holds the ninth slot on the GPI POY with 2725.14 points. Currently that would best her personal best of #49 in 2017 and, for the first time, have a woman in the Top Ten on the GPI Player of the Year rankings at year’s end.

But there’s a long time before we can start talking about the “end of the year.” Although poker players are taking a bit of a break after the completion of the WSOP, the tournament circuit winds back into action at the start of August. The World Poker Tour kicks back into its Season XVII schedule with the WPT Choctaw in Oklahoma on August 3, while the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open – and its “Big Four” tournament extravaganza – opens for business on August 2. Add in the remainder of the WPT, the European Poker Tour and the WSOP Europe in October, it is going to be difficult for anyone currently in the Top Ten to maintain their place by the time the final cards are dealt in December.