With Late Bracelet, Shaun Deeb Takes Over WSOP Player of the Year Lead
21 July 2018
PokerBrave (921 articles)

While most of the attention of the railbirds and the ESPN viewership was focusing on the World Series of Poker $10,000 Championship Event last week, an important thing was going on. As the WSOP wrapped up (at least for its Las Vegas leg), Shaun Deeb and a couple of other players were able to pass John Hennigan in the race for the WSOP Player of the Year Award.

Quiet Fourth Bracelets for Deeb and Cada

Deeb’s fourth bracelet – and his second of the 2018 WSOP – turned out to be the one that catapulted him into the race for the POY. In Event #74, the $10,000 Big Blind Ante No Limit Hold’em event, Deeb was able to outlast Paul Volpe (who was also looking for his second bracelet of the 2018 WSOP) to take down his fourth bracelet and a $814,179 prize. Along with his victory in Event #42, the $25,000 Eight Handed Pot Limit Omaha High Roller, and 14 other cashes, Deeb accumulated 4334.06 points to take a sizeable lead in the POY race.

How sizeable? Ben Yu, who had three final table finishes of fourth, third and second along with 11 other finishes, finally won a bracelet in 2018, but it wasn’t enough to get him over the top. His victory came in Event #77, the $50,000 Big Bling Ante No Limit Hold’em High Roller, netting him a shiny new WSOP bracelet (his third) and a $1,650,773 payday. He still has work to do if he is interested in the WSOP POY award, though, as his 3746.04 points is a far cry from Deeb.

These guys did well while the WSOP Championship Event was going on, but the story of Joe Cada was utterly amazing. After being eliminated in fifth place in the Championship Event, Cada didn’t rest on his laurels (or the $2.15 million he earned). Cada immediately jumped into “The Closer” and just proceeded to go through the 3120 entries to earn his fourth WSOP bracelet. Although it wasn’t the bracelet the 2009 World Champion had been hoping for, the points from those two events pushed him into third in the WSOP POY race with 3531.86 points.

John Hennigan had been the story up to the start of the Championship Event and the exploits of these men passing him didn’t dampen the glory. The 2018 Poker Hall of Fame inductee ended up the Vegas leg of the WSOP with 3499.91 points. That total puts him within striking distance of Cada and Yu, but catching Deeb might be tough.

Rounding out the Top Ten of the 2018 WSOP Player of the Year race are Scott Bohlman (3155.88 points, fifth place), Volpe (2859.76, sixth), Eric Baldwin (2516.3, seventh), Justin Liberto (2459.84, eighth), Mike Leah (2354.13, ninth) and Anthony Zinno (2330.37, tenth).

Who Will Win the POY?

With the ten events on the 2018 World Series of Poker Europe schedule, there are still opportunities for players to get into the race. In reality, however, the likelihood of someone coming from outside the top 10 or 20 players is slim to none and slim is heading to the door. The simple math of the 10 events on the WSOP-E schedule – and the fact that the European events get nowhere near the same numbers that the Vegas WSOP events do – means that you’re probably going to get a POY winner from the Top Ten players.

From the Top Ten players, who is going to be heading to Rozvodov, Czech Republic, and the King’s Casino come October? Deeb hasn’t cashed in an international event since 2016 and Yu hasn’t earned a tournament cash outside the U. S. since 2014. Cada has NEVER cashed outside of the U. S. or the Bahamas (he has two cashes at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on his resume), while Hennigan doesn’t NEED to go outside the U. S. to play poker anymore – his pursuit of such things as the WSOP POY might not be what drive him.

Under the top four? Bohlman has never cashed outside of Las Vegas, Chicago (Hammond) or Los Angeles (OK, ONE PCA cash). Volpe might seem to be the most likely player to take part in the festivities in the Czech Republic, but even he hasn’t cashed in a foreign event since 2014. Of Baldwin, Liberto, Leah and Zinno, Leah and Zinno are logical choices to play at the King’s Casino, but they are far enough back that Deeb might not have to worry about them.

As they say, however, that’s why they play the game. When the cards hit the air in October in Rozvadov, you can be sure that there will be several of these contenders in the mix. Whether they can catch Deeb or not – or whether Deeb can put it away and raise his own Player of the Year banner next spring in Las Vegas – is a story left to be told.