What the POY award lacks in history, it makes up by providing a quasi-objective way of declaring a winner. Poker is notorious for not having any real means of keeping score, so the POY gives those following (and participating in) the game some sort of framework by which they can judge who is truly the best player at the Vanessa Selbst 163 1 3 $350,391 David Singer 160 1 4 $340,363 Jacobo Fernandez-Hernandez 157 0 4 $425,762 Farzad Rouhani 140 1 3 $265,443 Andy Bloch 135 0 3 $585,620 Scott Seiver 130 1 3 $781,886 Theo Tran 125 0 4 $550,168
It's easy to see that the POY race is wide open; as others have suggested, this is indeed the Year of the Pro. The higher number of high-buy-in events, with their attendant smaller fields, is leading to more final tables and deep in-the-money cashes for players like Team PokerStars pro Greenstein and PokerStars's Lindgren. However, they're not out of the woods yet; anyone in the Top 10 could take over the top spot with a bracelet win in any open event, worth 100 POY points.
Imagine if Andy Bloch got things to fall his way and won a bracelet instead of finishing in second, or if one of the chip leads Theo Tran so consistently builds can hold up and propel him to a win. Either of those situations, both well within the realm of possibility, would make the winner in question the leader of the POY race.
Fans, fellow professionals, and the folks running the WSOP should all be rejoicing that we actually have a tight POY race that's likely to stay competitive right to the end. Even if this year's WSOP doesn't produce a two-bracelet winner à la Jeff Madsen, Bill Chen, Tom Schneider, Mark Seif or Scott Fischman, a couple of final-table finishes by any of the top players has the ability to alter the standings. In other words, nobody who really wants the title can afford to slip up because there's always someone else waiting to take advantage.
While poker tours are popping up all around the world, there's no denying that the mix of history and hard cash on the line make the WSOP the king of tournaments. Because of that, a competitive race here in Las Vegas is great way for poker to elevate itself to a status more in line with professional sports.
What's really encouraging is that the changes that Harrah's has made to the WSOP as a whole, such as improving the structures and adding more game variety to the schedule, are really what's responsible for the competition at the top of the leaderboard.
More established, solid tournament professionals are making final tables as a result of these changes. That means it's going to be very important for Harrah's not to fix what isn't broken. Continuing to add more Omaha, Stud, and Lowball events, as well as keeping the improved structures in place rather than changing them, will be the keys to preserving all this competition.
For now, since neither the Main Event nor the $50k H.O.R.S.E. event awards points, we have another two weeks to watch this year's POY race evolve and finish itself out. Right now Greenstein and Lindgren have the lead, but anything can happen given the number of preliminary events remaining on the schedule. Anyone who loves poker, and in particular the WSOP, should have a great time seeing how the situation shakes out.