'The Master' surges to PokerListings POY lead


Demonstrating one of the best two-month runs of tournament poker in recent memory, poker professional Men "The Master" Nguyen has taken over the top spot on the PokerListings.com Player of the Year race. PokerListings has also tweaked its POY rating system to reduce the frequency of tied players.

To break potential ties, PokerListings will now take into account the number of final-table appearances (FTA). If the tied players have the same number of final tables, then the money won (2008 earnings) will come into play to break that tie.

Nguyen, the veteran pro from Bell Gardens, Calif., has already amassed major points for paying cashes in 2008, with six final tables and an astounding four victories.

Nguyen has been playing almost every event so far in 2008 and this is what has driven him to the top of the POY mountain. While most professional players only focus on the larger buy-in tournaments, Nguyen has been playing buy-ins as low as $300.

Among those final-table finishes and outright victories, the Master has had a stunning string of successes at the L.A. Poker Classic now under way, where he has taken down three "Bucking Bronco" trophies.

Two of his bigger scores, however, have come in larger-buy-in tournaments: the Vanessa Selbst, the World Poker Tour Ladies champion at the LAPC.

Nguyen's efforts, however, have come in two open events while Selbst has only been able to add 27 points to her WPTL victory. Jennifer Golin, whose early-season success had her in the Ladies POY lead for a bit, has now dropped to third place.

Two players have earned their way into the Ladies Top 10 with excellent finishes in a couple of far-flung locales. Spain's Marga Gonzales Dominguez was the champion of the first stop of the Campeonato de España in Peralada, Spain, and the victory earned her enough points to make her tied with several players for fourth place.

Joining her as a new entry into the Top 10 is Melanie Banfield, whose fourth-place finish at the 2008 South African Poker Open earned her enough points to bump Erica Schoenberg out of the 10th-place spot. The Ladies Top 10 looks like this:

Diane Nguyen
Vanessa Selbst
Jennifer Golin
Regette Bechara
 Maria Gonzales Dominguez
 GiGi Dong
 Christy King
 Irina Liepina
 Louise Rocchio
Melanie Banfield

Over the next couple of weeks, the tournament schedule kicks into high gear. Along with the continuing preliminary play at the LAPC, including its WPT Championship Event and the WPT Invitational, and the Venetian Deep Stack tournaments, the EPT returns to action in Copenhagen and the WSOPC also has its next stop on the schedule in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Both the main and the Ladies POY tallies will definitely be subject to change, so check back at the beginning of March to see how the PokerListings Player of the Year races are stacking up.

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