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Top 6 Live Poker Tournament Players of 2014
Every year there are more and more poker tournaments around the globe and a longer and longer list of winners.
But there are always a few players that manage to poke their heads above the crowd and stand out for their outstanding, sustained performances.
Money won is obviously an important factor to determine a player’s success for any one year, but it's not the only one.
These are the players - outside of WSOP Main Event champ Martin Jacobson, of course -- that impressed the most in 2014.
# 6 – Davidi Kitai, Belgium
18 tournament cashes; $2,390,755 in prize money
Kitai is one of the few players to own a live poker Triple Crown. He’s won three WSOP bracelets, a WPT event and an EPT title in Berlin in 2012.
It doesn’t look like he's slowing down at all, though, as 2014 is now the most successful year of his career. Eighteen tournament cashes and almost $2.5 million show that Kitai has been able to go deep over and over again.
His top moment of the year certainly was his third career bracelet at the WSOP. Kitai prevailed in a NLHE 6-max event to highlight an almost perfect year.
He went on to reach several other final tables after the summer and he managed to get himself a regular spot in the GPI top ten.
At EPT Prague in December he almost did it again in the main event when he finished 10th out of 1,107.
# 5 – Dan Smith, USA
14 tournament cashes; $3,186,314 in prize money
Having had an off year in 2013 Smith got back to his successful poker of 2012. He climbed to the very top of the GPI and managed to find some first-class results.
His biggest win of the year came in June when he outlasted the field at the $100,000 NLHE Super High Roller at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
He won over $2m there and went on to win three tournaments overall in 2014.
Also memorable was his performance in the main event. Smith went very deep and even led the chip counts on one of the later days in the tournament.
In the end Smith finished in 20th place with only three table left in play. He cashed for $289,000, but it could have been so much more.
# 4 - Mike Leah, Canada
23 tournament cashes; $2,118,328 in prize money
It started with a $5,000 side event win at the PCA in January and it just didn't stop.
Canada's Mike Leah, aka goleafsgoeh, won or went deep in seemingly every tournament he played in 2014, big or small.
His two biggest moments were his first bracelet in the $25k High Roller at WSOP APAC and his runner-up finish in the $5,300 SHRPO main event for $1m, but deep runs dot his whole year.
Back-to-back WSOP Circuit rings also were a nice touch. A long-time grinder both live and online, this is the year it all came together for Leah and cemented his place as one of the game's best.
# 3 – Ole Schemion, Germany
18 tournament cashes, $2,885,451 in prize money
For the last two years Schemion has had so many tournament successes it's almost impossible to keep track.
After a couple of smaller wins it all went off in late 2012 when Schemion won the Partouche Poker Tour and the Master Classics in Amsterdam in short succession.
Since then Schemion has produced major results almost by the month. He won the GPI’s overall ranking title in 2013 and did it again in 2014. A truly unique feat.
Two results in 2014 stand out: His wins at the $100,000 NLHE Super High Roller Event at Aria in Las Vegas right after the WSOP and the High Roller at EPT San Remo.
Pretty much the only title missing on his CV is a WSOP bracelet, but then before this year Schemion was too young to even be allowed to enter a casino in the US.
You have to have some goals left when you’re 22, right?
# 2 – George Danzer, Germany
14 tournament cashes, $988,870 in prize money
We're so used to seeing his face on the circuit and online that it's hard to believe when Danzer won a €1100 turbo bounty side event in Monte Carlo it was actually his first live event win ever.
It’s true, though, and since then there’s been no stopping for him.
At the WSOP last summer he fulfilled a long-standing dream and won a bracelet in Event 18, $10k Razz. He repeated this achievement just 11 days later in the Stud Hi-Lo Championship.
Suddenly he was one of the major contentenders for winning the WSOP Player of the Year title.
The race for this title turned out to be a close one between him and Brandon Shack-Harris and it took both players a trip around the globe to Australia to battle it out.
At the WSOP Asia-Pacific Danzer won another bracelet and managed to put some distance in the POY ranking between him and Shack-Harris.
Danzer won the title WSOP Player of the Year, three bracelets,and he made the money 10 times at the WSOP. It certainly was a great year of tournament poker any way you look at it.
# 1 – Dan Colman, USA
11 tournament cashes; $22,389,481 in prize money
Although he’s been active and successful for several years live and online, only a few "experts" knew who Dan Colman was at the start of 2014.
Twelve months later, everybody knows who the most successful player of 2014 is.
He jumped to the big stage when he won the $100,000 Super High Roller at EPT Monte Carlo. The victory over his mentor Olivier Busquet was worth over $2m and was enough to buy him into the biggest buy-in tournament of all.
Forty-one players came up with the $1m buy-in for the BIG ONE for ONE DROP. Colman made headlines for his brilliant play at the final table, which earned him (and his backers) $15m, but also for his response to winning the title.
He hardly spoke to the press and triggered a long and controversial discussion within and outside the poker community.
If those two wins weren't enough to put Colman in the #1 spot for 2014 he also finished second in the Super High Roller at EPT Barcelona and won the main event of the Seminole Hardrock Poker Open and WPT Alpha8 London.
With more than $22m in prize money in just eight months, Colman is without a doubt the tournament poker Player of the Year for 2014.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Massey, Ami Barer, Mukul Pahuja, Darren Elias, Pratyush Buddiga