With only one week until the start of the World Series of Poker’s $10,000 Championship Event, Ray Henson has been able to pull out to a slight lead in the race for the WSOP Player of the Year award. Who is in second place at this mark in the tournament schedule will surprise – and perhaps madden – many in the poker community.
Henson has been quite busy during the run of the 2017 WSOP. He has cashed in nine tournaments so far but hasn’t won any of them. Henson’s best finishes have come in two events, Event #24 (the $1500 Limit Hold’em tournament) and Event #46 (the $1500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better event). Over the span of the nine cashes Henson has earned, he has been able to accrue 614.87 points to lead the pack.
The person who is in second has had a very good WSOP, much to many people’s chagrin. Playing in an official tournament schedule for the first time in 2017 – and for the first time since the 2016 schedule of the WSOP – Chris Ferguson is on pace to breaking the record for most cashes in a singular WSOP. The former World Champion and front man of Full Tilt Poker has cashed in a dozen events during the 2017 WSOP, with his fourth-place finish in Event #51 (the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better World Championship) the highlight of his run at the WSOP this year. Those twelve cashes have earned Ferguson 599.50 points, good for second place on the POY ladder, and another cash would break the cashes record and put Ferguson in first.
You must drop down to the third-place slot to find someone who has won a WSOP bracelet during the 2017 schedule. John Racener has been able to rack up eleven cashes to this mark in the WSOP, but he celebrated big when he won one of the tournaments. Event #17, the $10,000 Six-Handed Dealer’s Choice World Championship, was one of the most hotly contested events on the early part of the WSOP schedule and Racener came out on top over such competitors as Viacheslav Zhukov, Chris Klodnicki and Mike Matusow. Along with that WSOP bracelet (his first), Racener claims the third-place slot on the POY countdown with 580.05 points.
It is arguable that the fourth-place contestant, James Obst, is having the best of it so far at the 2017 WSOP. He has made three final tables (barely missed a fourth in the Six-Handed Dealer’s Choice), won one of those tournaments (Event #26, the $10,000 Razz World Championship) and finished second in another (Event #7, the $2500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball). With seven cashes to this point, Obst has also garnered 555.58 points towards the WSOP POY race.
Rounding out the Top Five is another player who has yet to win a bracelet (at least at this year’s event), but has been cashing repeatedly. Mike Leah only has one final table on this year’s WSOP resume (Event #22, $10,000 No Limit Deuce-to-Seven Lowball Draw World Championship), but the eleven cashes he’s totaled have him in the POY race. Currently the fifth-place contender, Leah has 542.99 points.
The remainder of the Top Ten also have weighed heavily towards those that haven’t won tournaments at this year’s WSOP but have been serial cashers. Of the five men that round out the list, only one of them – John Monnette (seventh place, 511.3 points) – are the proud owner of a 2017 WSOP bracelet. The others – Ryan Hughes (sixth place, 530.13 points), Daniel Negreanu (488.91, eighth), Aditya Agarwal (486.53, ninth), and Dario Sammartino (482.74, tenth) – have overall done well at the WSOP this year, but don’t have the hardware you might expect for such performance. Furthermore, the only double bracelet winner at this year’s WSOP, David Bach, is nowhere near the Top Ten in the WSOP POY race – he is currently 20th place in the rankings with 409.24 points, a far cry from even being in contention for the prestigious honor.
There’s still plenty of time for this list to be completely erased and redone. There are 21 tournaments left on the schedule for the 2017 WSOP, including the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship, the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo “High Rollers” World Championship, the $10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championship, and the $10,000 Championship Event. It seems, however, that the smaller events – the $1500 and $2500 tournaments – that have tipped the scales because of their larger fields. Which of these men – or someone else – emerges as the eventual WSOP Player of the Year is still up for grabs.
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