A Brief Look at Some 2019 Players of the Year

These last couple weeks of the year are always among the slowest in poker and thus difficult for someone whose task it is to write about the game. My wife suggested that I do a “year in review” piece, but I told her those are boring to me. I’m also lazy and don’t want to go back and read about everything that happened to figure out how to put an article together. What I’ll do right now, though, is take a quick look back and run down who claimed the Player of the Tear titles in some of the various races throughout 2019.

Global Poker Index

All hail Alex Foxen, who became the first player to win any sort of major Player of the Year title in back-to-back years. After claiming the Global Poker Index (GPI) Player of the Year in 2018, he repeated the feat in 2019.

Foxen had some ground to make up going into December. He finished November in 12th place on the GPI rankings with 3,236.71 points. But the final month of 2019 was all his, as he won the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event and made five more final tables.

I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of the GPI point system, as I would probably need Alan Turing’s Enigma code-breaking machine to help with that. In short, players earn points in an open tournament based on the buy-in and number of players. A player’s top 13 GPI scores count toward Player of the Year.

Foxen did so well at the WPT Five Diamond that he recorded three scores that replaced the lowest of his 13 going into the month. The difference between the new three and old three was more than 569 points, allowing him to finish the year with 3,806.09. Four players eclipsed the 3,600-point mark, so Foxen needed every bit of those new scores.

Additionally, Kristen Bicknell ended 2019 with 3,175.37 points, making her the 2019 GPI Female Player of the Year. In 18th place, she is also the third-highest ranking Canadian, behind Sam Greenwood (7th) and Timothy Adams (9th). No other women were remotely close to Bicknell in the POY standings.

World Poker Tour

Erkut Yilmaz was named the World Poker Tour Player of the Year for Season XVII. He was the only player during the season to win two WPT titles. He won $575,112 at the WPT Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City and then cashed for $303,920 on the west coast of the United States in capturing the WPT Rolling Thunder championship.

His two victories plus two additional cashes gave him 2,300 Player of the Year points (1,200 for Borgata, 1,000 for Rolling Thunder, and 50 each for the other two cashes). It was a close race. Dylan Linde finished in second with 2,150 points, followed by James Carroll with 2,100 and Ping Liu with 2,000.

The WPT POY is a bit of an oddball, as the season spans two calendar years, so there is no “2019 WPT Player of the Year,” exactly. Yilmaz was awarded his POY trophy and prizes in June prior to the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. The current WPT season is about halfway done. Alex Foxen is the leader, thanks to his WPT Five Diamond win.

World Series of Poker

Before Robert Campbell was crowned the 2019 World Series of Poker Player of the Year, the poker world was celebrating Daniel Negreanu for winning POY for the third time. But Russian poker writer Alex Elenskiy discovered a data entry error that awarded Negreanu and 14 others points they should not have had and a correction was eventually made.

What happened was someone at the WSOP who entered the results for Event #87, one in which Negreanu cashed, accidentally overwrote some of the results for Event #68, giving Negreanu an extra cash and extra points.

Before the error was found, Negreanu was in first place after the WSOP Europe with 4,074.9 points, Campbell was in second with 3,961.3, and Shaun Deeb was in third with 3,917.3.

The recalculation put Campbell in first, Deeb in second, and Negreanu down to third with 3,861.76 points.

Negreanu was gracious about the mistake, congratulating Campbell. Some accused him of knowing about the error and not saying anything, as Negreanu is known to keep a very close watch on his results and POY standings, but the grumblings came and went. Deeb was pissed, as he made the final day of the last WSOP Europe tournament believing he needed to finish fifth to win POY. He was eliminated in 11th place, but he only actually needed to survive two more places. He might have played differently had he known.

As for the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year, Robert Campbell cashed 13 times in the WSOP Las Vegas and WSOP Europe combined. He won two bracelets: $1,500 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw (Event #33) and $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better (Event #67), both in Vegas this summer.

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