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Player of the Year

|  Published: Sep 04, 2009


Many Opportunities Remain to Win Player of the Year Points
by Ryan Lucchesi

The poker world is currently taking a collective rest before the fall season of tournaments kicks off. After the conclusion of the World Series of Poker on July 15 and the Bellagio Cup V on July 19, the top players in the world have enjoyed a few weeks of downtime before the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker tournament begins in Southern California on Aug. 22. After his very impressive summer in Las Vegas, Vitaly Lunkin leads the Card Player 2009 Player of the Year (POY) race with 4,337 points. The Russian star has made four final tables and won two titles (the Russian Poker Tour Moscow main event and the WSOP $40,000 no-limit hold’em event), increasing his cash winnings for the year to $3,140,037 (another category that he leads).

Eric Baldwin is close behind Lunkin with 4,300 points, and there are six other players who have at least 3,000 points. It should be noted that EPT events in 2009 have awarded an average of 2,257 POY points to main-event winners, while the WPT has awarded an average of 1,963 points to championship-event winners in 2009, meaning that any player who has more than 2,000 points and wins a major tournament will become a huge force in the POY race during the final months of the year. Here is a rundown of the major tournaments remaining on the schedule for 2009. You can keep up with all of the results with’s tournament news and live tournament coverage in the coming months.

Aug. 22-26: WPT Legends of Poker $10,000 no-limit hold’em championship event
Aug. 25-30: APPT Macau $40,000 (HKD) no-limit hold’em main event
Aug. 26-Sept. 5: WPT Slovakia €4,000 no-limit hold’em championship event

Sept. 4-9: EPT Barcelona €8,000 no-limit hold’em main event
Sept. 6-12: WPT Merit Cyprus Classic $10,000 no-limit hold’em championship event
Sept. 17-20: APPT Seoul $3,000 no-limit hold’em main event
Sept. 19-24: WPT Borgata Poker Open $10,000 no-limit hold’em championship event
Sept. 18-21: WSOP Europe event No. 1 (£1,000 no-limit hold’em)
Sept. 21-23: WSOP Europe event No. 2 (£2,500 pot-limit hold’em/pot-limit Omaha)
Sept. 23-25: WSOP Europe event No. 3 (£5,000 pot-limit Omaha)
Sept. 26-Oct. 1: WSOP Europe main event (£10,000 no-limit hold’em)

Oct. 2-7: EPT London £5,000 no-limit hold’em main event
Oct. 5-10: Aruba Poker Classic $5,000 no-limit hold’em championship event
Oct. 12-19: WPT Marrakech €4,500 no-limit hold’em championship event
Oct. 14-18: APPT Auckland $3,250 (NZD) no-limit hold’em main event
Oct. 16-25: WSOP Circuit event at Horseshoe Hammond
Oct. 20-26: WPT Festa al Lago $15,000 no-limit hold’em championship event
Oct. 20-25: EPT Warsaw $25,000 (PLN) no-limit hold’em main event
Oct. 23-Nov. 2: WSOP Circuit event at Horseshoe Southern Indiana

Nov. 5-10: WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic $10,000 no-limit hold’em championship event
Nov. 5-15: WSOP Circuit event at Harveys Lake Tahoe
Nov. 7-10: WSOP $10,000 no-limit hold’em main-event final table
Nov. 12-15: APPT Philippines $100,000 (PHP) no-limit hold’em main event
Nov. 17-22: EPT Vilmoura, Portugal, €5,000 no-limit hold’em main event

Dec. 1-6: EPT Prague €5,000 no-limit hold’em main event
Dec. 1-6: APPT Sydney $6,300 (AUD) no-limit hold’em grand final
Dec. 4-20: WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Atlantic City
Dec. 13-19: WPT Five-Diamond World Poker Classic $15,000 no-limit hold’em championship event

Look Out: Faraz Jaka
By Ryan Lucchesi

Faraz Jaka was a dominant force in the World Poker Tour Bellagio Cup V $15,000 no-limit hold’em championship event. He took the chip lead during the third day of the event and he held on to it all the way to the final table, where he started play there with more than 5 million in chips. He battled long and hard at the final table, and traded the chip lead often with Brazilian Alexandre Gomes. Jaka eventually fell to Gomes in second place, but he impressed many and walked away with $774,870 in prize money and 1,080 Card Player 2009 Player of the Year (POY) points. He also made a final table at the World Series of Poker in event No. 56 ($5,000 six-handed no-limit hold’em), finishing in third place to take home $400,526 and 1,280 POY points.
Faraz Jaka

This gives Jaka $2,335,372 in tournament prize money for his career in the online and live arenas. “Online, I only play tournaments, and live, I play tournaments and cash,” said Jaka. He is currently in the top 100 in both the Card Player POY race (27th place – 2,360 points) and the Card Player Online POY race (99th place – 2,530 points). He has a dozen career tournament titles, with 11 of them coming online and one coming in a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event at the L.A. Poker Classic in 2008. His cash at the Bellagio Cup V was by far the largest of his career.

During a tournament break at Bellagio, Jaka talked about the unorthodox path that led him to play the game of poker professionally. He started out playing live, and then switched to online play. “I started playing my second semester during my freshman year at college. I started out in $10 dorm games and did well. I looked for bigger and bigger games and ended up flying out to Vegas, and then I started playing online. The next thing I knew, I was making regular trips on the weekends from school to Vegas, and then I started going to European Poker Tour events,” said Jaka.

He now admits that both types of games (live and online) are very important to the hybrid strategy he brings to the tables. “I definitely think the strongest player in the game is going to be the person who understands both styles of play. Online players have a lot better fundamentals, while live players have a lot better feel for momentum and the flow of the game. I believe that when you put those two together, it really creates a monster,” said Jaka.

Keep an eye on Jaka in the coming months, both online, where he plays under the fan-favorite screen name of “The-Toilet 0,” and at the biggest tournaments all over the world. Spade Suit