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Player of the Year

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Oct 01, 2010


Card Player Player of the Year

Jared Jaffee Joins Player of the Year Top Three at WPT Legends of Poker
By Ryan Lucchesi

The buy-in for the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker event was lowered to $5,000 in 2010. It turned out to be a good move, because in 2009, with the buy-in at $10,000, the tournament attracted only 279 players. This year, 462 players entered the main event at The Bicycle Casino, representing a 65.6 percent increase over last year.

The tournament was especially tough for big-name professionals. A large number of them busted out after the money bubble burst on day 3, and during the play-down period to the final table, the situation did not improve. Jonathan Little was the last previous WPT winner standing, but he busted out in 12th place.

This did open the door of opportunity to the up-and-comers in the field, including previous Legends of Poker final-table contestants Kyle Wilson and Tom Lee. Wilson finished sixth in the event one year ago, and improved on that finish to take the runner-up spot in 2010. He was awarded $370,000 in prize money and 1,600 Card Player 2010 Player of the Year (POY) points, which puts him in 81st place overall. Lee finished sixth in the event in 2004, and this year took third place, for $174,772 in prize money and 1,280 points (157th place overall).

The biggest winner at the final table was champion Andrew Frankenberger. He took home the WPT title and $750,000, in addition to 1,920 points. He jumped up to 18th place in the standings with 2,760 points, thanks to a victory in a $2,000 no-limit hold’em event at the Venetian Deep-Stack Extravaganza in June.

Jared JaffeeJared Jaffee made the most notable leap in the POY standings at the Legends of Poker. He finished in fifth place, for $86,000 and 800 points. He now has made six final tables in 2010, and has 3,478 points, which is good for third place in the standings, 1,288 points behind current leader Thomas Marchese.

Here is a summary of the prize money and POY points awarded at the WPT Legends of Poker final table:

1 Andrew Frankenberger $750,000 (1,920 points)
2 Kyle Wilson $370,000 (1,600 points)
3 Tom Lee $174,772 (1,280 points)
4 Tom Braband $109,000 (960 points)
5 Jared Jaffee $86,000 (800 points)
6 Franco Brunetti $63,000 (640 points)

Spade Suit

OPOY Spotlight: Taylor “ambiguosity” Paur
By Julio Rodriguez

The Card Player Online Player of the Year (OPOY) award honors the best tournament player across the major online sites in a given calendar year. Previous winners have included greats such as Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron, Alexander “AJKHoosier1” Kamberis, and Steve “gboro80” Gross. Here, we take a look at one of the current top contenders.

Taylor PaurTaylor “ambiguosity” Paur has been the king of wins so far in 2010, having claimed eight outright victories across four different online sites. Paur started his year off with a big win in the $1,000 UB Online Championship event, for $125,195. He then followed that up with back-to-back wins in April in the Sunday Brawl and $1K Monday events, for a combined $189,000. Then, he chalked up his biggest win to date in a Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) XVI event, for $192,228, which put him atop the current OPOY standings.

Paur’s introduction to the game was similar to that of many other online pros his age. After playing in some friendly home games, he began to take the game more seriously and quickly realized the moneymaking opportunity that lay before him. After making some small scores to build his bankroll, he began to neglect his schoolwork, opting instead for some extra time on the virtual felt. Then, with just one major cash to his credit, the California resident decided to plunge headfirst into the deep, shark-infested waters of online multitable tournaments. The gamble has paid off handsomely for the 21-year-old pro, who has gone on to earn nearly $1.4 million in tournaments after just two years of play.

In this interview, Paur explains his meteoric rise to prominence and even divulges a few tips for beginners.

Julio Rodriguez: Let’s hear about your introduction to poker.

Taylor Paur: I started off by playing in a few home games in high school, and dabbled a little bit online. I wasn’t really taking it seriously until I won something like $600 in a $3 tournament during my freshman year at San Diego State University. I continued to play low-stakes tournaments, and built up my bankroll to the point where I could play a little higher. School wasn’t going well, so after that first year, I ended up ransferring to a junior college that was closer to home. Not long after that, I ended up chopping a WCOOP World Championship of Online Poker tournament for close to $85,000. With a bankroll somewhere in the range of $75,000, I decided to drop out and play full time. That was around September of 2008.

JR: That seems like a big risk with just one major score on your record. How did your parents feel about your decision?

TP: My mom, who is a lawyer, obviously places a lot of importance on my education. She was really upset when I told her that I was dropping out, but my dad was surprisingly supportive of my decision. Honestly, I don’t know if my decision would have been different even if I hadn’t won that money. It was no secret that I hated school. I was completely unmotivated academically, and poker was pretty much taking over. I figured that I’d take that money I won and see what I could do with it. Honestly, I try not to think about what would happen if poker hadn’t worked out.

JR: How were you able to improve your game? Did you have any friends who played poker?

TP: I didn’t really have any friends who played poker, at least not seriously. I tried a couple of books and coaching sites, but I didn’t really like any of them. I realized pretty early on that the best way to learn was to just play a lot. The only way for it to really stick is through trial and error. A player is much more likely to apply a concept after experiencing it firsthand. About a year ago, I got a backing deal, and my game really took off. Through that relationship, I was able to meet a lot of the great online players and exchange different approaches and ideas about the game.

JR: How has your game changed since you turned pro?

TP: I was always aggressive. In fact, I’m probably more aggressive now than when I started. The biggest difference between my game then and now is that I’d like to think that I’ve gotten more creative with my play. Like most players, I started off with a very ABC style of play, but I’ve definitely opened up a bit more.

JR: Leaving school with few options other than poker must have been scary. When did you begin to feel confident about your decision to turn pro?

TP: It wasn’t until the end of last year, when I started having consistent success, that I became confident about my choice to pursue a poker career. I’m confident by nature, but I can’t say that I ever thought I’d be ranked this high when I started playing a couple of years ago. It’s just been a rapid rise to the top. It takes players years to achieve success, and I’ve been very fortunate to have it come early.

JR: You mentioned the rankings. Is winning the Online Player of the Year award important to you?

TP: I check on the guys, and I’m always aware of where I am in the rankings, but it doesn’t do any good to worry about who is doing what. Where others finish is out of my control. All I can do is focus on my play and hope to be at the top when it’s all said and done. It would be cool to win, for many reasons. First and foremost, I’d be in the company of the other great players who have won it. Secondly, all of those guys have gone on to get sponsorship deals with online sites, and that would obviously be a nice perk.

JR: Is it possible for a great player to have a losing year with online poker, especially given how many tournaments are offered?

TP: It is very possible for a decent player to lose in a calendar year. Variance, after all, is a big part of the game we play. That being said, I think it’s very unlikely for the great, elite players to lose in a year. The volume is just too much not to be able to overcome a few downswings here and there. That’s why it’s so easy to lose when playing live. The variance is absurd, because of the small number of events that are available. But online, there are just too many to make excuses. Of course, there is a big difference between the great players and the decent ones. I’d guess that the number of regulars who lose is much higher than people tend to think. Poker will always be profitable. It will get tougher, obviously, but those of us who are willing to adjust and adapt will always be able to win.

JR: Any tips for those of us who want to join the ranks of the elite?

TP: I was doing OK when I started playing, but my game really went to the next level when I started talking to other players. If you are just some anonymous guy hiding behind a monitor, hoping to advance to the bigger tournaments, you’ll have a much tougher time than the guy who’s willing to come forward and ask for help. There are plenty of online communities out there to join and share your ideas.

Also, a lot of people have certain guidelines that they follow that prevent them from being very good. They see a hand, and immediately fall back on habits that make them play it the same way every time. You can’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut like that. Don’t be afraid to mix it up; maybe flat-call a three-bet in position with a big pair. You can’t play just preflop poker anymore. If you want to be successful, you need to learn to play well on each and every street. Spade Suit

You can check out more about the 2010 OPOY race and leader board by visiting

Look Out: Jose Barbero

Jose BarberoSometimes certain poker players become identified with particular poker tours or regions due to consistently strong performances. The most notable example would be Phil Hellmuth with the World Series of Poker. The “Poker Brat” holds the record for most bracelets won and most cashes in the WSOP, and it has made him one of the most popular players in poker. Other examples include Luca Pagano, who holds the record for most cashes on the European Poker Tour, and Gus Hansen, who rose to poker fame by winning multiple World Poker Tour titles.

In recent years, we have seen players become identified with the smaller poker tours that have filled the poker calendar from January to December. Dwyte Pilgrim has built his bankroll on the WSOP Circuit series, while Tony Hachem has been dominant in the PokerStars Australia New Zealand Poker Tour events. Another player whom we can now add to the mix is Team PokerStars pro Jose Barbero from Argentina, who recently won back-to-back PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour titles.

Barbero was a member of the Magic: The Gathering national team in his home country before turning to poker, so he is no stranger to top-level competition. It was at these tournaments that he was exposed to poker, and after a big Magic win, he set up his online poker account and began to learn Texas hold’em. He plays under the screen name “nachobarbero,” and his biggest score on the virtual felt came in May 2010, when he won a $2,000 limit hold’em event during the Spring Championship of Online Poker, for $62,780.

Barbero has found even more success in the live-tournament arena, and he now travels the world as a Team PokerStars pro who racks up cashes on multiple continents. His greatest triumphs have come close to home in South America. He has been the most successful player during the first three seasons of the LAPT. He just missed making his first LAPT final table in April 2009, when he finished ninth in the $5,000 main event at Mar del Plata, Argentina, which was good for a $28,220 payday. He then made an LAPT final table in the $3,500 main event at Punta de Este, Uruguay, in February of this year. He won $279,330 as the tournament champion.

The next LAPT main event was the $2,700 tournament in Lima, Peru, in June. Barbero entered that tournament, and just a few months after topping 306 competitors to win his first LAPT title, he bested 383 opponents to win his second. This time around, he took home $250,000 in prize money. “This is like a dream, a real dream; I’m so excited. I don’t want to wake up,” said Barbero. He captured the interest of the poker media with his back-to-back tournament titles, and also brought more attention to the LAPT.

After his strong performance in South America, Barbero turned his attention to the WSOP, where he made two deep runs in tournaments; he finished 12th in a $2,500 mixed event, and ninth in the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event. He now has 2,644 Card Player 2010 Player of the Year (POY) points, which puts him in 19th place in the standings.
His two LAPT victories provided 2,484 POY points total, so if he pulls off a “hat trick” by winning the LAPT Grand Final, he will become a major contender for the POY title. After he won his second LAPT title, he was asked if things could get much better for him. He replied, “The best thing that could happen would be to win my third.” He will have home-court advantage on his side, as the LAPT Grand Final will take place in Rosario, Argentina. Spade Suit