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Card Player's Player of the Year Update: Mercier Into Top Ten

Mercier Back Into Top Ten, Moorman Just Misses EPT Prague Final

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The 2011 Card Player Player of the Year race is entering the final stretch, and the players in contention are traversing the globe in attempt to get their nose ahead of their competition. A number of big events have come to a conclusion in the past weeks that changed up the order as the players gear up for the final push.

EPT Prague

The European Poker Tour Prague festival was a perfect example of this last-minute scramble to climb the POY rankings. Current third-place occupant Oleksii Kovalchuk added 114 POY points with an eighth place finish in event 4 at the series, a €2,100 buy-in event that drew 192 entrants. Steve O’Dwyer finished on the final table bubble, just falling short of improving his current 17th place ranking in the overall standings. Marvin Rettenmaier also added a 72 points to his score with a ninth-place finish in event 6, also a €2,100 buy-in. Rettenmaier earned $12,572 for the finish, and maintained his fourth-place position in the overall standings.

Chris Moorman
The centerpiece of the EPT Prague was or course its €5,300 main event, which attracted 772 entrants. This impressive turnout built a prize pool of $4,688,500. In the event, Chris Moorman continued his incredible form this year that has earned him almost $2.9 million and landed him in second in the overall standings with 5,875 POY points. Moorman got out to a strong start, and stayed toward the top of the chip counts until he lost a couple of key coin flips and was eliminated in 15th place. Moorman is just 161 POY points behind current leader Ben Lamb, and could have overtaken him with a finish of eighth place or higher. As it is, Moorman will have to take the $30,795 he earned for his finish as a consolation prize and get right back in the mix. The eventual champion of the event was Martin Finger, who earned $964,023 and 1,920 POY points, moving him into 40th place in the standings. Finger has made two other final tables this year, with over a million in POY qualified earnings.

WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic

Antonio Esfandiari
A number of large events were also going on stateside, with the most POY relevant being the 2011 World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio in Las Vegas. In the main event, 413 players put up the $10,000 to build a $4,006,100 prize pool. The final table featured many recognizable names, including defending champion Antonio Esfandiari who made a valiant attempt at an unprecedented WPT title defense, but ultimately finished in 6th place for $119,418.

Other notables at the final table include Andrew Lichtenberger (4th – $218,933), Vanessa Selbst (3rd – $338,351), Soi Nguyen (2nd – $517,478) and eventual champion James Dempsey, who won $821,612 for his first WPT title. Dempsey also earned 2,400 POY points for the win. This massive score, combined with his two prior final tables this year, a win at a Wynn Classic prelim and his 3rd-place finish in a $5,000 prelim at this same series for 288 POY points moved him into 33rd place in the overall standings.

Jason Mercier
The Five Diamond World Poker Classic also played host to a $100,000 buy-in high-roller event that drew 23 entrants, and incredibly, two re-entries. The final prize pool $2,392,667 was to be split between the top five players. It came down to three handed play between Isaac Haxton, David Sands, and Jason Mercier. A deal was made to chop roughly 80 percent of the money, leaving the rest to be played for. In the end, Jason Mercier continued his incredible run this year by overcoming David Sands heads-up. Mercier earned the $683,000 first place prize, a $25,500 WPT Championship event seat and 432 POY points. With those points, Mercier moved into the ninth position in the overall standings. Mercier has cashed for $2,152,046 and made eight final tables this year, with wins in this event, a WSOP pot-limit Omaha bracelet and a win at the NAPT Mohegan Sun bounty shootout.

Runner-up David Sands has had a stellar year as well. In addition to the $664,000 he earned in this event, Sands made a deep run in the WSOP main event, finishing 30th for $242,636. Sands had a particularly good run in the _Five Diamond World Poker Classic _prelims, as well. He took down a $5,000 hold’em event for $158,644 and 432 POY points, and also finished 7th in a $1,080 pot-limit Omaha event. Sands has made a total of seven final tables, with two titles and POY qualified winnings of $1,259,410. Sands currently sits in 58th place in the overall standings.

NACPT Choctaw

Kirk Stewart A number of other events also took place around the U.S. over the past weeks. Card Player’s Native American Casino Poker Tour had its inaugural event at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, OK. The series played host to 20 events, including the NACPT Choctaw Main Event which attracted 324 players. With each entrant putting up a $1,000 buy-in, the tournament boasted a $290,681 prize pool. The eventual champion was Kansas native Kirk Stewart, who won $50,000, a $1,500 World Series of Poker Circuit seat, his face on the cover of Card Player Magazine, and 768 POY points.

WSOP Circuit Atlantic City

On the east coast, the World Series of Poker Circuit Atlantic City main event also anointed a new champion. Tuan Phan overcame a 618 player field to win the $188,830 first-place prize, 624 POY points and his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. This event saw a 75 percent increase in size over last years 352 player field.

Looking Ahead

With time running out, the largest event remaining for players to make a last minute push in is the third Epic Poker League main event, a $20,000 “mix-max” event. This unique event will begin eight handed, will change to seven-handed play on the second day and redraw to six-handed, then on the third day begin six-handed and redraw to four-handed. Play will continue with no more than four players to a table until only two players remain. They will then play a best of three heads-up match, with the chip counts for the first two matches starting with the stacks that the players brought into heads-up. If a third match is necessary, the players will start with even stacks.

Look for the Player of the Year race’s top contenders to attend and battle it out to see if anyone can overtake Ben Lamb as 2011 nears its end.

A Look At The Standings

Rank Player Name POY Points 2011 Winnings
1 Ben Lamb 6,036 $5,351,467
2 Chris Moorman 5,875 $2,289,194
3 Oleksii Kovalchuk 5,494 $1,555,344
4 Marvin Rettenmaier 4,626 $655,364
5 Sam Stein 4,505 $1,805,637
6 Elio Fox 4,320 $2,684,544
7 Galen Hall 4,284 $3,004,198
8 Eugene Katchalov 4,258 $2,500,457
9 Jason Mercier 4,246 $2,152,046
10 Sam Trickett 4,096 $4,706,585