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Beware of the Top Five POY Leaders at WSOP

There are 12 WSOP Bracelets Between Them


The sheer number of big buy-in tournaments that take place during the World Series of Poker and the number of quality professionals who show up for them usually means the Card Player Player of the Year (POY) leader board undergoes revision during the summer months. Basically, every other day during the WSOP throughout the duration of the Series, a player will end up with 1,000 or more POY points.

To give an idea of how many POY points a player can likely earn during the WSOP, last year’s WSOP Player of the Year, Tom Schneider, earned 2,832 Card Player POY points for his dominating summer. He wound up finishing seventh, with 4,470 points. David Pham won the POY race in 2007 with 6,562 (540 came from a WSOP event).

And, of course, those players who already had some success before heading into the gauntlet that is the WSOP have a decisive advantage over the players who have had near misses for the first part of 2008. Particularly in the mix are the top five players: Erik Seidel, Michael Binger, Michael McDonald, David Chiu, and Tim Vance.

Erik Seidel — 3,700 POY Points

Erik SeidelTwenty days into 2008, Seidel came up big at the $8,800 buy-in Aussie Millions no-limit hold’em event when he finished second, earning $880,000 and 1,600 POY points. His 16th-place finish at the World Poker Tour World Poker Challenge was good for another $28,099, but no POY points. No problem; less than two weeks later, Seidel took the POY lead by winning the WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic, collecting $992,890 and 2,100 POY points.

Seidel is a WSOP legend. He has won eight WSOP bracelet (1992 $2,500 limit hold’em, 1993 $2,500 Omaha eight-or-better, 1994 $5,000 limit hold’em, 1998 deuce-to-seven draw, 2001 $3,000 no-limit hold’em, 2003 $1,500 pot-limit Omaha, 2005 $2,000 no-limit hold’em, and 2007 $5,000 no-limit deuce-to-seven draw lowball with rebuys). And anyone who has seen Rounders knows he placed second the 1998 WSOP main event, which was his first major tournament, so there’s a good chance that Seidel will add more POY points to his tally this summer.

Michael Binger — 3,040 POY Points

Michael BingerSince finishing third in the 2006 WSOP main event, Michael Binger has shown the world that he wasn’t a final-table fluke. In 2007, he cashed 11 times, and so far in 2008, he’s added another nine cashes to his résumé. Take away the $4.1 million he won in the main event, and Binger still has won more than $1.3 million playing tournament poker since 2006.

This year, Binger has two wins and two runner-up finishes. His biggest win of 2008 came at the $5,000 no-limit hold’em event held at the WPT Five-Star World Poker Classic ($317,280). He also won a $1,500 event at the L.A. Poker Classic ($125,730). Neither of those wins was worth more than 900 points. He’s accumulated his points by consistently cashing in events.

Michael McDonald — 2,920 POY Points

Michael McDonaldMichael McDonald won the bulk of his POY points by taking down the European Poker Tour German Open. He earned more than $1.3 million and 2,400 POY points. He also won an $880 PokerPro event at the Aussie Millions (held on automated poker tables), but that was only good for 120 POY points. His second-place finish in another Aussie Millions $880 no-limit hold’em event won McDonald $75,610 and 400 POY points.

McDonald won’t be playing in any WSOP events this year because he is not yet legal age to play poker in Nevada.

David Chiu — 2,880 POY Points

David ChiuSometimes it only takes one win to be thrust into the POY race (not that Chiu is a one-win wonder). But he did win the biggest event of 2008 (so far) when he ended up with all of the chips at the $25,000 WPT Championship held at Bellagio last month. He made more than $3.3 million and earned 2,880 POY points.

Chiu has been a staple at poker tournaments for more than a decade and has won more than $5.8 million playing tournament poker since 1996. He holds four WSOP bracelets (1996 $2,000 limit hold’em, 1998 $3,000 limit hold’em, 2000 $5,000 seven-card stud, 2005 $5,000 Omaha eight-or-better). Everyone needs to know when Chiu is at his table, just like Seidel.

Tim Vance — 2,800 POY Points

Tim VanceTim Vance got to number five by making three final tables in 2008. Fortunately for him, he wound up with all the chips at his first final table of the year, the $9,400 EPT Scandinavian Open. It was good for more than $1.2 million and 1,920 POY points.

Less than two months later, he won a $500 no-limit hold’em event at the WSOP Circuit event at Caesars in Indiana. It was good for $61,020 and 480 POY points. He nearly did it again in the same exact event at the WSOP Circuit in Las Vegas last month. He earned $32,640 and another 400 points. Vance has not cashed in WSOP events held in the summer.