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Card Player's Player of the Year Update

Gavin Smith Jumps Into the Top Five

It didn't take long for another shuffle in the top five. The tournament schedule has been hectic, but with the Card Player Player of the Year award still up for grabs, the big guns have been finding the time to play and perform well in them all.

Gavin Smith is the newest addition to the top five. His third place finish at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship netted him 1,280 points, and a spot at number four - a spot formerly held by buddy Erick Lindgren who was on hand to sweat Smith and root him on during his push for his second WPT final table of the season. Lindgren is now in fifth place.

Smith, a Canadian pro, started accumulating points in March, a few at a time, in World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit events in Rincon and Las Vegas. From there his momentum only picked up. He capped a strong second quarter with a victory in the WPT Mirage Poker Showdown championship event. However, after accumulating over 2,000 points in the first half of the year, Smith hit a dry spell. He cashed in four WSOP events, but only picked up 24 points in the almost five months following his first WPT title. Smith's recent jump in the standings also resulted in top five contender Kassem "Freddy" Deeb being pushed back to the six hole.

Sometimes the most important points are those that go unclaimed. Michael Gracz entered day three of the "Doyle Brunson" fourth in chips with $402,500. Miraculously for leader John Phan, Gracz busted out in 28th place right on the Player of the Year points bubble. Any points would have been valuable to Gracz, and a top five finish would have moved him to the top of the leaderboard. Instead, Gracz remains in second place, trailing Phan by 802 points.

The next stop on the tournament trail is the WSOP Circuit event at Caesar's Indiana. Then the Player of the Year race will heat up in the cool New England weather at the WPT World Poker Finals at Foxwoods.

By Scott Huff