Poker Coverage: Poker Legislation Poker Tournaments U.S. Poker Markets

Live and Online Poker -- Who's the Best Tournament Player?

A Look Inside the POY and OPOY Rankings to Find the Best of Both Worlds


John PhanIf you talk enough about poker, you eventually get around to one of the most debated subjects in the game: Who is the best?

It’s a simple question with an impossible answer. Because variance plays such a big part in the outcome, it would take a sample size much larger than a lifetime even to begin to determine the greatest. Quantifying those results on a yearly basis, however … that’s a different story.

Since 1997, Card Player has been ranking the world’s best tournament players and awarding Player of the Year honors to those who have the most outstanding tournament results. Winners include Men Nguyen (1997, 2001, 2003, 2005), T.J. Cloutier (1998, 2002), Tony Ma (1999), David Pham (2000, 2007), Daniel Negreanu (2004), Michael Mizrachi (2006) and John Phan (2008). (pictured above left)

Alex KamberisTimes have changed, and with the rapid growth of online poker, it was important to recognize those virtual tournament players with the ability to make millions from the comfort of their own homes. Thus began the Card Player Online Player of the Year race in 2007. The two players who have claimed this title are Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron (2007) and Alex “AJKHoosier1” Kamberis (2008). (pictured right)

The formulas have been tweaked over the years to crown the best possible champion, but for the past three years, it has been difficult to recognize those who excel both live and online.

Because the Card Player rankings take into account the size of the buy-in, the total field size, and the place finished, it fairly determines the top players in each calendar year. To figure out who dominated both sides of the spectrum, we averaged out both rankings and ordered them accordingly.

The rankings below will showcase the top 25 players from 2007 through the current year. If you are looking for any of the above-mentioned names, you won’t find them, with the exception of Baron (in the wrong year). The data shows that doing extraordinarily well in one discipline will usually cost you in the other.

Let’s start with 2007…

The 2007 Rankings

1st Annette Obrestad 31 22 26.5
2nd Jared Hamby 8 57 32.5
3rd Kevin Saul 23 65 44
4th James Mackey 61 82 71.5
5th Eugene Katchalov 81 63 72
6th Thayer Rasmussen 160 29 94.5
7th Scott Clements 4 190 97
8th Marco Johnson 176 28 102
9th Shawn Luman 186 39 112.5
10th Scott Fischman 86 140 113
11th Soren Kongsgaard 203 26 114.5
12th Tim West 220 23 121.5
13th Shane Schleger 75 174 124.5
14th Sorel Mizzi 285 3 144
15th Tim Miles 180 124 152
16th Sebastian Ruthenberg 198 121 159.5
17th Jon Turner 365 10 187.5
18th Joseph Brooks 202 184 193
19th Eric Lynch 299 104 201.5
20th Ben Fineman 106 343 224.5
21st Brent Roberts 228 236 232
22nd J.C. Alvarado 35 489 262
23rd Darrell Dicken 59 466 262.5
24th Travis Rice 13 532 272.5
25th Cory Carroll 21 582 301.5

Annette ObrestadIt’s no surprise who is the top player here. Annette Obrestad (pictured left) had a monster year by taking down the World Series of Poker Europe main event and was one of the most consistent players online, playing under the name Annette_15.

Jared Hamby is another example of overall success. Hamby won three preliminary events during the year and added a runner-up finish at the WPT Mandalay Bay Poker Championship, as well. Playing as TheWacoKidd, Hamby racked up monster points, particularly in the daily $100 rebuys on PokerStars.

Anchored by his success at the Bellagio Cup III, Kevin “BeL0WaB0Ve” Saul did enough online to put himself in third place in the rankings.

These three players clearly had great years, but the individual POY and OPOY rankings hid how truly remarkable they performed throughout the year. This chart shows that arguably no one had better overall results.

The 2008 Rankings

1st Mike Watson 44 24 34
2nd Ben Fineman 93 30 61.5
3rd Yevgeniy Timoshenko 79 85 82
4th Amit Makhija 21 158 89.5
5th Luke Staudenmaier 160 29 94.5
6th Hafiz Khan 53 159 106
7th James Mackey 29 188 108.5
8th Jesper Hougaard 48 170 109
9th Hevad Khan 59 165 112
10th Matt Graham 69 157 113
11th Mike Sowers 155 86 120.5
12th Zachary Clark 199 73 136
13th Hunter Frey 272 14 138
14th David Baker 275 22 148.5
15th Isaac Baron 266 35 150.5
16th Christian Harder 252 65 158.5
17th Eric Haber 80 240 160
18th David Peters 66 260 163
19th Jeff Williams 204 123 163.5
20th Adam Levy 240 99 169.5
21st Adam Katz 142 220 181
22nd Tim West 354 20 187
23rd Paul Lieu 98 303 200.5
24th Scott Sitron 150 308 229
25th Erick Lindgren 24 447 235.5

Mike WatsonUnlike the year before, only Mike “SirWatts” Watson (pictured right) truly dominated both live and online in 2008. Not only did he win the Bellagio Cup IV, but Watson kept on plugging away with his online play, finishing the year inside the top 25. His combined ranking of 34 was easily best over the rest of the competition.

Unless you are a true pokerphile, it’s likely you’ve never heard of second-place resident Ben “bmf823” Fineman. The young pro excelled at smaller in events in Las Vegas before getting his big payday at the WSOP Circuit main event at Caesars Palace. He was even better online, where he picked up a win at the Full Tilt Online Poker Series.

Amazingly, Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko made the top three, even though his big WPT Championship victory didn’t come until 2009. With a win on the Asian Poker Tour and another final table at the WSOPE, Timoshenko easily slipped into the top three with a solid year online.

One of the more unheralded players is James “” Mackey, who finished fourth overall in 2007 and seventh in 2008 in these new rankings. He is not quite enjoying the same success in 2009 thus far, but should be recognized for making the top 10 in consecutive years.

The 2009 Rankings (As of 9/16/09)

1st Christian Harder 40 18 29
2nd Mike Sowers 21 51 36
3rd Carter Phillips 16 58 37
4th Yevgeniy Timoshenko 23 82 52.5
5th Faraz Jaka 19 94 56.5
6th Jon Turner 11 132 71.5
7th Peter Traply 84 64 74
8th Keven Stammen 70 79 74.5
9th Jordan Smith 43 154 98.5
10th Jason Somerville 77 176 126.5
11th Steve Weinstein 78 183 130.5
12th Jonas Klausen 116 149 132.5
13th Billy Kopp 226 53 139.5
14th Cliff Josephy 214 78 146
15th Shannon Shorr 142 151 146.5
16th Hafiz Khan 184 118 151
17th Chris Klodnicki 218 118 168
18th Brock Parker 6 358 182
19th Eric Baldwin 1 383 192
20th Justin Young 243 150 196.5
21st Joe Serock 82 312 197
22nd Timothy Finne 274 129 201.5
23rd Jason Potter 324 81 202.5
24th Adam Geyer 378 43 210.5
25th Matt Affleck 244 182 213

Christian HarderThe year is hardly over, and these rankings are likely to change drastically before all is said and done, but the current best overall player of 2009 is Christian “charder30” Harder (pictured left). The young gun has a stellar online record and great live success, making final tables on both the EPT and WPT.

Mike “UNCSowers” Sowers currently sits in second place overall, thanks to a solid year online complete with deep finishes in both WCOOP and FTOPS events, but it’s the live arena where he has truly made his mark. Sowers went deep at the L.A. Poker Classic and followed that up with a fourth-place finish at the WSOP.

In third place is newcomer Carter “bdybldngpkr” Phillips, who just took down the EPT Barcelona for his first live win. This came just a week after his first live final table, where he finished third.

Looking to make the top five for the second consecutive year is Timoshenko, who sits in fourth place. If the results hold, he’ll be the first to do so.

Those are the numbers — let the debate begin.



9 years ago



9 years ago

Who is the BIGGEST donkey above???


9 years ago

1. Yevgeniy Timoshenko
2. Mike Sowers
3. James Mackey


9 years ago

Charder is the biggest donk obviously.


9 years ago

Well its officially time to rewrite this article and just put a pic of Timoshenko up here and call it good. Unreal runs, all when its the biggest stage.