Posts Tagged ‘Year’

Split Decision as to Leader of Different Player of the Year Races

 Split Decision as to Leader of Different Player of the Year Races

With the tournament poker world motoring through the first quarter of the calendar year, it is a “split decision” as to who is the leader in the major Player of the Year races. In fact, in one race the name is a familiar one but, in the other, the “top dog” might surprise many.

On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year board, the leader of the pack is a player who has been on fire through the first two months of the year. The United Kingdom’s Toby Lewis has been scintillating through February, taking down the 2018 Aussie Millions Main Event championship for a $ 1.1 million-plus payday. That wasn’t enough for the Brit, however, as he left the land “Down Under” and came to the L. A. Poker Classic with his groove still working. Lewis would finish second in the World Poker Tour Main Event of the LAPC to start March, earning another $ 600,000-plus in cash and earning (between the two events) 3780 points, ahead in the POY by a wide margin over the field.

Just how far ahead is Lewis at this point? Second place Justin Bonomo has a half million dollars more in earnings over Lewis to this point of 2018 (thanks to some decent High Roller finishes), but he has “only” earned 2156 points on the CardPlayer board. And Bonomo BARELY eked out the second-place slot on the CardPlayer POY. 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion Maria Lampropulos’ victory was enough to give her 2100 points and the final podium spot entering March. Koray Aldemir (1940 points) and Aussie Millions runner-up Stefan Huber (1900) round out the Top Five in fourth and fifth places, respectively.

The fifth-place spot marks the return of one of the legends of online poker. After not cashing in a live tournament event since 2014, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom has made a splash back into the game. The partypoker MILLIONS Germany was where Blom made his green, taking down the €5000 Main Event for a nearly million-Euro cash. Although Blom had cashed in a preliminary tournament earlier on the MILLIONS schedule, the Main Event win was the first time that Blom cashed in a tournament since the 2014 European Poker Tour Season X finale at the Grand Final in Monte Carlo. The 1824 points for the victory also put Blom in sixth place on the POY rankings.

L. A. Poker Classic champion Dennis Blieden slides in behind Blom on the board, the 1800 points for his WPT championship officially landing him in seventh. That clipped Adrian Mateos, who has not won yet in 2018 but has three final tables and 1795 points for eighth place. Rounding out the Top Ten for the CardPlayer Player of the Year race are Stephen Chidwick (1770 points) and Tim Rutherford (1760) in ninth and tenth places, respectively.

To say that there is a different poker reality on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race would be a huge understatement. Of the ten players that come up on the CardPlayer rankings, only THREE of them make an appearance on the GPI ladder. In fact, the player who has seized the GPI Player of the Year lead at this point is a player that only the most hard-core poker fans might have heard of.

Although he has a runner-up finish in a 2016 World Series of Poker preliminary event, Georgios Zisimopoulos hasn’t exactly set the poker world on fire in his career. Mostly content to stay in Europe and play in the multitude of events there, Zisimopoulos has come out of the gate in 2018 with a vengeance. Between three tournament schedules, Zisimopoulos has been able to cash in a slew of tournaments, good enough to be able to put him atop the GPI standings.

Zisimopoulos has only one win among the eleven cashes he has earned (in a $ 500 Bounty event at the Merit Poker Western Tournament in January), but those 11 cashes have generated 1631.11 points, good enough for the top slot on the GPI POY leaderboard. To compare the two ranking systems, while Zisimopoulos is leading the way on the GPI countdown, he isn’t found on the CardPlayer system until 93rd place.

Another player who has been a serial casher is Nick Pupillo. Stunningly, Pupillo has cashed 13 times since January 1, with a top cash coming for his sixth-place finish at the Heartland Poker Tour’s Main Event at the Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour in Black Hawk, CO ($ 31,855). In those 13 cashes, Pupillo has accumulated 1618.23 points and takes hold of the second-place slot on the GPI standings.

Former World Champion Joe McKeehen seems to have come out in 2018 with a mission. He’s been playing several major tournaments on the WPT, with a best finish of third at the WPT Thunder Valley last week, and those larger field events have given him enough points to capture the third-place slot on the GPI rankings with 1478.17 points. Hot on his heels are Joao Pires Simao (1452.97 points) and Chidwick (1430.66), who round out the Top Five on the GPI.

The second half of the Top Ten brings more surprises. Ari Engel is in sixth at this point in the season, his 1426.10 points barely behind Chidwick, while Timothy Miles is a bit further back at 1411.31 points in seventh. Although he is in first on the CardPlayer rankings, Lewis can only get to eighth on the GPI board with his 1383.74 points. Bonomo (1371.99 points) and Daniel Negreanu (1345.64) round out the GPI Player of the Year race in ninth and tenth places, respectively.

These standings will probably be completely turned over by the time Tax Day (April 15) arrives. There are two Main Tour events in the next month on the WPT and several WSOP Circuit events, but the biggest question mark for a tournament could be the rebirth of the European Poker Tour. The EPT Sochi begins on March 20 and many in the poker world will be watching to see if the players come back.

Changes by The Stars Group – including the cosmetic step of bringing back the old EPT moniker – have been made but, since there has only been the also-reborn PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to judge so far, it is unknown if the players are giving the reborn EPT a chance. It will have an impact on the Player of the Year races, however, so expect the top players in Europe to flock to the Russian coastal city.

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Maria Lampropulos, Christopher Kruk Take Early Leads in Player of the Year Races

 Maria Lampropulos, Christopher Kruk Take Early Leads in Player of the Year Races

Yes, it is very early in the year. Yes, these folks probably won’t be here when we come to June (heck, maybe even March). But, for right now, two players – Maria Lampropulos and Christopher Kruk – can lay claim to the title of “best poker player” as they lead the Poker Player of the Year races.

On the CardPlayer Player of the Year rankings, it is the champion of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure who can lay claim to the crown. The Argentine sensation romped to the title and its million dollars plus payday earlier this week, earning 2100 points for her efforts. The runner up in that tournament, Shawn Buchanan, settles into the second-place slot on the CardPlayer rankings, earning 1750 points for his performance in the tournament. Also making a nice showing at the 2018 PCA was Koray Aldemir, who took third in the Main Event and finished in the runner up slot in the $ 25,000 High Roller; between the two tournaments, Aldemir earned over $ 660,000 and picked up 1610 points.

The High Roller tournaments at the PCA didn’t have as much effect on the POY races in 2018 as they did in the past. Perhaps because of some changes to their computations, the CardPlayer board didn’t overload points on the victors in the big High Roller events. Thus, players like Steve O’Dwyer (who won the $ 50K High Roller with 46 players) and Cary Katz (the champion of the $ 100K Super High Roller with 48 players) didn’t earn as many points as they might have in the past.

While he might not have gotten as much for his win in one of the $ 25K High Rollers, Christopher Kruk made the most of his time down in the Bahamas. Over the span of five days, Kruk earned three cashes, including two final tables and a win. In earning over $ 900,000, Kruk picked up 1113 points, landing in fourth place on the CardPlayer ladder ahead of the fourth-place finisher in the PCA Main Event (and defending Player of the Year) Adrian Mateos’ 1050 points.

Rounding out the bottom of the Top Ten on the CardPlayer board is Justin Bonomo (1004 points), Jason Strasser (960), defending World Champion Scott Baumstein (960), Daniel Coupal (875) and Darryl Ronconi (840) in sixth through tenth places, respectively.

Kruk has no such issues with new computations when it comes to the Global Poker Index ranking of the Player of the Year. The three cashes he earned at the PCA earned him 749.95 points, good enough to catapult him into the lead in the early going. The surprise is Norway’s Aylar Lie, who has been able to take the second slot on the GPI rankings without leaving Europe. Lie cashed six times at the Merit Poker Western Tournament, including a win in a $ 500 Bounty tournament, to rack up 631.15 points. Lie’s success is further accentuated by the fact that Lampropulos earned 606.34 points for her PCA Main Event championship and was only good enough for third place.

Another player who decided against journeying to the Bahamas makes the board in fourth place. Ole Schemion won the World Poker Tour European Championship in Berlin on Monday, to earn 423.22 points (and another cash in a preliminary) and the fourth-place post with 550.61 points. That was enough to eclipse Bonomo in fifth place (543.99 points) as the midpoint of the month is reached.

Rounding out the Top Ten on the GPI POY are a few more surprises. Benjamin Pollak (543.98, sixth), Isaac Haxton (537.95, seventh), Daniel Jones (532.38, eighth), Jeffrey Trudeau (524.91) is ninth and Kunal Patni (518.14, tenth) round out the leaderboard.

Don’t worry, there won’t be a test on this subject. By the end of the month, it is entirely possible that an entire new list of contenders will be sitting in these seats with the Aussie Millions, the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open and the L. A. Poker Classis either starting or finishing up their play. But to have a great year of poker is to start off well, and the players listed above have done it. Now they can look to improve on what has been an excellent start to their season.

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Five Things to Jump Start Your New Poker Year

 Five Things to Jump Start Your New Poker Year

The confetti have been cleaned up, the noisemakers have been put away and some are nursing off the remainder of the hangover they acquired from their New Year’s Eve celebrating. Now it is time to start thinking about the New Year and what it has to offer. How do you make it better than the previous one? One of the best ways to do it is to have a concentrated plan of attack.

Whether it is your personal life or your poker one, it is always a good idea to have a plan to, at the minimum, put your best effort forward for the next year. Sometimes these things can be grand or sometimes they can be simple. But it is important to have some sort of idea of the things you want to achieve in the coming 365 days. With this thought in mind, here’s five ways you can start your poker year on the right foot.


You normally have two ways you can go about playing poker – online or live. Then there is a subset of that which also comes into play – what games you’re taking a shot at. One plan cannot cover it all, thus you must have different plans for different disciplines of the game.

When it comes to live and online poker, set separate goals for each side of the equation. If you want to concentrate more on the live arena than online, make sure to plan accordingly for being in a cardroom or casino. Poker rooms normally have a monthly schedule that offers their tournament plans for the month and, once you look over that, then you can plan when to play (if tournaments are your thing). Likewise, you must set some time aside in your home life to jump online to play. Setting a plan to play X hours a week is a start, but don’t be afraid to adjust that total.

As to the different games offered, that is more difficult live than online. If you’re goal is to become a better Stud player, casinos don’t spread the game much anymore. You can always go to the casino and request a spread, but sometimes a better idea is to find a good home game to hone the talents. Nowadays Omaha is the rage, so some players may be more willing to step into that game. Online, it is easy to find a game – finding the stakes you’re comfortable at is another thing!


It is always nice to dream about what you want to do in poker, but the adage “you have to walk before you can run” is key here. Thinking that you’re going to hock everything you have in life and jump into the Super High Roller circuit and battle Fedor Holz, Stefan Schillhabel, Justin Bonomo and Company is a nice dream, but it isn’t a realistic goal.

When you start a year, set those goals so that they will make you work, but that they aren’t impossible to achieve. If you want to play more poker, set an hourly limit you want to meet each month. If you’ve got plans to use poker for a second income, set a monthly rate that you’d like to make. And if you meet that goal on a regular basis, then it is time to move the goal up, which is our next tip.


When you’re trying to meet certain objectives, it is key to have the ability to reassess the situation and adjust those goals. Perhaps you’ve set the number of hours per week you want to play a bit too high, or you’ve set the goal too steep for what you want to make in an hourly rate per month. The smart thing to do is to be able to adjust that goal rather than keep banging your head against a wall.

By making the adjustment, you aren’t admitting failure. You are instead making a key decision to continue to work at your game and finding the more realistic goal that you can meet. Once you’ve made the adjustment, you might find it is still a challenge to meet that new goal but, once you do, you’ll have the feeling of accomplishment and the ability to drive on to where you might have set that goal previously.


In an online forum the other day I saw someone ask, “Is it worth it to record your stats from each time you play poker?” Anyone who answered anything other than “Hell, yes!” isn’t taking the game seriously and might even question their advice in the game. If you are looking to improve your game or to demonstrate how well you play the game, accurate record keeping of ALL sessions is critical to your growth.

It can be something as simple as a notebook or, in this digital age, an Excel spreadsheet. You want to record the date and time you played, the game you played, its format (Tournament? Cash game?) and its stakes, your starting stake and your finishing stake for that session of play. You can add in other areas like how you felt or key hands that came up and how they played out, but the important data is the financials. By doing this, you’ll be able to accurately detail out whether you’re successful or not in your poker endeavors.

If you want to go to the extreme, then you can have different books for both your live and your online play. It is a different game, despite appearances, and it can also show whether you play better live or online. If you keep a different log for online work, you might add a category for hands per hour onto your log (will indicate whether you play at a fast table better or a slow one) and how long the session was (will indicate whether you play better in short sessions or longer ones).

AND BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF! It doesn’t do any good to record these sessions and log a nice run of positive finishes, only to leave off that session where you donked off half your bankroll when you were drunk.


Even though you may not meet your goals, even though you may lose every coinflip, even though it may look bleak…DON’T QUIT! Poker is a long-term game and, as such, the performance is best examined over a lengthy period. One week does not a success make, and neither does one month or one year. In 2000 Daniel Negreanu, the all-time leading money winner in poker, made a paltry $ 75,594 from tournament poker. He could have quit, but he didn’t – he kept working at the game and, over the past decade, has net earnings from tournament poker of around $ 8 million. He also broke even for 2017…remember that when you’re setting your goals!

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2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

 2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

As they prepare to drop the ball in New York City, it is appropriate to look back at the year gone by in the poker world. When it comes to politics regarding poker in 2017, for the first time in ages it wasn’t just the States of America that had its issues. Turmoil regarding poker, especially the online version, raised its head around the globe. So now, as you get the hors d’oeuvres ready for tonight, peruse these instances from the 2017 calendar year in no particular order.


In a move that had been brewing for several months prior to the start of 2017, the Australian government went ahead and passed sweeping gaming regulations that, as an after-effect, saw the nation’s online poker industry chopped off at the knees.

In November 2016 (to get control of online wagering in the country), the Australian Legislature introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act of 2016. The law aimed to put some controls on the companies working in the online arena, forcing these companies to apply for licensing from the Australian government. Without a license, online operators faced hefty fines totaling millions of dollars.

In March, despite many of their brethren suggesting that it would impact legitimate operations, the IGAA was passed and its impact was immediate. Yes, shadier online operations were shut out of the country but those that were providing online gaming that the government was OK with – online poker especially – had to depart also. Such companies as The Stars Group (PokerStars), 888 Holdings (888Poker) and partypoker had to pull their poker products (and online casinos) from the country because they lacked the licensing necessary to operate (and, as publicly traded companies, they could not operate in markets with laws against their product).

By the end of 2017, the Australian government was reexamining their regulations to allow those legitimate companies back into the country. But as they put their finishing touches on the fireworks on the Sydney Harbor Bridge for New Year’s Eve, nothing has been changed yet.


Germany has long had a bit of a love/hate relationship with poker, especially online. Although some of the best players in the game hail from the country, many of them don’t live there because of their archaic online poker laws. An incident from earlier in 2017 shows that situation isn’t going to change anytime soon.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany, ruled in the fall that a ban on Internet casino gaming, poker and “scratch card” games was legal, despite the objections of the European Union to the ban. Two cases brought by unidentified companies outside of Germany were ruled on during the fall, with the Court ruling that individual companies could pass legislation that, while violating the European Union’s treaty regarding free trade between the 26 Member Nations, was enacted to “protect children and vulnerable people” from predatory actions.

The moves by Germany flew in the face of some of the other nations in Europe. During the summer France, Spain, Italy, and the EU came to an agreement for shared liquidity between the countries. Helping to spur the action on the “ring-fenced” nations was the goal of the agreement, with the countries allowing for play over national borders instead of blocking such activity. At some point in 2018, these countries will begin full-throttle online gaming in the entirety of Europe, something that hasn’t been a reality since the mid-2000s.


Since 2013, there have been three states – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – that had passed online casino gaming and/or poker regulations. Despite the fits and starts that other states in the U. S. had gone through (we’re looking at you, California), no other states for four years had even gotten close to passing legislation to legalize online casino gaming and poker. That was until Pennsylvania got in the game.

In what was arguably the biggest story of 2017, Pennsylvania passed online gaming and poker regulations, with the operations set to open at some point in 2018. Although they had passed a budget that incorporated online gaming revenues in it in 2016, political infighting in the state delayed the passage of that budget until the spring of 2017. Once that was passed, the battle then moved on to the online question.

For much of the spring and summer, the debate raged in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and, to be honest, the legislators tried to find other ways to raise revenues and not expand gaming. But, in a frenetic two-day period in October, HB 271 (the online gaming and poker regulation bill) was passed and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf. With that sweep of Wolf’s pen, the Keystone State became the fourth state to pass online gaming and poker regulation.

There were plenty of other occurrences during the year…what were some of your choices regarding politics and poker in 2017?

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Stunning Late Season Move Puts Adrian Mateos Over Bryn Kenney in Player of the Year Races

 Stunning Late Season Move Puts Adrian Mateos Over Bryn Kenney in Player of the Year Races

In a stunning, late season move that is similar to what occurred last year, Spanish poker professional Adrian Mateos has used a surge of success at the tables to pass the man who has led virtually since the start of the year, Bryn Kenney, in the Player of the Year races in tournament poker.

Mateos began the month of December in fourth place on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard behind Kenney and it seemed that he was going to have a tough time catching the leader. Not only did he have to climb over two people to even reach Kenney, Mateos had to make up roughly 2000 points to even have a chance at equaling Kenney. But that is exactly what Mateos has done, utilizing the final PokerStars Championship event to do it.

After finishing off November by winning the $ 5000 Eight Handed No Limit Hold’em tournament at the Caribbean Poker Party, Mateos went on a run in December that was stunning. Beginning at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Mateos earned three final table finishes, but he wasn’t done yet. Flying back to Europe for the PSC Prague (which would turn out to be the final event ever on that circuit), Mateos earned four more cashes, three final tables and two tournaments that earned him POY points. By the end of December, Mateos had totaled up 2118 points to pass Kenney and take over first place.

It wasn’t like Kenney didn’t try to maintain his lead. He picked up 105 points for a seventh-place finish in the $ 25,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament on the WPT Five Diamond schedule, but it wasn’t enough to ward off the invading Spaniard. As of December 30 (and barring any last-minute finishes), Mateos and his 7220 points will earn the CardPlayer POY over Kenney’s 7173 points.

The remainder of the Top Ten on the CardPlayer list were seemingly OK with where they finished on the end-of-year rankings as they didn’t make a serious drive upwards. Fedor Holz, the runner-up in 2016 (more on this in a minute) will finish in the third-place slot in 2017, earning 5875 points (and more than $ 6.3 million) to hold off Koray Aldemir (5510) in fourth place. Justin Bonomo used a steady stream of cashes in the Five Diamond $ 25K tournaments to ease into fifth place (5411), while 2016 Player of the Year David Peters (5034), Stephen Chidwick (4912), Jason Koon (4859), Steffen Sontheimer (4782) and Benjamin Pollak (4660) round out the sixth through tenth places, respectively.

Mateos’ late season surge also saw him eclipse Kenney on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race. Much like the CardPlayer ladder, Mateos was in fifth place to start the month on the GPI board with plenty of space for his numbers to rise (under the GPI rankings, only the 13 best finishes for a player, utilizing a complex calculating system, are counted towards the rankings). Of the seven cashes that Mateos had, five of them improved his 13-tournament total. That 1051.36 increase was enough to push him over the top.

As of December 30, Mateos has the top slot on the GPI POY with a total of 3504.71, while Kenney had to stand pat on his 3478.06 points because his effort at the Five Diamond didn’t knock off one of his 13 prior finishes. Chidwick also climbed a bit during the month of December, moving into third place (3247.43) over Peters (3244.62). Dan Smith, who won the $ 100,000 Super High Roller at the Five Diamond and picked up some more points in another $ 25K event, jumped up to fifth place (3235.92) to conclude 2017.

Rounding out the Top Ten on the GPI POY are Ari Engel (3206.87), Holz (3172.03), Koon (3138.27), Nick Petrangelo (3133.46) and Stefan Schillhabel (3123.39) in the sixth through tenth positions.

The final month of 2017 is remarkable in its similarity to what happened last year. In 2016, Holz dominated the POY races all season long before, in a last-minute rush, Peters was able to pass Holz and take away both POY titles. If Kenney doesn’t find a poker tournament between now and Monday, he will fall victim to the same late-season lightning strike that hit Holz in 2016, only this time at the hands of Mateos.

The end of season rush by Mateos also demonstrates one of the problems that the ranking systems haven’t been able to overcome. Of the eight tournaments (counting the Caribbean tournament) that Mateos played to overcome Kenney, four of them were High Roller events with a buy in over $ 25,000. Without those high-dollar tournaments (which add more points due to their buy-in but offer fewer obstacles in the number of players), it is unlikely that Mateos would have even gotten within sniffing distance of Kenney, who himself built the massive lead he had through primarily playing High Roller events (of his 29 cashes in 2017, 25 of them were in tournaments with more than a $ 25K buy-in).

Hopefully the CardPlayer and Global Poker Index rankings will find a way to deal with the far too numerous High Roller and Super High Roller events in 2018 (limiting the number of cashes from such events might be a good start). For 2017, however, the ink is almost dry as Adrian Mateos looks to become one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, player (23) to ever capture the awards in the two predominant Player of the Year races.

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