The first couple of weeks at the 2014 World Series of Poker have left their mark on the BLUFF Player of the Year race, but for now the top three players remain the same. Mike McDonald got a late start to his summer, while Dominik Panka has yet to even make an appearance during the first third of the WSOP. This has worked to the advantage of Keven Stammen who, since winning the WPT World Championship in late April, has three small tournament cashes — including two at the WSOP. Those results have been enough to make him the third player to push past 600 POY points so far in 2014, as the top of the standings grows tighter by the week.
Four players have made a push toward the top with wins in the early stages of the 2014 WSOP. Two of those players — Davidi Kitai and Vanessa Selbst — earned their third career bracelets. George Danzer and Justin Bonomo, on the other hand, broke through for long-awaited victories after making the same final table and falling just short in the first few days.
More than 40 bracelets remain up for grabs at the Rio this summer, including the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, the Big One for One Drop and several big $10,000 events. If McDonald, Panka or Ole Schemion make a deep run in any of those premier events — provided Panka or Schemion show up — they could set the stage for a big second half to 2014. Likewise, anyone who makes their first splash of the year could start their run at the crown with a bang.
1. Mike McDonald
Last Month: 1st
Mike McDonald didn’t show up at the 2014 WSOP until it was two weeks old, missing out on a handful of big events like the $25,000 Mixed Max. He got right to work once he arrived in Vegas, though, picking up his first cash in six weeks in Event 26, a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em tournament. McDonald took 73rd out of 1,594, earning a small payday, but the 24 POY points he received for that result gave him some much-needed breathing room at the top of the standings.
That cash pushed McDonald past the 700 point mark, and he’ll make life a little more difficult for those pursuing him in this race with each deep run he makes. Despite his tournament success elsewhere, McDonald has just two WSOP final table appearances to his credit — both sixth-place finishes. If he continues the level of success he’s achieved elsewhere thus far in 2014 during the second half of the WSOP, though, McDonald could make even more headway toward locking up POY honors.
4. Davidi Kitai
Last Month: 78th
Davidi Kitai was the fifth player to achieve poker’s Triple Crown back in 2012, and he’s just continued to pile up achievements since winning that EPT title. Kitai kicked off his 2014 campaign with a cash in the PCA Main Event and finished January with a final table appearance in the EPT Deaville High Roller. It was mostly quiet for Kitai over the next couple of months, until he got the second-largest cash of his tournament career for finishing third in the EPT Grand Final High Roller in early May. Three weeks later Kitai topped a field of 670 players in the Winamax SISMIX Main Event just days before the start of the WSOP, getting the ball rolling into the summer.
It culminated in the second week of the WSOP when Kitai earned his third career WSOP bracelet and over $500,000 in the $3,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em event. In just over a month Kitai has gone from having just a solid year to one of the top contenders in the 2014 BLUFF POY race. With some big No Limit Hold’em events remaining at the WSOP and half of the Season 11 EPT schedule yet to come, Kitai will have plenty of opportunities to make a run.
6. Vanessa Selbst
Last Month: 40th
Vanessa Selbst started 2014 with a tremendous run at the PCA, finishing third in both High Rollers with a deep run in the Main Event wedged in between. Other than a couple of cashes in EPT San Remo side events in mid-April, though, Selbst was pretty quiet as far as tournament results go. She appeared on the cover of the June issue of BLUFF, which was released just as the 2014 WSOP got underway, and Selbst didn’t wait very long to prove once again why that was a fitting place for her to be.
In the very first open event of the summer, the $25,000 Mixed Max, Selbst ripped off her third WSOP bracelet win and the third-largest payday of her career, for $871,148. That makes her just the second woman ever to win three bracelets and the first to secure three open event bracelets, but Selbst has achieved well beyond receiving recognition for her standing with any qualifications. In pushing her lifetime winnings over $10 million, Selbst has also put herself at yet another push at BLUFF Player of the Year honors.
14. George Danzer
Last Month: 176th
Until late April of this year, George Danzer had never recorded a live tournament win. Sure, he had seven WSOP final tables and $1.2 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, but no trophies or victories of any kind to speak of. After taking down a €1,000 Turbo side event at the EPT Grand Final, though, it looks as though Danzer got that monkey off of his back in a big way. Danzer kicked off the summer with a fifth-place finish in the $2,500 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, and then found himself at his second final table of the summer in the $10,000 Razz.
After a heated heads-up battle with Brandon Shack-Harris, who was going for his second bracelet of the WSOP, Danzer earned a slightly bigger live victory than his first and won his first career bracelet. Fueled almost entirely by his last three results, along with a cash in the PCA Main Event, Danzer has made himself a factor in both the WSOP and BLUFF Player of the Year races.
18. Justin Bonomo
Last Month: N/A (>500th)
Just like George Danzer, Justin Bonomo had been painfully close to a bracelet several times coming into the 2014 WSOP. He finished second twice, along with several other deep runs including a semifinal appearance in the $10,000 Heads-Up event in 2013. The first week of this WSOP seemed to be just more of the same, as Bonomo earned his third career runner-up finish at the WSOP by losing heads-up to Tuan Le. It was the first major result of the year for Bonomo, who had a tremendous 2013, but he walked away from that match severely disappointed.
He wouldn’t have to wait long to make up for it. Just a couple of days later, Bonomo waded through a field of 1,587 players in the $1,500 Six Max No Limit Hold’em event and defeated a worthy adversary in Mike Sowers in order to make the most of his fourth chance heads-up for a bracelet. With a first- and a second-place finish so far at the 2014 WSOP, along with a 15th-place finish in the $10,000 HORSE, Bonomo thrust himself into the BLUFF POY conversation. With the way he’s running and playing, Bonomo just might become a serious factor when this summer is said and done.
Mike McDonald — 715.88
Dominik Panka — 667.04
Keven Stammen — 631.10
Davidi Kitai — 583.75
Mustapha Kanit — 574.00
Vanessa Selbst — 572.90
Ole Schemion — 554.74
Mukul Pahuja — 525.90
Ami Barer — 509.53
Joe Kuether — 504.60
Eric Blair — 504.43
Mike Leah — 487.87
James Carroll — 484.10
George Danzer — 474.40
Alex Bilokur — 471.10
Byron Kaverman -461.36
Eugene Katchalov — 417.08
Justin Bonomo — 416.35
Simon Deadman — 413.65
Alexander Condon — 404.44
James Calderaro — 403.20
Jacob Schindler — 401.95
Joseph Mckeehen — 399.84
Paul Volpe — 399.60
Dmitri Ponomarev — 398.65
Matt Glantz — 397.40
JC Tran — 393.10
Oliver Price — 392.02
Daniel Negreanu — 382.70
Eric Afriat — 380.60
Scott Seiver — 378.18
Bryan Paris — 369.56
Mayu Roca Uribe — 367.38
Brandon Shack-Harris — 367.20
Dylan Wilkerson — 365.05
Nipun Java — 364.70
Erwann Pecheux — 362.35
Jonathan Dimmig — 361.00
Fabian Quoss — 359.10
Farid Jattin — 353.90
Andrea Dato — 352.88
Jeff Madsen — 351.83
Jonathan Gaviao — 350.73
Oleksii Khoroshenin — 349.55
Aditya Prasetyo — 345.14
Doug Polk — 341.00
Jack Salter — 340.40
Daniel Colman — 340.10
Anatoly Filatov — 336.90
Sotirios Koutoupas — 336.25
Overall by Region
The strength of Keven Stammen’s WPT World Championship victory keeps him in the top spot on the list — for now. With two cashes so far in the 2014 WSOP, Stammen has done enough to fend off the charge of Vanessa Selbst, but there are still a lot of bracelets that are yet to get handed out. Selbst charges into the top this week because of her third big result and first major win of the year in the first open event of the summer — which also earned Selbst her third career WSOP bracelet.
Eric Blair is up to fourth this month, with three cashes since we last checked in. Blair’s biggest result was a final table in the last Main Event of the 2013-14 WSOP Circuit season in New Orleans, but he’s also added two top-100 finishes so far this summer. Joe Kuether sneaks into the top five this month for the first time all year, and few people can boast as many cashes at as many different stop as he has. Kuether already has 13 cashes at nine different venues, with a $5,300 side event win at the PCA, a runner-up at Bay 101 and a third-place finish in the WSOPC Philadelphia Main Event. His best result to this point at the WSOP was 17th place in the $1,000 Turbo.
1. Keven Stammen — 609.65 (1st)
2. Vanessa Selbst — 564.50 (*)
3. Mukul Pahuja — 525.90 (2nd)
4. Eric Blair — 504.43 (5th)
5. Joe Kuether — 491.95 (*)
With a big chunk of the European contingent spending seven weeks or so in Las Vegas, the demand for big tournament action is virtually non-existent at this time of year. The top five remains exactly the same as it did a month ago, and it’s likely to stay that way until at least mid-July. Eugene Katchalov can rest easily wherever he’s shooting the reality show that’s occupying the space where his WSOP schedule would normally be, but there’ll be a second half push in this category for sure.
1. Eugene Katchalov — 386.40 (1st)
2. Ole Schemion — 379.78 (2nd)
3. Bryan Paris — 369.56 (3rd)
4. Oliver Price — 362.02 (4th)
5. Oleksii Khoroshenin — 349.55 (5th)
There have similarly been very few points accumulated over the last month in Australasia, with the top five players holding serve. Two tours will have events throughout the rest of the year, but until the WSOP is over neither the APPT nor the ANZPT will hold any major events. The biggest factor in this race could very likely be the second running of WSOP Asia-Pacific, which moves into the fall this year with 10 bracelets and a lot of money on the line at the Crown.
1. Mike McDonald — 300.00 (1st)
2. Ami Barer — 296.00 (2nd)
3. Dean Blatt — 290.13 (3rd)
4. Yevginiy Timoshenko — 250.00 (4th)
4. Phil Ivey — 250.00 (4th)
South America is the one region other than North America where we see serious movement among the top five players. New players occupy the top two spots because of one big tournament from late May — the LAPT Sao Polo Main Event in Brazil. While the nation was prepping for the 2014 World Cup, the Sao Paolo Parque Anhembi hosted a $1,965 buy-in event that drew 1,167 players and created a prizepool just shy of $2 million.
Carlos Hey took home the first-place prize of $357,295 and enough BLUFF POY points to take over the lead in this region. Victor Sbrissa, who won the LAPT Brazil Main Event in 2013, finished second to Hey and is now second in the South American POY race. Both Paulo Cesar Capreti and Fernando da Cunha Araujo earned points with final tables, with only Mario Lopez remaining stagnant and retaining a spot in the top five.
1. Carlos Hey — 220.00 (*)
2. Victor Sbrissa — 178.80 (*)
3. Mario Lopez — 176.00 (1st)
4. Paulo Cesar Capreti — 135.33 (5th)
5. Fernando da Cunha Araujo — 128.13 (2nd)
Africa’s the region with the least recorded results, and while there’s no change here there are two events that are likely to play a big part in determining this regional winner. The WPT National series in Marrakech takes place in mid-October, while the WPT Emperor’s Palace Classic happens a month later in Johannesburg, South Africa. For now, however, Olivier Paris can rest easy with his lead intact — at least for now.
1. Olivier Paris — 140.00 (1st)
2. Abdessamade El Mzdadi — 121.00 (2nd)
3. Diogo Miranda — 120.00 (3rd)
3. Davor Dadic — 120.00 (3rd)
5. Bart Lybaert — 98.00 (5th)
( ) — Previous month’s position
* — New to the top five
Overall by Buy-in
There’s only one change in the race for BLUFF High Roller Player of the Year bragging rights, but it’s a big one. Vanessa Selbst, by virtue of her win in the $25,000 Mixed Max event to open the 2014 WSOP, is the new sheriff in town where it comes to High Rollers. When added to her third-place finishes in both High Rollers at the PCA, this bracelet win gives Selbst an enormous lead going forward. Only two other tournaments will qualify for points at this buy-in tier over the rest of the summer — the $50,000 Poker Players Championship and the Big One for One Drop.
While any of the other members of the top five could very easily make a run in either or both of those tournaments, it seems as though it will take a herculean effort to unseat Selbst.
1. Vanessa Selbst — 524.50 (5th)
2. Mike McDonald — 360.00 (1st)
3. Fabian Quoss — 359.10 (2nd)
4. Philipp Gruissem — 310.20 (3rd)
5. Jacob Schindler — 282.00 (4th)
Despite being a no-show to this point at the 2014 WSOP, Dominik Panka continues to lead this particular race. For one of the few times all year when it’s even possible, a non-Hold’em event had a significant amount of influence on the positioning in this race. In defeating Daniel Negreanu heads-up Paul Volpe secured his first career bracelet in the $10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Championship. The other, unintended prize for that victory was a big chunk of Player of the Year points, which helped to bring him up to third.
Volpe’s other two results at this level are a win at the LAPC Bobby Hoff Commemorative tournament, a $5,250 buy-in event, and a 13th-place finish in the $10,000 Razz. The top five is otherwise the same this month, but with a number of $10,000 and $5,000 buy-ins still to come at the 2014 WSOP there’s still a lot of maneuvering to be done this summer.
1. Dominik Panka — 620.00 (1st)
2. Alex Bilokur — 417.05 (2nd)
3. Paul Volpe — 381.00 (*)
4. James Carroll — 370.60 (3rd)
5. Keven Stammen — 337.45 (4th)
Very few WSOP events fall into this buy-in level, and even fewer events from other festivals around Vegas hit this sweet spot either. That’s keeping James Calderaro in the driver’s seat for now, but a half season of WPT events and EPT events post-WSOP will test that lead to say the least. Nobody new managed to crack the top five at the Triple-A level at all this month, but a handful of big field events could potentially make their impact in the coming weeks.
1. James Calderaro — 403.20 (1st)
2. Eric Afriat — 322.00 (2nd)
3. Robert Merulla — 280.00 (3rd)
4. Mukul Pahuja — 272.44 (4th)
5. Andrea Dato — 257.68 (5th)
There isn’t a ton of turnover at Double-A, but most of the players toward the top of this buy-in tier have tacked a few extra points onto their scores over the last month. Eric Blair earned two cashes in this range, including a WSOPC final table in Philadelphia where he finished fifth. Joseph McKeehen got an early cash in the $1,500 Shootout at the WSOP, winning his first table before succumbing at his second. Jonathan Gaviao stayed stagnant and dropped a spot from third to fourth, and Erwann Pecheux made a deep run in a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event at the WSOP before bowing out in 11th.
The lone newcomer owes his position on this list almost entirely to one tournament — one massive, millionaire-making tournament. Jonathan Dimmig outlasted a field with 7,977 entries — the second largest live tournament field in history — to win a life changing $1.3 million in the WSOP’s Millionaire Maker. With two other cashes to top his score up, Dimmig debuts in third in the BLUFF Double-A Player of the Year standings.
1. Eric Blair — 502.80 (1st)
2. Joseph Mckeehen — 368.92 (2nd)
3. Jonathan Dimmig — 361.00 (*)
4. Jonathan Gaviao — 349.10 (3rd)
5. Erwann Pecheux — 338.50 (5th)
Dave Banerjee’s established a pace at the Single-A buy-in tier that’s going to be tough to match, but the other four players in this month’s top five are certainly trying their best. John Zentner’s put together some serious volume over the last month with three qualifying cashes in WSOP Daily Deepstacks events, including a win in the 6 p.m. and a sixth-place finish over the course of just three days.
William Scarsdale drops a spot to third with no results, while Ly Tran debuts at fourth thanks to a win in a $75 WPT DeepStacks prelim at the Bike that drew an astounding 2,531 entries. Edison Tapiz rounds out the top five thanks to five qualifying results in the greater Los Angeles area, including a $100,000 win in Event 4 at the Liz Flynt Spring classic and a fourth-place finish at the same series in Event 7.
1. Dave Banerjee — 193.25 (1st)
2. John Zentner — 123.81 (5th)
3. William Scarsdale — 115.88 (2nd)
4. Ly Tran — 110.00 (*)
5. Edison Tapiz — 104.95 (*)
( ) — Previous month’s position
* — New to the top five