The World Series of Poker Player of the Year race has come to be defined by its photo finishes over the last few years. Ben Lamb sealed 2011 WSOP POY honors with a third place finish in the 2011 Main Event, as Phil Hellmuth narrowly missed out, and the Poker Brat was denied again in 2012 as Greg Merson needed to outright win that year’s Main Event – and pulled it off in dramatic fashion. Daniel Negreanu snatched the 2013 WSOP POY award from Matt Ashton in the very last eligible tournament of the year, winning the WSOP Europe High Roller.
Even these three races, with their twists and turns and dramatic conclusions, seemingly pale in comparison to the back and forth slugfest that played out between George Danzer and Brandon Shack-Harris at the 2014 WSOP. The difference between this race and the others was that Danzer and Shack-Harris’ paths crossed constantly at the table – they both dominated in almost every non-Hold’em format, and they even played heads-up for a bracelet.
In that event – the $10,000 Razz Championship – Danzer outlasted Shack-Harris to win his first career WSOP bracelet. It would be the first of three bracelets for Danzer, and the third – which came in the A$5,000 Mixed Game event at WSOP Asia-Pacific – would ultimately decide the POY race in Danzer’s favor.
Danzer’s WSOP POY win is the first by a European player since Jeffrey Lisandro claimed that title in 2010; that was also the last time someone won three WSOP bracelets in a calendar year.
For his part, Shack-Harris did not go quietly into the night. After starting APAC with the narrowest of margins, both he and Danzer cashed in the opening event of the series. By outlasting Shack-Harris by 30 spots in the money in ‘The Accumulator’, Danzer pulled virtually even in the standings.
Shack-Harris earned his second No Limit Hold’em cash of the series in a bounty event, and even managed a final table appearance. He’d ultimately go out sixth, putting some distance between the pair once more. As if it was scripted, Danzer made an APAC final table of his own two events later in the Dealer’s Choice 8-Game event and also took sixth, bringing things close once more.
Danzer found himself at his fifth final table just three days later, in that A$5,000 Mixed Event – and this time he pulled out the win. Shack-Harris, who had befriended Danzer throughout this well-fought race, took Danzer out for a congratulatory dinner – but vowed to keep fighting until the bitter end.
Shack-Harris did indeed make a run in the APAC Main Event, making the final 18 as he advanced on to Day 4. His best shot at overtaking Danzer at the finish line was derailed in 17th, as his pocket jacks were cracked by the A 9 of yet another WSOP POY – 2010 winner Frank Kassela. He immediately jumped in the High Roller, which was officially his last chance, but Shack-Harris couldn’t manage to put together a stack.
The sportsmanship displayed and the overall enjoyment that Danzer and Shack-Harris experienced over the course of as many of the 72 bracelet events as they could each play resulted in one of the most enjoyable WSOP POY finales we may ever see.
2014 WSOP Earnings: $867,101
2014 WSOP Cashes: 10
2014 WSOP Final Tables: 5
2014 WSOP Bracelets: 3 – $10,000 Razz, $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, A$5,000 Mixed Event
2014 WSOP Results
Event 5: $10,000 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw – 5th, $70,308
Event 18: $10,000 Razz – 1st, $294,792
Event 25: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo – 39th, $5,517
Event 32: $10,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em – 9th, $49,061
Event 38: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo – 1st, $352,696
Event 47: $1,500 Ante Only No Limit Hold’em – 48th, $3,759
Event 54: $3,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo – 44th, $6,107
APAC Event 1: A$1,100 No Limit Hold’em Accumulator – 22nd, $4,180
APAC Event 6: A$1,650 Dealer’s Choice Mixed Event – 6th, $6,488
APAC Event 8: A$5,000 Mixed Event – 1st, $74,193
2014 WSOP Earnings: $1,450,525
2014 WSOP Cashes: 9
2014 WSOP Final Tables: 5
2014 WSOP Bracelets: 1 – $1,000 Pot Limit Omaha
2014 WSOP Results
Event 3: $1,000 Pot Limit Omaha – 1st, $205,634
Event 18: $10,000 Razz – 2nd, $182,155
Event 43: $1,500 Limit Hold’em – 3rd, $78,335
Event 46: $50,000 Poker Players Championship – 2nd, $937,975
Event 59: $3,000 Omaha Hi-Lo – 34th, $7,236
Event 63: $1,500 10 Game Mixed Event – 21st, $4,775
APAC Event 1: A$1,1000 No Limit Hold’em Accumulator – 53rd, $2,063
APAC Event 4: A$1,650 No Limit Hold’em Terminator – 6th, $11,816
APAC Event 9: A$10,000 Main Event – 17th, $20,536
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