The 2014 BLUFF Player of the Year standings across North America’s buy-in tiers all saw movement with the poker world able to pick and choose from all buy-in levels during the summer in Las Vegas. The World Series of Poker contributed the most to POY scores, but competing events at the Wynn, Venetian and Bellagio had a huge effect on the rankings.
The fight for the overall lead in the North American standings is a two-horse race between Jacob Schindler and Joseph McKeehen. The pair are separated by less than 15 points and with a full schedule of domestic events coming up either player could pull away.
Mike Leah, Brandon Shack-Harris and Keven Stammen round out the top five north of 600 points. The 600 point mark has only been reached by two other players, George Danzer and Mukul Pahuja, and anyone else will have to string together a couple of deep runs to throw their hat in the ring to be included in the discussion.
Schindler began 2014 with a bang by winning the PCA $25,000 High Roller when he outlasted Greg Merson. Schindler picked up his first seven-figure score and 282 POY points in the Bahamas and picked up a couple of cashes during the Spring.
Within one month’s time during the summer Schindler managed three third place finishes that earned him 133, 125 and 110.50 POY points respectively. Schindler’s hot streak put him in the lead and a loaded tournament schedule until the end of the year he could put a streak together that could ice out everyone else.
McKeehen has made his way to the payout desk 17 times already in 2014 – seven times for at least five-figures. The most impressive being his runner-up finish in the 2014 World Series of Poker’s Monster Stack event for $820,863.
- Jacob Schindler – 758.95
- Joseph McKeehen – 744.42
- Mike Leah – 675.14
- Brandon Shack-Harris – 672.90
- Keven Stammen – 623.55
George Danzer earned his huge lead in the Elite category with four cashes in $10,000 events, not to mention two bracelets, during the WSOP. He also cashed in the PCA Main Event for five-figures for a total of $787,157 in North American Elite qualifying events.
Volpe scored two wins in his qualifying scores by first winning the Bobby Hoff Commemorative tournament at the LA Poker Classic for $127,490 and 170 POY points. Then Volpe won his first WSOP bracelet by taking down the prestigious No Limit Deuce to Seven championship event. He closed out his summer with a fourth place finish in a Venetian DSE main event for $125,248 and 97.24 POY points.
- George Danzer – 601.20
- Paul Volpe – 467.24
- Alex Bilokur – 460.00
- Isaac Baron – 448.40
- Dominic Panka – 400.00
Success on the World Poker Tour is the primary reason both James Calderaro and Eric Afriat sit on top of the Triple-A rankings. Calderaro has had a breakout year in 2014 after a few years of building results while Afriat had a single score that propelled him into second place.
Calderaro won his first WPT event in February at the Lucky Hearts Poker Open. He earned $271,103 and 196 POY points and then bubbled the final table at the Rolling Thunder event for $30,170 and 29.40 POY points. He then moved on to the Jacksonville bestbet Open where he narrowly missed a second WPT title – he finished runner-up for $133,764 and 117.60 POY points.
Afriat had a a few significant cashes dating back to 2010 but mostly in low buy-in events and the occasional five-figure cash. But a single score at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown in April landed him in the second spot for Triple-A rankings. He took down the event for $1,081,184 and 322 POY points that fielded 1,795 entrants. He bested a final table that included Mukul Pahuja, James Mackey, Jake Bazeley, Matt Stout and Chance Kornuth.
- James Calderaro – 403.20
- Eric Afriat -322.00
- Robert Merulla – 280.00
- Mukul Pahuja – 272.44
- Sean Dempsey – 266.00
McKeehen brought most of his points that placed him in second place for the Overall POY leader to the Double-A level to hold the largest lead in any of the North American rankings. He’s followed by Eric Blair and Mike Leah, who have a chance of catching him. Asi Moshe and William Givens round out the top five.
Blair accumulated the majority of his qualifying points to land in second place from a couple of WSOP Circuit events and Venetian DSE events. He final tabled back-to-back WSOPC events in the Spring by first winning the Black Hawk main event for $116,325 and 143 POY points. Then two weeks later he finished fifth at the season-ending New Orleans stop. He took fifth place for $44,307 and 62.70 POY points.
Blair also won a Venetian DSE main event for $90,919 and 140 POY points in April and he also won a Wynn Classic preliminary event in March for $48,752 and 132 POY points. His success this year has him closing in on the $1 million mark for career live earnings.
- Joseph McKeehen – 719.12
- Eric Blair – 508.40
- Mike Leah – 477.64
- Asi Moshe – 421.00
- William Givens – 417.20
The common thread for Dave Banerjee, Gevork Kasabyan and Mike Eskandari is that they play a lot of small buy-in events in Los Angeles area card rooms. The Bicycle Casino, the Commerce and the Hustler Casino all offered a slew of budget buy-ins during long tournament series.
Banjeree earned $40,000 from a $160 Winning of the Green event with a $160 buy-in and it gave him 22 POY points. Kasabyan earned $63,085 for winning an LA Poker Classic event with a $150 buy-in and Eskandari picked up a $70,000 payday for a $140 buy-in event at the Larry Flynt Grand Slam of Poker event.
- Dave Banerjee – 190.25
- Gevork Kasabyan – 146.40
- Mike Eskandari – 145.63
- William Scarsdale – 132.38
- Ly Tran – 123.63
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