Player of the Year

Jan. 27, 2012, Posted by Jeff.Kimber

Player of the Year

Who is the best poker player in the world? It’s one of those questions that everyone has an opinion on, few people agree on, and there’s no satisfactory way of quantifying it.  Despite that, various institutions award a “Player of the Year” award worked out in their own way, and recently Card Player announced they are tweaking their formula for how they award the Card Player Player of the Year for 2012.  Card Player says the new formula reflects the ‘evolving international tournament circuit’; in reality it is being further skewed to bigger buy-in events and is more likely than ever to be won by one of the ‘elite’ players who takes part in all the high roller events.

To be included by Card Player, the tournament buy-in must be $500 (up from $300) and larger buy-in tournaments will now how have multipliers to differentiate between, say, a $25k buy-in tournament and one with $100k.  In reality what that means is that grinders who have made the top 10 in the past by playing 100 or more smaller comps are no longer going to make it.  At the same time, those who play all the high roller events will be boosted up the table.

To put that into numbers, if Daniel Negreanu wins a 10-runner $100k buy-in tournament, he will get 600 POY points, the same amount our grinder will get for winning a $500 comp with 2500 runners.  Does that make Negreanu a better player than the guy who grinds 100 tourneys a year? No. Would you rather read about a guy making final tables in $300 comps in Card Player magazine?  Not at all.

There are some potential loopholes in the new Card Player formula, although presumably they could be closed at a later date.  For example, the minimum field size is now just 50 players (down from 60), but any tournament that generates a prize pool of more than $250,000 will count whatever.   When you consider that the Aussie Millions super high roller that Erik Seidel won last January had a $250k buy-in, there’s scope for a few rich guys to organise tournaments with buy-ins so high there will only be one table, and at the end of it one of them will be able to call themselves the player of the year.

The decision to change the formula to skew the POY race more towards the elite players has drawn criticism, but looking at the 2011 table worked out with both the new and old ways, there’s not too much difference.  In a year where he got used to being the bridesmaid, Chris Moorman finished runner-up to the Card Player Player of the Year Ben Lamb either way.  Unsurprisingly, the big movers would have been those that excelled in the high rollers, with Seidel moving up from 13th to third, Elky up from 19th to 10th and Sam Trickett up from 11th to 8th

While Card Player has pointed out that this shows their new formula hasn’t affected things too much, going forward that could be different.  After all, the number of high roller events is growing every year, and from a couple in Australia, one at each leg of the EPT and the odd one at WPTs and the WSOP, that could grow and grow, and with it the dominance of those elite players who can afford the $25k-plus buy-ins of the player of the year tables.  In reality, trying to name a player of the year in a game that is played all over the world against varying fields at hugely varying levels is a thankless and almost impossible task.

And we all know that Phil Ivey is the best anyway.

Jeff Kimber is a 36-year-old Grosvenor Casino sponsored professional poker player who has amassed well over $1.5million in career earnings, having given up a successful career as a sports journalist to forge a career at the poker tables. He has won the World Heads-up championship and a UK Poker Tour main event, as well as major final tables in $5,000-plus buy-in events at WPT and Asian Poker Tour events, the Ladbrokes Poker Cruise and the Johnny Chan Invitational in the Caribbean. Jeff has made three WSOP final tables, all in PLO events, including a second place to JC Tran in 2009. While his live exploits have continued, Jeff is still a very successful online player under the nickname JaffaCake, uncluding winning iPoker’s ECOOP $1k PLO rebuy in December 2008 for close to $50k.

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