As the WPT World Championship Main Event got underway in Las Vegas on December 12, thousands of players lined up to play the tournament. There was a $15M guarantee on the prize pool and hopes of the actual tally exceeding $20M.

Several players had a goal in mind beyond the prize money, a title that would mean something different to each of them. It was the WPT Player of the Year title, one for which they worked hard and hoped would cap off a tough but career-best season with the World Poker Tour.

The two players at the top of the POY leaderboard at the start of the Main Event were Chad Eveslage and Steve Buckner. Both were finishing their best years for live poker tournament earnings to date, Eveslage doing so with quiet determination and Buckner a bit more loudly but tenaciously nonetheless. They each had different reasons for wanting to be the WPT Player of the Year. And they went into the Main Event in December with that goal in mind.

Main Event POY Points

Going into the WPT World Championship Main Event, Eveslage had the most points in the Player of the Year race but hadn’t locked up the title.

Buckner was in second place on said leaderboard and had the opportunity to pass Eveslage with a big finish in the Main Event.

Ray Qartomy went into the Main Event third in the POY race, followed by Josh Kay and Stephen Song. Despite the latter winning the WPT Prime Championship, he could not win enough points to climb the board. Kay cashed in the Main Event for 279th, not enough to do any damage. And Quartomy did not cash at the WPT Wynn series.

Eveslage didn’t cash in the Main Event, either. This meant he was vulnerable…until Buckner min-cashed the Main Event in 319th place. That ended the race with Buckner finishing second.

Chad Eveslage became the WPT Player of the Year 2022.

POY Standings and Prizes

The final standings, per the World Poker Tour website, gave the POY award to Eveslage. But each of the top three finishers won prizes as follows:

  • Chad Eveslage (2,325 points from $1,450,825 winnings): $15K WPT Passport
  • Steve Buckner (2,275 points from $1,056,950 winnings): $10K WPT Passport
  • Josh Kay (1,825 points from $824,080 winnings): $5K WPT Passport

The passports can be used for buy-ins at any live World Poker Tour event around the world during Season XXI in 2023.

Eveslage joins a list of poker greats that have claimed WPT POY titles through the years:

  • Season 1: Howard Lederer
  • Season 2: Erick Lindgren
  • Season 3: Daniel Negreanu
  • Season 4: Gavin Smith
  • Season 5: JC Tran
  • Season 6: Jonathan Little
  • Season 7: Bertrand Grospellier
  • Season 8: Faraz Jaka
  • Season 9: Andy Frankenberger
  • Season 10: Joe Serock
  • Season 11: Matthew Salsberg
  • Season 12: Mukul Pahuja
  • Season 13: Anthony Zinno
  • Season 14: Mike Shariati
  • Season 15: Benjamin Zamani
  • Season 16: Art Papazyan
  • Season 17: Erkut Yilmaz
  • Season 18: Brian Altman
  • Season 19: Jake Ferro
  • Season 20: Chad Eveslage

The entire leaderboard starts from scratch for 2023 as the calendar year changes over. It will be anyone’s game in the new year.