The end is nearing for this year’s respective Poker Player of the Year Race and while one seems all but over, another still has three different players who could walk away with the crown. Major poker publications Bluff and CardPlayer magazines each run their own races and, though the top ten of both possess some of the same names and faces, they each concluded that there was a different player who deserved the title.
Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier has all but wrapped up the Bluff points race despite being eliminated early in Day Two at the final major tournament of the year, the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic. The $15,000 buy-in World Poker Tour (WPT) event generated a field of over 325 players and gave those vying for the Player of the Year title one last chance to surge to the top. Prior to the start of the event, Mercier appeared to have the Bluff race all locked up, but a tallying of Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin’s points revealed that if Baldwin could finish at the final table of this event, he stood a chance of catching up with Mercier.
To make matters even more interesting, both players took down preliminary events at Bellagio. Mercier won the $5,000 buy-in HORSE event while Baldwin won a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em with rebuys event. Mercier earned $100,280 for his finish while Baldwin took home $256,660. Mercier was eliminated early in the day during Day 2 of the WPT Main Event on Tuesday and could only sit back and wait to see how Baldwin would fare. Thanks to Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Mercier didn’t have to wait too long, as Dwan busted Baldwin late in the day to put Mercier in a great position to take down the Bluff Player of the Year title.
All is not lost for Baldwin though, as he is the current frontrunner for CardPlayers’ Player of the Year honors. There are two players still in the tournament who can catch Baldwin in the points standings if either one of them can come up with a top three finish. Both Yevgeniy “JovialGent” Timoshenko and Cornel Andrew Cimpan can catch Baldwin, but Baldwin is not giving up without a fight. He posted on his Twitter account (@basebaldy) that he would be playing the $500 side event at the Bellagio on Wednesday and would also potentially fly out to Atlantic City to play some other Player of the Year-eligible events there should Timoshenko or Cimpan make a deep run in Las Vegas.
There are 130 players remaining in the WPT tournament and Cimpan is currently sitting 33rd in chips with 216,500 while Timoshenko is 80th in chips with 103,700. Both players are perfectly capable of getting business taken care of in a WPT event. Timoshenko earned his first WPT victory at Bellagio earlier this year with his win at the Championship event while Cimpan is fresh off a win at the Foxwoods World Poker Finals. Cimpan also won the LA Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino earlier this year.
Like Baldwin, we can only sit back and watch to see what happens as the 2009 Player of the Year race comes down to the absolute wire.

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