This time last year the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player of the Year (POY) race did not have a lot of buzz surrounding it. Jacobo Fernandez drew some attention with his large number of cashes around the same time that John Phan won his two bracelets. In fact, last year, it was only after the $50,000 buy-in HORSE event that people really started to pay much attention to it at all. After the prestigious high buy-in event, the race was a tight one between Barry Greenstein and Erick Lindgren, with Lindgren prevailing in the end.
This year is a different story. Last year Lindgren earned a total of 245 points to earn POY honors, edging out Greenstein by ten points. So far this year, the current POY leader, Ville Wahlbeck has already eclipsed that number with 255 points and several other players are nipping at his heels.
While Wahlbeck may not be a household name, his results at the 2009 WSOP are earning him quite a bit of attention. He has been absolutely destroying the $10,000 buy-in events, cashing in a grand total of four of them this summer and making it to the final table in three of them. In addition to taking second to Nick Schulman in the Deuce to Seven Lowball Championship Event and 3rd in the Stud Championship, Wahlbeck also earned his first bracelet when he won the Mixed Game Championship, defeating former WPT Champion David Chiu heads-up.
The other two players who have already earned over 200 POY points also have two 2009 WSOP bracelets to their name. After failing to take down a bracelet in the ‘08 WSOP Phil Ivey has taken down two so far this year, bringing his lifetime total to seven. His first win this summer came in the $2,500 buy-in Deuce to Seven Event and less than a week later he turned around and won the $2,500 buy-in Omaha H/L and Sutd H/L Mixed Event for $96,367. He is up to four cashes this WSOP and currently sits in second place with 225 points.
Right behind Ivey is internet pro Brock “t_soprano” Parker, who has also won two bracelets so far this year. Best known for his Limit Hold’em game, Parker won the 6-handed Limit Hold’em Event and immediately turned around and won the 6-handed No Limit Hold’em Event. For the moment, Parker also holds the largest number of cashes this Series with five. Ivey, Wahlbeck, Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier, Roland de Wolfe and several others have four under their belt so far this year.
Steve Sung should not be counted out in the POY race: in addition to winning the 6,000-person $1,000 Stimulus Special event, Sung final tabled the Deuce to Seven Lowball Championship and just took 13th in a recent $2,500 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha tournament. The Asia Poker Tour (APT) sponsored player is currently fifth on the POY leader board with 160 points.
Here are the top ten runners in the POY race as of Tuesday morning:
1st: Ville Wahlbeck – 255pts
2nd: Phil Ivey – 225 pts
3rd: Brock Parker – 220pts
4th: Pete Vilandos – 175 pts
5th: Steve Sung – 160 pts
6th: Daniel Negreanu – 155 pts
7th: Jeffrey Lisandro – 150 pts
8th: Jason “treysfull21” Mercier – 147 pts
9th: Roland de Wolfe – 145 pts
10th: Scott “BigRiskky” Clements – 135 pts

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