This year’s World Series of Poker Europe begins Thursday at King’s Casino in Rosvadov, Czech Republic and along with it the race for the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year is enters its final lap. Players have 11 bracelet events left in which they can rack up cashes and add-on to their current point totals from this past summer. The player who finishes in first will be crowned the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year, get free entry into the 2018 WSOP Main Event, and have a banner of themselves draped in rooms of the Rio for 2018 and years to come.
Former Full Tilt Poker officer Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson has returned to the spotlight and this time he’s looking to get away with the WSOP Player of the Year award. After an impressive summer of results, having cashed in 17 events and posting 898.46 points, Ferguson sits atop the current leaderboard putting him in the driver’s seat to take the title. Giving Ferguson an extra leg up on those that would overtake him is a free entry into the €10,350 WSOPE Main Event, one of the benefits of being the points leader after the summer in Las Vegas.
Right behind Ferguson sits two-time WSOP bracelet Winner, Ryan Hughes (876.35). Hughes is only 22.11 points out of first and after a stellar summer of his own, making three final tables in the midst of 16 cashes, the Arizona grinder find himself in the best position to make a move on first place.
Capturing his third WSOP gold bracelet in 2017 in Event #22 ($10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Championship) helped put well-rounded poker pro John Monnette (865.21) in third place in the POY race. Only 33.25 points out of first, should Monnette decide at the last minute to make the trip to Rozvadov rather than stay in the States to root on his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, he would be one to watch down the stretch.
Former November Niner John Racener (853.16) also won a bracelet, his first, in 2017. His victory in Event #17 ($10,000 Dealers Choice Championship), along with a monster summer, complete with 17 scores at the Rio, catapulted Racener into fourth place – 45.3 points behind Ferguson. The recently-married Racener is currently on honeymoon in Europe, perhaps planning to wrap up the celebration of love with a stop at King’s Casino.
Over the course of two weeks, Raymond Henson (768.49) sat at 4 final tables and posted a string of five-figure scores allowing him to round out the POY Top 5. His nearly 130 point gap is by no means insurmountable. Using the 2015 WSOP as a barometer, it would require something akin a deep run in the Main Event or an outright victory in a side event, while those above him stay static, in order to make the leap. It seems unlikely though that the Houston resident will make the trip abroad to take a crack at getting the banner.
The second half of the top 10 is littered with top-tier pros, all who could make a real run at the crown if the right amount of heat is applied. Two-time bracelet winner Ben Yu (766.49) sits right behind Henson in sixth and poker pro Alex Foxen (754.36) has already confirmed that he’ll be in Rozvadov trying to finish strong.
About to take off for Czech Republic, heading to kings casino for WSOPE to deny that fake cowboy clown POY #FTGB
— Alex Foxen (@WAFoxen) October 17, 2017
Two-time WSOP Player of the Year winner Daniel Negreanu (717.26) has never made any pretenses that he would like to win it yet again. To get there the six-time bracelet winner would need to post some serious results, perhaps even adding a seventh bracelet to his collection could do it. Despite his previous intentions, Negreanu has confirmed that he plans on skipping the WSOPE this year. Italy’s Dario Sammartino (710.96) and tournament director turned poker crusherKenny Hallert (686.81) complete the top 10.
The fact is, as the formula to determine points this year is based on ROI, taking into account buy-in and amount won, if any of these players, or even some further down on the list, make amazing strides and win all the money they may find themselves earning the prestigious title of World Series of Poker Player of the Year.
The sprint to the finish begins when those who make the trek to Leon Tsoukernik’s King’s Casino take their seats on October 19.