Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi has made a move early in the 2005 season to take the top spot in the CardPlayer Magazine Player Of The Year Race. It looks as though he may be a man to watch out for as the year plays out.
Following up on his final table play at the World Poker Open in Tunica, MS, Mizrachi used his championship at the World Poker Tour's L. A. Poker Classic to vault to the top of the rankings. Mizrachi, of Hollywood, FL, has already captured over $2 million in just over two months of the season, which indicates that he is going to be a major player in the battle for the award all season long.
Many professionals used their play during the L. A. Poker Classic to make some serious moves on the POY leaderboard. Erick Lindgren, who has final table finishes in the World Series of Poker Circuit, the Professional Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour, is close at the heels of "The Grinder" and looking to make more moves as the season moves into March. Amir Vahedi, along with Nicholas Frangos, has made the most point scoring final tables and has a hold on the third place slot in the list. Another player who made noise during the Classic, John Phan, enters into the list in fourth place while Tunica champion John Stoltzmann resides in fifth.
The aforementioned Frangos holds a slim lead for sixth place over 2004 Player Of The Year Daniel Negreanu, who has used two nice finishes, but no championships, early on to stay in the top ten in seventh place. Rounding out the top ten is another player who used the L. A. Poker Classic as a season starter, Haralabos Voulgaris (eighth) and two players who used their early season success to maintain their standings, Jack Binion WPO runner up Chau Giang (ninth) and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion John Gale (tenth).
Three players lurk outside of the top ten who may be entering into it over the next month. Hung La (twelfth), Ted Forrest (thirteenth) and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (fourteenth) all are playing excellent poker and Ferguson especially should move up with his championship in the World Series of Poker Circuit's Harrah's Rincon stop.
It is still early, but with a seemingly endless tournament trail over the next couple of months with several WPT and WSOP Circuit stops, the Player Of The Year race should be hotly contested. It will be interesting to see where the board ends up come May, with the elongated World Series of Poker being battled out in June and July. By then, we will have a clearer picture as to who may become the next CardPlayer Magazine Player Of The Year!