Leading up to the 36th Annual World Series of Poker, the CardPlayer Magazine Player of The Year race is heating up! While Long Beach, CA's John Phan continues to hold down the top spot on the prestigious list, the action behind him has been scintillating.
Ted Forrest has been the big mover during the month of May. The Las Vegas, NV professional had a fantastic month, to say the least. In preparation for the beginning of the World Series, Forrest was able to get his game in shape at the first stop of the fourth season of the World Poker Tour. The Mirage Poker Showdown was his warmup ground as he was able to capture a second place finish in the WPT Main Event (behind Gavin Smith), then turn it on again the next day and conquer the Professional Poker Tour's stop at the same venue. With all of that effort, Forrest finds himself a scant 582 points behind Phan.
Phil Ivey has to be hitting the prime of his game as well. He led much of the WPT Championship at the Bellagio before succumbing to a difficult final table and finishing sixth. But at the Lake Tahoe WSOP Circuit event, Ivey made a big move. In an epic three hour heads up battle against eventual champion Jeffrey Lisandro, Phil was finally put away but still captured the second place prize and the all-valuable POY points. As we enter the World Series, the Atlantic City native finds himself in sixth on the top ten list.
Erick Lindgren and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi continue to be threats on the POY hunt. They both scored POY points during the Five Star World Poker Classic and the Mirage Poker Showdown to hold on to their third and fourth slots respectively. They both also have to be considered serious threats to take the POY title, as they have been the two most consistent players through the first half of the year. The question may be if they can sustain it throughout the entirety of 2005.
Amir Vahedi and Paul Darden have made six final tables in the first half of the year, and they are using the points they accumulated there to take fifth and seventh. Both hold onto World Series bracelets and are looking to add to their wealth at this year's event.
Rounding out the top ten are Jean Robert Bellande (who has been racking up points throughout the first half of the year) and Jack Binion's World Poker Open champion John Stolzmann.
It's needless to say, but the World Series will have a sizeable effect on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race. The top ten are only separated by approximately 1600 points and any player who gets on a charge in June and July will set themselves up for a great shot at winning the overall race. When you add into the mix the players who are around 2000 points out, including WPT Champion Tuan Le and 2004 POY Daniel Negreanu, it will be very interesting who hits the month of July with the lead in the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race!
Ed Note: Everest Poker has the highest rated graphics of all the rooms we cover