As we head into the final five months of the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race, one thing has been the keyword to the success of the players that are listed there: consistency.
Long Beach, CA's John Phan has been the most steady player throughout the first seven months of the year. He is the only player who has been able to accumulate points in each month of the season to date, using these multiple point finishes to build a 862 point lead over the rest of the field. It has to be recognized that Phan is one of the premiere players in the poker world at this moment and is one of the most steady players overall.
To look at the other end of the spectrum, you only have to look at second place Michael Gracz. He has only made two final tables this year, but has made the most of both trips with victories at the Party Poker Millions and at the World Series of Poker. What may be an advantage for Gracz as we move into the fall is the factor of several East Coast tournaments. Gracz, from Raleigh, North Carolina, should be more comfortable with a shorter travel distance to tournaments such as the WSOP Circuit stops in Tunica and Atlantic City, as well as the WPT stop at the Borgota, the U. S. Poker Championships in Atlantic City and the later in the year stop at Foxwoods in Connecticut.
There has been a slight change to the Top Ten, although Ted Forrest and Erick Lindgren both hold onto their third and fourth place slots, respectively. Phil Ivey has jumped into the fifth place spot by virtue of his victory at the World Series in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event and his strong finish (20th) in the Main Event. He finds himself a scant 328 points out of moving into the second slot, however, and cannot be counted out on making a run at Phan, either.
Someone who has to be wondering just what happened to his game is Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi. For the first time this season, he finds himself on the outside of the top five and looking up at the leaders, although he has won more money than anyone in the Top Ten. Excepting a 14th place finish at the Ultimate Poker Challenge in July, he hasn't had a glimpse of the final table in a tournament since May and hasn't actually made a final table in six months. The Hollywood, FL native must be wondering what happened to the early season run he was on, where he made two consecutive final tables on the World Poker Tour with a victory at the L. A. Poker Classic. With that said, however, Mizrachi still has to be considered a threat, especially if he can rectify his recent lack of final table success.
The remainder of the Top Ten remains steady, save for Blair Rodman overtaking WSOP double bracelet winner Mark Seif for tenth place via a second place finish in the Ultimate Poker Classic. Amir Vahedi, Antonio Esfandiari and Harry Demetriou hold down the seventh through ninth places, respectively. What is the true test of all these gentlemen is that they have been able to build their point totals through excellent poker play. Out of the total of eighteen final tables the foursome have put together, only Vahedi has won tournaments, and they have been the preliminary events of larger tournaments in each case. This shows a very steady and successful style for each of them and we might see one of these gentlemen make some noise as we continue to the end of the season.
While the World Series may be over, the battle will be fierce for the Player of the Year title as we move to the East Coast for some major tournaments with no one in firm control of the lead. When you add in the plethora of some possibly overlooked tournaments, including the California State Poker Championship and several other tournaments in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas area, there is still the opportunity for some great action and lots of movement among the players as the Player of the Year race surges on!
Ed Note: Paradise Poker are gearing up for the Masters III tournament, which will have a prize pool of over $1,000,000