World Series of Poker Europe

How Important Is the First Open Event of the WSOP in the Player of the Year Race?

How Important Is the First Open Event of the WSOP in the Player of the Year Race? 0001
  • PokerNews takes a look at how the finalists in the first open event of the World Series of Poker each year fare in the Player of the Year race.

The World Series of Poker Player of the Year (POY) race is always a fun one to follow. This year, the formula backing the rankings is powered by the Global Poker Index (GPI), and it will cover all open events at the WSOP in Las Vegas this summer and WSOP Europe in Berlin in October.

On Friday, the first open event of the 2015 WSOP found its winner, with Michael Wang defeating Bryn Kenney in heads-up play to earn the title in Event #2: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em. Along with the $466,120 top prize, Wang booked 473.22 POY points, and he currently leads the way over Kenney (418.96) and Artur Koren (387.22).

Koren finished third behind Wang and Kenney, and that got us thinking — how do the players that get off to an early start fare in the WSOP POY race when it's all said and done?

Let's take a look.

YearFirst Open EventTop FinishersEnd-of-Year POY Position
2014$25,000 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold'em1st: Vanessa Selbst38
  2nd: Jason Mo114
  3rd: Al Decarolis250
  4th: JC Tran15
2013$5,000 8-Handed No-Limit Hold'em1st: Trevor Pope57
  2nd: David Vamplew18
  3rd: Darryll Fish192
  4th: Jared Hamby13
  5th: Jamie Armstrong247
  6th: Dan Kelly19
  7th: Brandon Meyers317
  8th: David Peters33
2012$1,500 No-Limit Hold'em1st: Brent Hanks45
  2nd: Jacob Bazeley173
  3rd: Andrew Badecker272
  4th: Vanessa Selbst11
  5th: Ryan Schmidt295
  6th: Abdyl KonjuhiNot in top 500
  7th: Michael Kaufman325
  8th: JP Kelly132
  9th: Richard ParkNot in top 500
2011$10,000 Heads-Up Championship1st: Jake Cody10
  2nd: Yevgeniy Timoshenko28
  3rd: Gus Hansen201
  4th: Eric Froehlich46
2010$50,000 Poker Players' Championship1st: Michael Mizrachi2
  2nd: Vladimir ShchemelevT-16
  3rd: David OppenheimT-195
  4th: John JuandaT-3
  5th: Robert MizrachiT-22
  6th: David "Bakes" BakerT-3
  7th: Daniel AlaeiT-25
  8th: Mikael ThuritzT-61
2009$40,000 40th Annual No-Limit Hold'em1st: Vitaly Lunkin4
  2nd: Isaac HaxtonT-42
  3rd: Greg RaymerT-180
  4th: Dani SternT-227
  5th: Justin BonomoT-120
  6th: Alec TorelliT-157
  7th: Lex VeldhuisT-177
  8th: Noah SchwartzT-180
  9th: Ted ForrestT-451
2008$10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship1st: Nenad MedicT-45
  2nd: Andy BlochT-13
  3rd: Kathy LiebertT-118
  4th: Mike SextonT-220
  5th: Amit MakhijaT-173
  6th: Chris BellT-26
  7th: Patrick AntoniusT-265
  8th: Mike SowersT-391
  9th: Phil LaakT-341
2007$5,000 Mixed Hold'em Championship1st: Steve BillirakisT-18
  2nd: Greg MuellerT-18
  3rd: Tony GeorgeT-157
  4th: Steve Paul-AmbroseT-157
  5th: Fred BergerT-259
  6th: Roger McDowT-97
  7th: Kirk MorrisonT-177
  8th: Jon TurnerT-215
  9th: John YoungerT-331

Looking at the POY finishing position for those players that won the first open event of the WSOP, their average POY result was 27.4, with only Vitaly Lunkin, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, and Jake Cody placing in the WSOP POY's top 10 to end the year. Mizrachi earned the best finish when he took second in 2010 following opening the Series with a win in the $50,000 Poker Players' Championship.

If we extend this to looking at the top three finishers from the first open event of the year, we get an average POY finishing position of 91.9. Knowing that, it doesn't seem like winning or performing very well to reach the top three in the first event plays too much into the eventual POY finale. But if we look at different players specifically, it could be the case.

For players like Mizrachi and Lunkin, plus others like Vanessa Selbst, John Juanda, and David "Bakes" Baker, it can certainly help propel them to a much better summer, and that could eventually turn them into a contestant for to win the POY title. All of these players play a fairly high volume of WSOP events each summer and also play a wide variety of tournaments, they aren't just one-trick ponies. For them, getting off to a booming start can play big dividends on the long road ahead.

This year, Wang's victory might not lend itself to him topping the POY leaderboard when it's all said and done, but Kenney could very well get the early boost he'll need, as he's a high-volume player who will play all the games.

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