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Top 10 Stories of 2015, #8: GPI Player of the Year Race Comes Down to the Wire

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  • The exciting race for the Global Poker Index Player of the Year title ranked as PokerNews' No. 8 story from 2015.

The PokerNews Top 10 Stories of 2015 is presented by PLO QuickPro, the fastest way to learn PLO.

As far as the poker world is concerned, the 2015 calendar year has come to a close. In PokerNews tradition, our staff has scrolled through the archives and gone over the most compelling stories of the year to determine what we feel are the top 10 of the year. Our list was generated based upon a vote from staff members and audience feedback. Over the next 10 days, we'll count down what we believe are the biggest and most interesting stories from 2015.

Coming in at No. 8 on this year's list is the exciting race for the Global Poker Index Player of the Year title, which came right down to the wire in 2015.

GPI Player of the Year Race Comes Down to the Wire

It’s almost all over for the 2015 Global Poker Index Player of the Year race, save some final calculations and the production of an official end-of-year list by the GPI. But with the tournament calendar mostly quiet during the last week of the year, it appears Byron Kaverman has held on to earn the distinction of this year’s GPI POY despite a late challenge from the chase pack.

Here’s a look at the latest GPI Player of the Year rankings as of December 23, 2015, which takes into account a player’s 13 best results of the year in terms of points awarded:

RankPlayerGPI ScoreChange
1Byron Kaverman4736.90-
2Anthony Zinno4649.05-
3Steve O’Dwyer4640.17-
4Nicholas Petrangelo4605.26-
5Fedor Holz4260.13+4
6Dzmitry Urbanovich4233.71-1
7Jason Mercier4175.44-1
8Connor Drinan3996.08-1
9Scott Seiver3887.88+1
10Erik Seidel3875.60+1

Kaverman took over the top spot late in the year, making him one of eight different players who managed to sit in first position at some point during the course of 2015.

When the first Player of the Year rankings were released by the GPI at the end of January, Ramin Hajiyev had raced out to claim the early lead after a strong showing at the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Thomas Meuhloecker then became the frontrunner heading into February after picking up cashes at the 2015 Aussie Millions.

Scott Seiver — who finished inside the 2014 GPI POY top 10 — then moved to No. 1, also on the strength of a strong Aussie Millions where he final-tabled both the $100,000 Challenge (finishing third) and the $250,000 Challenge (finishing fourth).

At the start of March Joe Keuther claimed the top spot for a week before Seiver seized it back, then it was Dzmitry Urbanovich catapulting to the top after a remarkable performance at the European Poker Tour Malta festival that saw him win a record four side events including a win in the €25,500 High Roller. That run ultimately would help the Polish pro claim the EPT Season 11 Player of the Year.

Urbanovich would remain at No. 1 for 11 straight weeks, right up through the start of the 2015 World Series of Poker. Then in mid-June Connor Drinan nudged into first and would stay on top for four weeks before Anthony Zinno pushed in front thanks to a stellar WSOP including five cashes — all final tables — with a bracelet win in the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller.

Zinno’s fantastic WSOP rounded out an amazing six months that included back-to-back World Poker Tour Main Event victories in February at the WPT Fallsview Classic and WPT L.A. Poker Classic, followed by a WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars High Roller win in March, all of which helped earn him the WPT Season XIII Player of Year.

“I have been playing a lot of poker the last few years and I got my game to a level above what it used to be,” explained Zinno to PokerNews shortly after his WSOP bracelet win. “I had to realize a few years ago this is my job, this is my passion, and I want to be one of the best.”

By the start of November Zinno had been sitting in the top spot for 17 straight weeks, the longest tenure at the top for anyone in 2015. But Byron Kaverman had been steadily accumulating cashes, enough to move him into the top spot in the overall GPI rankings for the first time in early October.

At last Kaverman moved ahead of Zinno and into first in the POY race as well, hanging onto the lead through November and into the final month. Kaverman’s year had included two $25,000 ARIA High Roller victories on back-to-back days in March, a WSOP bracelet in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed Championship in June, and another win in the €10,300 High Roller at EPT12 Malta in October.

As the year wound down, Kaverman and others near the top traveled in December to the Czech Republic for EPT Prague and to Las Vegas for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic and WPT Alpha8 Las Vegas events.

Well aware of how close Zinno, Steve O’Dwyer, and Nicolas Petrangelo were to him in the standings, Kaverman tried in Prague to stay in front, talking to us about how he was “treating it as an athletic competition” in which he hoped to score enough to stay ahead of his challengers.

As it happened, Kaverman didn’t cash in Prague and thus failed to pick up any additional points, while O’Dwyer made things very interesting with a victory in the €50,000 Super High Roller helping him edge closer to the top.

It wasn’t quite enough for O’Dwyer, though, and after fading the results from the WPT events at the Bellagio and one final ARIA High Roller last Sunday, Kaverman sits in first for an eighth-straight week.

PlayerWeeks at No. 1Dates
Ramin Hajiyev1Jan. 21-27
Thomas Meuhloecker1Jan. 28-Feb. 3
Scott Seiver6Feb. 4-Mar. 3, Mar. 11-24
Joe Kuether1Mar. 4-10
Dzmitry Urbanovich11Mar. 11-June 9
Connor Drinan4June 10-July 7
Anthony Zinno17July 8-Nov. 3
Byron Kaverman8Nov. 4-present

We await the final 2015 Global Poker Index Player of the Year list, with the GPI still tracking down a few last results from casinos to make things official. But all indications suggest Kaverman was able to hold on to succeed 2014 GPI POY Daniel Colman as the next GPI Player of the Year.

For details about how the GPI Player of the Year scores are calculated, click here.

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