2019 WSOP Player of the Year: Dan Zack, Ben Heath Early Leaders

Dan Zack (left) and Ben Heath (right)

Seven days are in the books for the 2019 World Series of Poker, during which the first seven bracelets of the summer were won. Unsurprisingly, players claiming those titles dominate the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year leaderboard as the early frontrunners, with Dan Zack and Ben Heath occupying the top two spots at present.

Zack won his first career bracelet in Event #6: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball where he topped 296 players to win a $160,447 first prize. That win plus two other cashes lands Zack in the No. 1 position a week into the series.

Meanwhile Heath also captured his first WSOP gold in Event #5: $50,000 50th Annual High Roller No-Limit Hold'em, besting the 110-entry field and a tough final table to earn the victory and the biggest prize so far this summer of $1,484,085. Heath currently resides just behind Zack at No. 2.

Here's how the 2019 WSOP POY Top 10 looks as of this morning, Wednesday, June 5:

PlacePlayer2019 WSOP POY Points
1Dan Zack1,377.31
2Ben Heath1,231.20
3Brian Green1,084.79
4Derek McMaster1,017.80
5Alex Epstein1,008.68
6Yong Keun Kwon1,002.11
7Chance Kornuth834.39
8Andrew Lichtenberger669.63
9Scott Eskenazi660.84
10Cary Katz609.78

The next four spots on the leaderboard are all occupied by bracelet winners as well, with only Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em winner Nicholas Haynes missing as that event does not count toward the POY race (more on that below).

Brian Green (No. 3) won Event #2: $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty No Limit Hold'em, while Derek McMaster (No. 4) won the title in Event #4: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better.

As seen on PokerGO last night, Alex Epstein (No. 5) won the first ever short deck bracelet at the WSOP, topping 114 to win Event #8: $10,000 Short Deck No-Limit Hold'em. And Yong Kwon (No. 6) won the first of nine online bracelets to be awarded this year, beating out fifth-place finisher Phil Hellmuth and others to win Event #7: $400 WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold'em.

Like Zack and Heath, those four players (and Haynes) all won their first WSOP bracelets.

Chance Kornuth (No. 7) has two bracelets already, and came close to picking up a third on two different occasions over the past week, taking fourth in the $10K Short Deck event and sixth in the $50K High Roller. Andrew Lichtenberger (No. 8) also nearly grabbed himself a second career bracelet, but finished runner-up to Heath in the $50K.

Rounding out the Top 10, Scott Eskenazi (No. 9) has cashed twice thus far including a third-place finish, and Cary Katz (No. 10) has made two brief final table appearances already, having notched an eighth-place finish and a ninth-place finish during the first week at the WSOP.

Looking just outside the Top 10, Ben Yu — who a year ago finished second to Shaun Deeb in the 2018 WSOP POY race — sits at No. 11 after three early cashes. Thai Ha (No. 12), Sam Soverel (No. 13), Ali Imsirovic (No. 14), and Loren Klein (No. 15) are just behind Yu heading into the second week.

About the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year

After changing the way POY points were calculated prior to last year, the WSOP has kept the same formula to determine this year's winner. The formula is "loosely based" on the one employed to calculate WSOP Circuit rankings, with modifiers based on buy-ins and field sizes.

At the time, the WSOP explained the changes had been made "to better reward bracelet winners and players who run deep, while still rewarding consistency." A couple of differences from the pre-2018 system include a bigger gap between points earned from first- and second-place finishes, and min-cashes being worth relatively less than was the case before.

Here's an information sheet provided by the WSOP that provides further details regarding the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year.

The 2019 WSOP POY race includes all 83 of the "open" bracelet events from this summer's WSOP in Las Vegas as well as events from the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe series that will take place in Rozvadov, Czech Republic later this year (Oct. 15-Nov. 4). That means from the full schedule of 89 bracelet events this summer, the following six events are excluded:

  • Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em
  • Event #32: $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold'em
  • Event #39: $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold'em
  • Event #47: $1,000/$10,000 Ladies Event
  • Event #57: $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold'em
  • Event #81: $1,500 Bracelet Winners Only No-Limit Hold'em

While we'll be looking in on the WSOP POY race once a week here on PokerNews, you can always check the standings any time on the constantly updated WSOP Player of the Year page. There you also can find a "WSOP Point Calculator" to discover in advance how many points each event will award based on the number of entries.

WSOP Photography: Tomas Stacha (Zack) and Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive (Heath).

Follow all of the action from the 2019 World Series of Poker and keep track of which players are making POY pushes on PokerGO.

  • After earning bracelets during Week 1, Dan Zack and Ben Heath are early leaders for 2019 WSOP POY.

  • Bracelet winners Zack, Heath, Green, McMaster, Epstein & Kwon top the 2019 WSOP POY race one week in.

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