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Is Josh Arieh Running Away with WSOP Player of the Year?

Josh Arieh

With 10 days left before the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) concludes, Josh Arieh is the favorite to win the traditional Player of the Year award.

This year, the WSOP added a separate POY leaderboard — Velo No Limits — exclusively for no-limit hold'em events. Cole Ferraro, with 2,032 points, is surprisingly atop the charts thanks to a bracelet win in Event #61: $600 Deepstack Championship and a runner-up finish in Event #26: $1,000 Freezeout No-Limit Hold'em.

Ferraro's lead certainly isn't insurmountable. Pete Chen is right on his heels trailing by just over 200 points, and Ben Yu is right behind him in third place. Scott Ball is also at another NLH final table. The full leaderboard is as follows:

RankPlayerCountryPoints
1Cole FerraroUnited States2,032.64
2Pete ChenTaiwan1,826.68
3Ben YuUnited States1,810.85
4Georgios SotiropoulosGreece1,779.10
5Carlos ChangTaiwan1,768.18
6Daniel LazrusUnited States1,721.70
7Jason KoonUnited States1,667.26
8Scott BallUnited States1,630.85
9Ron IlaniIsrael1,599.13
10Ren LinUnited States1,586.60

Arieh Surging, Hellmuth Fading

Phil Hellmuth,

A few weeks into the series, it appeared Phil Hellmuth, who won his 16th bracelet in October and reached five final tables, was on a crash course to WSOP Player of the Year. Since then, however, he hasn't done much of anything.

In fact, his last result was a runner-up finish to Adam Friedman in Event #36: $10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed Championship.

Had Hellmuth held onto his massive chip lead when heads-up play began against Friedman, he'd be right in the thick of things when it comes to the current POY race. Instead, he's now a longshot.

Traditional 2021 WSOP Player of the Year Leaderboard

RankPlayerCountryPoints
1Josh AriehUnited States3,278.73
2Jake SchwartzUnited States2,816.45
3Anthony ZinnoUnited States2,731.32
4Kevin GerhartUnited States2,726.99
5Ryan LengUnited States2,684.04
6Tommy LeUnited States2,618.21
7Ben YuUnited States2,612.19
8Shaun DeebUnited States2,611.07
9Phil HellmuthUnited States2,598.59
10Dylan LindeUnited States2,518.97

Arieh, like Ferraro, has been a huge surprise this year at the World Series of Poker. But, perhaps, it shouldn't have been too surprising considering he has an extensive history of poker success, starting with his third-place finish in the 2004 WSOP Main Event.

This fall, however, the Atlanta native is performing at an even higher level than ever before. Arieh has two bracelets in 2021, the first in Event #39: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha, and then the second a couple weeks later in Event #66: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship. On top of that, he reached Day 4 of the Main Event, but busted in 411th place.

Race isn't Over Yet

The now four-time bracelet winner is clearly the favorite to win POY right now. But that doesn't mean he's lock. There are still some formidable competitors not too far off his pace, including Jake Schwartz, who has made four final tables. He'll likely need at least one more deep run and a couple extra cashes to go with it to catch up to Arieh, however.

Anthony Zinno, who also has two bracelets this fall, is another potential POY winner. And then Arieh is facing the perennial Player of the Year favorites Shaun Deeb and Daniel Negreanu, both talented enough to pull off a comeback late in the series.

On November 13, there were six bracelet events in action, including the Main Event. There are still an additional 15 tournaments left on the schedule before the series concludes two days prior to Thanksgiving. That means those trailing Arieh have plenty of opportunities to overtake his lead, but if he continues to perform at such a high level, the task won't be easy.

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