Stan’s Lists – WSOP Player of the Year

[SS] “Did any of you follow the WSOP Player of the Year1 race in Australia?” Stan the Stat asked the table.

[LL] “I actually streamed the last two events, so it was an interesting side story”, Leroy the Lion noted.

[RR] “Was it anyone I’ve heard of?” Roderick the Rock inquired.

[SS] “I doubt it. At least not before now.”

[LL] “A German named George Danzer was battling an American named Brandon Shack-Harris. They’d separated themselves from the pack over the summer then traded the lead a few times in Australia.”

[LL] “It came down to the last two WSOP APAC events. When Danzer busted out of the High Roller tournament, Shack-Harris was still alive in the APAC Main Event and could leapfrog to the title with a 2nd place finish.”

[LL] “Shack-Harris eventually got it all in with pocket Jacks ahead of Frank Kassela’s A♠9♦, but busted in 17th place when an Ace appeared on the board.”

[LL] “But late entry to the High Roller event was still open! The American jumped in but, alas, failed to cash, let alone make it to the 4th place finish he needed, crowning Danzer WSOP Player of the Year.”

[RR] “So, nobody in the November Nine is close to catching them?”

[SS] “Nope. The short stack, Bruno Politano, leads the November Niners with just 99.33 points, so the best he can do if he makes history by going from ninth to first is overtake John Hennigan for third place in the POY standings.”2

[SS] “Winning the Main Event is currently worth 500 points, but that hasn’t always been true. In fact, the POY formula has changed quite often through the years:

WSOP POY Formula Evolution

  • 2004: The WSOP Player of the Year race debuts, probably inspired by the WPT’s award, which began in 2003. Each event earns the same number of points based only on the players’ finish. The Main Event does not count.
  • 2005: Players earn one point for each dollar in prize money they win.
  • 2006: The new $50,000 HORSE tournament is also excluded from the rankings.
  • 2007: A new points system debuts but lacks any adjustment for the field size.
  • 2008: The $50,000 HORSE tournament starts counting.
  • 2009: The Main Event becomes eligible again, although POY Lisandro fails to cash in it.
  • 2010: Bluff Magazine takes over the ranking calculations.
  • 2011: Field size and buy-in become factors in the formula so larger fields and higher buy-ins are worth more. WSOP Europe events count for the first time after being ignored for four years.
  • 2013: WSOP Asia Pacific debuts and counts in the standings.
  • 2015: The Global Poker Index takes over the ranking calculations.3
  • 2017: Kings Casino Rozvadov, host of the 2017 WSOP Europe takes over the ranking calculations.”4

WSOP Player of the Year4

Year Winner Points Runner-Up Points Margin
2004 Daniel Negreanu ? Ted Forrest ? ?
2005 Allen Cunningham 1,007,115 Mark Seif 799,950 25.9%
2006 Jeff Madsen 1,467,852 Phil Hellmuth 1,190,002 23.3%
2007 Tom Schneider 255 Jeff Lisandro 225 13.3%
2008 Erick Lindgren 245 Barry Greenstein 235 4.3%
2009 Jeff Lisandro 355 Ville Wahlbeck 320 10.9%
2010 Frank Kassela 290 Michael Mizrachi 240 20.8%
2011 Ben Lamb 909.05 Phil Hellmuth 755.25 20.4%
2012 Greg Merson 981.13 Phil Hellmuth 889.33 10.3%
2013 Daniel Negreanu 890.22 Matthew Ashton 665.75 33.7%
2014 George Danzer 923.50 Brandon Shack-Harris 806.70 14.5%
2015 Mike Gorodinsky 2,251.81 Jonathan Duhamel 2,175.64 3.5%
2016 Jason Mercier 2,195.57 Paul Volpe 1,923.66 14.1%
2017 Chris Ferguson 1,178.53 John Racener 1,042.04 13.1%

[SS] “The formula has changed too much over the year to compare point totals between years, but here are some other highlights:

  • Merson was the only POY to win the Main Event, and as a result he also won the most money ($9,785,354), dwarfing Lamb’s second best total of $5,352,970. Negreanu (2004) won the least money ($346,280), a record that is unlikely to get broken.
  • Lisandro and Danzer won the most bracelets, three.
  • Negreanu (2004) and Danzer reached the most final tables, five.
  • Negreanu (2013) and Danzer cashed the most times, ten.
  • Although it came down to the final event of the year, Negreanu’s margin of victory in 2013 was the largest ever percentage-wise, aided by bracelets in both Melbourne, Australia and Enghien-les-Bains, France.
  • In 2008, Lindgren’s 4th place finish in the $50,000 HORSE tournament, two spots better than Greenstein’s, made the difference in the closest-ever POY race.4
  • In 2009, Lisandro failed to cash in the Main Event and had to hope that Wahlbeck didn’t go deep (he busted on Day 3).
  • The next three years came down to the Main Event Final Table. In 2010, Mizrachi needed to win the Main Event to tie Kassela but ended up placing fifth, two spots better than he started. In 2011, Lamb sealed WSOP POY honors with a third place finish in the Main Event, edging Hellmuth. In 2012, Merson needed to win the Main Event, which he did to leave Hellmuth second for a third time.”

Multiple Top Ten Finishes

[SS] “Bluff Magazine sponsored and tabulated the WSOP Player of the Year results from 2010 to 2014. In those five years, besides Hellmuth, four other players have finished in the Top 10 twice: Daniel Negreanu (1st in 2013 and 5th this year), David “Bakes” Baker (4th in 2010 and 5th in 2013), Michael Mizrachi (2nd in 2010 and 6th in 2012), and Richard Ashby (8th in 2010 and 10th this year).”

[SS] “Going back to 20075 adds Jeff Lisandro (2nd in 2007 and 1st in 2009), Phil Ivey (3rd in 2009 and 5th in 2012), and Tom Schneider (1st in 2007 and 10th in 2013).”

[SS] “Going back to 20056 adds Allen Cunningham (1st in 2005 and 10th in 2006). Hellmuth also placed 2nd in 2006 and 5th in 2007. Ivey also finished 6th in 2005.”

[SS] “Lastly, to go back to the beginning, in 2004 Negreanu was the first WSOP Player of the Year,6 making him the only two-time winner.”


  1. Competing Player of the Year awards will be covered in future articles.
  2. Other players could end up fourth, supplanting Daniel Negreanu, or fifth, edging Ismael Bojang. {November 13, 2014 update: Martin Jacobson won the Main Event to move into 3rd place, dropping John Hennigan to fourth and Negreanu to fifth.}
  3. Item added on May 21, 2015.
  4. 2017 and 2016 winners added November 13, 2017. 2015 winner added on January 7, 2016. Duhamel became the closest runner-up.
  5. has the final standings for 2007, 2008, and 2009.
  6. Final Standings from 2005 and 2006 were calculated by subtracting Main Event and $50,000 HORSE winnings from the 2005 and 2006 Money Leaders.
  7. Sorry, I have no final standings for 2004 (nor even the formula I’d need to calculate them), so I don’t know who else was in the Top 10 besides Negreanu and Forrest.

Related Links:


Stan’s Lists – WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia Pacific Final Hands

[SS] “Congratulations to Scott Davies, this year’s WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event champion”, Stan the Stat announced. “The American pro won $737,907 (850,136 Australian dollars) to nearly triple his career WSOP winnings.”

[LL] “Go USA!” Leroy the Lion interjected.

[SS] “Americans have now won five of the nine WSOP Europe and APAC Main Events, just one fewer than in the last nine WSOP Main Events.”

[LL] “Certainly an overachievement given the lower percentage of Americans at the non-U.S. events.”

[SS] “Here are the final hands they won with (well, all of the champs):”

WSOP Europe and Asia Pacific Main Event Winning Hands1

Year Event Winner Hand Value Runner-Up Hand Value Board
2007 E Annette Obrestad 7♥7♠ Three 7s John Tabatabai 6♦5♠ Two Pairs,
6s over 5s
2008 E John Juanda K♠6♣ Four 6s Stanislav Alekhin A♣9♠ Three 6s 6♦6♠2♦Q♣6♥
2009 E Barry Shulman T♠T♣ Three Tens Daniel Negreanu 4♠4♦ Pair of 4s T♦2♣K♦3♣Q♦
2010 E James Bord T♦T♥ Two Pairs,
Tens over 9s
Fabrizio Baldassari 5♠5♥ Two Pairs,
9s over 5s
2011 E Elio Fox A♦T♠ Pair of Sixes,
Ace Ten-kicker
Chris Moorman A♥7♠ Pair of Sixes,
Ace 8-kicker
2012 E Phil Hellmuth A♥T♦ Pair of Aces,
Jack Ten-kicker
Sergii Baranov A♠4♣ Pair of Aces,
Jack 9-kicker
2013 A Daniel Negreanu 2♠2♥ Pair of 2s Daniel Marton A♠7♠ Ace-high 6♦J♠K♥T♥4♦
2013 E Adrian Mateos A♠K♣ Pair of Kings Fabrice Soulier 9♦8♦ Pair of 9s J♥9♠4♣K♠5♣
2014 A Scott Davies 6♦6♠ Full House,
6s over Tens
Jack Salter Q♣T♣ Three Tens 6♥T♥T♠8♠3♠
2015 E Kevin MacPhee A♦4♦ Straight,
David Lopez K♥K♣ Pair of Kings 7♣5♥2♥3♣J♠
2017 E Marti de Torres 5♦Q♥ Pair of Fives Gianluca Speranza T♠8♦ Ace-high 4♥K♠5♥A♦3♠

[SS] “Some notes about the final hands:

  • Davies had the best winning hand of any champ, flopping sixes full of tens, while Salter, who had begun the six-player final table with the chip lead, had the best losing hand with three tens.
  • The money went all in pre-flop in every case except Obrestad-Tabatabai, Mateos-Soulier, and Davies-Salter, each of which saw a flop first.
  • The winners had significantly better pre-flop hands than the runners-up, unlike in the WSOP Main Event. Only Juanda got it all-in behind pre-flop. Mateos was only other player who was behind before the shove, as he fell behind on the flop.”

[LL] “So, I was wrong, and the WSOP was right in having the Europe and Asia Pacific events alternate years?” Leroy the Lion inquired.

[SS] “Well, this year’s Asia Pacific Main Event field was the smallest turnout of the nine European and APAC Main Events with a significant twenty percent drop from last year’s 405 in Australia.”

[LL] “I know there’s two year’s worth of history now, but wouldn’t it make sense for the Asian Pacific events to be held in Macau2 instead of Australia? The Chinese ‘Special Administrative Region’ zoomed past Las Vegas to become the highest-grossing area in the world for legalized gambling in 2006.”3

[SS] “Yeah, Macau’s gambling industry is now seven times bigger than Vegas’s.4 I don’t know what the WSOP powers are thinking, but it seems like Macau could easily support an annual tournament series.”

[LL] “Maybe they think poker isn’t popular enough there yet. Baccarat, which is a boring5 and bad game for bettors unless you’re Phil Ivey, is surprisingly more popular, but poker is definitely growing.”


  1. Updated on February 8, 2018 to include 2017 event, March 16, 2016 (2015 event), and October 18, 2014 (2014 event).
  2. CNN, Wikipedia, and others spell it “Macau”, the modern Portuguese spelling, while the New York Times et al. have stuck with “Macao”, the original Portuguese spelling.
  3. The New York Times reported on Macau’s ascendence on January 23, 2007.
  4. CNN Money reported on January 6, 2014 that Macau had $45 billion in gambling revenue compared to about $6.5 billion for Vegas.
  5. From the subsequent baccarat link, you can get to this page that plays the game using Javascript and see for yourself.

Related Links:


Stan’s Lists – WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia Pacific

[SS] “Last year was the debut of the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific,” Stan the Stat began, “but it looks like it will be the only year with both a WSOP Europe and a WSOP Asia Pacific.1 Starting this year, the Asia Pacific event will take place only in even-numbered years, taking turns with the European event in odd-numbered years.”

[LL] “Sort of like how the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same year from 1924 to 1992 before the International Olympic Committee offset the Winter games in 1994?” Leroy the Lion analogized.

[SS] “Yep. It make sense for those infrequent quadrennial games, but I don’t agree with the decision here.2 I’m not the one flying all over the world to play poker though.”

[LL] “I’d certainly like poker to grow, but the Big One for One Drop is a bit of a precedent. And that field shrunk despite the every-other-year schedule.”

[SS] “On the positive side, this justifies combining the short lists of the Europe and Asia Pacific Main Event winners into one:”

WSOP Europe and Asia Pacific Main Event Champions3

Year Event Winner Prize4 Entrants Cashed Runner-Up
2007 E Annette Obrestad $2,013,733 362 36 John Tabatabai
2008 E John Juanda $1,580,096 363 36 Stanislav Alekhin
2009 E Barry Shulman $1,321,534 334 36 Daniel Negreanu
2010 E James Bord $1,281,048 346 36 Fabrizio Baldassari
2011 E Elio Fox $1,870,208 593 64 Chris Moorman
2012 E Phil Hellmuth $1,333,841 420 48 Sergii Baranov
2013 A Daniel Negreanu $1,087,160 405 40 Daniel Marton
2013 E Adrian Mateos $1,351,661 375 40 Fabrice Soulier
2014 A Scott Davies $737,907 324 36 Jack Salter
2015 E Kevin MacPhee $1,001,577 313 32 David Lopez
2017 E Marti de Torres $1,297,552 529 80 Gianluca Speranza

[SS] “Some interesting tidbits:

  • Daniel Negreanu owns these Main Events. Three final tables in a span of six tournaments (5th place in 2008) is beyond impressive. Only Dan Harrington’s three final tables in ten WSOP Main Events from 1995 to 2004 can compare (his win was out of a slightly smaller field, while the back-to-back final tables were from much bigger fields).
  • Three other players have reached multiple final tables:5 Jason Mercier (4th in 2009 and 8th in 2012), Daniel Steinberg (6th in 2010 and 9th in 2013 Europe), and Benjamin Spindler (6th in both 2013 tourneys).
  • Norwegian Annette Obrestad was the youngest winner at 18 (one day shy of her 19th birthday and well under the legal age limit of 21 for Las Vegas) and the only woman to reach a final table until 2014, when Ang Italiano finished sixth.
  • Spaniard Adrian Mateos was the second youngest winner at 19 (just three and a half months older than Obrestad).
  • Barry Shulman was the oldest winner at age 63, while Phil Hellmuth was the second oldest at 48.”


  1. In 2013 the WSOP Asia Pacific event was held in April and the Europe event in October, in early fall (or late summer) like every other event.
  2. WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart explained that alternating years “allows for better organization and more marketing in each region. We also want to do right by the players, and provide more value for their travel dollar. There is a glut of poker tournaments around the world, and our vision is to each year put on a single global showcase that can’t be missed.”
  3. Updated on February 8, 2018 to include 2017 event, March 16, 2016 (2015 event), and October 18, 2014 (2014 event).
  4. Prizes are in approximate U.S. dollars (converted from the original pounds, euros, and Australian dollars). The 2007 first prize looks disproportionately large partly because the pound was worth over two dollars then (it has hovered around 1.6 dollars most of the time since).
  5. The “final table” is defined here as the last nine players, but the official final table is just six (by which definition only Negreanu and Spindler have reached multiple final tables).

Related Links:


Zachary Elwood’s “Reading Poker Tells” Review

[DD] “The final book on tells that I read was the best of the bunch: Reading Poker Tells by Zachary Elwood. Mike Caro’s a poker pro who has written over a dozen books, only one of which was about tells. Joe Navarro was an FBI agent. And Randy Burgess and Carl Baldassarre earn their keep as writers. Elwood, on the other hand, is a poker player who has dedicated himself to studying tells since 2009. And it shows.”

[LL] “Well, it helps that his book is newer”, Leroy the Lion suggested.

[DD] “You’d think Elwood benefitted from having read the published literature, but he doesn’t really build upon what Caro and Navarro. He does occasionally point out spots where he agrees or disagrees with them, often the latter, backed by his own logic and evidence. He also takes some direct swipes at Dan Harrington’s chapter1 on poker tells.”

[LL] “So he isn’t standing on the shoulders of giants?”

[DD] “Not really. He contradicts a lot of Caro’s advice and likes Navarro’s book even less. In Elwood’s very first blog post on his Reading Poker Tells web site, he derided Read ‘Em and Reap as ‘useless’ except for one piece of advice that he later discovered dated back to Caro anyway.”

[DD] “But what I really like is that Elwood’s book is more usefully organized, splitting tells into ‘waiting-for-action’, ‘during-action’, and ‘post-bet’.”

[LL] “That pretty much covers everything… So the same behavior can mean different things at different times?”

[DD] “Yes, they really are three separate situations even when they relate to the same single poker action.”

[LL] “Except when post-bet and waiting-for-action coincide during heads-up action.”

[DD] “He means post-bet behavior that concerns the bet that was just made vs. waiting-for-action behavior when the player hasn’t bet on that street yet. Hopefully you’ll know the difference.”

[LL] “So, what are some of the good tells he describes?”

[DD] “There are so many that you really just need to read the book. In each of the three situations he gives about a dozen examples of weakness and a similar number of strength. A sampling:

  • Waiting-for-action weakness: getting ready to fold, especially in multiway pots, is usually for real, contrary to Caro’s claim.
  • Waiting-for-action strength: pre-loading chips is strong, not weak like Caro says (but then Caro seems to think almost everyone is an actor).
  • During-action weakness: slow check (pretending to be considering betting)
  • During-action strength: very strong betting motion is strong, since a bluffer wouldn’t want to call attention to themselves (again, contradicts Caro). In fact, most unusual during-action behavior is strong for this same reason.
  • Post-bet weakness: stillness, silence, and fake smiles.
  • Post-bet strength: shaking legs (indicated by shirt movement).

[DD] “Reading Poker Tells also has a short section on general verbal tells, but Elwood expands that to a whopping 438 pages in his next book, Verbal Poker Tells.”

[LL] “But you haven’t read that.”

[DD] “No, I don’t have a copy yet… But that’s a hint if you were thinking of getting me a Christmas present.”

Title Reading Poker Tells
Author Zachary Elwood
Year 2012
Skill Level Any
Pros Very well organized and researched. Uses No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em in most examples.
Cons Poor quality pictures.
Rating 4.0 (out of five)


  1. The 2008 book is titled Harrington on Cash Games, Volume II: How to Play No-Limit Hold ’em Cash Games.

“Ultimate Guide to Poker Tells” Review

[LL] “How about the Ultimate Guide to Poker Tells, which was published the same year as Navarro’s book?” Leroy the Lion prodded.

[DD] “I liked it just as much, partly because it covered different ground. My favorite section was right near the beginning, where they categorize players into five stages of tells:

  • Stage 1: no concealment of emotions – beginners
  • Stage 2: quiet with monsters but transparent with weakies
  • Stage 3: acting (reverse); most low-limit recreational players never get past this stage
  • Stage 4: minimizing tells – Vulcan poker (Navarro’s advice)
  • Stage 5: read opponents’ tells and give off only subtle reverse tells

[LL] “So now you have a goal beyond becoming a Nava-robot.”

[DD] “Not by much, but yes, for reading tells the co-authors say that exaggerated gestures are probably fake while subtle gestures are probably real. So we should obviously tone down our fake tells.”

[LL] “Doesn’t it matter how observant your opponents are?”

[DD] “Burgess and Baldassarre don’t cover that, but I think that’s important. Just like you need to know how deep your opponents are thinking.”

[LL] “Don’t waste a subtle tell on an opponent who isn’t paying attention to you?”

[DD] “Or maybe saying something may be more effective, since they’ll hear you even if they aren’t looking at you.”

[LL] “What else did you learn from what’s actually in the book?”

[DD] “Like Caro, B&B want you make your baseline assessment of a new player from their appearance. They agree that a messy chip stack means a loose player, but think you shouldn’t read into a neat chip stack anymore.”

[LL] “Because most players do that now as a matter of efficiency?”

[DD] “Something like that. They also disagree with Caro on what a number of tells mean. At least in limit poker, they think grabbing chips early means strength, not weakness, while prematurely starting to fold is weak, not strong (although later on, they say the opposite themselves).”

[LL] “Like a lot of poker, it usually depends on the player!”

[DD] “And the type of poker being played. The authors give long lists of specific tells for Limit Poker, High-Low Split Games, and No-Limit Hold ‘Em. Some great stuff, but unfortunately the real tells are mixed in with reverse tells, so it’s all very confusing.”

[LL] “That certainly doesn’t make it easy to learn.”

[DD] “Fortunately, they do spend on chapter on how to improve your reading ability. Like Navarro, they want you to become more observant. Their advice seems good, even though I hate that they use the terms ‘poker psychic’ and ‘intuition’.”

[LL] “So, you don’t believe in women’s intuition?”

[DD] “I guess it depends on the definition, but to me ‘intuition’ means ‘gut instinct based more on feelings than facts’. Yet B&B go on to tell you to build your ‘poker database’ of observations. Those are facts.”

[LL] “Maybe they didn’t have the guts to try to unravel the complicated deductive process, so they waved their hands and called it ‘intuition’.”

[DD] “Lastly, the book does have a decent chapter on hiding your tells where they recommend Vulcan poker. Sigh. And there’s an interesting bonus chapter on angle shooting,1 which was eye-opening, although I wouldn’t want to play in any game where I had to worry about that stuff.”

Title Ultimate Guide to Poker Tells
Author Randy Burgess and Carl Baldassarre
Year 2006
Skill Level Any
Pros Thorough coverage of tells, including the Stages of Tells and specific tells in various types of games.
Cons Occasional contradictory advice and intermingling of actual and fake tells. Low quality photos.
Rating 3.5 (out of five)


  1. Angle shooting: the use of questionably legal tactics to one’s advantage. The difference between angle shooting and outright cheating can be razor thin and may even depend on the venue’s specific rules.