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.

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