The first quarter of the tournament poker season is in the books and, if there is one thing that can be shown, it is that the High Roller tournaments are meaning more than any other event. Bryn Kenney, a High Roller regular, is atop the standings in one Player of the Year race and recent champion of the U. S. Poker Open (a series of tournaments built around High Roller events) Sean Winter takes the lead on the other.
Kenney Leads CardPlayer Magazine POY Race
Kenney makes a routine of playing the High Roller events around the world – tournaments that have a higher buy-in and a smaller field than the traditional “Main Events” on the tournament circuit. In 2017, Kenney very nearly won the POY races through almost exclusively playing tournaments of this ilk. It seems that, in 2019, he is going to try to duplicate that act and he’s off to a good start.
Through the first quarter of 2019, Kenney has been able to put up 3620 points, good for first place on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard. Much of that work came over the last 45 days, with a victory at the U. S. Poker Open contributing a major chunk of that total. Put that together with a second-place finish at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series (which brought Kenney a $3 million-plus payday) and Kenney has already racked up over $5 million in earnings for 2019.
It could be argued that Ramon Colillas, the champion of the inaugural PokerStars Players’ Championship (PSPC) is a “normal” tournament player. His big win early this year plopped $5.1 million into his bankroll and it will be interesting to see what direction he heads in the future – the slog of tournament poker or the “glory” of the High Roller circuit. As of now, he’s in second place on the CardPlayer POY, adding only a final table finish at the EPT Sochi High Roller event to make up his 3456 points.
The remainder of the CardPlayer board reads like one of the tables at a High Roller tournament. ‘Chino’ Rheem – who has been known to step to a “regular” tournament once in awhile and demonstrate his prowess – is currently in third place with 3108 points (most of those from his victory at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure). Rheem is holding off fourth place Rainer Kempe (3006) for now, but Kempe must deal with Matas Cimbolas champing at his heels (2950). Julien Martini (2800), Sean Winter (2464), Stephen Chidwick (2419), Marc Rivera (2240) and David Baker (2176) are in sixth through tenth places, respectively.
Winter Tops Kenney in GPI POY Battle
Winter, who had an outstanding run in the U. S. Poker Open when he opened the first four events by finishing at the final table on his way to the overall championship, is at least getting some respect from the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race. He holds a slim edge over Kenney, 1919.38 points to Kenney’s 1767.3 points, to capture the edge in this POY battle. The reason that Winter gets the edge? The computed “value” of Winter’s finishes is better than Kenney’s, either through the number of entries or the buy-in of the event.
Kempe also is in the mix here, racking up 1610.25 points to take the third place slot, but fourth and fifth places on the GPI board have “regular” tournament pros picking up the banner. Brian Altman hasn’t cashed in a tournament with a buy in over $10,000 in 2019, yet he has finishes in eight different venues for his 1560.9 points (fourth place). The same can be said for Ari Engel, who hasn’t cashed in a tournament with a buy-in more than $5000 but is in fifth with 1553.43 points.
Rounding out the Top Ten on the GPI leaderboard are Joseph Cheong (1525.05 points), David Peters (1467.91), Jack Salter (1463.21), Chidwick (1461.56) and Pete Chen (1443.29) in sixth through tenth places, respectively. All totaled, 16 men can claim that they are in the Top Ten of tournament poker so far in 2019.
Changes WILL Occur
Over the next few months, there will be some shakeups on this board. The World Poker Tour’s Season XVII will end while the European Poker Tour motors along through one of its big stops in Monte Carlo. These major tournament circuits, along with the smaller World Series of Poker Circuit and others, could potentially add some new names to the mix heading into the 50th Anniversary WSOP come the end of May. By the start of the WSOP, the picture will become clearer on the Player of the Year races and perhaps the effect of the “High Roller” tournaments will be lessened.
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