It’s certainly hard to judge the value of one performance over another. Any list of the best poker performances by US players would certainly be subjective. Give us five different writers and we’ll give you five different versions of it.
However, here’s the US Poker list of the best poker performances by US players in 2017. Even if it is for entertainment purposes only.
5. David Bach at the 2017 WSOP
Athens, Georgia’s David Bach proved he is one of the best mixed-game players in the world at the 2017 World Series of Poker.
He won the $1,500 Dealers Choice event for $119,399 to start June. Then, just ten days later, he won his third career bracelet in the $10,000 HORSE Championship. He collected $383,208 for the win and was ultimately one of just two players to win multiple bracelets this year.
For reasons, only the WSOP and Global Poker Index can explain, Bach was never really in contention for WSOP Player of the Year. However, he did become one of the best examples of why the POY formula is so flawed.
A special shout-out goes to Indo-American Nipun Java. He’s the player who went on to become the other multiple bracelet winner this year. However, Bach’s domination of two tough WSOP mixed-game events was a performance among the year’s best. Even though it was only good enough to get him 87th-place in the WSOP POY race.
4. Bryn Kenney in the Bahamas
It would have been hard for Bryn Kenney to top his trip to the Bahamas in 2016. After all, Kenney won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100,000 Super High Roller. It marked a career-high score of $1,687,800, and he’d finished third in the same event twice before. There’s nothing like getting a million-dollar monkey off your back.
However, his January jaunt to Paradise Island in 2017 may have been just as memorable.
Kenney kicked things off with a seventh-place finish in that same $100,000 Super High Roller, then he got really hot. Over a three-day period, he won the $50,000 Single-Day High Roller for $969,075 and an impromptu $25,000 Single-Day High Roller for another $392,876. Add that to the money from his fourth-place run in the $2,000 Hyper Turbo Win the Button event. Plus, that Super High Roller cash. All told, Kenney flew away from Nassau with $1,643,031 in tournament earnings in his pockets.
It was a performance that set him up to finish as the top-ranked American according to Global Poker Index Player of the Year race and second worldwide. Although, he did go out and win the €100,000 PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo Super High Roller for €1,784,500 in April, marking a new career-high score and ensuring 2017 was truly Kenney’s year.
3. Doug Polk wins One Drop
His performance on YouTube would probably have been enough to ensure Doug Polk a place on this list. After all, he managed to fill his channel with entertaining content all year long and move over 150,000 subs to earn YouTube’s Silver Play Button. Plus, several Polk videos counted hundreds of thousands of views this year. He almost single-handedly proved there’s still an audience for poker.
However, he got it done on the felt this year as well as off.
In early June he won the 2017 World Series of Poker’s $111,111 One Drop High Roller event. Polk beat a field of 130 players to win a healthy $3,686,865 and his third career WSOP bracelet.
“This is huge for me,” he said at the time. “This is a lot of money. Just the fact that it’s… I’m sorry, I’m struggling for words right now. It’s surreal. To win that much more money against tough people in a real, world-class event.”
Polk beat Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier heads up and a final table that included high rollers Dario Sammartino, Rainer Kempe, Andrew Robl, and 2014 WSOP Main Event champ Martin Jacobson. It was a performance for the ages, and certainly one of the best of 2017 for US players.
2. Phil Hellmuth crowned King of the Hill
Phil Hellmuth‘s ego hardly needs the stroking, but his Poker Night in America King of the Hill win in Upstate New York this past August would have to be considered one of the best performances of the year for US players.
The 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner beat arguably the top two next-generation heads-up players in the process.
The inaugural King of the Hill event played out live on the Poker Night in America Twitch channel from Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady and was entertaining from start to finish. Hellmuth’s vaunted “white magic” was on full display as he read Doug Polk like a book to move on to a finals match-up with Dan “Jungleman” Cates.
While Hellmuth is usually the one blowing up, this time he had Cates pitching fits in the final. In fact, Hellmuth confused the math-based high-stakes pro so much, he even got him to fold trips in a truly memorable hand Cates is likely still having nightmares about. Plus, he managed to make an almost-zero to hero comeback to win it all.
Hellmuth may have been blown out of the water defending his title in the King of the Hill follow up, but his performance in Schenectady was one of the best of 2017.
1. Ryan Tosoc wins the WPT Five Diamond
The World Poker Tour’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic is undoubtedly one of the toughest tournaments of the year. Held right before Christmas at the vaunted Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada, it features a hefty $10,000 buy-in and always attracts poker’s best.
Just by virtue of beating a record-setting field of 812 entries and collecting the $1,958,065 first-place prize, Chicago, Illinois’ Ryan Tosoc‘s performance at this year’s WPT Five Diamond would have to be considered among the year’s best. However, Tosoc did it one better. Literally.
His story of redemption began at the 2016 WPT Five Diamond. That’s where he finished second to James Romero, getting the better of all but one of what was a record-setting field of 791 entries.
He won $1,124,000 in the process and, like every other runner-up in history vowed to come back next year and win it all. Only Tosoc did it. The Ghost of Christmas Past had to be haunting him the whole way, but Tosoc managed to get there anyway.
As a result, his performance at the 2017 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic was the best among US poker players in 2017.