The WSOP started handing out the WSOP POY award to the player who achieved the greatest success during its Las Vegas events back in 2004. They later expanded it to include results from the World Series of Poker Europe and World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific events.
Here’s a look at the “evolution” of the award:
WSOP POY powered by Bluff
Bluff Magazine “powered” the award for a few years. The magazine attached its name to the front and used its own formula to decide who would walk away the winner. Few understood the complicated calculation. But even fewer argued with the results.
Greg Merson won it in 2012 after winning back-to-back bracelets. This included the Main Event, and no one could disagree with that. Daniel Negreanu won it in 2013. Arguing with Negreanu does little more than get you shunned from the entire poker community. Again, no one asked for a recount.
It all seemed kosher again when George Danzer won three bracelets to edge out Brandon Shack-Harris in a tight POY race in 2014. After all, more bracelets should equal more glory.
GPI aims to sportify WSOP POY
Alas, all good things must come to an end. In fact, as horse racing giant Churchill Downs struggled with producing a poker magazine and Bluff Magazine was playing out the string of its final issues, entrepreneur Alex Dreyfus and his fledgling Global Poker Index company stepped in.
Apparently “sportifying” poker now meant striking a deal with WSOP boss Caesars, buying the naming rights to the WSOP POY award, and using its own proprietary poker rankings formula to determine who would win it.
In the early part of the 2015 WSOP, pundits lined up to criticize the GPI and its formula. To be fair, it was beginning to look like a handful of deep runs short of a final table might be worth more than a win.
The real issue was the GPI formula was a bit of a secret. The cagey Dreyfus kept the real details pretty close to the vest. In the end, Mike Gorodinsky won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship and a bunch more. He edged out Brian Hastings and Shaun Deeb in a relatively close race. No one stood up to argue it somehow wasn’t Gorodinsky’s year. The formula appeared to be working.
The GPI made some noise about changes in 2016. Poker pundits complained about similar issues from the previous year. However, in the end it didn’t matter. Jason Mercier had the kind of summer dreams are made of. He ran away with WSOP POY honors and rendered all issues with the formula moot.
Flavor of the month King’s Casino steps in
Despite zero problems, apparently the WSOP needed to change things up again for 2017. Dreyfus and the GPI likely balked at the new bill.
King’s Casino is now sponsoring the award. The new host of the on-again-off-again WSOP Europe has decided to give away a seat in the upcoming WSOP Europe Main Event to the winner of the WSOP POY this summer.
Of course, that winner will be decided by King’s Casino’s own proprietary POY formula. Details have yet to be released to the public.
Hopefully it all works out as it has in the past. Unfortunately, at this point, the only thing guaranteed is that even if it does, they’ll make sure to find a way fix it next time around anyway.