WSOP Player of the Year – How does the points system work?

The World Series of Poker is best known for its bracelets, because winning one of these golden trinkets is the dream of many poker players, amateurs and professionals alike.

That said, there is one more competition for the top pros each year at the WSOP that the general public isn’t too familiar with.

Of course, I’m talking about the player of the year race.

If you’ve been a World Series fan, you are probably familiar with POY Race, as it is mentioned a lot on tournament broadcasts and players themselves frequently refer to it in their tweets, blog posts, and vlogs.

The Player of the Year race is supposed to determine the best or most successful player in the entire series.

Each tournament in the WSOP program is part of the race and players can earn points for the POY leaderboard.

In the end, the player with the most points wins the prestigious title, alongside the cash prize, which was $ 15,000 for the 2021 series.

That honor went to Josh Arieh, but it was a very close race until the end.

Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about how the POY system could be improved, with some poker figures frequently pointing out both the flaws and the advantages of the current setup.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about the WSOP Player of the Year points system as it currently stands, and I’ll also go over some of the reviews it has received over the years.

WSOP Player of the Year Ranking – The Basics

Put simply, the WSOP Player of the Year race is expected to produce this year’s best player in the series.

To achieve this, the organizers have implemented a certain point system. It has its flaws but with so many moving parts, it’s hard to find a perfect solution.

In fact, after heavy criticism in previous years, the WSOP decided to turn things around for the 2018 series.

They made big changes to the old scoring system and replaced it with a fairly successful one that they have been using for the WSOP Tour for several years.

The biggest change saw a significant increase in the points awarded to bracelet winners while reducing the number of points for minimum winnings.

While the WSOP always wanted to reward consistency, the general feeling was that the gap between making money and winning an event was not big enough.

Of course, new rules created new problems and led to new criticisms, but we’ll get to that a little bit later.

First, let’s take a look at the current ranking system to see how it works. If you were following the 2021 series and didn’t know where the POY leaderboard moves came from and why players were awarded a certain number of points, this explanation should help you.

The WSOP POY points formula

One interesting thing about the entire Player of the Year run is that the WSOP doesn’t actually have a spreadsheet that players can refer to.

That said, each event has its own calculator, which can tell you an approximate number of points you can expect for different finish positions.

As the organizers explain, the formula is loosely based on the WSOP Circuit POY system and appropriately tailored to accommodate much larger fields in World Series tournaments.

For WSOPC events, points are awarded as follows:

  • Winner: 50 points
  • Finalist: 37.5 pts
  • 3e location: 30 pts, etc.

All players who win money get at least 2.5 points, and that number increases as they get deeper into an event and other players are eliminated.

For the actual World Series of Poker these numbers are huge, but the organizer has tried to keep a similar ratio, allowing players to at least have a decent idea of ​​how many points they can expect from an individual event. .

It’s important to note that almost all bracelet events count towards the Player of the Year race, with a few notable exceptions.

All unopened events, i.e. events that are not easily accessible to the entire playing field, are excluded:

  • Casino employee event
  • Senior and super senior events
  • Ladies events

This makes sense, as counting them would give an unfair advantage to players who can participate, so there have never been any particular complaints about this aspect.

Since there is no spreadsheet or rulebook that players can refer to, the only way to gauge how many points you can expect from an event is to look at past results. or use the POY calculator available on the site.

The calculator allows you to choose an event and add the number of entries, which is very important in determining the total number of points to distribute.

Another important factor is the buy-in amount, as higher buy-in events have much larger point pools, which clearly gives players with large bankrolls an edge.

For example, winning a Super High Roller event with only 80 players would earn the winner more points than winning the $ 500 Reunion event with 20,000 entries.

The difference between first and second place is also very important.

A tournament winner receives double the number of points for the runner-up. This means that the actual bracelets are extremely important to the final ranking.

Going down the dash, the differences between all the other positions are much smaller.

Of course, the runner-up will get more points than the 9e finisher, but the difference between finishing second and third is almost insignificant from a POY point of view.

Thus, the current system is strongly focused on winners and offers a great advantage to players participating in high roller and super high roller events.

These tournaments, while difficult, usually have very small fields, so players keen to win the POY title should get into the mix.

2021 WSOP Player of the Year race and new reviews

Remember how I mentioned that the WSOP made a difference and instituted a new system that gave winners bigger rewards?

Well, it turns out that this system isn’t perfect either, because it doesn’t reward consistency enough.

We saw a perfect example of this at the 2021 World Series of Poker, where legendary Phil Hellmuth may have put in his best performance in all the years we’ve seen him play the series.

The “Poker Brat” came prepared and, somewhat surprisingly, posted a slew of excellent results in non-Hold’em events.

Hellmuth recorded a win, two second, a 4e, a 5e, and several other deep descents.

Whether you are a fan of “Poker Brat” or not, it was truly amazing to watch, and it looked like he was about to run away with the title of Player of the Year, one of the few. accolades still missing from his poker resume.

In the end, however, he was turned down by Josh Arieh, who also had a great streak and is a great player in his own right.

Image: Twitter / golfeurjosh

But what made the biggest difference was that Arieh was able to ship two bracelets in 2021 against Hellmuth’s only victory.

If Hellmuth had been able to convert either of his final two to victory, that would probably be another story.

To his credit, he was a gentleman about it and didn’t try to find reasons why he should have won. The rules are as they are, and no matter how you look at them, Arieh is a deserving winner.

However, this raises the question of whether the current POY system needs some changes.

A problem without a perfect solution

Over the years, the WSOP has tried to change and polish things up on several occasions. After all, they have no particular interest in awarding the POY title to any particular player.

In fact, they’d probably be better served if it went to someone as famous as Hellmuth, as it’s basically free publicity.

So, on their side, the organizers would probably like to have the perfect system in place where the best and most deserving of all players takes the accolade.

The problem is, there is no such system – as shown in the 2021 series.

Hellmuth and Arieh both put on a great performance and are both excellent players, but there can only be one winner.

The biggest problem that has been discussed over and over is that of consistency over singular results, and finding the right balance is just hard.

On the one hand, it seems natural to reward someone who has a streak of great results throughout all tournaments.

On the other hand, if someone wins two or three tournaments, even if their other results are not great, those wins should be rewarded appropriately.

After all, in poker tournaments the winner always takes the lion’s share of the prize pool, so why should the Player of the Year race be any different?

So while there is room to improve the system in this regard, I would say the current system is fair enough, although not perfect.

Another problem, perhaps more important, is the issue of redemptions.

Is it really fair to have big buy-in tournaments that score so many points despite having small fields? Even if you are playing against some of the best, you have a much better chance of winning in a 50 or 100 player event than in a field of over 5,000 players.

In a way, you might see this as favoritism towards the big guys because you won’t see an average Joe or even a solid mid-stakes $ 100,000 grinder pony playing in one of them.

I guess opinions on this particular topic differ, but I don’t see it as a big deal.

The title of WSOP Player of the Year is not something that should go to just anyone.

The money that comes with it is relatively low, especially considering the kind of results you have to post to earn, so it’s mostly about prestige.

While there is no reason for poker to be exclusive, I would say we can allow an exception in this particular category.

If Negreanu, Hellmuth and others in that group are the favorites to win each year, so be it. These are the kind of names you think of when someone mentions the Player of the Year, anyway.

WSOP 2021 Player of the Year summary

Hope this article has given you some useful information on how the WSOP Player of the Year points system works.

This is one of those topics that is not very easy to explain, mainly because there are no clear explanations from those who invented the system in the first place.

But, at least now you have an idea of ​​how things work and what factors are important, namely:

  • Land size
  • The amount of the repurchase
  • The final position, the winner takes the lion’s share of the point pool

To wrap up this article, I must mention that the Player of the Year race doesn’t always end in Las Vegas.

Previously, players could also collect points from WSOP Europe tournaments, which were added to their final tally.

For 2021, the WSOP have decided not to do this and only count the points from the US stage, possibly due in part to COVID-19 concerns, but the results from the WSOP Europe will likely be included for future events. .

Maria D. Ervin