The World Series of Poker Player of the Year race came down to the final day of the WSOP Europe series, with the final table of the Colossus determining who would walk away with the honors.
Six-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu entered the day with the lead following an aggressive campaign for the title this summer in Las Vegas and in the Czech Republic. Defending POY winner Shaun Deeb, however, was still in contention for the award, needing a fifth-place finish for better to overtake Negreanu.
Deeb, who has four career WSOP bracelets, was looking to become just the second player to win multiple POY titles, and first back-to-back winner. Negreanu, a six-time bracelet winner, was the first WSOP POY recipient back in 2004, and also won it all in 2013 as well.
Although Deeb’s chances looked strong, he was ultimately eliminated just short of the final table, allowing Negreanu to claim his third overall title.
The 45-year-old Canadian becomes the first POY winner in the race’s 16-year history to earn the honors without winning a bracelet. Although he was proud of his accomplishment, even Negreanu acknowledged that the POY is in need of some tweaks.
The WSOP POY race has been criticized since 2017 for favoring quantity over quality, and rewarding those poker pros who are willing to drop multiple re-entries per tournament in an effort to rack up cashes. That year, Chris Ferguson won the title with 23 cashes, despite only generating $428,423 in winnings.
Negreanu cashed 24 times for $2,213,605 en route to winning this year, but did so at the expense of a lot of buy-ins. He made five final tables, and finished runner-up twice, in the $10,000 stud championship, and also the $100,000 high roller.
Double bracelet winners Robert Campbell, Kahle Burns, and Dash Dudley didn’t have enough to overtake Negreanu, nor did winners like Anthony Zinno, David Baker, Daniel Zack and Phil Hui.
Italian poker pro Dario Sammartino took second in the WSOP main event for $6 million and fourth in the WSOP Europe main event for another €341,702. He also managed deep runs in the €25,000 short deck event, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, took fourth in a $1,000 online event, and third in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Somehow, he only finished in seventh place overall.