Stephen Chidwick has finished inside the top 50 in the Card Player Player of the Year race standings, sponsored by Global Poker, for five consecutive years now. The 30-year-old poker pro from the aptly named town of Deal, England has proven to not only be one of the most consistent players in the game, he has also managed to improve his final year-end POY ranking each and every year since 2015. In 2018 he finished in second place, which left him little room for growth. Incredibly, Chidwick was able to improve on that runner-up finish and emerge victorious as the Card Player Player of the Year for 2019.
Over the past 12 months, Chidwick made a total of 22 POY-qualified final tables, winning five titles. Among those was his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet, which saw him take home more than $1.6 million along with the coveted hardware as the champion of the $25,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event.
All told, Chidwick cashed for more than $7.3 million in POY-qualified events in 2019, bringing his career live earnings to $33,439,159. As a result, Chidwick now sits in seventh on poker’s all-time money list.
Chidwick proved himself to be a world-class player in a number of tournament disciplines this year, with deep runs on both the ultra-high stakes international circuit and in the larger field, smaller buy-in main events. While he primarily focused on no-limit hold’em, he also found big scores in pot-limit Omaha and short deck events.
Chidwick’s ascension to the top of the game is not only evidenced by his numbers in 2019. Earlier this year, a survey of the top players in the game saw a jury of Chidwick’s peers vote him the best player in the world. A total of 24 of the 61 players questioned gave Chidwick their vote, with the next highest candidate receiving 7. This vote of confidence from the other top tournament pros of the world, combined with the results and statistics, demonstrates that Chidwick truly is the Player of the Year for 2019.
A Look At Chidwick’s 2019 Campaign
It took less than two weeks for Chidwick to accrue seven-figures’ worth of earnings in 2019. Chidwick’s year began with a trio of scores at what looks to be the final running of the now discontinued PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Chidwick took third and second place in back-to-back $50,000 buy-in single-day high roller events and then managed an eighth-place showing in the $100,000 super high roller. Those three cashes earned him $1,084,322 and 783 POY points, putting him in contention right away.
Chidwick didn’t join the top ten in the POY standings, though, until February. He followed up his three final-table appearances at the PCA with four final-table scores at the U.S. Poker Open series. He came out on top with two titles, taking down the kickoff $10,500 no-limit hold’em event and a $26,000 pot-limit Omaha tournament. Throughout the series, he accumulated a total of $705,950 and 1,336 points, enough to see him move into eighth place on the leaderboard.
March saw Chidwick make his way to South Korea for the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Jeju festival. He finished second from a field of 25 entries in the $1,000,000 HKD ($127,389 USD) no-limit hold’em high roller event, earning $1,151,779 USD and 300 points. It was Chidwick’s only tournament result for a three-month span, as he took an extended break to spend time with his wife Marine and their newborn daughter, who joined the family in the spring.
Chidwick’s paternity leave extended through the first few weeks of the WSOP. The series began in late May, but Chidwick didn’t play his first event until nearly three weeks into June. Ironically, after roughly a decade of grinding every tournament he could reasonably enter at the Rio, Chidwick finally secured a bracelet (pictured below) during the summer in which he skipped nearly half of the events on the schedule. In the first event he entered, Chidwick outlasted a field of 278 entries to win the $25,000 pot-limit Omaha high roller event for the hardware, the $1,618,417 top prize and a massive haul of 1,512 POY points.
The summer months would see Chidwick secure four more POY-qualified final table scores. Just a few days after winning at the WSOP, Chidwick finished second in a $10,000 event at the ARIA Summer High Roller Series. His next deep run came in the Card Player Poker Tour Venetian DeepStack Championship Poker Series $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. He navigated his way through the 564-entry field, ultimately finishing in third for $245,199 and 1,120 points. Chidwick had managed to improve on his performance in this event in 2018, which saw him place fourth from a total of 547 entries. His latest run in this event was enough to catapult him into the outright lead in the 2019 POY race standings.
Chidwick’s final two scores of the summer took place at the 2019 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series London. He finished seventh in the £100,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event for $663,680 USD and 330 points, and then added another $195,444 USD and 170 points with a sixth-place showing in a £50,000 buy-in short deck event.
Chidwick also added a fourth-place finish in the largest-ever buy-in poker tournament in history: the £1,050,000 buy-in Triton Millions Charity Invitational. The massive payday of $5,380,200 he earned in the event didn’t count towards his POY success because the event was not officially open to the public. The score does still count towards his total career earnings.
The top spot on the POY leaderboard already belonged to Chidwick, but he managed to extend his lead with an impressive showing at the inaugural British Poker Open high roller tournament series. Chidwick cashed in four of the ten events held, emerging victorious in the £26,000 pot-limit Omaha event for his fourth title of the year. Chidwick cashed for just shy of $420,000 USD and 529 POY points across the four BPO final tables.
November saw Chidwick add another three POY-qualified final-table finishes to his resume. He made two final tables at the Poker Masters high roller series in Las Vegas, finishing fifth in the $10,500 big-bet mix event and fourth in the $52,000 no-limit hold’em main event. Toward the end of the month he placed seventh in a $10,300 high roller event at the partypoker LIVE Caribbean Poker Party festival. The three scores added a total of $286,600 and 554 points to Chidwick’s totals for the year.
Chidwick earned his fifth title of the year by overcoming a field of 44 entries to win the €50,000 European Poker Tour Prague no-limit hold’em high roller event to earn $805,538 and 510 points. As the year wound down, he secured his 22nd final-table finish of the year by placing fifth in a $25,000 high roller event at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio, earning $76,000 and 140 points. The points proved crucial, as there were a few contenders hot on his heels as the year came to a close. Alex Foxen ultimately finished just 130 points behind Chidwick, in large part due to his win in the Five Diamond main event in late December. But Chidwick was able to hold onto his lead as 2019 came to a close, earning this year’s Player of the Year award.
Chidwick has now earned an average finish of just below third place in the POY rankings over the last three years, having placed seventh hin 2017, second in 2018, and now first this year. Perhaps in 2020 the incredibly consistent Chidwick can make a run at becoming the first-ever back-to-back POY winner.