By Sean Chaffin
The Hublot WPT Player of the Year race has received a bit of shakeup in recent weeks and that should continue with three more WPT events and three Vegas final tables playing out in March. Brian Altman currently is an enviable spot atop the leaderboard with a big opportunity to add to his lead.
Altman earned 1,200 at the Lucky Hearts Poker Open, and also scored a third-place finish earlier in the season at Maryland Live! Casino for 700 points. Now sitting third in chips when the Borgata Winter Poker Open resumes in Las Vegas on April 1, he has a shot to separate himself even more in the standings.
So far he has $678,091 in winnings, but that should increase significantly at the HyperX Esports Arena. Even a sixth-place finish would give him a minimum of 2,900 points, provided he doesn’t cash in any other events in the meantime.
Fresh off his third WPT title at Fallsview in February, Eric Afriat has now climbed into the second-place spot with 1,700 points and $562,125 in earnings. Afriat earned $394,120 and 1,200 POY points for the Fallsview title, and also finished ninth at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $168,005. While he’s not a full-time player, Afriat plans on chasing the title the remainder of the season.
“That’s why I’m here, that’s the only way I’m going to get a Hublot watch,” Afriat said while laughing during action at the LAPC.
Donald Maloney remains a player to watch in third place with 1,500 points. He has six cashes this season, which was kickstarted by winning the Borgata Poker Open in September for $616,186. Maloney has found some consistency and if he can turn one of those deep runs into another final table appearance, he could challenge for the top spot.
Alex Foxen, who earned $1.6 million and 1,400 points for winning the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, sits in fourth. He now has 1,450 points after adding a cash at Fallsview. Just behind him in fifth is Five Diamond runner-up Toby Joyce with 1,400 points. He picked up 1,200 for his finish at Bellagio and 200 points for a 12th-place finish at the Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open.
Here a look at the players rounding out the Top 10:
6th, Geoffrey Hum (1,300 points, $405,807) – Winner of WPT Montreal.
7th, Aaron Van Blarcum (1,275 points, $491,233) – Winner of WPT Legends of Poker.
8th, Milen Stefanov (1,200 points, $545,070) – Winner of the WPT Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open.
9th, Kevin Albers (1,200 points, $411,743) – Third-place finisher in the Borgata Poker Open and 13th at Bellagio.
10th, Simon Brandstrom (1,200 points, $330,000) – Winner of WPT UK.
Beyond Altman, several other players have a chance to make some noise in the POY standings when final tables for the Gardens Poker Championship, Borgata Winter Poker Open, and L.A. Poker Classic play out in Las Vegas from March 30 – April 3. Those could produce some other movement in the standings with several players within range of the leaderboard.
What Can You Win in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year Race?
As the official timekeeper and official watch of the World Poker Tour, Hublot is once again the presenting sponsor of the WPT Player of the Year award for Season XVIII. The company will be awarding a custom Hublot timepiece to the winner of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. In addition, the Season XVIII winner receives $15,000 in WPT tournament buy-in credits and complimentary accommodations at all WPT Main Tour events in Season XIX.
Prizes will also be awarded for the second- and third-place finishers in the race. The runner-up will receive $7,500 in WPT tournament buy-in credits and third place will receive $2,500 in buy-in credits. Credits can be used in any global WPT event, including the Main Tour, WPTDeepStacks, WPT500, and WPT Special Events.
Next Stop on WPT Main Tour – WPT Rolling Thunder, WPT at Venetian, and WPT Barcelona
After wrapping up the L.A. Poker Classic, the WPT action shifts to northern California for another big event. The $5,000 WPT Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley Casino Resort near Sacramento runs March 7-10 and should offer plenty of fun for players. Erkut Yilmaz won the event last season for $303,920, his second of the season, on his way to winning Season XVII Hublot Player of the Year honors.
The big March continues in Las Vegas with the $5,000 WPT Venetian playing out March 13-17 with a $2 million guarantee. This becomes the second event at one of the most elegant properties in Las Vegas and promises a great experience. The tour then heads to Europe for WPT Barcelona with a €3,300 event at Casino Barcelona with a €3 million guaranteed prize pool. This stop offers players a chance to jump in some tournament action and enjoy some traveling in Spain as well. Spring is around the corner and there is plenty of to look forward to as the tour rolls on.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.