After the completion of the first event of 2017 on the WPT Main Tour, there is a new face in the top five of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race in Daniel Weinman. Weinman recently won the Season XV WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open $3,500 Championship last week, earning his first WPT title and nearly $900,000 in first-place prize money. Weinman also collected 1,400 points in this season’s Hublot WPT Player of the Year race, which moved him into third place behind runaway leader Ben Zamani and second place’s James Romero. The question now is, as the WPT heads into the home stretch of Season XV, can Zamani do enough to hold off his challengers?
Season XV Hublot WPT Player of the Year Standings
1. Ben Zamani – 2,500 points
2. James Romero – 1,400 points
3. Daniel Weinman – 1,400 points
4. Jesse Sylvia – 1,250 points
5. James Mackey – 1,250 points
6. Nathan Bjerno – 1,250 points
7. Ryan Tosoc – 1,200 points
8. Pat Lyons – 1,200 points
9. Jake Schindler – 1,100 points
10. Tyler Kenney – 1,100 points
Tie breakers are determined by WPT earnings in the current season and reflected in the table above. The winner of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year will be awarded with a custom Hublot watch.
Zamani’s big lead has been earned with four Season XV World Poker Tour cashes and three final tables, but he’s seemed to have cooled off a bit in recent events. Poker can be a very streaky game, especially in tournaments where big results can come in bunches. Zamani’s last cash during Season XV of the World Poker Tour was a fifth-place finish at WPT Maryland Live!, which was the sixth event of the season. Including that result, Zamani cashed in four of the first six Season XV WPT Main Tour events, making the final table in three of those four. Since his Maryland Live! result, though, Zamani has whiffed on cashing in the last seven WPT Main Tour events.
The benefit of Zamani having such a large lead is that despite his efforts being unable to earn him more Hublot WPT Player of the Year points, he’s able to maintain a comfortable lead. There are some very big events coming up on the World Poker Tour, though, and big events mean big prize pools, which means more Hublot WPT Player of the Year points to be had. Of note, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic and WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star have buy-ins of $10,000 and $7,500, respectively, and then the WPT Seminole Hard Rock series has both a $3,500 and a $10,000 event within the span of a week to close out Season XV.
As evidence to how important this final stretch of events is, take a look back at the past five WPT Player of the Year winners, Mike Shariati (Season XIV), Anthony Zinno (Season XIII), Mukul Pahuja (Season XII), Matt Salsberg (Season XI), and Joe Serock (Season X).
Shariati finished in second place in the Season XIV WPT L.A. Poker Classic, and Zinno won the Season XIII WPT L.A. Poker Classic. In Season XII, Pahuja cashed in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, took fourth in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star, and placed second in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. In Season XII, Salsberg ran deep in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for a 13th-place finish, and in Season X, Serock finished third in both the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star and the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.
There are seven WPT Main Tour events remaining in Season XV, and for Zamani to lose the race is going to take a big push from those behind him. That said, we’ve seen big pushes in the latter half of a season from players in the past, and we all know it’s never good to count your chickens before they hatch.
For more details on the Hublot WPT Player of the Year, including a full leaderboard and scoring information, click here.