Jan 8, 2020
By Matt Savage
The World Poker Tour celebrates and awards the player of the year and the annual WPT Tournament of Champions and some would say it’s the WPT’s highest honor for a player. During the decade of 2010-2019, the WPT has seen the tour continue to lead the poker industry through many turbulent times for poker and has been one of the few constants to not only to survive but also to thrive.
Here is a list of the last 10 WPT Players of the Year:
Season IX: Andy Frankenberger
Season X: Joe Serock
Season XI: Matthew Salsberg
Season XII: Mukul Pahuja
Season XIII: Anthony Zinno
Season XIV: Mike Shariati
Season XV: Benjamin Zamani
Season XVI: Art Papazyan
Season XVII: Erkut Yilmaz
As you can see it is extremely difficult to win WPT Player of the Year in any one season but to be a consistent winner over a decade is an incredible achievement. Darren Elias not only holds the record for most WPT wins with four but also holds the record for most Final Tables (12) and Cashes (38). He is a model of consistency.
When I asked him what he attributes is WPT consistency and success to Darren answered in his typical humble fashion and said, “I’d attribute my success to a good understanding of my opponents and attention to detail over the years. I’ve always put a lot of effort into bringing my best every time I sit down and things have always seemed to work out on the WPT.”
Although Darren seemed to dominate there were also many others that crushed the competition over the last 10 years and here are the top-10 rankings compiled by earnings, cashes, and final tables.
1. Darren Elias – $3,869,957, 4 titles, 5 third-place finishes, 38 cashes, 12 final tables, 2 WPT Tournament of Champions final tables
2. Anthony Zinno – $3,064,897, 3 titles, 1 third-place finish, 33 cashes, 7 final tables
3. Mohsin Charania – $2,803,574, 2 titles, 1 second-place finish, 28 cashes, 5 final tables
“WPT has such loyal casino partners I feel very at home with some of the WPT stops which allows me to be more consistent. Playing a WPT for the 10th year in a row at LAPC makes me feel like I’m in a routine at the end of February every year and that kind of familiarity probably helps my success in the tournament for example.” – Mohsin Charania
4. Eric Afriat – $2,766,197, 2 titles, 1 second-place finish, 1 third-place finish, 17 cashes, 6 final tables
5. Noah Schwartz – $2,699,272, 1 Main Tour title, 1 WPT Alpha8 title, 18 cashes, 5 Main Tour final tables, 2 WPT Alpha8 final tables, 1 WPT Tournament of Champions final table
“I truly believe inevitably my consistency on the World Poker Tour has been derived from my ability to adjust to the ever-changing landscape of tournament play and some just sheer luck. It’s really an honor to be nominated with some of the top names in the game and shows my dedication is a staple of my consistency.” – Noah Schwartz
6. Sam Panzica – $2,448,643, 2 titles, 1 second-place finish, 19 cashes, 5 final tables, 4th place in the WPT Rock Star Energy High Roller, 1 WPT Tournament of Champions cash
How have you remained so consistent on the World Poker Tour and is there something different about the WPT that has factored into your success? “I would say the answer to both would be similar. Great structures, big prize pools and I always try to bring my A-game for WPTs because I want to catch Darren.” – Sam Panzica
7. Marvin Rettenmaier – $2,034,735, 2 titles, 20 cashes, 5 final tables, first player in WPT history to win back-to-back events.
8. Chino Rheem – $2,549,264, 2 titles, 1 third-place finish, 9 cashes, 4 final tables, 1 WPT World Championship title
9. Darryll Fish – $1,772,063, 1 title, 2 second-place finishes, 1 third-place finish, 17 cashes, 6 final tables
10a. Alex Foxen – $3,423,857, 1 Main Tour title, 1 WPT Rockstar Energy High Roller title, 1 second-place finish, 12 cashes, 3 final tables
10b. Ryan Tosoc – $3,266,066, 1 title, 1 second-place finish, 1 third-place finish 4 cashes, 3 final tables, 1 WPT Tournament of Champions final table
Honorable mentions are numerous and include Antonio Esfandiari (3 consecutive WPT Five Diamond final tables, and 1 title), former WPT commentator Mike Sexton (1 title and 4 final tables), Ema Zajmovic (1 win, 2 second-place finishes, 4 final tables), and James Carroll (2 titles and 5 top-10 finishes among 7 cashes).
As Executive Tour Director I’m excited to see what the longest-running tour in poker has to bring not only in 2020 but also over the next decade.