By Matt Clark
The World Poker Tour calendar for Season XVI is in full swing and points are accumulating in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. Already, there are multiple players with more than 1,000 points, and Jay Lee and Art Papazyan are tied for first with 1,200 points each.
Lee won the Choctaw event and claimed all of his points there while Papazyan was victorious at Legends of Poker, holding off Phil Hellmuth and JC Tran to win the title.
As the WPT heads to Borgata, the race is wide open with 1,400 points potentially up for grabs. The WPT Player of the Year scoring system is scaled according to prize pool size with more points awarded for larger fields and higher buy-ins.
The Borgata Poker Open features a $3 million guarantee and based on recent field sizes, the prize pool could balloon up to $4 million, making 1,400 points available for first place.
At this time last year, Ben Zamani was far out in front of the pack by virtue of his runner-up finishes in Choctaw and at Legends of Poker. Zamani would hold off the late-charging Sam Panzica to win Player of the Year in dramatic fashion at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown to close out Season XV.
Zamani finished Season XV with 2,550 points, narrowly edging out Panzica’s 2,500. So far this year, both players have yet to get on track but that could all change this week at Borgata.
Based on the start of Season XVI, the Player of the Year race should remain competitive for the full duration. Lee and Papazyan are relative newcomers to the WPT stage and lurking below them is Phil Hellmuth, who earned 1,000 points for taking second at Legends of Poker.
Hellmuth has achieved nearly everything in his poker career but a WPT title and Player of the Year award still elude him. The new host of WPT’s Raw Deal is expected to be in attendance for upcoming WPT events along with the Five Diamond Classic in December and will have many chances to earn points and potentially check both items off of his list.
DJ Alexander placed third at Legends of Poker and earned 950 points for his efforts. The 2017 World Series of Poker bracelet runner-up finisher has been cashing in events across the country in recent weeks but a major title remains uncaptured.
Alexander is in attendance at Borgata and mentioned he would rather win Player of the Year over a title, if he had to decide between the two.
In the upcoming weeks, the WPT will travel to Maryland Live!, bestbet in Jacksonville and north of the border to Playground in Montreal for what are three great stops for players to earn points. Panzica earned the first of his two Season XV wins in Jacksonville and kickstarted his chase of Zamani on the leaderboard.
The full prize pool for the Borgata Poker Open will not be known until Tuesday afternoon but when it is released, we can expect a massive pot of at least $3 million and should it break the $4 million mark, the winner of the event will likely leave Atlantic City with the clubhouse lead in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race.
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