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Oct 20, 2017

WSOP Europe will Decide if Chris Ferguson Wins POY – Negreanu, Others Not Playing

By RTR Dennis

665x200 oct17 chris ferguson

Chris Ferguson holds a slim lead In the WSOP Player of the Year standings. That said, the 2017 WSOP Europe will decide who officially takes the POY award.

The WSOP Europe will feature 11 bracelet events. This gives players like Ryan Hughes and John Racener an opportunity to catch up to Ferguson.

Much of the race was decided in the 70-plus tournaments that took place in the WSOP Las Vegas. However, there are still several players who have a realistic chance at beating Ferguson for the POY trophy.

Here's a look at the current standings:

  1. Chris Ferguson - 898.46 points

  2. Ryan Hughes - 876.35

  3. John Monnette - 865.21

  4. John Racener - 853.16

  5. Ray Henson - 768.49

  6. Ben Yu - 766.49

  7. Alex Foxen - 754.36

  8. Daniel Negreanu - 717.76

  9. Dario Sammartino - 710.96

  10. Kenny Hallaert - 686.81

Players in the Top 10 are Staying Home

Players on this list who definitely won't be catching Ferguson include John Monnette, Daniel Negreanu, Ray Henson, and Ben Yu. Each of these poker pros announced that they aren’t attending the 2017 WSOP Europe at King's Casino Rozvadov (CZ).

"I will not be traveling to WSOPE this year," said Henson. "As far as Player of the Year is concerned, it would be an honor to win it, but I won't be going to Europe to chase it. I have a lot of friends toward the top of that list that I would love to see beat Ferguson."

The Houston native added that he'll be helping friends deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This has occupied his schedule, and he'll spend the rest of his time with his family rather than traveling to Europe.

Monnette, who would have a good chance to beat Ferguson with a few cashes, said that he doesn't have enough incentive to try and win the POY race. Specifically, the WSOP Europe doesn't offer a diverse enough game selection or number of events.

"I want to go, but I feel like they are making it difficult," Monnette explained. "The casino is in the middle of nowhere and there is absolutely nothing to do after you bust. The POY is usually a well-rounded player that can play every game, but the WSOPE is almost all hold'em."

Ben Yu simply doesn't plan on going to Rozvadov, Czech Republic either due to his position in the standings and how hard he played during the summer.

"The math isn't on my side," says Yu. "I'm 132 points behind, which is three or four min-cashes or one very good finish with only 11 events to make up the gap. Those long odds alone wouldn't stop me. I wasn't in great position towards the end of the summer, but still multi-tabled for the first time in my career.

"Even though poker is not as intellectually stimulating as when it was new and I hadn't played millions of hands, it would still mean quite a deal to me. I was exhausted the second half of the summer, but battled every day, often when I wasn't feeling the best."

Hughes, who's second in the standings, hasn't commented on whether or not he'll attend the WSOP Europe. Likewise for Racener, who is on a honeymoon in Greece.

Can Anybody Catch Ferguson?

Ferguson built his lead by notching 17 catches this summer, including a second-place effort in the 7-Card Stud Championship ($151,700) and a fourth-place finish in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship ($151,929). Thanks to his lead in the POY standings, Ferguson will receive a free seat in the 2017 WSOP Europe Main Event.

But there are a few players who can still catch him with a strong effort in Europe. This includes Alex Foxen, who'll play in events like the €1,100 Monster Stack and €25,000 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller. He knows that Ferguson has a good lead on him, but he's still excited to compete.

"It would definitely mean a lot to win Player of the Year," said Foxen. "I've been putting in a lot of work off the table since the end of the summer and am looking forward to have a few more shots at a bracelet before the year is over, as I'll likely need one to overtake for the POY."

Assuming Hughes and Racener show up to the event, they would no doubt have an opportunity to beat Ferguson because they're ranked second and fourth, respectively. There's no word on if Dario Sammartino and Kenny Hallaert, ranked ninth and 10th, will attend the WSOP Europe.

Players Debate on POY Formula

The 2017 WSOP POY race could very well feature an anti-climactic finish if enough top-10 players don't show up. Negreanu has been one of the most outspoken critics about developing a better POY points system. Specifically, he doesn't like how min-cashes in smaller buy-in tournaments are valued so highly when compared to the higher buy-in events.

"It is much tougher to cash in a 100-player field in a $10,000 event than it is to cash in a large field event that pays hundreds of spots," Negreanu wrote in his blog at FullContactPoker.com.

"It takes roughly three times more play, the structures are slower on day two, and you are also fighting against top notch competition in the championship events when you near the bubble."

Foxen agrees with Negreanu in that min-cashes from smaller tournaments carry too much weight. The No. 7 player in the POY standings also believes that the system can be tweaked in the future.

"I wouldn't imagine it to be so difficult to create a scoring system that makes it possible for non-high rollers to compete for Player of the Year, and gives proper value to runs made in the higher buy-ins that are inarguably much more difficult," Foxen explained.

"In the past it has been nearly impossible to win for a lower stakes player, and this year it seems to be on the other side of the spectrum with high rollers struggling to accumulate points. Hopefully next year there will be a more refined system."

Other players don't think that a perfect system can be developed to measure the best player in the entire WSOP. Yu is in this group, arguing that there’ll never be a perfect system to determine the POY.

"In the 10 years I've been playing, there has never been a good POY formula," Yu said. "Some years we lucked into having the winner everyone would regard as the deserving Player of the Year, but it has never been an accurate formula."

Yu adds that it’s hard to determine a player of the year when considering the different tournament sizes and number of events.

"It's worthwhile to have a discussion and hammer out a good formula. That said, the debate over the summer can be annoying because the conversation tends to be driven by those who feel they have been slighted. It becomes a chorus of complaints from people running incredibly well. For the most part, I preferred not to participate in that discussion and just keep my nose to the grindstone."

Regardless of the POY formula and if players are happy with it, the 2017 WSOP Europe figures to be a big event. In fact, WSOP director Gregory Chochon believes that this will be the organization’s biggest-ever European series.

"We are really set up to have the biggest WSOP Europe ever," said Chochon. "With €18 million in guarantees, we expect to see the largest fields and prize pools for our European offshoot."