As the 2018 World Series of Poker comes to close with the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop wrapping up Tuesday, we reflect on the top performers of the series. Unlike in certain other summers where there’s a clear player of the series, this year saw a handful of grinders destroy on the felt and rack up the cashes.
These five players have earned their spots in the current top five on the 2018 WSOP Player of the Year race, with rankings current as of July 17. While the top five are listed here in order of their POY rank, there could be debate about which player actually “won” the series.
Joe Cada looks like a strong candidate for the honors though, winning two bracelets in addition to his rather miraculous Main Event final table return. Here’s a look at the 2018 WSOP stats for the top five players of the series.
|POY Rank||Player||Earnings||Total Cashes||Final Tables||Bracelets||POY Points|
Once Shaun Deeb realized he could be in the running for POY, he decided to chase points — literally. Motivated to join his many friends who have POY banners, Deeb shared a bit about his aspirations and live multi-tabling strategies.
He managed to go deep in two tournaments simultaneously, running back and forth between his two tables while both played out. He eventually finished 16th in Event #13: Big Blind Antes $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em and third in Event #14: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Drawfor $36,330 during the “run.”
Deeb piled on cash after cash as he played every event he could play on the schedule, and his eighth cash was good for his first six-figure score of the summer, a tenth-place finish in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship worth $111,447. He came into the series with two bracelets and added two more to his collection during the latter half of the series.
Deeb earned a bracelet in his tenth WSOP cash of the summer when he beat out 230 entries and bested Ben Yu heads up to win Event #42: $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller for $1,402,683. Deeb followed that big win up with a few small cashes, and then a deep run in the $10,000 Main Event, where he lasted until 105th place for $57,010.
He made his very next cash count in a big way, winning another $10,000 buy-in event. For his second bracelet of the series, Deeb outlasted 355 players and beat Paul Volpe heads up in Event #74: Big Blind Antes $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Championship. Being the grinder he is, and already at the top of the POY rankings, Deeb of course fired The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em after his win, and finished up his series with a min-cash to bring his total cashes of the summer to 17.
With 640 POY points separating Deeb and his next contender as the dust settles at the Rio, he’s in pretty good shape to lock up the honors barring a surge from anyone in the top ten at WSOP Europe at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic in the fall. While Deeb hopes to not have to go to WSOPE to protect his standings, if his summer grind is any indication, he’s willing to go to extreme limits to accomplish a mission.
Ben Yu quietly crushed all summer, cashing in 15 events for a total of $2,781,467 in winnings. He made four final tables and put a cherry on top of his summer finishing with a win in Event #77: $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller (Big Blind Antes). The victory put his total bracelet wins to three and the $1,650,733 prize money more than doubled his summer 2018 WSOP winnings.
He faced some super tough competition in the 128-entry field, having to overcome a stacked final table including Sean Winter, Nick Petrangelo, Isaac Haxton, Igor Kurganov, Manig Loeser, John Racener, Jake Schindler and Elio Fox.
Before the bracelet win, Yu final tabled three other events, including a third-place finish in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship ($99,540), a second-place finish (behind Deeb) in the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller ($866,924) and a fourth in the $1,000 Double Stack No-Limit Hold’em ($63,327).
John Hennigan, AKA “Johnny World,” has adeptly flown under the radar of media attention relatively well in the past several years, but his high-stakes cash game prowess is well-known by this point and his 2018 WSOP performance thrusted him into the spotlight. Before the series concluded, Hennigan was also nominated, selected and inducted into the prestigious Poker Hall of Fame, securing his place in the game’s history.
Hennigan racked up 13 cashes, five of which were final tables, and added one bracelet to his collection that now includes five. He got off to a red-hot start with a 28th-place finish, followed by two seventh-place finishes, and then he won the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. for $414,692.
His next cash was another big one, finishing runner-up to Michael Mizrachi in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $765,837. Eight more cashes followed, the biggest being a seventh-place finish in Event #56: $10,000 Razz Championship, good for $40,817, ending the series with a tally of $1,324,587 in cashes.
Joe Cada may have only cashed seven times in the 2018 series, but boy did he make them count. Of his seven cashes, Cada final tabled four events and won two of them. And one of the two he didn’t win was the Main Event where he finished fifth for $2.15 million. With the help of that score, Cada banked the most winnings of the top five, cashing for $3,025,439 total across the series. Not bad for a guy that doesn’t do much traveling to play live poker.
The feat of final tabling the Main Event multiple times in the modern large-field era is already one of the greatest poker accomplishments in history by any standard. Add to that the fact that he won the whole thing in 2009 and returned to the biggest stage in poker nine years later, and it’s even more impressive.
His return Main Event final table alone would have made for a great summer, but Cada also shipped two other events to add a couple more bracelets to the collection he started in 2009, and now has four to his name. He started out his WSOP with a ninth-place finish in Event #2: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty, promptly following that up by winning Event #3: $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout.
A few small cashes later, Cada made his deep Main Event run, but didn’t stop there. Before wrapping up his summer poker grind, Cada took down yet another title in Event #75: The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em (30 minute levels) to add $612,886 more to his vastly profitable summer.
Though he sits fourth on the POY rankings according to WSOP points, it is arguable that Cada is most deserving of “Player of the Series” honors for an unbelievable summer run, and many pros including Mustapha Kanit and John Juanda have taken to Twitter with that opinion.
On the PokerNews Instagram post asking who had the best summer out of Deeb, Yu, Hennigan and Cada, Kanit responded, “Joe Cada – not even close! Final the Main and two bracelet!?! Nothing comparable.”
Juanda agreed: “Gonna have to go with Joe Cada. Does anyone realize how hard it is to play your best in a $1,500 buy-in event right after u just finished 5th in the Main Event? This is so inspirational and makes me wanna try my best in every tourney I play regardless of the stake.”
Scott Bohlman was a bit of an unsung hero of the series. The Circuit and WSOP grinder was still looking for his first bracelet when the series began, despite coming in with 46 summer WSOP cashes and eight Circuit cashes for a total of $712,083 winnings since 2005.
Bohlman had a break-through kind of series at the 2018 WSOP, putting together 12 cashes including four final tables and a win for a total of $739,858 to more than double his career WSOP earnings to date. Playing mostly non-Hold’em events, Bohlman banked five smaller cashes before claiming his first-ever WSOP victory in his sixth summer cash.
In Event #40: $2,500 Mixed Big Bet, Bohlman bested a field of 205 and defeated Ryan Hughes heads up to claim his first WSOP gold and his second six-figure WSOP score of $122,138. But he was just getting started.
Bohlman followed up his win with six more cashes, including three final tables where he banked larger six-figure scores than he got for his win in each. He finished in sixth place in Event #49: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed Championship for $157,097, second in Event #64: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship for $225,210, and took third in Event #69: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed for $199,572 more.
With the variety of game variants Bohlman ran deep in this summer, he has proven himself as a well-rounded and dangerous contender at the tables, and a likely candidate for POY races moving forward.
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