The Global Poker Index Player of the Year award is back in 2021 following a one-year hiatus due to the global health pandemic. Alex Foxen is the two-time defending champion (2018, 2019), but this just might be the year someone else unseats the former college football athlete. Or, maybe not.
GPI is celebrating 10 years of ranking poker players and, on Tuesday, released an update to the Player of the Year rankings for the first time in 2021. Ali Imsirovic leads the way (2,758 points) and is followed closely by Qing Liu (2,339), who nearly won back-to-back WPT final tables on consecutive days earlier this year.
The standings, however, could look quite different soon. Due to COVID-19, most high-roller events were canceled during the first few months of 2021. Hence, you’ll find lower-stakes pros such as Liu and Jesse Lonis (2,198) hanging around the top five.
In 2012, Dan Smith shipped the first Player of the Year title. He cashed for more than $3.7 million that year, including a pair of seven-figure scores.
The GPI Player of the Year standings consider only open events with at least 32 players. Those who cash in qualified tournaments receive points based on their finish. The larger the buy-in and the cash, the more points received. That’s why the top contenders each year are regulars on the high-roller circuit. Eric Danis, President of the Global Poker Index, told CardsChat News the scoring system will remain the same in 2021.
Past GPI Player of the Year Winners
- 2012 – Dan Smith
- 2013 – Ole Schemion
- 2014 – Dan Colman
- 2015 – Byron Kaverman
- 2016 – David Peters
- 2017 – Adrian Mateos
- 2018 – Alex Foxen
- 2019 – Alex Foxen
There are numerous high-stakes tournaments on the horizon, including the PokerGO Cup, Super High Roller Bowl, and the WSOP in the fall. Once those events take place, we should begin to see the top five full of high rollers.
Speaking of the top five, here’s my list of the most likely candidates to win the 2021 Global Poker Index Player of the Year award (with one potential wildcard):
1. Ali Imsirovic
Despite the limited number of high rollers thus far in 2021, Imsirovic has been on a tear since February. He already has $2.5 million in cashes, which include six high-roller wins, his best coming in a $10,000 US Poker Open No-Limit Hold’em event for $217,800. The Bosnian poker pro leads the new PokerGO Tour standings by a significant margin over Sean Perry (and everyone else).
Imsirovic has $11.4 million in live tournament cashes and he’s only 26 years old. Given his strong start so far this year, and the fact he’s been one of the top high rollers for the past couple of years, he’s your best bet to win Global Poker Index Player of the Year, but not by much.
2. Alex Foxen
It would be criminal to leave the two-time defending champ off this list. Foxen currently sits in sixth place at 2,075 points, and is only a couple big scores away from catching up to Imsirovic. Expect him to rise up the standings throughout the year.
The former Boston College Eagle has more than $17.8 million in live tournament winnings, and he’s been one of the best players in the world since 2017. His long-time girlfriend, Kristen Bicknell, is a three-time GPI Female Player of the Year winner.
3. David Peters
David Peters is currently ranked 234th on the 2021 Global Poker Index POY standings (888 points). And that’s exactly why we said the present standings shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The fact of the matter is, Peters is arguably the best live tournament player in the world, and it’s only a matter of time before he piles up some wins like he did earlier this month at the US Poker Open, the high-roller series he won for the second consecutive time.
The Toledo, Ohio native, a past GPI POY winner (2016), has $34.5 million in live tournament cashes, two WSOP bracelets, one WSOP Circuit ring, two US Poker Open titles, and three World Poker Tour final table appearances. He’ll almost certainly be a contender for Player of the Year.
4. Stephen Chidwick
Chidwick and Peters are considered by many the two best tournament players in the world. But they fall a few spots below Imsirovic simply because they’re currently in a hole. Chidwick, one of the most consistent tournament players over the past five years, checks in at 715th on the POY standings (620 points). But pay no attention to that ranking.
He’ll rise up the standings rapidly, and will likely be in contention by the time the WSOP rolls around in October. The British poker pro has $35.6 million in live tournament cashes, and has cashed for more than $1 million every year since 2012.
5. Sean Winter
Winter is sometimes overlooked in comparison to Chidwick, Peters, and Foxen, but he’s earned the right to be compared to those pros over the past few years. He took down the $50,000 US Poker Open No-Limit Hold’em series finale earlier this month for $756,000, and now has more than $17 million in all-time cashes.
He’s been a consistent performer in high-roller events such as the US Poker Open and Poker Masters since 2018. In 2019, he finished second to Foxen in the Global Poker Index POY standings. Thus far in 2021, he has $1.7 million in earnings, and ranks 12th in the GPI standings at 2,153 points.
Wildcard: Brian Altman
In most cases, the top contenders for Global Poker Index Player of the Year fit into the high-roller category. But there might just be one exception to that rule, and it could be Altman, the 2019-2021 WPT Player of the Year, who began the 2021-2022 WPT season with his third World Poker Tour title, a $613,225 score down in Tampa, Florida.
Altman has $5.3 million in career cashes, almost all in low or mid-stakes events. But, he competed in the Wynn Millions, a $10,000 buy-in tournament in Las Vegas this week, and clearly has the talent to win at any level. If he continues to play more $10Ks, he just might sneak into contention for GPI Player of the Year.