There are not many accolades as significant as winning the World Series main event, but to be named the WSOP Player of the Year must come close. With the established pros doing so well across the board this year, the POY race became one the most hotly contested in recent memory. The leader changed daily as players rose and fell, but it was one of the early front runners who eventually finished on top of the pile.
Erick “E-Dog” Lindgren was, before this year, one of the finest players never to have won a WSOP bracelet. Not only has he shed that stigma he has gone a step further, being officially named the 2008 World Series of Poker Player of the Year. Erick has had 5 cashes and one bracelet this year, and is the only player in the top 10 to have cashed for over $1,000,000 total.
Top of the overall money list is the evergreen poker prince Scotty Nguyen, whose victory in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E event propelled his overall winnings to $2,039,628. Although Scotty was the only player to break the two million mark, Mike Demichele completed the trio of players who have hauled over one million this year.
The bracelets were widely spread with only one player managed to capture more than one. John “Razor” Phan not only managed to become the only multiple bracelet winner of this years series, he did it in the space of one week. He picked up the top prize in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em on the 15th of June and in the $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw on the 22nd of June.
Some the most impressive statistics in the POY rankings were the number of cashes managed by some individuals. Before the start of this year’s event the record for the most cashes in one year stood at 8, held jointly by, among others, Phil Hellmuth. Alex Jacob would have joined that illustrious crowd, having managed a fantastic 8 money finishes, were it not for Nikolay Evdakov. The Russian making the record firmly his own by finishing in the money no less than 10 times.
With the well known pros doing so well this year it was no surprise to see a host of recognizable names among the top 20, including: 2nd Barry Greenstein, 4th David Benyamine, 5th John “Razor” Phan, 6th JC Tran, 8th Daniel Negreanu, 9th Chris (Jesus) Ferguson, 10th David Singer, 11th Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, 12th Andy Bloch and 13th Mike Matusow.
Erick Lindgren understood as much as anyone how much of a challenge it was to win the POY award this year. He commented that all the top pros were playing in most of the tournaments, making every single field highly competitive. Indeed he only pipped veteran Barry Greenstein to the top prize by 10 points.
His first ever bracelet came way back in Event #4, the $5,000 Mixed Hold’em event, after which certain intelligent journalists tipped him to walk away with the top prize. Lindgren’s other successes this year were: 10th in Event #12 ($1,500 Limit Hold’em), 4th place in Event #18 ($5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw w/rebuys), 18th in Event #25 ($10,000 No Limit Heads-Up) and 3rd in Event #45 ($50,000 H.O.R.S.E).
His 3rd place finish in the prestigious $50,000 H.O.R.S.E event was especially special for Erick. The tournament was dedicated to sadly departed poker legend Chip Reese, lending the event even more weight; especially for Lindgren, who has always admired the venerable poker icon. “Chip was really someone I looked up to and respected a lot,” Lindgren said before the start of the event, and although the top prize eventually went to Scotty Nguyen, his 3rd place finish has certainly paid a fitting tribute to to one of the greats of poker history.
It was this result in the H.O.R.S.E event that cemented his place at the top of the POY leaderboard and in doing so he hoped he had done enough to make Chip proud. It seems safe to say that, as focus shifts to the behemoth main event, that Erick Lindgren can call himself one of the finest players ever to play the game of poker.
The full POY Rankings can be see here.