The first month is officially in the books for the 2021 Card Player Player of the Year race, with a number of big events wrapping up in recent weeks as the international live poker tournament circuit continues its return after being shut down for much of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a look at the players who made the biggest moves in the 2021 POY standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.
1st Place – Ilyas Muradi (1,620 points)
Ilyas Muradi won a seat into the $3,500 buy-in World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open no-limit hold’em main event via a $400 buy-in satellite, and then navigated his way through a field of 1,573 total entries to earn the $809,515 top prize and his first major tournament title.
Muradi was also awarded 1,620 POY points as the champion of this event. This win alone was enough to catapult him into first place in the 2021 POY race standings. This event featured a $1,000,000 guarantee, which was more than quintupled as a result of the huge turnout for the event.
As a result of the massive amount of players this event attracted, several of the top finishers in this tournament earned enough POY points to find themselves among the top 20 in the overall rankings for the time being. Runner-up Robel Andemichael currently sits in second place on the leaderboard with 1,350 POY points and $529,690 in year-to-date earnings, while third-place finisher Ronnie Bardah climbed to fifth place in the race with 1,080 points and $392,430 won so far in 2021.
Francis Margaglione now sits in 10th place in the POY race as a result of his fourth-place finish in this event, while Jesse Lonis moved into 16th place after finishing fifth in this huge tournament.
3rd Place – Fernando Rodriguez-Vazquez (1,248 points)
Fernando Rodriguez-Vazquez has started the new year off on the right foot, making four final tables and securing three titles during the month of January. The Newark, Delaware resident wasted no time in making his first deep run, placing fifth in a $1,100 buy-in New Year’s Day Deep Stack Tournament at Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa to earn $10,450 and 140 POY points.
Just a week later he navigated his way through a 308-entry field in a $500 buy-in no-limit hold’em event at the 2021 One Eyed Jacks Winter Open series, chopping heads up to secure $27,500 and 220 additional points as the champion of the event. Another seven days after that win, Rodriguez-Vazquez outlasted a massive field of 3,004 entries in the $600 buy-in kickoff event at the Lucky Hearts Poker Open festival at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood to earn $205,000 and another 600 points.
Rodriguez-Vazquez rounded out his incredible run by taking down a $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em six-max event at bestbet Jacksonville’s 2021 Winter Open series, earning another $27,411 and 288 points after overcoming the field of 141 entries. With 1,248 total points and $270,361 in year-to-date earnings, Rodriguez-Vazquez has surged up the standings, landing in third place on the leaderboard for the moment.
4th Place – Scott Stewart (1,120 points)
A total of 510 entries were made in the 2021 Winter Open $2,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event at bestbet Jacksonville, building a massive prize pool of $918,000 that was paid out among the top 64 finishers. The lion’s share of that money was ultimately awarded to Scott Stewart, who earned $177,817 as the champion. The five-time World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring winner from Lakewood, California now has more than $2.4 million in career tournament earnings to his name.
In addition to the title and the money, Stewart was also awarded 840 POY points. This was his second POY-qualified score of the new year, having finished sixth in a $1,100 buy-in event at the Lucky Hearts Poker Open for $21,350 and 280 points in January. With these two scores, Stewart now sits in fourth place in the overall 2021 POY rankings.
6th Place – James Carroll (960 points)
James Carroll overcame a field of 1,009 total entries in the 2021 Mid-States Poker Tour Venetian $1,100 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. The two-time World Poker Tour main event champion was awarded $180,850 and 960 POY points for the win, and currently occupies the sixth-place spot on the POY leaderboard as a result.
This was Carroll’s 29th recorded tournament title, and it brought him within striking distance of $5 million in career earnings. This was the fifth-largest score on his resume, with his two largest being for his WPT main event wins earned in the 2014 Bay 101 Shooting Star (a $1,256,550 top prize) and the 2019 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown (a $715,175 top prize).
Carroll has a chance to become a three-time WPT champion in the near future, as he is among the final six players at the 2020 WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table which has been delayed since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Carroll will enter the final table in third chip position when it is ultimately rescheduled at some point this year.
7th Place – Sung Joo Hyun (912 points)
Sung Joo Hyun came out on top in the 2021 World Poker Tour DeepStacks $1,600 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event held at The Venetian® Resort Las Vegas. The South Korean defeated a field of 812 total entries to earn the title and the top prize of $208,335, the largest score of his career.
Hyun had earned his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet just over half of a year earlier, defeating a field of 2,307 entries in a $500 buy-in WSOP Online event to earn $161,898. He now has career tournament earnings of $699,320.
Hyun was awarded 912 POY points as the champion of this event. This win alone was enough to catapult him into seventh place on the POY leaderboard.
9th Place – Nicholas Pupillo (818 points)
Nicholas Pupillo made a trio of final tables in the span of just five days, from Jan. 15-20. Each of his deep runs took place at the Lucky Hearts Poker Open festival in Southern Florida. He started out by winning a $400 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event, defeating a field of 102 entries to earn $9,570 and 96 POY points. Just four days after that victory, he placed seventh in a $400 buy-in Omaha eight-or-better/ seven-card stud eight-or-better event, adding another $1,165 and 22 points.
The very next day, Pupillo finished as the runner-up in a $1,100 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, adding another $67,735 and 700 points to his 2021 totals. Pupillo now sits in ninth place in the overall standings, with 818 points and $78,470 in year-to-date earnings.
Pupillo had a breakout year on the live tournament circuit in 2019, winning two titles and making 15 POY-qualified final-table appearances to finish 16th in that year’s final POY race standings. He’s off to a good start in an effort to surpass that career-best finish in 2021.
Here is a look at the current top 20 in the 2021 POY race standings:
2021 Final Tables
Sung Joo Hyun
Click here to check out the complete standings in the 2021 Player of the Year race.