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WSOP: Negreanu Is 2019 Player of the Year...No, Wait!

World Series of Poker Logo

It seems as though even the world of professional poker can be hit by scandals when it comes to the reception of prestigious awards. In a scene reminiscent of incorrect winners being announced during Miss Universe pageants or the Academy Awards, the World Series of Poker recently made the gaffe of erroneously announcing Daniel “KidPoker” Negreanu as the Player of the Year (PoY) without thoroughly checking his overall results beforehand. This led to certain inconsistencies being discovered and Negreanu having the title snatched from him to be handed over to Robert Campbell instead.

WSOP Mistake With Player of the Year

A Race to Become POY with Plenty of Excitement

Horse Running

The Player of the Year award from WSOP is one of the most sought-after accolades within the poker world, and the race to become the 2019 awardee was wrought with intrigue.

Negreanu had actually been marked as a favorite to win the WSOP PoY award prior to the final qualifying tournaments. Even though that was the case, there wasn’t a specific player who had really gone light years ahead of the competition, meaning that there were quite a few candidates who were in the running.

Daniel NegreanuDaniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu

Negreanu, who has won six World Series of Poker bracelets and two previous PoY accolades, was facing off with Shaun Deeb who has himself earned four WSOP bracelets as well as being the 2018 PoY winner despite being known mostly for his play at online poker sites. To add to this, other multiple bracelet winners were in attendance, including pros like Phil Hellmuth and Australia’s Kahle Burns. Anthony Zinno gave it his all, coming in as a potential late winner following several deep tourney runs but falling short at the end.

Following the conclusion of this year's WSOP Europe festival, the WSOP announced Negreanu as the winner of the PoY on Nov. 4 following a solid finish in the final tourney, the €550 Colossus:

WSOP Tweet Congratulating Negreanu

Yet, as if there hasn’t been enough controversy connected to WSOP in recent times with Phil Ivey’s $124K win being held by the United States Marshals Service along with the sale of the Rio Casino, which is the WSOP's home, the announcement of Negreanu as the winner was called into question by Russian poker writer Alex Elenskiy:

Alex Elenskiy Found a Mistake With the WSOP's Math

In a post on Twitter, Elenskiy made sure to point out certain inconsistencies that he had found while checking Negreanu’s results. According to that Tweet, Negreanu acquired 213.1 points in a tournament, but he didn’t cash in that event. Despite Negreanu garnering 23 other cashes for his final score, that wasn’t quite enough to make his points outdo the actual winner – Robert Campbell.

How Does WSOP POY Work?

Magnifying Glass

The PoY award this year incorporated 83 bracelet events in Las Vegas as well as 14 bracelet events at WSOP Europe (WSOPE). A system is in place every year for the PoY award, which hands out points to players based on various factors. These include how much a player cashes for, at what point in an event a player cashes, how big the actual tournament field is and more. The WSOP website has its own leaderboard on display as well, which is updated whenever an event concludes and points are given to players.

Certain events do not count towards receiving points in the POY award. These include the following:

  • Casino Employees
  • Seniors
  • Super Seniors
  • Ladies
  • Tag Team
  • Bracelet Winners Only
  • Global Casino Championship
  • WSOP Europe €250,000 Super High Roller

Though in the past, Player of the Year recipients have been rewarded with prizes like free Main Event entries, there's currently no prize on offer for the victor. The competition is solely for bragging rights.

Negreanu Celebrates on His Way Home but Clerical Error is Revealed

Exclamation Point

As he readied himself to travel home from the WSOP Europe series in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, Negreanu sent out a Tweet of his own on Monday, Nov. 4 stating that he would post a vlog on his WSOP victory. This appeared alongside a photo of him clutching a celebratory flute of champagne.

Negreanu Champagne Tweet

Yet, it was only a few days later, on Nov. 8, that it was discovered by Elenskiy that Event #68 which took place in Las Vegas during the summer had several issues connected to it. It was found that a WSOP staffer had incorrectly tallied Negreanu’s points by entering cashes from Event #87 for a portion of Event #68’s results. This not only inflated the supposed victor’s final total but over a dozen other players’ totals as well.

Once the WSOP was informed of the mishap and amended everything, it was announced that Negreanu was no longer the winner of the POY award. Instead, that title went to Robert Campbell who shot ahead of both Negreanu and the runner-up Shaun Deeb, beating the latter to the award by 44 points.

During the 2019 WSOP in Las Vegas, Campbell's strong performance, including two bracelets, ensured that he took the initial lead with 3,418.78 points going into the Rozvadov festival in Europe. Although Campbell added another four cashes in Rozvadov, which included a final table appearance at the €25,500 Platinum High Roller event, at the end of the series, it was announced that Negreanu had finished with 4,074.88 points, meaning that he had managed to top Campbell’s final original tally of 3,961.31 points and Deeb’s 3,917.32 points – or so everyone thought at the time.

WSOP Issues a Statement on the Error

Pieces of Paper

Following the blunder, the WSOP made an official announcement on its own Twitter, apologizing for the mix up and naming Campbell as the proper PoY winner. A full statement was also released regarding the Player of the Year award with the WSOP stating that it had begun immediate investigations into the matter once it was informed of the inconsistencies. It read in part:

We have confirmed a data entry error was made in our uploading of results into the backend off [sic] our website for WSOP Event #68, affecting places 32-46.

When a staffer uploaded the first 15 players who were eliminated in the money of Event #87 on July 16 (which included Daniel Negreanu in 36th place) – instead of uploading those results into Event #87, the staffer, by mistake, uploaded them into Event #68 instead. These were places 32 through 46, the lowest 15 positions to cash in Event #87. This error overwrote the correct results in Event #68 for places 32-46, and 15 players were credited with a cash in Event #68 despite not finishing in that place.

As a result, Daniel Negreanu was given 213.1 points erroneously in Event #68, an event we verified he did not cash in. 14 other players were also given erroneous points…

By the end of the recalculations, Negreanu finished in third position with 3861.78 points with Deeb moving up to second place with 3917.32 and Campbell shifting into first place with 3961.31 points. Here's the full list of the top 10 after all corrections were made:

2019 WSOP Player of the Year Leaders


Position Name Points
1 Robert Campbell 3,961.31
2 Shaun Deeb 3,917.32
3 Daniel Negreanu 3,861.76
4 Anthony Zinno 3,322.00
5 Phillip Hui 3,186.17
6 Daniel Zack 3,126.13
7 Dario Sammartino 3,091.03
8 Chris Ferguson 2,997.10
9 Kahle Burns 2,983.37
10 Dash Dudley 2,860.79


Negreanu Congratulates the Actual Winner

It didn’t take long for Negreanu to send his congratulations to the actual winner, writing a Tweet directed at Campbell that read: “Congrats mate! Some good news coming your way. Well deserved champ.”

Robert CampbellRobert Campbell

He followed that up by stating that he was genuinely happy for Campbell to be the victor before stating that he would share more of his thoughts on the PoY situation at a later time. Those thoughts came a day later, when Negreanu made a post via Full Contact Poker on what he deemed “The WSOP POY Oopsie!” In that post, he said:

It’s an unfortunate situation, but mistakes happen and life goes on. I’m genuinely happy for Robert Campbell because I know how much it meant to him and I also feel he was deserving, having won two bracelets this year. He is also a nice guy which helps.

Daniel elaborated that even when he got the news that he wasn’t PoY, he wasn’t fazed by it whatsoever. There were no negative emotions or a feeling of loss on his part although he did state that if he’d known about the correct points total, he would have changed his strategy at the event in Rozvadov. Yet, even though this is the case, he stated that he had no regrets on what went down and that he left the Czech Republic “feeling good” about his decisions.

However, Negreanu did point out that he has been quite vocal about fixing the PoY points system for years. He went on to list several ideas that he has put forward via Twitter, regarding the improvement of the system currently in place, but also noted that there are downfalls to certain improvements as well.

This wasn't the first time that Negreanu has spoken out on poker issues, either. Earlier this year, he polled his Twitter followers on whether or not they think it should be classed as cheating if a player from within the United States utilizes a VPN to access a poker room that forbids players from the US. And who can forget his “more rake is better” fiasco from 2016?

A Series of Controversies for WSOP

Newspaper

It’s nothing specifically new for the WSOP to be connected with controversy. It seems that every year brings its own form of drama. Phil Hellmuth is one of the individuals who has had his fair share of infamous moments; in 2018, for example, he charged his tournament backers a huge markup of 1.8 for 30% of his tournament action: a move that stirred up a lot of criticism against him.

Hossein Ensan2019 WSOP Main Event Winner Hossein Ensan

Then during the 2019 WSOP Main Event in July, which saw Hossein Ensan pick up the $10 million first place prize, a player took the opportunity to drop his pants in a bizarre incident. He had chosen to push all-in blind preflop on the first level of the event, which led him to table his hand early and then drop his pants before throwing his shoe at the dealer. Needless to say, he was promptly escorted out of the building.

With Phil Ivey's issues still ongoing and the fact that the POY award had its own problems, we can say it's never a dull moment at the WSOP.

WSOP Still the Premier Poker Event of the Year

Black Ribbon

Despite the occasional shortcomings on the part of its organizers, the annual WSOP series is still the highlight of the poker year, and so players from around the world head to Vegas regularly to try their fortune. The owners of the series have opened a WSOP.com online poker site where you can win official WSOP bracelet events and participate in satellite tournaments, but the problem is that this room is only open to people located in two states: Nevada and New Jersey.

If you're in the market for a more robust internet poker solution, there are plenty of offshore sites that gladly welcome Americans located in other states through their virtual doors, and many of them have their own WSOP satellite events. To learn more about these destinations for card games online, check out our USA poker guide for thorough information.