Daniel Negreanu Player of the Year Controversy
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Daniel Negreanu Loses WSOP Player of the Year Award on Points Error

When the Ace of hearts hit the felt at King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic – eliminating Shaun Deeb from the final tournament of the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOP-E) – Daniel Negreanu officially clinched 2019 Player of the Year (POY) honors.

Deeb failed to fill his full house in a pivotal pot against fellow high-stakes pro Bertrand Grospelier, falling in 11th place to bust out of the €550 buy-in Colossus No-Limit Hold’em tournament. The sudden disappearance of Deeb’s chip stack ended his last-ditch effort to catch “Kid Poker” in the points standings and deny Negreanu a coveted third career POY title.

Needing to finish in at least fifth place from the massive 2,738 field, Deeb nearly pulled off a miraculous run to claim his second straight POY title. Instead, he bowed out agonizingly close to cap off a rousing POY race against his archrival Negreanu, a race that began way back in Las Vegas at the WSOP proper in May.

Here’s how the 2019 WSOP POY standings – which combine performances from both the Las Vegas and Europe series – looked after Deeb’s elimination was in the books:

WSOP Player of the Year (POY) Standings on November 4

Place Player POY Points
1st Daniel Negreanu 4,074.88
2nd Robert Campbell 3,961.31
3rd Shaun Deeb 3,917.32
4th Anthony Zinno 3,322.00
5th Philip Hui 3,186.17

With that, Negreanu ended an often acrimonious POY battle with Deeb on top, while Australian pro Robert Campbell – who won two gold bracelets at the WSOP this summer – settled for second place.

Or so it seemed…

Points Error Discovered; Negreanu Credited with Phantom Cash

On November 8 – four days after the “win” during which time Negreanu took to his YouTube channel to celebrate at Deeb’s expense – Russian poker reporter Alexander Elenskiy took to Twitter and the 2+2 poker forum to point out a possible error in the POY standings.

In his Twitter post, Elenskiy tagged the WSOP and the three players involved with the following advice:

Elenskiy said, “You should check #68, according to official report DN got 213.1 points, but he didn’t cash there.

All places from 32 to 46 in #68 are messed up with #87.”

Alexander Elenskiy referred tournament organizers to the official finishing order posted on WSOP.com for Event #68, the $1,000 WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em Championship. According to Elenskiy – who later told Poker Central his discovery came about during his own collation of POY points for a fantasy poker league he supervised – Negreanu was mistakenly credited with a 36th place finish in that tournament:

Elenskiy added, “I first noticed this back in July but I thought it was a temporary error with the payouts and I assumed they would fix it the next day and I completely forgot about it.

Today I remembered this story and I went to see if this was fixed and that’s when I discovered this mistake.”

WSOP officials quickly checked their results page and confirmed that the 32nd-46th place entries for Event #68 had been copied and pasted using names and finishing order from Event #87: $3,000 H.O.R.S.E.

Because of Negreanu’s 36th place finish in Event #87, his name was entered into the system twice despite his failure to cash at all in Event #68. This meant he was originally credited with 213.1 POY points that he hadn’t earned, providing the margin of victory needed to defeat both Campbell and Deeb.

When the WSOP removed those crucial points from Negreanu’s record, he fell to third place behind Deeb and new POY champion Campbell:

WSOP Player of the Year (POY) Standings on November 8

Place Player POY Points
1st Robert Campbell 3,961.31
2nd Shaun Deeb 3,917.32
3rd Daniel Negreanu 3,861.76
4th Anthony Zinno 3,322.00
5th Philip Hui 3,186.17

Stakeholders Speak Out on POY Points Snafu

In its official statement on the matter, WSOP organizers confirmed the error and apologized to Campbell for muddying the proverbial waters en route to his eventual POY title:

The WSOP stated: “We’ve been made aware of an error on the 2019 POY leaderboard. After verifying results and points, Rob Campbell (@SonicJaxx2019) is the 2019 POY.

We’d like to apologize for this error, and offer our sincere congratulations to Rob!”

Shaun Deeb was especially pained by the situation, as he learned that surviving just three more spots to finish ninth in the Colossus would’ve been enough to earn POY status. He went on to question whether Negreanu knew about his artificially inflated point total the whole time, while petitioning the WSOP to award himself and Campbell co-POY honors in a tweet:

Deeb said: “Two things. Its amazing Daniel wouldn’t bet on me with poy cuz he was afraid I would cheat when he’s the one caught trying to cheat.

Second the only acceptable move from WSOP is co poy with me and Campbell.”

For his part, Daniel Negreanu congratulated Campbell on the hard-fought victory:

Negreanu said: “I’m genuinely happy for Robert, he is a good guy and he is deserving.

Obviously my strategy would have been different had I known where I actually stood, but such is life. I have no regrets.

I set out to achieve a goal and I focus on the journey. That journey got me to where I set my goal.

Unfortunately, the points miscalculation means no POY for me!”