By virtue of his two wins in $10,000 buy-in Championship events in June, Germany's George Danzer continues to hold the pole position in the World Series of Poker Player of the Year race three quarters of the way through the summer series.
Danzer topped a talented field of 134 runners to take down the title in Event #38: $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Championship, and only 11 days after winning his first career WSOP bracelet he added another to the collection. By winning Event #18: $10,000 Seven-Card Razz Championship, Danzer surged ahead the POY standings. With three other cashes to his credit thus far at the 2014 WSOP, including a final table run to a fifth place finish in Event # 5: $10,000 Limit 2-7 Triple Draw, Danzer his accumulated 735.20 POY points to this point.
With his closest competitor in Brandon Shack-Harris sitting at 474 POY points, Danzer has a hammerlock on the leaderboard's top spot, but Shack-Harris has made three final tables of his own this summer to give himself a shot at taking down POY honors. Shack-Harris earned his first career bracelet in May by winning Event #3: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha. Not long after that Shack-Harris nearly captured the crown in his favorite game, Event #18: $10,000 Seven-Card Razz Championship, where he ran into the Berlin Wall, finishing as runner-up to none other than Danzer. Shack-Harris then himself in contention to bag another bracelet, but he was ousted just short of the finish line for to give himself the trifecta in terms of WSOP cashes this year.
With the field dwindling in one of the WSOP's most prestigious events — the $50,000 Poker Players' Championship — Shack-Harris is still alive, and like clockwork, he sits near the top of the counts with his fourth final table of the series in sight. In the event Shack-Harris adds a second bracelet to his already sterling summer performance, the feat would also push him ahead of Danzer and into the lead for the 2014 WSOP POY crown.
During a break in the Poker Players' Championship action PokerNews caught up with Shack-Harris to see if he had his sights set on downing Danzer, or if the POY race was merely in his peripheral vision:
I'm barely thinking about it. I really just want to try to take this tournament down, and then after that, if that happens, I'll be relieved first to be done with the tournament. And then Player of the Year would just be a nice — a really, super nice consolation prize — or a bonus you know. There's still Australia too, and I have to work harder on my no-limit if I were to do that. So, I'm sure Danzer could fly to Australia and ship a couple tournaments, and just like end it. Today though, I'm just gonna try to play every hand as good as I can I guess, and see where it takes me.
The journey Down Under that Shack-Harris mentioned refers to the upcoming World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific, which runs through October at the Crown Melbourne in Australia, offering players a chance to earn additional POY points throughout 10 gold bracelet events.
Danzer still holds a significant lead in the race of course, but with 16 events left on the schedule — including the Main Event and its 500 POY points — there are plenty of pros in the pack trailing at his heels. Justin Bonomo (413.63), Brock Parker (406.25), Richard Ashby (400.05), Calvin Anderson (398.20), Will Givens (367.30), JC Tran (338.10), Kory Kilpatrick (333.00), and Dan Kelly (324.00) round out the top 10, and each one is more than capable of stringing together a few deep runs to give Danzer a sweat.