Master Men Wins Again

The Card Player “Player of the Year” of 2005 has been crowned, and once again the title has gone to the Master – Men Nguyen

It was Nguyen’s fourth “Player of the Year” title and his first since 2002. For his accomplishment, he will be awarded the $10,000 into the 2006 World Series of Poker. Additionally, all players who earned points in this year’s standings will be invited to play in a private $100,000 freeroll at online poker room, The top 100 finishers will also receive an invitation to an awards banquet in 2006.

Men Nguyen’s closest competition for the title “Player of the Year” was John Phan, who wasn’t giving up without a fight. Both Phan and Nguyen jetted to Atlantic City to play in the 2005 Trump Classic. They both started out as if they meant business, both making the final table of the $300 No-Limit event. Phan’s third place finish ordinarily would have been enough to close the gap, but Nguyen won the whole competition to increase his lead further. It was Nguyen’s astounding sixteenth final table this year, second only to John Hoang’s seventeen.

Neither player finished in the money in the $5,000 Main Event and neither earned “Player of the Year” points. And so, Men Nguyen finally clinched the title.

Card Player 2005 “Player of the Year” Top Ten


    1. Men Nguyen — 4,604
    2. John Phan — 4,428
    3. Allen Cunningham — 3,841
    4. Michael Gracz — 3,8404
    5. Michael Mizrachi — 3,801
    6. Tony Ma — 3,450
    7. Ted Forrest — 3,448
    8. Gavin Smith — 3,418
    9. Max Pescatori — 3,381
    10. John Hoang — 3,267

Poker’s popularity continues to go from strength to strength in a year that has seen more money given away on the tournament poker circuit than ever before as evidenced by the 5,619 people attracted to the World Series of Poker’s main event.

In 2004, tournament poker saw 22 people win a million dollars or more. Last year, 34 players took home $1 million or more (this was helped by the fact that every player who made the final table at the WSOP’s main event won $1 million). Also, 2005 had 11 people win $2 million or more, four more than in 2004. The top four finishers at the WSOP’s main event all won $2 million or more.

For players who are determined to finish the year as a top money winner, the path is simple; just finish at least fifth at the WSOP’s main event. By taking first and second in the main event, Hachem and Dannenmann finished 2005 as the top two money winners. First place paid Hachem $7,500,000 and Dannenmann won $4,250,000 for being runner-up.

Phil Ivey vaulted to third on the money list for 2005 after he won $1.6 million in back-to-back tournaments in Monte Carlo. Ivey won $3,333,426 at tournaments in 2005. He made five final tables.

Poker pro Tuan Le finished fourth in the money rankings thanks to a victory at the $25,000 buy-in Five-Star World Poker Classic in April that paid him $2,856,150. His tournaments winnings for the rest of the year amounted to $7,280.

John "Tex" Barch made one final table in 2005, but it was the one that counted the most. By taking third in the WSOP’s main event, he won $2.5 million. He won another $28,805 at three different tournaments throughout the year, good enough to move him into fifth on the money list for 2005.

Michael Mizrachi took a much more difficult route to get into the top 10. He finished in the money in 18 different tournaments, made the final table six times, won the L.A. Poker Classic (for $1,859,909), and finished second in two WSOP circuit events. His $2,472,439 was good for sixth on the list.,/p>

Michael Gracz followed the same road as Mizrachi to get to seventh with $2,292,271 in tournaments winnings. He cashed in 11 tournaments, won two of them ($1,525,500 for the Party Poker Million IV and $594,460 and a bracelet at the $1,000 buy-in no limit event at the WSOP), and made two other final tables.

Nick Schulman outlasted 783 people at the $10,000 buy-in World Poker Finals in November for $2,167,500. He also took fourth and $74,495 at a WSOP Circuit tournament in December, letting him finish the year with $2,241,995, which was the eighth-most in 2005.

Rehne Pedersen won $2,078,185 by winning the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December. He won $34,015 in two other tournaments, which was good for ninth on the money list with $2,112,200.

Mike Matusow made two final tables, including the one at the WSOP’s main event where he finished ninth for $1 million. He won another million when he finished first in the WSOP Tournament of Champions in November, giving him $2,009,225 in tournament winnings for the year and cementing his place in the top 10 in tournament poker winnings for 2005.

Top Tournament Money Winners of 2005

    1. Joe Hachem $7,614,022
    2. Steven Dannenmann $4,350,000
    3. Phil Ivey $3,333,426
    4. Tuan Lee $2,856,150
    5. John "Tex" Barch $2,528,085
    6. Michael Mizrachi $2,472,439
    7. Michael Gracz $2,292,271
    8. Nick Schulman $2,241,995
    9. Rehne Pedersen $2,112,200
    10. Mike Matusow $2,009,225
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