It’s the big one. This award covers success in every form of the game. Needless to say, every player on this list fully deserves to be there.
5. Ryan Riess
Whatever you think of Ryan Riess as a player or a personality, there can be no doubting that winning the WSOP Main Event is still the greatest achievement for any poker player. ‘The Beast’ fully deserved his $8.3 million win too, playing great poker on the November Nine final table and schooling Jay Farber heads-up.
Almost as many headlines were created by his post-match claim to be, ‘the best player in the world’ as the bracelet win itself. Outspoken pros such as Scott Seiver immediately attacked Riess on Twitter for his claim but, whether he’s right or wrong, PokerPlayer would much rather see a world champion with a bit of swagger than another mute like Jerry Yang or Peter Eastgate. For that reason alone, we hope Riess is not a one hit wonder and stays on the scene to deliver more pipe bombs in the future.
4. Philipp Gruissem
The major tours have continued to introduce more super high rollers this year, and they’ve been dominated by Germans. Ole Schemion, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Fabian Quoss and Tobias Reinkemeier have all had great success but the one that stands out is
Philipp Gruissem. The 26-year-old has won over $4.6m in live tourneys this year, including a bracelet win in the WSOP APAC $50k high roller and back-to-back victories in two WPT Alpha8 events, each for over $1m.
Despite the small fields, these events are filled with world class players. Gruissem will surely be one of the favourites for the $1m Big One for One Drop in 2014.
3. Matt Ashton
The 25-year-old UK pro took this summer’s WSOP by storm, cashing four times in Vegas, all of them final tables, including a runner-up finish to Mike Matusow in a $5k Seven-card Stud event. After buying in to the $50k Poker Player Championship in cash (without a backer) it was clear that the mixed game specialist hadn’t exactly come from nowhere.
A big winner online, Ashton incredibly went on to win the Poker Players Championship for $1.77m, beating a tough final table. The bracelet win looked sure to secure him the WSOP Player of the Year title too, until this man came along…
2. Daniel Negreanu
Kid Poker has had a lot of great years in the game but perhaps none better than 2013. First he won the inaugural WSOP APAC main event in Melbourne for over $1m, before a fourth place finish in the EPT Grand Final main event in one of the most star-studded finals the tour has ever seen.
A disappointing summer followed but then came Negreanu’s coup de grace, winning the final event of the Paris WSOPE, the €25k high roller, to snatch the WSOP Player of the Year title from Ashton and win €725k. It was an Oscar-winning performance from a player that openly embraces the spotlight.
1. Niklas Heinecker
Who? Why isn’t Negreanu winning?? Are you mad!? Now, Niklas Heinecker might not be a recognisable name or face to casual poker fans yet but trust us, he soon will be after the stellar year the German has posted in 2013. Across high stakes online cash games and live tournaments Heinecker has won over $10m in the past twelve months, a phenomenal sum that beats out even Main Event champ Ryan Riess’s annual winnings.
Heinecker’s major live score was when he won the HK$1m entry GuangDong Asia Millions event in June for $4.45m. However, it’s his consistent online cash game success that has really caught the eye. As of late December Heinecker, playing as ‘ragen70’, is up just under $6m, nearly $3m more than the next contender, Ben Tollerene.
To combine incredible live and online results within one year, across both cash games and tournaments, is the true mark of a poker superstar. He may not be as flashy as Negreanu or have a bracelet as blingy as Riess, but when it comes to pure substance Niklas Heinecker is the only possible choice for the 2013 PokerPlayer Player of the Year award.
For more PokerPlayer 2013 Awards, check out the latest issue of PokerPlayer magazine, available on iTunes here.