Steve O’Dwyer is off to a commanding start in 2016, with two high roller wins and five cashes total in January. He has overtaken Byron Kaverman for the lead in the Global Poker Index (GPI) rankings. Ari Engel and Fedor Holz have likewise found great success in the new year.

It’s still to early in the year for the GPI to have begun posting Player of the Year stats, but there’s big news from Card Player, as they’ve revamped their criteria this year. Field size and buy-in are now given roughly equal consideration (formerly, field size was the bigger factor), yet the overall strategy seems to have been to distinguish the Card Player system even more strongly from the GPI’s.

Card Player now awards no points whatsoever to non-final table cashes, except in huge field events, and even then only to the top 27 finishers. Card Player has always emphasized wins and near-wins over small cashes, while GPI’s system is the reverse, where consistent cashes in high buy-in events are the key to success.

Meanwhile, the lack of points for smaller cashes means that Card Player has been able to do away with its event cap; every event in which a player scores points will now count at the end of the year, while in the GPI (and formerly in the Card Player system), only a certain number of scores could be counted.

Global Poker Index

About the rankings: The GPI World Poker Rankings rates the top players in the world according to a system which awards points for tournament cashes based on buy-in, field size and finish position. Tournaments over the past three years are considered, but the weight accorded to older results diminishes with time.

The current Top 10

#1 Steve O’Dwyer – 4,271.23 pts. (#4 last update)
#2 Byron Kaverman – 4,236.76 pts. (#1 last update)
#3 Jason Mercier – 4,121.90 pts. (#3 last update)
#4 Nicholas Petrangelo – 4,030.13 pts.(#5 last update)
#5 Anthony Zinno – 3,968.10 pts. (#2 last update)
#6 Bryn Kenney – 3,887.44 pts. (#6 last update)
#7 Fedor Holz – 3,849.42 pts. (NEW)
#8 David Peters – 3,738.01 pts. (NEW)
#9 Stephen Chidwick – 3,732.39 pts. (#9 last update)
#10 Connor Drinan – 3,689.09 pts. (NEW)


Kevin MacPhee – #7 -> #13
Martin Finger – #8 -> #15
Jonathan Duhamel – #10 -> #24

The Skinny: There have been many shakeups relative to the end of last year in both the top and bottom halves of the top 10. Oddly, no one has transitioned between the two halves, however. Naturally, the biggest news is the new leader, Steve O’Dwyer, though so little separates him from Byron Kaverman that we could easily see the lead change again next month.

Of the Top 5, Anthony Zinno has had the toughest time this year, with only one small cash so far; he drops three spots to 5th. Jonathan Duhamel is likewise going through a drought, plunging all the way from 10th to 24th.

On the Move: It’s not uncommon to see changes in the lead in the GPI Rankings; sometimes a second-place player doesn’t even need to cash to take over, as the leader’s older results expire. That is, in fact, how Kaverman came to his number one spot in the first place.

What makes O’Dwyer so impressive is that he climbed all the way from 4th in such short order. He won both the $50,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) High Roller and the $250,000 Challenge at the Aussie Millions, plus had two other final tables (both 4th place) and one additional cash in January. It’s obviously too early to make any sort of predictions for Player of the Year, but O’Dwyer is certainly an early frontrunner, given the emphasis GPI places on High Roller results.

Although only in 7th place for the rankings, Fedor Holz is also putting up amazing numbers for 2016 so far. He won the $200,000 Triton Super High Roller at World Poker Tour National (WPTN) Philippines – one of the events in which O’Dwyer took 4th, it so happens – and three other, smaller scores. He’ll still be an underdog to O’Dwyer in the Player of the Year race, but he finished 2015 with a World Poker Tour (WPT) Alpha8 Las Vegas win, so his position in the rankings should be steady or, very likely, climbing in coming months.

Card Player

About the rankings: Card Player unfortunately does not have a rolling leaderboard to compete with the GPI’s, but it does provide an alternative Player of the Year leaderboard. This year’s system is different from previous years’, but still differs dramatically from GPI’s in that its honors are largely awarded based on the number of important titles and final tables had by a player, rather than their consistency of cashing in high buy-in events. Comparing the two often provides interesting insight into players’ performance.

Player of the Year

#1 Ari Engel – 2,614 pts.
#2 Steve O’Dwyer – 2,178 pts.
#3 Tony Dunst – 1,900 pts.
#4 Samantha Abernathy – 1,840 pts.
#5 Michael Watson – 1,824 pts.
#6 Anthony Gregg – 1,800 pts.
#7 Nick Maimone – 1,444 pts.
#8 Christopher Leong – 1,440 pts.
#9 Connor Drinan – 1,428 pts.
#10 Joseph McKeehen – 1,420 pts.

The Skinny: Clearly, it’s far too early in the year to begin to speculate what things will look like come December, but it’s interesting to note that O’Dwyer, despite his amazing month, is still second to Ari Engel, and by a substantial margin. Card Player still considers field size to be a bigger factor than does GPI, and so Engel’s winning of the Aussie Millions Main Event counts heavily in his favor.

Mike Watson, currently in 5th, held the lead earlier in the month having won the PCA Main Event earlier in the month. Although the PCA Main Event drew a bigger field than the Aussie Millions, it dropped its buy-in to $5300 this year, while the Aussie Millions’s remains $10,600, so the latter has been the most significant event of the year so far, as far as Card Player is concerned. Add to this Engel’s two other final tables at the Aussie Millions (2nd and 9th) and it’s easy to see why he’s the frontrunner at this point.

Honorable mention goes to Joe McKeehen. Although only in 10th, his presence is noteworthy because he was mostly unknown to the poker world prior to his making – and winning – the November Nine for last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. Players who come into the spotlight via Main Event wins frequently face questions about their lasting power, so it’s good to see McKeehen off to a strong start in 2016. He managed two runner-up finishes at the PCA, including in the $100,000 Super High Roller, and finished off the month with a final table in a side event at the WPT Championship.

Pocket Fives

About the rankings: Pocket Fives rankings are the equivalent of the GPI for the online poker world. It considers only the past year’s worth of results, with older results decaying in value and only the best 40 results for each player being counted. Needless to say, this system and the fast pace of online play make this leaderboard quite volatile.

The current Top 10

#1 C Darwin2 – 7,341.83 pts. (#5 last update)
#2 veeea – 7,152.63 pts. (#2 last update)
#3 SvZff – 6,962,00 pts. (#4 last update)
#4 eisenhower1 – 6,924.37 pts. (#1 last update)
#5 Smeckten – 6,797.63 pts. (NEW)
#6 gray31 – 6,797.33 pts. (NEW)
#7 lena900 – 6,628.19 pts. (#3 last update)
#8 Ariados – 6,565.69 pts. (#NEW)
#9 MendaLerenda – 6,539.32 pts. (NEW)
#10 mjw006 – 6500,68 pts. (NEW)

The Skinny: The leaderboard has been shaken up considerably since our last update, but that’s not surprising, given that it’s been nearly two months since the previous update, and unlike the live poker world, online poker doesn’t take a break over the holidays.

The big news here is that Christian “eisenhower1” Jeppsson, who held the top spot since September, has finally been dethroned. It’s yet another Swede taking his place, though, in “C Darwin2” (real name not readily available), who first cracked the top 10 this past October and has been climbing ever since.

C Darwin 2 racked up three wins and a mile-long list of cashes in January, but his biggest breakthroughs in terms of both cash and leaderboard points came in a 4th place finish in the final event of Turbo Championship of Online Poker (TCOOP), and a runner-up finish in the Super Tuesday, both towards the end of the month. He now has over $3.6 million in lifetime online cashes.