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CHAMPION OF THE YEAR

A player needed to make it to the final table at any tournament with at least a $2,000 buy-in with a minimum 65 entries to qualify for the ‘Phil Helmuth’ Champion of the Year (COTY) Award.

Also, all World Series of Poker events had counted, and all World Poker Tournament events counted. Points would be awarded in order of finish 200, 180, 160, 140, 120, 100, 80, 60 and 40 points.

The World Series of Poker’s main event stood in a class alone and would be multiplied by 3, the World Poker Tournament $25,000 event would be multiplied by 2.5, all other $10,000 events would have a two multiplier, and the $5,000-$9,999 buy-in events would be multiplied by 1.5.

A player would be required to play against the best poker players in the world in the major and most prominent events, and finish at least the final table if he/she wanted to win the Champion of the Year Award in any year.

Kenneth Popkin deserved a special mention for managing the COTY Award and maintaining it to date with a spreadsheet. In 2003, they had witnessed a great race to the finish.

Having gone into the final eligibility event of the year the Bellagio’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic $10,000 buy-in Champion of the Year Award.

Frank had controlled his own destiny, having the lead at 1070 points, and if he were to be believed: he didn’t have any problem with winning this award! (But he hadn’t made it past the first day.)

Erik Seidel had been in the best position to take the crown with 1050 points, when 50 players had remained (they had started with 310); moreover, he’d had chips, and momentum had been on his side.

The previous two events that Erik had played in, he had managed to finish seventh and then first the $2,500 limit Hold’em poker event on Thu and Fri, and the $2,500 pot-limit Omaha event on Saturday and Sunday.

It had been no surprise that Erik had been one of the chips leaders on Monday, at the beginning of the four-day-long championship event.

Frank had believed in Erik, and he was going to bet on him to finish first or second in the last key event, but on the third day Erik himself told Frank not to bet on him.

Going into the third day, Chip Jett had been in third place on the COTY list, and he had needed an eighth place or better finish to pass Frank, but he still had Seidel to worry about, and Amir Vahedi (who had needed first or second place to win the award), as well as Daniel Negreanu (who had needed first place), and even Mel Judah (who needed first place).

Frank had sat there at the Bellagio on the third day, and he had watched all the great players having a go at passing him up. Seidel had finished in the nineteenth place, while Negreanu had gone out early.

When Amir had been eliminated in eighth place, only three players had remained with a chance to win the COTY: Frank, Chip and Mel.

Chip and Mel made it to the final table after a while. Chip only needed to be up by one place and Mel needed eight but then, they had both had their sights on the $1.1 million first place prize.

Chip had done it when one more player was busted! Chip had made it to the final eight he’d actually finished eighth to take the lead.

When Chip got eliminated in eighth place, Mel Judah required to finish in first place to win the COTY. Just then, Mel had asked Frank if International events had counted.

Frank had responded that only World Poker Tournament International events had counted. Mel replied that it was too bad, as he had made three other big money buy-in final tables that year.

Frank thought that was good, except they had not counted for the COTY.

They broke for the day when six players were left in Bellagio’s $2,000 buy-in WPT event, and Mal Judah had been alive and kicking as yet.

They had to wait for the fourth day the final day of the final eligibility event to establish the winner of the Champion of the Year for 2003.

When Mel had been eliminated in sixth place, on the next day, finally Phil had been able to declare the poker winner: Chip Jett had won the Phil Helmuth Champion of the Year Award in 2003!

Chip Jett had been lauded: Chip had made seen final tables in pokers toughest and most prominent events in 2003, and he had taken home more than $700,000 in prize money.

Some of the other players who stood a good chance to win the COTY that year had been Phil Ivey (he had led it most of 2003), Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen, Toto Leonidas (he’d made a late charge), Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson (he had had a terrific WSOP), Howard Lederer, and T.J. Cloutier.

‘One word names’ such as Negreanu, Flack, Gus, Chan and Devilfish had been a few of the other top twenty finishers. Four World Champions (Huck, Carlos, Scotty, and Dan Harrington), Juanda (21st) and Alan Cunningham were included amongst the twentieth through thirtieth-place finishers.

Incidentally, John Juanda had been the winner of the 2002 COTY. Go to www.philhelmuth.com for a list of the top hundred finishers in 2003’s COTY, or for the current standings.

One needs to see the number of great players who had made the top 30 in 2003! The amount of skill it took to play in the biggest events in poker every year was evident as far as the COTY events, they still had all of those great players near the top of the list.



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