Dan Zack has been a consistent World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player of the Year contender since 2017, and he finally got over the hump this year to win the prestigious award.
With two gold bracelets added to his trophy case, the high stakes pro was the top performer this summer. Additionally, the New Jersey native who first became known in the poker world for crushing Live at the Bike games had 14 other cashes in bracelet events, including two other final table appearances.
2022 WSOP Player of the Year Final Leaderboard
PositionPlayerPoints 1Dan Zack4,530 2Daniel Weinman3,922 3Koray Aldemir3,111 4Shaun Deeb2,960 5David Peters2,785 6Joao Simao Peres2,735 7Yueqi Zhu2,596 8Brian Rast2,459 9Dario Sammartino2,414 10Alex Foxen2,390
WSOP Player of the Year Speaks
Zack, who is competing in the Tournament of Champions, the final WSOP event open only to bracelet and Circuit ring winners, spoke with PokerNews on a break to discuss the significance of becoming Player of the Year.
“It means a lot, I set a goal three years ago that I really wanted to try to win it before I left poker, and this is the third series I’ve tried,” Zack said.
When asked what he meant by “before I left poker,” he explained that he doesn’t expect to have many more years in him of grinding the WSOP. The three-time bracelet winner said he’s getting married next year and wants to have kids in the near future, and that means he won’t be able to play full-time anymore.
“My fiance has a real job,” Zack said.
In 2019, Zack won his first bracelet in a $2,500 limit mixed triple draw event for $160,447 and cashed in 14 events, but ended up in sixth place in the POY race. That year, WSOP Europe results were factored into the POY chase, but Zack opted to skip the trip to Rozvadov, Czech Republic, essentially surrendering his shot at POY.
“I thought I was probably about 20% to win and it was a month-long commitment with only 11 events in a pretty remote location away from my family,” Zack said of his decision to skip 2019 WSOP Europe.”
The Best of the Best
Dan Zack with WSOP Vice President Jack Effel.
With 4,530 points at the 2022 WSOP, Zack beat out Daniel Weinman, who also had a brilliant series, by over 600 points. The champion held the lead in the POY race for the final three weeks.
Zack is one of three players to win two bracelets in 2022, joining Main Event winner Espen Jorstad and Lawrence Brandt. He first took down Event #15: $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship for $440,757, and then shipped Event #40: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship for $324,174.
Last year’s Player of the Year, Josh Arieh, had another impressive series with two third place finishes, but ended the WSOP well behind Zack in 33rd place at 2,041 points.
Some of the perennial POY chasers were never in contention this summer, especially Daniel Negreanu who lost over $1 million and didn’t make many deep runs. Phil Hellmuth, who did book a second place finish, was also never a part of the race this year.
“You’re tossing away a few hundred dollars here and there just to give yourself the best chance to compete because you know that guys like (Deeb) are doing the same thing and it’s the only way to keep pace with them.”
Shaun Deeb, the 2017 winner, however, finished in fourth place at 2,960 points, although even he wasn’t much of a threat to Zack late in the series.
Competing for WSOP Player of the Year is quite a grind and it requires players to enter dozens of events to have any shot at winning. Deeb, Negreanu, and a few others traditionally enter 40 or more bracelet tournaments each series. Zack told PokerNews that chasing POY does decrease some expected value, but the honor of winning it is so worth it.
“One-hundred percent, you lose some EV chasing it,” Zack explained. “You’re tossing away a few hundred dollars here and there just to give yourself the best chance to compete because you know that guys like (Deeb) are doing the same thing and it’s the only way to keep pace with them.”
During the Tournament of Champions on Monday afternoon, WSOP Vice President Jack Effel presented Zack with a trophy and honored him for his outstanding accomplishments this summer.
WSOP Player of the Year Winners
YearWinnerRunner-Up 2004Daniel NegreanuTed Forrest 2005Allen CunninghamMark Seif 2006Jeff MadsenPhil Hellmuth 2007Tom SchneiderJeff Lisandro 2008Erick LindgrenBarry Greenstein 2009Jeff LisandroVille Wahlbeck 2010Frank KasselaMichael Mizrachi 2011Ben LambPhil Hellmuth 2012Greg MersonPhil Hellmuth 2013Daniel NegreanuMatthew Ashton 2014George DanzerBrandon Shack-Harris 2015Mike GorodinskyJonathan Duhamel 2016Jason MercierPaul Volpe 2017Chris FergusonJohn Racener 2018Shaun DeebBen Yu 2019Robert CampbellShaun Deeb 2020N/A (pandemic)N/A 2021Josh AriehPhil Hellmuth 2022Dan ZackDaniel Weinman