Josh Arieh expands lead as 2021 WSOP POY race enters final days

Haley Hintze
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Posted on 11/20/2021

Veteran high-stakes pro Josh Arieh has expanded his lead in the World Series of Poker’s 2021 Player of the Year race with just a handful of 2021 WSOP events remaining to be decided. Through Friday, Arieh had opened up more than a 570-point lead over his nearest competitor, Phil Hellmuth, with the chase now featuring a revamped top five.

In the parallel No-Limits VELO Leaderboard chase, which includes only results from open-field no-limit tourneys, there’s a new leader as well. Scott Ball’s triumph in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop tourney, which ran in parallel to the Main Event, has pushed Ball to the top of that race.

Arieh grinds out a larger edge in POY hunt

Arieh continues to add more cashes to a solid second half of the series that has included two bracelet wins, four final tables, and several other decent scores. Arieh cashed in Event #72, Mixed No-Limit Hold’em; Pot-Limit Omaha (8-Handed), then late-entered Event #73, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship, where he finished ninth, just missing the event’s eight-player final. Arieh has amassed 3,639.34 points to date, just ahead of Hellmuth’s 3,068.20

Hellmuth also added two cashes to his 2021 series tally in the past week. One of those was his sixth final-table finish of the fall, an eighth-place showing in Event #78, the $10,000 Razz Championship. The 275.6 points Hellmuth picked up in that event allowed him to nudge ahead of several other players in pursuit of Arieh. Both Arieh and Hellmuth remained in the hunt on Saturday in Event $84, $50,000 HIGH ROLLER Pot-Limit Omaha. That event is in its Day 2, with the money bubble expected to be reached this evening.

Spots three through five in the POY race offer a new look as well. Just behind Hellmuth’s 3,068.20 is the 2,976.62 tally posted to date by Dylan Linde. Linde won a bracelet early in the series and has had two near misses in WSOP Online events in the past two weeks to boost his total near the top.

Fourth place now belongs to Main Event champion Koray Aldemir, while fifth is held by No-Limits VELO leader Ball. Here’s how the top 10 in the POY race appear at this late stage:

  1. Josh Arieh – 3,639.34
  2. Phil Hellmuth – 3,068.20
  3. Dylan Linde – 2,976.62
  4. Koray Aldemir – 2,911.73
  5. Scott Ball – 2,907.94
  6. Jake Schwartz – 2,861.97
  7. Ben Yu – 2,828.92
  8. Anthony Zinno – 2,731.32
  9. Kevin Gerhart – 2,726.99
  10. Shaun Deeb – 2,714.82

Ball’s second bracelet of series gives him VELO lead

California pro Scot Ball jumped to the top of the VELO board with his second bracelet win of the series. Both bracelet wins have come in VELO-eligible events. His win in the Little One joins his earlier triumph in Event #25: 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em.

Ball’s twin wins currently anchor his VELO points total of 2,812.49, allowing him to pass Cole Ferraro who led the VELO race for multiple weeks. Ferraro remains in second, just over 200 points behind Ball, at 2,606.61. He would need a final-table showing or close to that in the final days to have a chance to overtake Ball.

Georgios Sotiropoulos, Main Event champ Aldemir, and Pete Chen round out the VELO board’s top five. The VELO race’s current top 10 are as follows:

  1. Scott Ball – 2,812.49
  2. Cole Ferraro – 2,606.61
  3. Georgios Sotiropoulos – 2,359.75
  4. Koray Aldemir – 2,288.28
  5. Pete Chen – 2,268.54
  6. Romain Lewis – 2,212.47
  7. Jason Koon – 2,109.12
  8. Carlos Chang – 1,981.11
  9. Ran Ilani – 1,934.16
  10. Ben Yu – 1,924.01

With a thousand points or more available to any individual event’s winner, both races remain wide open. Both the POY and VELO chases will award $25,000 in bonus prize money, distributed among the top three finishers.

Featured image source: Haley Hintze