Ian Matakis wins 2023 WSOP Player of the Year race, Mike Holtz sets new cashes mark

Ian Matakis
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: July 19, 2023 08:11 PDT

Minnesota's Ian Matakis has clinched the 2023 World Series of Poker's annual Player of the Year honor, as announced by the WSOP on Tuesday. Matakis's winning total of 5,203.89 points easily outdistanced all other players. That included the defending POY champion, Shaun Deeb, who finished second with 4,276.12 points, over 900 behind Matakis's winning pace.

Matakis logged three cashes in the final days of the series, one live and two online, to finish with 22 total cashes for the summer. Though impressive, that total number of cashes was not a record, and a new high in that category was set as well, by Maryland's Michael Holtz, with 25.

Matakis' POY run was highlighted by numerous deep runs, including his win in an online bracelet event early in the series. Deeb was the final player with a mathematical chance to catch Matakis, but Deeb did not play in the final few events of the series. Deeb finished with 24 cashes for the summer, one off Holtz's new record mark.

Tallying error in three online events affected final points totals

The official top 10 in the POY race through all of Tuesday's results are as follows:

  1. Ian Matakis - 5,203.89
  2. Shaun Deeb - 4,276.12
  3. Christopher Brewer - 4,127.62
  4. Josh Arieh - 3,938.62
  5. Jesse Lonis - 3,865.70
  6. Michael Rodrigues Pires Santos - 3,513.21
  7. Chad Eveslage - 3,447.63
  8. Ben Yu - 3,128.08
  9. Phil Hellmuth - 3,072.14
  10. Yuval Bronshtein - 3,056.84

However, sharp-eyed readers might notice that those point totals differ markedly from those available on the POY leaderboard page three days ago, which displayed all results through July 15. At the time, the leaderboard showed these tallies:

  1. Ian Matakis – 4,598.18
  2. Christopher Brewer – 3,828.16
  3. Shaun Deeb – 3,770.68
  4. Josh Arieh – 3,738.05
  5. Jesse Lonis – 3,616.69
  6. Michael Rodrigues Pires Santos – 3,462.89
  7. Chad Eveslage – 3,199.40
  8. Chance Kornuth – 3,042.07
  9. David “ODB” Baker – 2,980.63
  10. Alex Livingston – 2,860.23

The results from the WSOP's final three days of action don't come close to accounting for the jumps in points for all of the final top-10 players. Instead, according to a source familiar with the situation, the final leaderboard included corrections for at least three online events where results had been entered erroneously, leaving players in those events shorted in points.

By chance, Matakis cashed in three of those events and was shorted several hundred points, and Deeb received enough of a boost via the corrections that he jumped past Chris Brewer for the second spot on the POY leaderboard.

Shades of 2019 POY scoring gaffe

Oddly enough, Deeb was also part of the high-profile scoring error that occurred during the WSOP's 2019 Player of the Year race. That year, Deeb, Daniel Negreanu, and Robert Campbell were engaged in a tight three-way battle for the award during the final events of that fall's WSOP Europe series, the last year that WSOP Europe events were part of the POY race.

Negreanu was originally announced as the winner, but a couple of days later, a scoring error in one event was uncovered, and the correction was enough to push Campbell past Negreanu to take the POY honor. Negreanu handled the lost award with aplomb, though Deeb was irate, asserting that had the correct points been known at the time he made his last deep run in the 2019 WSOP Europe series -- a 13th-place finish in that series' Colossus event -- he may have played the late stages of that event differently.

This year, Deeb was well behind Matakis's adjusted totals and would've needed an outright win in one of the final two or three events, which he appears not to have entered. As it was, the recent corrections effectively eliminated Brewer from the POY race, since both Matakis and Deeb both received significant jumps from the corrections, whereas Brewer's points jump in the final standings came from his seventh-place finish in Event #93, $10,000 Short Deck No-Limit Hold'em.