As we look at the Top Five Canadian players through what is an arguably arbitrary means – the amount of money won over the calendar year – there are a few surprises. Many people may have forgotten the achievements of some of these players, especially the player who finished as the top money winner of 2011!
#5 – Shawn Buchanan, $1,094,072
It can be argued with great veracity that Shawn Buchanan was the best Canadian player over the span of the 2011 tournament poker season. In many tournaments, Shawn carried the flag as the final Canadian player standing and, in many cases, a “turn of the card” could have garnered Shawn several titles.
Shawn started off the year with a win at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure’s $5000 Eight Game championship, good for a nice $63,900 payday. A couple months later, Shawn earned another cash on the World Poker Tour at the Shooting Star event in San Jose, California. For much of the rest of the year, Shawn made his biggest statement on the poker world’s biggest stage.
Five cashes during the World Series of Poker – including a second place finish in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship – would only be a precursor for his play during the Cannes WSOP Europe. Of the seven tournaments there, Shawn would cash in four of the tournaments, including another runner up finish in the €10,000 Mixed No Limit and a sixth place finish in the Main Event. He would wrap up the year with a 41st place finish at the BC Poker Championships Main Event in November.
For the record, Shawn had an astounding nine cashes at the WSOP, two on the WPT and two other finishes in worldwide events. Shawn has definitely established himself as the preeminent Canadian player at this moment and, with a bit more fortune, should have another outstanding year in 2012.
#4 – Will Molson, $1,132,199
Will made the most out of his performances in 2011, starting off the year with his biggest achievement. At the PCA, Will would drive through the $25,000 “High Roller” event to capture the title and a huge million dollar payday. He would also earn another cash during the festivities in the Bahamas and add three other finishes (on the WPT, the WSOP and the European Poker Tour stages) to complete his 2011.
Will’s earnings in 2011 more than double what he brought in for the 2010 poker year and it cannot be long until Will makes his mark on one of the major international tours by taking down a title.
#3 – Ben Wilinofsky , $1,216,003
Ben Wilinofsky made his debut on the international poker tournament circuit in a large way in 2011. For his first ever cash in a tournament, he “only” went out and won the EPT Berlin in April for a €825,000 score, then used that money to head to the EPT Grand Final. He didn’t disappoint there, either, driving deep in the tournament to finish in 44th place. Those two finishes in a one month span earned Ben over $1.2 million.
Although he cooled off in the second half of the year (a cash in a side event at the EPT Barcelona in August was his only other cash during 2011), Ben has demonstrated skills on the tables that should keep him in the “eye of the storm” for the 2012 tournament poker season and beyond.
#2 – Mike McDonald, $1,325,575
Using a late season surge, Mike was able to pass Will for the third place slot on this list, and the EPT was the battleground chosen by “Timex” to do his work.
Mike opened the doors on his 2011 tournament season by cashing at the Fallsview Poker Classic in January, then would go silent for a few months. In May, Mike entered the €10,000 “High Roller” during the EPT Grand Final and came in fifth. Two more cashes during the summer, with one of those at the WSOP, led to what would be a great fall/winter segment for McDonald.
In the second ever Epic Poker League tournament in September, Mike vanquished an eight handed final table that included such players as Fabrice Soulier, Erik Seidel and Isaac Baron to take down the championship and $782,410. After that score, Mike decided to head “across The Pond” to battle the best Europe has to offer.
Between October and December, Mike cashed in five different EPT tournaments, including both Main Events in San Remo, Italy and Prague, the Czech Republic. Although those were nice achievements, Mike actually made MORE during the side events at the EPT, including a $131,262 score in the San Remo “High Roller”then following up with a heads up finish in the EPT Prague High Roller for another $161,670.”
And now, for our surprise at the top of the mountain…
#1 – Daniel Negreanu, $1,534,367
This summer, Daniel lamented his performances during the WSOP, and for good reason. For all the tournaments that “Kid Poker” entered during the summer of 2011, he could only bring together three cashes for a total of $77,047. Some poker players would be happy with that but, for Daniel, it was a result that was unacceptable.
Everyone (this writer included) seems to forget how the year started off for Daniel, however. In January at the PCA, Daniel entered into the highly difficult $100,000 “Super High Roller” tournament, outlasting the likes of Humberto Brenes and Nick Shulman before finishing as the runner up to Eugene Katchalov. That tournament alone earned Daniel a one million dollar payday and he wasn’t done quite yet.
When the WPT threw a similar tournament during the Five Star World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in May, Daniel was once again there to take some money. By finishing in third place in that tournament (behind Erick Lindgren and 2011 tournament force Erik Seidel), Daniel would add another $448,320 to his take for the year. To put this in perspective, by the time the WSOP rolled around, Negreanu had won nearly $1.5 million; guess that makes the paltry sum won at the Rio a little easier to take!
The 2011 tournament poker season also marked a tremendous achievement for Daniel. With his performance over the span of this year, Daniel has now put together a streak of eleven consecutive years with six figure tournament performances; in five of those eleven years, it has been a seven figure score for Daniel.
So there you have it…the 2011 Canadian Top Ten Money Earners! As the calendar looks to turn to a new year, all tournament poker players can reset their counters and prepare to make 2012 their best year ever. For these players, however, 2011 will be difficult to top!