03/01/2013

Top 10 GPI Events of 2012 Highlight Growth and Enthusiasm

Jennifer Newell

The Global Poker Index first made its mark on the poker world in 2011, but it underwent significant changes in 2012 that made it an integral part of the game.

Live tournament poker players found GPI to be a ranking system that marked progress and accomplishments of participants in the game, a measure that no poker entity had yet to achieve with such accuracy and relevance for players. Though the system immediately caught the attention of players and fans alike, it wasn’t until the acquisition of GPI by Zokay Entertainment in mid-2012 that it gained a newfound prominence and respect.

The year as a whole was a banner one for the Global Poker Index, but some moments stood out more than others.

#10 – Phil Hellmuth

It was a solid year for Phil Hellmuth with nearly $4.4 million in earnings. The most significant GPI finish for him was his victory in the WSOP Europe Main Event for €1,022,376, and that 13th bracelet moved him up in the rankings. In addition, some of his older WSOP event finishes aged to give him more points, and he topped out in the number four spot in December. He became one of only 15 players to reach such a high place in the GPI, and though he finished the year in sixth place, he seems to be on a roll that puts him in a category of players to watch in 2013.

#9 – Bertrand Grospellier

The year 2012 wasn’t the best of Bertrand Grospellier‘s career by far, but his ability to maintain significant results so many years running keeps the man known as ElkY near the top of GPI rankings. He made nearly $1.7 million in 2012, and that was on top of the $2.3 million year in 2011. Some of his biggest finishes in the past year included an EPT Berlin side event win and several High Roller final tables, and the combination of successes put him at number one on GPI in September … again. He finished the year in fourth place, and he continues to be one of the biggest forces at the live poker tournament tables.

#8 – Jason Mercier

Another familiar name in the number one spot on GPI didn’t have his best year either, but Jason Mercier‘s consistent finishes and past results combined to keep him at or near the top of the rankings all year. With little more than $500K in results for 2012, it was the deep runs that kept him going, including the final table of the WSOP Europe Main Event which catapulted him back to number one in October. His $2.5 million year in 2011 helped him stay atop the rankings as well, and he finishes the year in a very respectable third place.

#7 – WSOP Impact

The World Series of Poker is the largest tournament series in the world, so it is no surprise that its results heavily influence the GPI rankings. WSOP also includes events like the WSOP National Championship and WSOP Europe tournaments, and the new scoring model will further involve the WSOP Circuit with events that can propel more players into contention for top rankings. Even more interesting this year was the impact of GPI players on WSOP results, as eight of the top 20 players cashed in the WSOP Main Event, pushing each one of them higher in the rankings. While the World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour continue to have year-round ammunition for players to climb the GPI, the WSOP influence grows each year.

#6 – Vanessa Selbst

The only woman within striking distance of the number one GPI spot is Vanessa Selbst, but that is no surprise considering she is widely considered one of the best and most dangerous poker players in the world. Her 2012 results showed nearly $840K in earnings, but it was the consistency with which she produced those results from year to year that kept her in the spotlight. This year, after final tabling the second event at the 2012 WSOP, she won a subsequent event, and she also took down a preliminary event at the Festa Al Lago series in Las Vegas later in the year. The WSOP win pushed her up to the number three position on GPI, and she finishes the year at number seven.

#5 – Dan Smith & Marvin Rettenmaier

Dan Smith is a common name, one that doesn’t have the same impact as Grospellier or Mercier. But this year, Smith put himself on the poker map in such a way that poker fans everywhere now know who he is. A $3.7 million year in 2012, along with more media coverage than ever before, pushed him to the forefront and to the top of the GPI rankings. His year began with a prestigious win in the $100K Challenge at the Aussie Millions for more than $1 million AUD, he took the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo by storm with three side event victories. He won a Super High Roller event in Barcelona, final tabled a WSOP tournament and the Partouche Poker Main Event in Cannes, and collected numerous other deep runs. The EPT Prague side event win in December solidified his position as number one on the GPI and ended a simply stellar year for the young pro.

Marvin Rettenmaier has emerged over the past several years as one of the game’s predominant players. He was more popular in Europe for his successes in 2010, but he became more recognized with wins in 2011 like the France Poker Series Grand Finale and the Grand Poker Series Main Event in Las Vegas. His 2012 year was even more stellar, with more than $2.5 million in earnings on the live tournament circuit and an unprecedented place in World Poker Tour history. He won the WPT World Championship for nearly $1.2 million, then won the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic for back-to-back victories. A High Roller win at EPT Prague later in the year solidified his second place ranking with GPI and his best live poker year to date.

#4 – GPI European Poker Awards

The poker industry does not revolve around awards, but players do value recognition for their accomplishments in this tough industry. In October, GPI announced a partnership with the European Poker Awards to do just that. Working with the Aviation Club de France and French poker magazine Poker 52, the January 23, 2013, ceremony will honor the best players of 2012 with awards, one of which will be the GPI European Poker Award to the player who topped the rankings for the year. Other awards to be given include Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Europe’s Leading Lady, Internet Player of the Year, and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

#3 – New GPI Scoring Adjustments

The Global Poker Index is an evolving system of ranking players, so player input is quite respected. In December, adjustments to the current scoring system were announced as part of the annual review. Most players are excited that the minimum buy-in amount for qualifying tournaments was reduced to $1,000 from $1,500, which will allow for more WSOP events to be included in rankings, along with WSOP Circuit events, UKIPT tournaments, and others. Also, players will be able to count more cashes toward their rankings with 26 of them instead of 21. More players will be included in the 2013 rankings, making the top finishers all the more impressive.

#2 – GPI Redesign

The new ownership of the Global Poker Index, headed up by Alexandre Dreyfus, brought about some changes to the rankings system for players, including a new logo, website redesign, and general image improvement. What followed were other additions to GPI, such as the app for smart phones and tablets, new options on the website, and more customized lists of player rankings. Two months after the purchase of GPI, changes were evident, and players were rallying in support of the new industry rankings leader.

#1 – Zokay Entertainment Buys GPI

The announcement came in August, and it was a surprise to many who thought the GPI would disappear with the league with which it was formerly associated. Zokay Entertainment, the brainchild of Alexandre Dreyfus, formerly of Winamax and Chiligaming, acquired the Global Poker Index from Pinnacle Entertainment in the hopes of reviving the poker player ranking system. Dreyfus had high hopes for the GPI, which proved to become reality with a 15-person team that quickly stepped in to revamp the site and increase its respectability. Plans for the GPI Awards and VIP Club were announced, as well as partnerships with PokerNews and others for wider distribution of ranking information.

At the time, Dreyfus said, “The GPI is the best poker ranking system in the world, and we plan to make it even better.” They did just that, and the rest of 2012 was dedicated to improving the system, website, and image. Zokay now takes GPI into the New Year with new goals and the intention of remaining an industry leader for poker rankings.