Sixteen chests, four end tables and two bracelets Dan Zack was named Poker Player of the Year 2022. [Image: PokerGO.com]
Teach Deep Zack all the tricks
A couple of weeks ago, I was playing the main event of the 2022 World Series of Poker Mini, and drew an unusually difficult table for such a soft tournament that included Sean Depp and Ireland’s top player/Padridge O’Neill.
Depp is wonderfully “reverse slow” to me
Depp nicely “reverses me slow” in a spot where we got it all on the turn, grabs the third nuts and he’s with the nut preventer.
Announce before the nut pulls out with one incoming card: “Nuts.” The match was held and we chatted, we played the Main Event Winners of the Year game in reverse chronological order and later discussed the Player of the Year competition. It went roughly like this:
Me: “How many people can win it?”
Deb: That’s a great question.
Me: “Thank you Sean, asking great questions is what I do.”
El-Deeb: What is the number in your opinion?
Deep: It’s bigger than that. If someone catches heat early on, they usually turn to it and always have a chance.”
Me: “Fair point”.
Depp: “But you’re right it’s not that much.”
The conversation naturally turned to race leader Dan Zach with Deb half-joking, half lamenting deeply how he gave Zach “all the tricks” on how to maximize his chances. Depp definitely knows his stuff on this front. He’s a constant stalker, always in the mix, and this year was no exception as he finished fourth. In fact, when you look at the total WSOP POY points earned over the past decade, you’ll find that you have miles ahead.
Zack’s goal is three years
Zach jumped at all he could go on the field, eventually fending off challenges from Depp, Dan Weinman (second), Corey Aldemir (third), and David Peters (fifth). A competitor since 2017, it’s finally time. Sixteen chests, four end tables, and two gold bracelets were enough to cross the line.
After declaring the winner, emotional and grateful Zack made it clear that full-time poker was not in his long-term future. He will marry next year and plan to settle down and start a family. So this was one of his last shots at the title.
It’s been a crazy fight every year and I’m really happy to get there”
“It means a lot, I set a goal three years ago that I really wanted to try to win before I left poker, and this is the third streak I’m trying… It’s been a crazy fight every year and I really feel ecstatic to actually get there… I’ve had I’ve been under a lot of pressure in the past few weeks trying to finish the series. Thank you to everyone who wished me luck.”
On his way to winning the POY, Zack won his second and third bracelet, single-handedly maintaining the chain of double bracelet winners in the series since 2000. Those bracelets fought hard, with Zack playing two of the summer’s longest head-to-head matches to claim them.
Zach first came in at the $10,000 Omaha Eight-or-Better event, where he battled Dustin Dirksen for seven hours to eventually take the title and $440,757. He came second in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship event where he won $324,174. This time, it was David Funkhuser who clung on for eight hours before finally giving up.
Despite the two wins, Zach could feel the chase pack breathing down his neck and knew he was going to have to make EV sacrifices. He alluded to this in his post-win interview:
“You throw a few hundred dollars here and there just to give yourself the best chance of competing because you know guys like (Depp) do the same thing and that’s the only way to keep up.”
Immortality of poker
Below the house, with a POY crown in hand, Zack sold the movement to enter the $250,000 Super High Roller event. He made it to the final table, leaning in eighth for $488,095 and pumping vital points. At the 2022 WSOP, he totaled about $1.5 million, which is half of his live tournament earnings in his career.
Zack’s Player of the Year award is a personalized trophy and a $10,000 seat in the 2023 Main Event. Most importantly, he’s become a WSOP immortal with a custom banner that will proudly hang on the wall of either Bally’s or Paris during the future series.
Final Ranking 2022 WSOP POY
- Dan Zack – 4530.64
- Daniel Weinman – 4040.20
- Koray the Demir – 3275.02
- Sean Depp – 3,197.65
- David Peters – 2,982.08
- Yueqi Zhu – 2766.27
- Joao Vieira – 2752.88
- Joao Simao Perez – 2735.76
- Alex Foxin – 2548.47
- Brian Rust – 2,520.06
- Dario Sammartino – 2465.20
- Phil Hue – 2445.32
- Yuri Dzivilevsky – 2433.13
- Lawrence Brant – 2418.11
- Calvin Anderson – 2403.91
- Georgios Soteropoulos – 2397.74
- Harry Lodge – 2370.19
- Raj Vohra – 2,358.05
- Chad Evslag – 2,346.89
- Jose Ignacio Barbero – 2333.67
- Michael Munsic – 2320.70
- Phil Ivy – 2264.88
- Julian Kolev – 2250.31
- Adam Hendricks – 2242.90
- Scott Seaver – 2236.35