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2018 MNPokerMag Player of the Year Standings (updated 2/5/18):

RankNameTotal PtsPOY Cashes
1Meng Veng49.754
2Saad Ghanem49.53
3Robert Strand47.753
4Dago Oyarzabal46.52
5Tim Votava452
6Mark Bloomberg40.51
7Jason Seitz39.751
8Xa Xiong39.52
9Alan Carty392
Bob Cassioppi391
Daniel Lehmann391
12Kramer Doran38.251
13Rich Alsup37.51
David Osterman37.51
15Matt Alexander361
16Josh Damm35.251
17Daniel Stanton34.51
18Tom Tracy33.751
19Philip Stevenson33.53
20Cheam Moua331
Azindzhon Ishanov331
22Will Sweetman32.251
23DJ Buckley31.53
Joe Matheson31.51
25Todd Melander301
Alexander Kabalan301
27David Marlow29.251
28Brad Erickson28.51
Soni Lo28.51
30Dedric Henderson27.753
Eric Abate27.751
32Jason Spaeth271
Lance Bruner271
34Gary Brakke26.251
35Eric Romo25.51
36Nathan Lohmer24.751
Aslan Sahin24.256
38Fredger West241
Cory Keuning241
40Leo Fussy23.251
41Scott Shelton232
42Max Havlish22.51
Philip Garcia22.51
44Loren Lynch21.751
Paul Eidem21.752
46Joseph Sullivan21.52
47Ryan Hohenstein20.251
48Dan Favreau19.52
Nathan Fairchild19.51
Bob Van Syckle19.52
51Neil Johnson181
Richard Stevens181
53Rajesh Mehta17.251
Adam Frank17.252
55Chris McQuiston16.51
56John Alexander163
57Thomas Wu151
Jake Grothe151
Patrick Bussen153
Botuma Seng151
Alex Moua151
Charles Workmen151
63Jason Buxcel14.251
64Jason Craigen143
65Justin Domnitz13.51
Brad Cohen13.51
Daniel Blegen13.51
Kanat Ozturk13.52
Aaron Berkey13.51
70Michael Lutgen132
71Robert Stoltman12.751
72Patrick Kenney121
Mark Hodge121
Leland Meyerdirk122
Ryan Weeks121

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Todd Melander Edges Out Xong Lee to Win 2017 MNPokerMag Player of the Year

The 2017 MNPokerMag Player of the Year was a nail biter that came down to the wire. When the dust settled, Todd Melander edged out Xong Lee by just 5 points to claim the title and a prize package that includes a seat into the Mid-States Poker Tour Venetian summer $1,100 event with $400 toward travel as well as $250 at each MSPT Main event stop (up to $4,250).

“Minnesota has a lot of great tournaments, so it provides the opportunity for a lot of good competition,” said Melander. “I’m very honored to grab this title.”

The MNPokerMag Player of the Year only takes into accounts tournaments played in Minnesota. In 2017, Lee had 24 POY cashes totaling 477.5 points, which included a career-high $20,351 for finishing fifth in September’s MSPT Running Aces. However, Melander did him better by amassing 482.5 points in just 16 cashes.

“I became aware of the tight race in the Fall, and there were a few people who had a chance to catch up,” Melander explained. “Xong Lee was the one who came out of that pack, and after that it was race. Peixin Liu too, but he then went as cold as anyone I’ve ever seen, just couldn’t get a cash. Xong was tough. He showed up for everything, so I had to show up to everything. We were both aware it was going to come down to the wire.”

Among Melander’s 2017 highlights were earning a career-high $47,288 for finishing runner-up to Dennis Stevermer in Canterbury Park’s long-running Fall Poker Classic Main Event. In June, he also topped a field of 662 entries to win the venue’s $275 NLHE Cheap & Deep for $31,021, which is his second-largest score ever.

Toss in $7,807 for finishing 11th in April’s MSPT Canterbury Park, $6,409 for winning a Canterbury Park $235 Freezeout, and $5,537 for taking second in October’s Canterbury Park Fall Poker Classic Event #6: $235 NLHE 6-Max and it was a career year for Melander.

Melander, who won $113,072 playing in 2017, now has $270,932 in live tournament earnings, which puts him 61st on Minnesota’s all-time poker money list.

“There’s a lot of great competition in Minnesota, that’s for sure,” he added. “It felt great to win, but a lot of it was random variation. I wouldn’t even hope to say I’m anywhere close to Kou Vang, Rich Alsup, and Aaron Johnson, those players who are largely considered the best in Minnesota.”

Melander follows in the footsteps of Saad Ghanem, who was the 2016 MNPokerMag Player of the Year. Ghanem earned 309.5 POY points in 2017, which put him just outside the top ten in 11th place.

Other past winners of the prestigious title include Rob Wazwaz (2015), Peixin Liu (2014), Matt Alexander (2013), Erick Wright (2012), and Nate Fair (2011).

Here’s a look at the final standings:

2017 MNPokerMag Player of the Year Final Standings (updated 1/3/2018):

RankNameTotal PtsPOY Cashes
1Todd Melander482.518
2Xong Lee477.524
3Peixin Liu40419
4Robert O’Connell380.7511
5David Gonia351.7510
6Erick Wright346.2514
7Rob Wazwaz34410
8Mark Bloomberg34120
9Eric Eelkema33823
10Mark Abboud321.59
11Saad Ghanem309.510
12Jon Kim305.259
13Dedric Henderson302.514
14Umut Ozturk268.2517
15Paul Cross267.257
16John Alexander255.522
17DJ Buckley245.514
18Ben Valder235.511
19Jeff Birt220.256
20Brian Berthiaume216.759
Willfred Sweetman216.755
22Muneer Ahmed21317
23Kevin Kelly209.7516
24Alex Moua204.759
25Bob Vansyckle20415
26John Balsimo200.759
27Joe Benson200.55
28Freddie West1949
29Duane Anderson1926
30Jeff Henkel191.53
31Andrew Foss190.511
32Max Havlish184.510
Jon Hanner184.53
34Andy Redleaf175.7511
35Bridgette Field172.256
36Matt Hamilton170.7512
37Andrew Johnson167.758
38David Albrecht167.254
39Meng Vang165.758
40Rich Alsup1585
41Keith Heine1572
42Kou Vang156.256
43Durwin Matuska1563
44Harry Behling155.754
45Vlad Revniaga1552
46Vic Peppe153.759
47Shaun Jensen150.57
48Dennis Stevermer150.252
49Tony Lazar1505
50Vlad Tkachuk149.255
Jason Sell149.257
52Robert Maier14910
Ken Pates1495
54Steve Lillehaug146.56
55Dale Paulson144.754
56Luke Blindert1432
57Matt Alexander142.59
58Josh Damm141.58
59Steve Wazwaz1382
John Reading1385
Todd Fisher1383
Kanat Ozturk13812
63Jarrod Blackwell136.759
64Ben Marsh1351
65Aaron Johnson133.56
66Nizom Abdukadyrov132.754
67Tyler Caspers132.54
68Thomas Wu1301
69Alan Carty129.7510
70Michael Klatt1285
71Katie Gebhart1252
72Dan Schmidt124.55
73Tyree Johnson1238
74Sammy Aweida122.51
Tom Stambaugh122.52

 

Prior Year MNPokerMag POY Leaders:

2016: Saad Ghanem

2015: Rob Wazwaz

2014: Peixin Liu

2013: Matt Alexander

2012: Erick Wright

2011: Nate Fair