The 2017 GPI Player of the Year race was a tight one between three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Adrian Mateos and high-stakes grinder Bryn Kenney, who actually won the most money of anyone playing tournament poker last year.

Adrian Mateos Wins 2017 GPI Player of the Year, Beating Bryn Kenney

Adrian Mateos edged out Bryn Kenney, 2017’s winningest tournament poker player, by just 26.65 points to become the 2017 GPI Player of the Year. (Image: GPI)

Mateos 2017 GPI POY

The race came down to the PokerStars Championship Prague in December. Both players attended, seeking precious points.

“For a second straight year the GPI Player of the Year race went down to the final major event of the season,” GPI Head of Poker Content Eric Danis told CardsChat, “this time with Mateos, a multiple-time GPI European Poker Award recipient, edging out Kenney.”

While he cashed several times at the stop, the 23-year-old Mateos, who also won “Spanish Player of the Year” for the fifth consecutive year, benefited most from finishing third in the €50K Super High Roller and fourth in the €25K NLHE 8-Handed, good for 196.18 and 202.17 points, respectively.

“It’s exciting to see the players really wanting to win the title and playing every event possible in Prague,” Danis added. “We’re hoping to see an equally exciting race to the finish in 2018.”

The 2017 GPI Player of the Year win was the culmination of a career year for Mateos, who won $5,881,229 playing tournament poker. That put him seventh on the 2017 money list. Among his highlights were winning the 2017 ACOP Mini High Roller for $297,927, claiming his third WSOP bracelet in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship for $336,656, and winning the Partypoker Caribbean Poker Party Millions Finale for $250,000.

It was also the year that Mateos signed a lucrative deal with Winamax.

Final 2017 GPI POY Point Standings
1 Adrian Mateos (Spain) 3,504.71 pts
2 Bryn Kenney (USA) 3,478.06 pts
3 Stephen Chidwick (UK) 3,341.89 pts
4 Koray Aldemir (Germany) 3,266.11 pts
5 Stefan Schillhabel (Germany) 3,236.48 pts
6 Sergio Aido (Spain) 3,196.93 pts
7 Dan Smith (USA) 3,180.30 pts
8 Ari Engel (Canada) 3,153.16 pts
9 Nick Petrangelo (USA) 3,134.62 pts
10 Rainer Kempe (Germany) 3,086.76 pts

Kenney Dominates 2017

As for Kenney, he may have missed out on the 2017 GPI Player of the Year title, but he still earned the distinction of being the year’s winningest tournament poker player, with more than $8.5 million in earnings. That was nearly half a million more than WSOP Main Event champ Scott Blumstein, who banked $8,090,382.

Kenney’s career year (his next best was the $5,207,847 he won in 2016) brought him up to more than $20.4 million in career earnings.

That puts the 31-year-old pro 12th on the all-time poker money list, and third all-time in New York behind Erik Seidel and Scott Seiver.

Kenney kicked off 2017 with two wins at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, which for 2018 has reverted back to the PCA name and kicks off this weekend. It was there that he won both the $50K High Roller for $969,075 and $25K Shot Clock for $392,876.

As the year progressed, he also placed fourth in the Triton Super High Roller Series Paranaque City for $501,525, won the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo Super High Roller for $1,946,911, and took down an event in the inaugural Poker Masters for $960,000.

2017 Money List Final Standings
1 Bryn Kenney (USA) $8,505,898
2 Scott Blumstein (USA) $8,090,382
3 Christoph Vogelsang (Germany) $8,090,382
4 Steffen Sontheimer (Germany) $7,052,322
5 Fedor Holz (Germany) $6,380,187
6 Jake Schindler (USA) $6,116,360
7 Adrian Mateos (Spain) $5,881,228
8 Stefan Schillhabel (Germany) $5,488,470
9 John Juanda (Indonesia) $5,058,482
10 Ben Pollak (France) $4,979,066