The World Series of Poker reached the midway point with four weeks of events in the books and the Player of Year race is tightening up and could be anyone’s title. James Obst leads the race with 509.01 points after winning the Razz Championship, finishing runner-up in the $1,500 No Limit Deuce to Seven and three other cashes.

The last week of action had a huge effect on the rankings with 10 new players entering the top 20 spots. In fact, last week’s leader Thomas Pomponio had 347.08 points and now that score doesn’t land in the top 20.

James Obst jumped nine spots to lead the race – his bracelet win was worth $265,138 and he’s earned $445,388 over the last four weeks. He bubbled the $5,000 NL Six Max in seventh place and narrowly missed another six-handed final table in the Dealers Choice Championship in eighth place.

“My preparation was pretty similar to last year with a full SCOOP schedule which helps train my brain to think the right way about all the different games,” Obst said. “For the most part, I’ve been doing a lot of work on my body so I can show up and be able to think at a high level and last the duration of the Series.”

“I’m definitely interested in POY but I’m not going to make it the primary goal of my summer. I’ve already taken three days off up to now and that’s helped me tremendously with my results, so I’ll keep taking days off to stay fresh,” said Obst. “The priority is to make sure I’m in the best shape possible for the big events and not chase the min-cashes and $1,500s. That may play into my favor with scores in big events, but it’s a side thing and definitely an interest. It’d be sweet to win it.”

Mike Leah doesn’t plan to leave the Rio during the WSOP. (Photo: PokerPhotoArchive.com)
Mike Leah was the biggest mover and jumped 18 spots to advance to second place after earning his ninth cash. Leah’s grind is legendary, often playing two or three events each day at the WSOP. His highest finish this year is a seventh place finish in the No Limit Deuce to Seven Championship

John Racener won his first career bracelet in the Dealers Choice Championship for $273,962. He’s grinding his way up the rankings like Leah, with eight cashes and one big finish in the Series.

Daniel Negreanu is looking to be the first three-time WSOP POY champ. (Photo: PokerPhotoArchive.com)
Daniel Negreanu picked up his seventh cash of the Series with a 13th place in the Limit Hold’em Championship – the first time he’s cashed in the event in his career. He final tabled the HORSE Championship in sixth place, finished runner-up in the Omaha HiLo Championship and started his Series with third place in the Tag Team Championship.

Top 20 WSOP Player of the Year Standings (as of June 22)

1. James Obst – 509.01 (+9)
2. Mike Leah – 469.55 (+18)
3. Pablo Mariz – 459.41 (NR)
4. John Racener – 442.28 (-)
5. Daniel Negreanu – 435.58 (+15)
6. Ryan Hughes – 411.52 (+3)
7. Ray Henson – 395.78 (NR)
8. Aditya Agarwal – 387.99 (-5)
9. Igor Sharaskin – 384.11 (NR)
10. Alex Foxen – 379.54 (NR)
11. Barry Greenstein – 379.36 (+3)
12. Joseph di Rojas – 370.67 (NR)
13. Michael Gagliano – 368.92 (NR)
14. Taylor Black – 365.64 (-12)
15. John Monnette – 359.19 (-4)
16. David Pham – 357.25 (-4)
17. Ben Yu – 353.61 (NR)
18. Shaun Deeb – 352.83 (NR)
19. Max Pescatori – 349.65 (NR)
20. Arkadiy Tsinis – 348.71 (NR)
Dropped from Rankings: Thomas Pomonio (1st), Fabrice Soulier (5th), Ben Zamani (6th), Dario Sammartino (7th), Bertrand Grospellier (8th), Mark Scacewater (13th), Matt Affleck (15th), John Hanna (16th), Daniel Weinman (18th), Aron Dermer (19th)