Smith named WPT Player of the Year

Gavin Smith's poker resume continues to grow as the World Poker Tour named him its Player of the Year Thursday.

Making three WPT televised final tables, Smith dominated the circuit's fourth season. Smith took home the title at the Mirage Poker Open in May 2005, and earned third place at the Doyle Brunson North American Challenge in October
2005, and fourth place in the Gold Strike World Poker Open in January.

Smith finished the season with 2,100 points in the WPT standings, just ahead of runner-up Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi (1,700). Points in the WPT standings are earned for each finish in the top seven under the following system: 1,000 for a victory, 700 for second place, 600 for third, 500 for fourth, 400 for fifth, 300 for sixth and 200 for seventh.

Smith will receive the award next week at a very familiar location: the Mirage, the site of his first major tournament win (a $1.1 million payout) one year ago.

"It feels great," Smith said. "It was a lot of hard work, a long season and it feels good to get acknowledged for having a good year."

Although Smith felt his defining moment of the year was his victory at the Mirage, he felt that his performance in that event ranked only third.

"Although I was happy to win the tournament, I'm really proud of the way I played at the Bellagio and Tunica," he said.

Smith joins an elite group of previous Player of the Year winners, including Howard Lederer (Season 1), Erick Lindgren (Season 2) and Daniel Negreanu (Season 3).

If the group of previous winners is any indication, this achievement is only the start of a brilliant poker career.

"Making the three final tables finally proved to everyone that I knew a little something about poker," Smith said.

Andrew Feldman is the ESPN Poker Club's columnist, editor, producer and tournament director. Andrew is also the co-host of the Poker Edge on ESPNRadio.com. To contact Andrew, e-mail andrew.j.feldman@espn3.com.