Triple A POY: James Calderaro Leads Thanks to Strong WPT Season

James Calderaro found much success on the WPT in 2014.

James Calderaro found much success on the WPT in 2014.

BLUFF has created a new way to recognize more of the best tournament players in a given year with our expanded Player of the Year system. In addition to the overall POY race, which continues to operate in the exact same way, there is now a separate categories based on both region and buy-in level.

This week we’re diving into the Triple A Level – tournament buy-ins ranging between $3,500 and $4,999 US. Depending on region a limited number of results count towards POY Rankings. World: 8 – North America: 6 – Europe: 6 – Australasia: 6.


  1. James Calderaro – 403.20
  2. Eric Afriat – 322.00
  3. Anthony Merulla – 280.00
  4. Mukul Pahuja – 272.44
  5. Andrea Dato – 245.08

It’s no surprise to see James Calderaro topping the ranks after tearing up the World Poker Tour in the first half of 2014. He cashed five times, winning the Lucky Hearts Poker Open, finishing runner-up in the Jacksonville bestbet Open and bubbling the final table in the Rolling Thunder Main Event. The $3,500 buy-in seems to be a sweet spot in attracting large fields and providing significant POY points for the WPT.

Eric Afriat took down the record-breaking WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown Main Event for a cool $1 million. The field attracted 1,765 entrants and Afriat edged out fellow Triple A POY contender Mukul Pahuja for the win. Afriat cashed at two other WPT stops this year; the Playground Poker Spring Classic and the WPT World Championship.

North America

  1. James Calderaro – 403.30
  2. Eric Afriat – 322.00
  3. Anthony Merulla – 280.00
  4. Mukul Pahuja – 272.44
  5. Jacob Bazeley – 219.68

Anthony Merulla came out of nowhere to win the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $842,379. Merulla’s win is the lone cash in his career so far. He out-lasted top notch pros David Paredes, Jared Jaffe and Kunal Patel to capture a career jump-starting win.

Jacob Bazeley is no stranger to the poker circuit. The Cincinnati pro has made three WSOP final tables over the past two years and regularly tears up domestic events. His largest score this year was a fourth place finish at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown for $371,931 and 141.68 POY points.


  1. Andrea Dato – 245.08
  2. Bryan Paris – 226.02
  3. Dmitri Ponomarev – 222.20
  4. Patrick Clarke – 196.00
  5. Eugene Katchalov – 196.00

The European race is a bit tighter with any ranked player capable of taking over lead with one large score. Unfortunately, the race will stall with most of Europe’s serious players traveling to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker and the European tournament schedule cooling off for two months.

Andrea Dato leads the race across the pond with his consistent cashing and his big win at the Gioco Digitale WPT Venice Carnival Main Event. The $4,160 buy-in awarded him a $145,623 payday and 165 POY points. He had one other final finish that netted him 80.08 POY points at the EPT Deauville High Roller event.

Bryan Paris cashed six times in a little over six weeks on the EPT in 2014 with three final tables. The largest cash of the year came in the Vienna main event for nearly $100,000 and 101.64 POY points for a fourth place finish. At the Grand Final he won a Deep Stack Eight Max event for $89,137 and 154 POY points.


  1. Feng Zhao – 156.00
  2. Soo jo Kim – 143.00
  3. Elliot Smith – 143.00
  4. Franco Cultieri – 143.00
  5. Inaki Santos – 109,20

Feng Zhao holds the top spot of the Aurtralasia Triple A Rankings with just one cash in 2014. He won the APT Philippines Main Event for $126,500 and 156 POY points. The event garnered a half million dollar prizepool with 208 entrants.

Soo jo Kim has just two tournament cashes to his record. He won the Macau Poker Cup in January for $100,994 and 143 POY points. Then he cashed in 57th place in the Macau Millions Main Event in March for 5.75 POY points. Kim actually leads a three-way tie with Elliot Smith, winner of the Aussie Millions Shot Clock event, and Franco Cultieri, winner of a Macau Millions preliminary event.

The following two tabs change content below.

Paul Oresteen

Senior Writer: Paul Oresteen originally joined BLUFF in 2008 as an intern. He covered two World Series of Poker’s before leaving to join After a two year hiatus Oresteen returned to BLUFF in November 2012. Since starting as a poker journalist Oresteen has covered the World Series of Poker, WSOP Circuit, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. He graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in Communications in 2008.
Comments News Contributors

Related News Stories