Erick Lindgren came through last year. Tom Schneider was the man in 2007. Jeff Madsen shocked the poker world in 2006. Allen Cunningham surprised nobody in 2005. Daniel Negreanu got the party started in 2004.

Each of those players won the WSOP Player of the Year award in their respective years and after numerous changes to the scoring system it appears that Jeffrey Pollack and Harrah’s have one final change that players called for as early as last year.

The Main Event, the biggest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world, now counts towards POY points totals. Last year Lindgren had the event wrapped up after outlasting Barry Greenstein in the $50,000 HORSE event but this year he or any other player in contention for the 2009 award will be waiting a little bit longer – possibly until November.

“We’re confident the inclusion of the Main Event to the Player of the Year race will add some drama and excitement to the conclusion of this year’s WSOP,” said WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart. “The race is wide open this year but, as the past winners confirm, the player who wins this award will clearly be one of the game’s best for years to come.”

Points are awarded to every player who cashes in any WSOP event without a restriction on registration eligibility. Only Event #1 ($500 Casino Employees Event), Event #17 ($1,000 Ladies World Championship) and Event #43 ($1,000 Seniors World Championship) do not count towards the race.

The POY points system distributes points using a standard model for each event with the exception of events where the tournament format differs. Tournaments using a shootout format (Event #22, 29, 41 & 50) award points based on how far they advance while standard tournaments award points based on the overall finishing position. In either case a player must finish in the money to score any points.

Poker fans can follow the race throughout the 2009 WSOP here: http://www.worldseriesofpoker.com/players/2009.asp.