GPI Announces 2016 European Poker Awards Finalists

(Photo courtesy GPI)

(Photo courtesy GPI)

The Global Poker Index [GPI] has announced its list of finalists for the 2016 European Poker Awards.  The awards, celebrating the best and brightest each year in the European poker world, will be handed out this year in Monte Carlo on May 3rd.  The GPI, parent company Mediarex and controlling founder Alex Dreyfus have taken over the operation of the European Poker Awards in recent years.

The awards series predates the GPI, and this year’s ceremony will be the series’ 15th annual iteration.  It will be held in close proximity to the PokerStars-sponsored, European Poker Tour Season XII grand finale, also in Monte Carlo.  The EPT’s Monte Carlo activities run from April 26th through May 6th, and guarantee that the cream of European poker will also be on hand for the GPI festivities.

Let’s take a look at this year’s well-deserving nominees.  All awards are voted on by a member jury of poker players and media, which is in turn pre-selected by the GPI:

MEDIA PERSON OF THE YEAR — Presented to the European media person judged to have been a leading personality in poker media during the 2015 poker season. Media members are an integral part of the poker world. The best media members have the ability to connect poker fans with the poker world through articles, blogs, photographs or through other means.

NOMINEES:
Frank Op de Woerd
Lee Davy
Neil Stoddart
Remko Rinkema

It’s been a big year for poker photographer Neil Stoddart, who in recent months has exceeded his usual quote of outstanding poker images.  They’re all deserving, though Neil gets my nod.

INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR — Goes to the European casino employee, tournament staff member or tour operating worker deemed to have gone over and beyond for the game of poker during the 2015 poker season, as judged by the panel and jury members.

NOMINEES:
Edgar Stuchly
Hermance Blum
Luca Vivaldi
Rob Yong
Thomas Lamatsch

It’s a wide-open category.  I’ll opt for Stuchly, but it would be a pleasant surprise to see Hermance Blum get the nod.

BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Goes to the European poker player without a major poker title* heading into 2015 who enjoyed a breakout year on the live tournament circuit this season as judged by the nomination panel and the members of the jury.  (The GPI notes that “players who have final tabled a WPT or EPT Main Event and/or a WSOP bracelet or any High Roller or Super High Roller tournament prior to Dec, 31 2014” are not eligible.

NOMINEES:
Charles Carrel
Dzmitry Urbanovich
Fedor Holz
Rainer Kempe

Hmm.  Holz will already win the male POY (noted below), and he was something of a known quantity beforehand, meaning not so much breakout as the others.  The player who’s made the biggest splash may be 2016 EPT Dublin winner and rising Polish star Dzmitry Urbanovich.

TOURNAMENT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR —
Awarded to the European player judged to have had the single best tournament performance on the worldwide live circuit during the 2015 poker season.

NOMINEES:
Adrian Mateos Wins the 2015 EPT Grand Final Main Event
Barny Boatman wins second career WSOP bracelet at WSOP Europe
Fedor Holz Wins WPT Alpha8 Las Vegas
Mustapha Kanit wins EPT Barcelona 10K High Roller

The heart says Barny Boatman, but the head says Adrian Mateos.

EVENT OF THE YEAR (BUYIN UP TO €2,000) — Presented to the event judged to have been the best single tournament event presented in European carrying a buy-in up to €2,000.

NOMINEES:
Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona (August)
Norwegian Championships Norway Cup (November)
PokerListings Battle of Malta (November)
WPT500 at Dusk Till Dawn (November)

Pick ’em; no runaway favorite here.  I’m also cynical enough to believe that awards of this type are swayed by future marketing opportunities as much as previous impact.  I think either the new Norway Cup or the Dusk Till Dawn offering will win it.

EVENT OF THE YEAR (CATEGORY BUY-IN OVER €2,000) — Presented to the event judged to have been the best single tournament event presented in European carrying a buy-in over €2,000.

NOMINEES:
EPT Barcelona Main Event
EPT Grand Final Main Event
EPT Prague Main Event
WSOP Europe Main Event

The WSOP vs the EPT x 3.  And the award will be presented on the EPT’s home turf, in Monte Carlo.  Barcelona has had some venue controversies, so I’ll tab the EPT Grand Final as the likely winner.

POKER INNOVATION OR INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR — Presented to the European industry contributor or organization to have come up with the best poker innovation or initiative serving poker’s interest in 2015, such as the creation of a new circuit, a new tournament format, as well as a technological innovation, the signature of a commercial partnership or the organization of an unprecedented event.

NOMINEES:
Norwegian Championship broadcast (sports style)
PokerStars Play Along App – Interactive Poker on TV
PokerStars using superstars (athletes) for global campaign
WSOP Europe remote Twitch broadcasts

The Norway Cup probably wins this one, with the WSOP/Twitch marriage also a strong contender.  I can’t see either of the PokerStars entries winning here; despite my personal fondness for Stars, using superstar athletes as promotional vehicles is neither new nor innovative.

MOMENT OF THE YEAR — Presented to the person who created THE moment that will remain forever etched in every poker fan’s memory.

NOMINEES:
Dzmitry Urbanovich wins Crazy Pineapple tourney at EPT Malta – 4th win of series
Epic hand between Mateos and Lodden at EPT Grand Final (Negreanu on stream `We’re seeing some high-level poker`)
John Gale returns from three years off (because of brain tumor) to win WSOP bracelet #2
Pierre Neuville qualifies for the WSOP November Nine – after declaring he wasn’t done (at 2014 Euro Awards)

All good moments.  Gale and Neuville are the feel-good stories, while the others are also signature moments.  The older person in me wants to see Gale or Neuville win here, although his November Nine appearance technically did not take place in Europe, nor was Gale’s heart-warming bracelet.  If the voters ignore that, then Neuville probably wins; otherwise, it goes to Urbanovich for the exceptional statistical outlier.

POKER MEDIA CONTENT OF THE YEAR — Goes to the best poker article, blog post, picture, video, podcast or interview during the 2014 poker season published by an European journalist, industry member, blogger, or media contributor.

NOMINEES FOR POKER MEDIA CONTENT OF THE YEAR
`The Future of Poker in the Post-Boom Era`, Sam Grafton blog
`The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat` Neil Stoddart’s picture captures Montury consoling Messina at EPT Malta
Devilfish: A Friend with a Heart of Gold, PokerNews article (Jesse May, Mickey May)
Remko Report, PokerNews Podcast, August 2015 – Eli Elezra talks time in Israli Army and high stakes with legends.

Stoddart’s photo was great.  (Title is cheesy, though.)  Jesse May’s writing also deserves special note.  I’m not much of a podcast listener so I’m not qualified to talk about Remko’s offering.  With an admitted lack of exposure to all of the entries — hey, I’m not one of the voters! — I’ll tab Jesse May in a “career award” sense.

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