Poker Celebs Gather for 3rd Annual GPI American Poker Awards

The 3rd Annual GPI American Poker Awards were held Thursday night at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills, honoring the best poker performances and contributions of 2016. Some awards presented were a surprise, with several nominations narrowed to one winner, while other awards were already known ahead of time, as a number of people received special honors.

There were a slew of changes to the GPI American Poker Awards from last year:

•    Poker Presenter of the Year Award eliminated
•    Poker Innovation or Initiative of the Year Award eliminated
•    Twitch Poker Streamer of the Year Award added
•    Poker Podcast of the Year Award added
•    PocketFives Legacy Award added
•    Event of the Year Award consolidated into a single award, rather than two awards for different buy-in ranges
•    No nominees for Charitable Initiative of the Year Award, just a single honoree

(Photo courtesy GPI)

Among the highlights of the evening included the Breakout Performance of the Year Award going to Maurice Hawkins. Awards like this typically go to people who have great runs at the World Series of Poker or other major events, but Hawkins has made his name at WSOP Circuit events. In 2016, Hawkins became the first player in poker history to win three WSOP Circuit Main Events in a single calendar year. He is one of just three (Blair Hinkle and Chris Ferguson are the others) to win three Main Events, period. He also became the second player to eclipse $1 million in WSOP Circuit earnings (Ferguson).

Hawkins has continued his magic so far in 2017, winning another WSOP Circuit ring this past week and tying Alexandru Masek for the all-time ring lead with nine.

I also found it somewhat amusing that the Super High Roller Bowl won the Event of the Year Award when one of the main poker stories of the past week was how tournament organizers borked the registration process for the late-May event.

The field was capped at 50 entrants, with 15 seats reserved for ARIA invitees; just 35 seats were open to all-comers. When 54 players attempted to register for those 35 seats, the Super High Roller Bowl decided to hold a registration lottery. Many players, naturally, were left out, even if they were one of the first 35 to try to register. Because of the ruckus that caused, the registration process was changed again, with the field size increased to 56 and only two seats given to the ARIA.

As for the two GPI Players of the Year – David Peters (overall) and Cate Hall (female) – it should be noted that their titles were determined by their ranking on the Global Poker Index, only counting tournaments in 2016. It was a mathematical award, removing all subjectivity from the decision making.

The complete list of award winners and nominees follows.

Tournament Performance of the Year

Kristen Bicknell wins 2nd WSOP bracelet ($1,500 Bounty)
WINNER: Ari Engel wins Aussie Millions
Maurice Hawkins wins WSOPC Cherokee, back-to-back WSOPC
Mike Sexton wins WPT Montreal

Moment of the Year

Griffin Benger’s AA vs William Kassouf’s KK showdown at the WSOP Main Event
WINNER: Jason Mercier goes on heater: captures (2) WSOP bracelets and a 2nd in a week to secure WSOP PoY
David Peters needing 3rd at EPT Prague to win GPI PoY does exactly that and takes the title from Fedor Holz
Mike Sexton mounts unbelievable comeback to win his first WPT title at WPT Montreal

Breakout Performance of the Year

Ari Engel
WINNER: Maurice Hawkins
Ankush Mandavia
Sam Soverel

Event of the Year

Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
WINNER: Super High Roller Bowl
WSOP Main Event
WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic

Mid-Major Circuit of the Year

Heartland Poker Tour (HPT)
Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT)
WINNER: World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC)
WPTDeepStacks (WPTDS)

Industry Person of the Year

Tony Burns (Seminole Hard Rock Tournament Director)
Jack Effel (WSOP VP Intl’ Poker Operations, WSOP Director)
WINNER: Sean McCormack (ARIA Director of Poker Operations)
Matt Savage (WPT Executive Tour Director, TDA Founder)

Charitable Initiative of the Year

Dan Smith Charity Drive

Media Person of the Year

Lance Bradley
Sarah Herring
WINNER: Joseph Stapleton
David Tuchman

Media Content of the Year

WINNER: Bob, Charlie and a Life-Changing WSOP Main Event Journey (Lance Bradley, PocketFives)
Life’s a Gamble (Mike Sexton, D&B Poker)
Stu Ungar’s Last Chance Gone Wrong Documentary (Matthew Showell, PokerListings)
Jason Somerville provides live Aussie Millions coverage on his Twitch channel

Twitch Poker Streamer of the Year

Kevin Martin “kevinmartin987”
WINNER: Jason Somerville “jcarverpoker“
Jaime Staples “pokerstaples”
Parker Talbot “tonkaaaaP”

Poker Podcast of the Year

WINNER: Poker Life Podcast with Joe Ingram
Full Contact Poker with Daniel Negreanu
PokerNews Podcast
TwoPlusTwo Pokercast

PocketFives Legacy Award

Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy

The Hendon Mob Award

John Holley

Jury Prize

Matt Savage

GPI Player of the Year

David Peters

GPI Female Player of the Year

Cate Hall

Lifetime Achievement Award

Mori Eskandani


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