Poker Elite Celebrate GPI American Poker Awards
Los Angeles, California was the center of the poker world over the weekend, not just because of the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic, but because it was also the place where the industry’s elite converged for the American Poker Conference and the inaugural GPI American Poker Awards. Held at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, the Awards honored the best and brightest of the poker world for 2014.
Two of the biggest winners on the night were rivals World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour. The WSOP took home the hardware in two categories: Event of the Year with a buy-in over $2,000 (WSOP Main Event) and Event of the Year with a buy-in up to $2,000 (WSOP Monster Stack). The World Poker Tour itself didn’t win anything, but WPT President Adam Pliska picked up the trophy for Industry Person of the Year and WPT founder Steve Lipscomb won the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Daniel Colman won the 2014 Player of the Year title, after finishing the year with 4,194.91 points in the GPI rankings. He had one of the best years in recent memory, winning almost $23 million in live tournaments, including $15.3 in the World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop. Cynics will say that that one tournament made up the bulk of his winnings, but keep in mind that even without it, he still won over $7 million in live tournaments. That’s not nothing.
Colman’s year made Brandon Shack-Harris’s capture of the Breakout Player of the Year Award a bit surprising. He had one hell of a year, though, cashing six times at the WSOP in Las Vegas and three more times at WSOP APAC. He won one gold bracelet and made four other final tables, including two runner-up finishes. In his acceptance speech, he even thanked the absent Colman for his “leftovers.”
Most of the awards were voted upon by a panel of industry experts, but one, Poker’s Best Ambassador, was opened to the public. It came as no shock to anyone that one of the most popular poker players of all time, Daniel Negreanu, was presented the title. He had an emotional moment during his acceptance speech during which he got choked up talking about his parents:
Most of all, I want to thank my parents because I feel like I won the parent lottery. Not everyone was as lucky as I was, but I had a mother who loved me dearly, who cooked for me and some of you remember that from watching some of the shows on High Stakes Poker and ESPN. She cooked for Phil Ivey when he won three bracelets, she cooked for Layne Flack when he won two. And also my father, who was a role model for what it means to be outward focused, generous, and giving.
Negreanu also took some time to highlight the other nominees, Mike Sexton, Jason Somerville, and Phil Ivey. He made sure everybody was well aware of Sexton’s importance to poker; some of the younger players and fans only know him as the WPT announcer, but as Negreanu said, “This is a man who was knocking on doors trying to create something that no one believed in but him and without Mike Sexton, none of this would have been possible.”
Jason Somerville, he said, is a “look to the future.”
“I always thought he had the engaging kind of personality that embodies what a poker ambassador is,” Negreanu said. “What he’s done…is taken playing online poker and made it fun and exciting and where he’s engaging a totally new spectrum of poker players, more so than anyone in the world today, as far as I’m concerned. The poker world is in good hands with Jason Somerville.”
He also joked about Ivey’s inclusion as a nominee, making it clear that he loved him and that he’s the best player in the world, but leaves a bit to be desired as an ambassador.
The complete list of nominees is below, with the winners in each category highlighted.
Tournament Performance of the Year
Mohsin Charania, WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic winner
Daniel Colman, Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event winner
Darren Elias, WPT Borgata Poker Open winner
Mark Newhouse, WSOP Main Event, 9th place finisher
Breakout Player of the Year
Event of the Year (Category Buy-In Over $2,000)
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event (Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood)
WPT Montreal (Playground Poker Club, Montreal)
WPT World Championship (Borgata, Atlantic City)
World Series of Poker Main Event (Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas)
Event of the Year (Category Buy-In up to $2,000)
HPT Cal State Poker Championship (Commerce Casino, Los Angeles)
WPT500 at ARIA (ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas)
WSOP Millionaire Maker (Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas)
WSOP Monster Stack (Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas)
Industry Person of the Year
Jack Effel, WSOP Tournament Director
Adam Pliska, WPT President
Matt Savage, WPT Executive Director & TDA Founder
Ty Stewart, WSOP Executive Director
Poker Media Content of the Year
ALL IN Magazine: Mark Newhouse
Brad Willis, WSOP 2014: Stages/Never stop fighting for PokerStars blog
PokerNews Live Reporting at the 45th WSOP
Jason Somerville for Run it UP!
Charitable Initiative of the Year
“All In” for Kids Poker Tournament presented by CHOP and the WPT Foundation
Charity Series of Poker
REG (Raising for Effective Giving)
WSOP One Drop partnership
Poker Innovation or Initiative of the Year
Poker Night in America
Twitch opens its doors to live streaming poker
WPT successful partnerships with DeepStacks, Hublot, DraftKings, Monster
WSOP Monster Stack event
Media Person of the Year presented by PokerUpdate
Poker’s Best Ambassador
Lifetime Achievement in Poker
* Daniel Colman won GPI Poker Player of the Year, Vanessa Selbst won GPI Female Player of the Year, and Dan Smith won the award for being number one in the GPI World Poker Rankings a the end of 2014, all based on GPI’s points formula rather than a vote.