For years, the European Poker Awards have honored the best on poker on that continent, giving players, organizers and industry insiders something to shoot for each and every year.
Until now, there hasn’t been a similar award for North American players, but that changed this year, as the Global Poker Index (GPI) introduced the first-ever American Poker Awards on March 27.
The American Poker Awards took place on Friday night at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
The awards came after a day of conferences on poker, and attracted many of the top players and poker industry figures around, all dressed appropriately for a red carpet celebration, giving the event the feel of a true awards ceremony.
A total of 13 awards were given out over the course of the night, with plenty of opportunities for players and others to be honored. The GPI Player of the Year award unsurprisingly went to Dan Colman, winner of several tournaments including the 2014 Big One for One Drop, which earned him an amazing $15.3 million prize. The GPI’s Female Player of the Year prize went to Vanessa Selbst, who won the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em Mixed Max tournament at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2014.
Colman seemed like a favorite for Breakout Player of the Year as well, given his sudden rise to prominence. Instead, the award went to Brandon Shack-Harris, who finished a narrow second in the WSOP Player of the Year race after winning a bracelet and securing three other top-three finishes at the festival, including a second-place finish in the Poker Players Championship.
Daniel Negreanu was honored with the Best Ambassador award, which recognized his role in spreading poker to the general public. Mark Newhouse was awarded Tournament Performance of the Year, though it might have been more appropriate to call it the performance of two years: he became the first player ever to make two consecutive WSOP Main Event final tables in the “November Nine” era, finishing 9th both times.
Other awards went to organizers and industry officials. WPT President Adam Pliska was awarded Industry Person of the Year, while Chris Grove of Online Poker Report was pronounced the Media Person of the Year. A Lifetime Achievement Award was also given to Steve Lipscomb, who founded the World Poker Tour.
When it came to the Event of the Year categories, it was no surprise that the WSOP dominated. The Main Event was the winner in the category for events with buy-ins of over $2,000, a prize that it will likely dominate for years to come provided that organizers keep producing a good event that draws several thousand players annually.
In the under $2,000 buy-in category, the WSOP Monster Stack was seen as the top event of the year. However, it was the WPT Foundation that won out when it came to the top Charitable Initiative of the Year, thanks to their “All In” for Kids Poker Tournament, held in conjunction with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
There was also an award that was more forward looking, honoring the best Innovation of the Year. That award went to Twitch for allowing live streaming poker on the site this year, a move that has brought thousands of non-poker players into streams run by players like Jason Somerville and others.