In what might be viewed as a slight upset, the United Kingdom’s Sam Trickett was voted Player of the Year at the 2012 European Poker Awards over poker Triple Crown winner and countryman Jake Cody during awards ceremonies held last night.
The 2012 EPAs, held at the famous Aviation Club de Paris in France, honored the best players in the European poker arena for their performance over the 2011 calendar year. In the Player of the Year category, it was widely considered that Trickett and Cody were the top contenders for the award, with World Champion Pius Heinz, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Eugene Katchalov and Andrey Pateychuk also up for the award. After voting by the select eight member panel convened by the EPA, Trickett’s 2011 performance was viewed as superior.
Trickett earned more than $4.5 million during the 2011 tournament season while winning several high profile tournaments. He captured the championship of the $100K High Roller at the 2011 Aussie Millions, finished second in the $250K Super High Roller at the same event and also won the Partouche Poker Tour Main Event in November. These performances pushed him past Cody, who completed poker’s Triple Crown with a bracelet victory at the World Series of Poker last summer.
Although Grospellier was shut out of the Player of the Year award, he was able to capture the Rob Gardner Memorial Poker Personality of the Year award. Heinz also was able to pick up some hardware during the awards ceremonies, earning the Best Tournament Performance of 2011 for his World Series of Poker Championship Event victory over Fabrice Soulier, Benny Spindler, Trickett and Cody. Pateychuk, who captured World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour championships during 2011 (and also drove deep in the WSOP Main Event), was crowned as the Rookie of the Year.
In what was perhaps the most difficult category to handicap, Russia’s Natalya Nikitina was honored as Europe’s Leading Lady for her championship winning performance during the WPT Russia in 2011. Nikitina was able to defeat perennial nominees Liv Boeree and Victoria Coren and first time nominees Nesrine Kourdourli, Barbara Martinez and Cecilia Pescaglini to earn the award.
In one of the most important awards from the EPAs, legendary poker announcer Jesse May was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the panel. This award was the only one that had no nominees; instead, the eight member panel chose to honor someone for their contributions to the game of poker. May was an excellent choice for the Lifetime Achievement Award from his longtime hosting skills of a plethora of poker events, including the seminal poker program Late Night Poker, and his writing endeavors.
Other awards handed out during the festivities at the Aviation Club included Warren Lush being honored as Staff Person of the Year for his work with bwin.Party, Ilari Sahamies for his efforts as Internet Player of the Year and the WSOP Cannes as the European Poker Event of the Year.
All of these players are worthy of joining the historic list of players who have previously captured an EPA. Dating back to 2000, EPA winners include Marcel Luske (a three time winner), Barny Boatman, Gus Hansen, David “The Devilfish” Ulliott, Rob Hollink, Roland de Wolfe, Annette Obrestad and Sandra Naujoks. Congratulations to all of the winners and to the EPAs for their twelfth annual awards show; the poker world looks forward to whom will be honored come next year!