The inaugural Global Poker Awards, sponsored by PokerStars and presented by the Global Poker Index from the studios of PokerGO in Las Vegas, were handed out on Friday night. Over the span of a brisk 74 minutes the awards show – hosted by commentator Ali Nejad and hostess Drea Renee – the Global Poker Awards looked to honor the best from 2018 over a variety of categories. There were some highlights of the evening’s activities, with some surprises in the winner’s circle at the end of the night.

Women Rule the Night

For the first time in the history of either the European Poker Awards or the American Poker Awards (the two entities that preceded the Global Poker Awards), the ladies were arguably the focus of the night. Several major awards, including Broadcaster of the Year (Maria Ho), Journalist of the Year (Sarah Herring) and Industry Person of the Year (Angelica Hael), were handed out to women. The ladies remembered their trek to the top and were more than thankful of receiving the Global Poker Award.

Ho recounted her journey from simply playing in tournaments to having an integral part in strategic discussions on television broadcasts. Herring thanked a couple of her predecessors at PokerNews, Kirsty Arnett and Lynn Gilmartin, for “not being the “b-word” to me” when she started in the business. And Hael, arguably receiving the biggest applause of the night, was brought to tears as she walked to the stage to receive her award and give a heartfelt speech about her work in the industry with the World Poker Tour.

Poignant Moments for Other Awards

There were some poignant moments when other awards were handed out. Journalist Robbie Strazynski received the award for Charitable Initiative of the Year for his “Running Well” fundraising efforts for Save a Child’s Heart. In that effort, Strazynski ran 1000 kilometers and took donations for each kilometer that he ran. Along with donations from around the poker world, Strazynski was able to raise over $10,000 for Save a Child’s Heart, whose mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries and to improve the health and welfare of all children.

In accepting his award for Moment of the Year for his performance at the “Big One for One Drop” at the World Series of Poker last year, Justin Bonomo struck the proper tone. “It was an incredible dream, and I am very grateful for it…,” Bonomo stated. “But I have to be honest that I have received some advantages because I am a white male. In this year and the next, I’d like to see us all have more compassion for our fellow man…it could be any of us if the cards were dealt differently.”

So Who Won?

Without further ado, here’s the list of the winners from tonight’s ceremonies in Las Vegas:

Global Poker Index Player of the Year: Alex Foxen
Global Poker Index Female Player of the Year: Kristen Bicknell
Vlogger of the Year: Andrew Neeme
Podcast of the Year: Chip Race Poker Podcast
Broadcaster of the Year: Maria Ho
Breakout Player of the Year: Ali Imsirovic
Journalist of the Year: Sarah Herring
Mid-Major Tour/Circuit: Run Good Poker Series
Streamer of the Year: Lex Veldhuis
Charitable Initiative: Robbie Strazynski
Tournament Director of the Year: Paul Campbell, ARIA
PocketFives Legacy Award (Lifetime Achievement in Online Poker): Chris Moorman
Tournament Performance of the Year: John Cynn, World Series of Poker Championship Event
Media Content of the Year: Lance Bradley, The Pursuit of Poker Success
Event of the Year: WSOP Championship Event
Industry Person of the Year: Angelica Hael, World Poker Tour
Moment of the Year: Justin Bonomo, Big One for One Drop/World Series of Poker
Jury Award: photographer Drew Amato
People’s Choice Award (Poker Personality of the Year): Brad Owen

Kudos to Poker Central and PokerGO, PokerStars (for their sponsorship of the event and help in ensuring as many of the winners could be in attendance as possible) and those nominated and the winners. While there were some sour grapes aired during the show (seriously, if you win, don’t get up and complain about how you were slighted), it was a tight program that focused on celebrating the game of poker. When the poker community gathers again in 2020, we can only hope to have a similar quality crop of contenders in each of the categories.

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