The newly created Global Poker Awards will be handed out in ceremonies from the studios of Poker Central in April. As one of the past members of the nomination committee for the American Poker Awards, I was once again asked to make nominations for the people, tournaments and moments from poker in the past year that are worthy of nominating. It is a distinct honor to have and, despite my insistence that the European Poker Awards and the American Poker Awards were doing quite well on their own, it is a task that I’ve undertaken with significant respect for what the Global Poker Awards are striving to be.
There were 13 categories that the nomination committee was given to vote on, with some suggestions for nomination added by the Global Poker Awards. Those who were voting (like myself) were given two choices in each category and, if we didn’t like those that were listed, we could use two write-in votes in each category. The folks at the Global Poker Awards did a great job picking suitable contenders because there wasn’t an occasion that I felt I had to use a write-in vote (hey, I could have nominated myself, but…).
In a two-part look, I’ll let you into my thinking as to who deserves to be honored with nomination by the Global Poker Awards. Without further ado, here’s how my voting went for the first six categories:
Journalist of the Year
This is always a contentious award for me because we journalists aren’t supposed to be the story, the story is the main thing. But that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been outstanding work in this arena. In fact, I had three choices that I did begrudgingly limit to two, but I will not say which two it was.
Allen ‘AlCantHang’ Rash has done outstanding work for the tournaments at the Seminole Hard Rock properties throughout 2018 and really doesn’t get kudos for still being on the front line of tournament reporting slugging it out. This also goes for one of Europe’s up and coming writers, Will Shillibier, who traipses across the Old Continent covering the game. Finally, Robbie Strazynski took the ultimate leap – leaving the safe confines of a 9-to-5 job – to cover the world of poker. In 2018, he did an outstanding job from the not-so-hotbed of poker Israel (yes, he traveled a lot!). All three of these men were worthy of nomination if not receiving the award outright.
Media Content of the Year
I put this award alongside the Journalist of the Year honors because they are both media awards. In this category I also chose Strazynski, who penned an outstanding story on the Women in Poker Hall of Fame awards ceremony and the need of the poker community to step up their inclusiveness efforts. My second pick went to Haley Hintze, who investigated and authored the story on the ill-advised attempt by Gordon Vayo to sue PokerStars, the resulting information that he actually was guilty of what PokerStars accused him and his eventual dropping of the lawsuit. Hintze, who arguably penned her masterpiece during the “Superuser” Scandal at Ultimate Bet in the 2000s, still has the investigative time and abilities to put to such groundbreaking work.
Broadcaster of the Year
This is always a tough category because there are so many qualified entries for the award. In the end, I chose Tony Dunst, the color commentator for the World Poker Tour, who has stepped into some obviously big shoes left by the departure of Mike Sexton a few years ago and made the job his own. Along with Dunst I chose Maria Ho, who has gone from being sideline eye candy to a bold color person, willing to call players out for illogical moves or to make firm statements about the current status of the game.
Breakout Player of the Year
Similarly to my Journalist picks, I had a tough time getting it down to two from three qualified choices. And, once again, I will list all three and leave it to the readers as to which two they might pick.
Michael Soyza and Ali Imsirovic took the tournament poker world by storm in 2018, with both men winning important High Roller tournaments to stake their names in the tournament poker world. If there is a definition of “breakout,” however, it would have to be Maria Lampropulos’ performance on her way to winning the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, becoming the first woman to win that title. Any of these three would be well-qualified to receive the newcomer accolades.
Moment of the Year
How could anyone look past Justin Bonomo’s work in High Roller poker in 2018? He won the Super High Roller Bowl China, the Super High Roller Bowl IV in Las Vegas AND the One Drop at the World Series of Poker. THAT qualifies as moments for a lifetime, let alone a year. Along with Bonomo I nominated Michael Mizrachi’s third victory in the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship last summer. To win arguably the most difficult challenge in poker once is quite an achievement. To now have done it THREE TIMES? Simply an outstanding moment.
Event of the Year
I might have gone off the beaten path with my picks on this one. The Super High Roller Bowl IV was one of them, simply because it has (in a very short time) become a tournament that players mark their calendars for (and then try to get a bankroll together – $300K is a lot of money!). The other one might be seen as an odd choice, but the players loved it, the poker room put on a great event and the location is one of a kind. The partypoker MILLIONS North America at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal, Canada, has to be at least nominated for this award.
Well stop for now and bring you Part Two tomorrow. In that segment, we will look at some of the vloggers and streamers that deserve recognition and more of the industry personnel that should be nominated for awards.