The first-ever American Poker Awards took place on Friday night following a glittering reception at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Hosted by Kara Scott, the awards were the culmination of a day of seminars and forums, as Global Poker Index CEO Alex Dreyfus, the awards’ brainchild, implemented his masterplan to unite and fortify the industry and ultimately to “sportify” poker.
With awards in 13 different categories up for grabs, Dan Colman picked up the GPI Player of Year Awards following a year of tournament results unparalleled in poker history. A haul of $22,389,481 in 2015 set the record for the largest amount of money won in a calendar year.
Colman cashed in 11 events, one of which was that $15 million beast of a payday at the Big One for One Drop. But a first place finish in at the EPT High Roller in Monte Carlo here; a victory at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open there; a smattering of major final tables, and an WPT Alpha 8 victory thrown in for good measure, added another 7 million to his annual salary.
Why is Phil on the List?
Meanwhile, Daniel Negreanu picked up the Poker’s Best Ambassador, and returned the compliment to Dreyfus by praising him as a “visionary,” although he expressed some bafflement over his friend Phil Ivey’s nomination for the same award.
“Raise your hand if you are wondering why on earth he is on this list. I love the guy. Great guy. Best poker player in the world… but come on …seriously?” he wondered.
Elsewhere, Vanessa Selbst won GPI Female Player of the Year, while Brandon Shack-Harris took home Breakout Player of the Year for his extraordinary performance at the WSOP. The Lifetime Achievement Award, meanwhile, went to WPT founder Steve Lipscomb, a man whose tireless belief in the pull of televised poker in the early noughties helped to kick start a poker boom.
Risk-taking and Disruption
Lipscomb is a fitting winner, and a man cast from the same mold as Dreyfus, whose ambition it is to ignite a second poker boom. Dreyfus knows that poker awards ceremonies such as this are necessary to give the industry authenticity and validity, and meanwhile, through his forthcoming GPI Masters of Poker, he is seeking the mainstream audience that Lipscomb courted at poker’s mid-noughties height.
“The idea is to ‘sportify’ poker; to popularize the game; to invigorate it and trigger a boom,” said Dreyfus recently. “Only innovation, risk-taking and disruption will do that. It is a long journey, for two or three years minimum. It is a long-term vision.”
Those Winners in Full:
• GPI Player of the Year: Dan Colman
• Media Person of the Year: Chris Grove
• Industry Person of the Year: Adam Pliska
• Breakout Player of the Year: Brandon Shack-Harris
• Tournament Performance of the Year: Mark Newhouse
• Event of the Year (buy-in over $2,000): WSOP Main Event
• Event of the Year (buy-in under $2,000): WSOP Monster Stack
• Innovation of the Year: Twitch
• Charitable Initiative of the Year: “All In” for Kids Poker Tournament Presented by CHOP & WPT Foundation
• Media Content of the Year: Brad Willis
• GPI Female Player of the Year: Vanessa Selbst
• Lifetime Achievement Award: WPT founder Steve Lipscomb