The first GPI award hattrick hero?
On March 3, the fourth GPI Global Poker Awards will be broadcast live on PokerGO from its studio at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Last week, the 29 categories were revealed, the winners of which four are already known.
Song took down both the GPI Player of the Year and the Mid Major Player of the Year
Stevie Chidwick won the PokerGo Tour Player of the Year. Stephen Song took down both the GPI Player of the Year and the Mid Major Player of the Year, while Cherish Andrews won Ladies Player of the Year. Song could complete the first GPI Global Poker Award hattrick if he wins either Best Final Table Performance or Player’s Choice For Toughest Opponent.
Various other poker players, content creators, and industry figures will be hoping to scoop up one of the 25 other trophies and a few could take home two. Jamie Kerstetter is nominated in both the Broadcaster and Twitter Personality categories. Her former ‘The Rake’ podcast co-host Marle Cordeiro is also up for Twitter Personality as well as Best Video Content. Alejandro ‘Papo MC’ Lococo has been shortlisted for Breakout Player and Best Hand. Daniel Negreanu is nominated for Best Final Table Performance and Best Hand. Caitlyn Comeskey is up for Rising Star and Best Video Content. Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau is in the mix for Poker Personality and Breakout Player, while World Series of Poker Main Event champion Espen Jørstad is nominated in both the Breakout Player category and Best Final Table Performance.
Danis in my dreams
The awards are a passion project for GPI President and perennial punching-bag Eric Danis, who works tirelessly and thanklessly behind the scenes each year to make sure that achievements on and off the felt are commemorated. Speaking to me in a dream that I had last night, Danis said that he actually loves it when a deserving nominee gets snubbed because as a Canadian, his favourite thing in life is apologizing.
Speaking to VegasSlotsOnline News in real life, Danis said that he was excited for this year’s ceremony. He also said that he was not yet at liberty to reveal who the host of the awards will be but that “it will be announced next week” so watch that space!
I will take a deep dive into each category
This year’s GPI Global Poker Award nominations can be neatly split into categories that recognize players, content creators, and industry figures, all of whom play a vital role in the health and success of the game. Across three articles, I will take a deep dive into each category, starting with those honouring player achievements.
GPI Breakout Player
- Espen Jørstad
- Angela Jordison
- Punnat Punsri
- Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau
- Alejandro ‘Papo MC’ Lococo
It was disappointing not to see WPT Florida champion Andrew ‘BowieEffect’ Wilson make the list but there are lots of worthy people up for this award.
One such candidate is YouTuber, vlogger, and streamer Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau who cashed for $1.3m in 2022, winning a WSOP Circuit Ring in March, a Poker Masters event in September, and the WPT Wynn $25,200 High-Roller in December.
Punnat Punsri cashed for $4.1m in 2022 having only cashed for about $350,000 prior. He won the WPT Prime Taipei and came second in the WSOP Hall of Fame event, but the big one was his victory in the Triton $100,000 Main Event in North Cyprus where he cashed for $2.6m.
Poker player and rapper Alejandro ‘Papo MC’ Lococo burst onto the scene with his seventh-place finish in the WSOP Main Event in November 2021 and continued his good run of form into 2022 with a win in the Eureka Prague €1,100 Main Event, a €2200 side event at that same EPT festival, an €1,100 side event win at EPT Barcelona, and another deep run in the WSOP Main Event where he finished 39th.
I would raise question marks over Jørstad’s eligibility as a ‘breakout player’
Former Unibet Poker ambassador and Overbet Express vlogger Espen Jørstad took down the big one for $10m, a breakout performance on anyone’s resume, However, I would raise question marks over Jørstad’s eligibility as a ‘breakout player’ given the successful ten-year-plus career that preceded that result. I reached out to my former colleague Jørstad and asked him the following question:
VSO News: “A few years ago, you were voted the rising star of poker, this year you are nominated for breakout player… are you looking forward to winning comeback player in a couple of years time?”
Jørstad: “New phone, who dis.”
Last but not least and actually my tip to win is renaissance woman Angela Jordison who was a ‘get it quietly’ mixed game cash grinder and, in the space of a year, is now a ‘get it loudly’ No Limit Hold ‘Em tournament crusher. Jordison was cruelly pipped for both the GPI Mid-Major Player of the Year and GPI Ladies Player of the Year by Song and Andrews.
VSO News had the following exchange with Jordison.
VSO News: “When you celebrated your 50th birthday… if you can remember that far back… did you feel like you were on the cusp of breaking out?”
Jordison: “Firstly, I hate you. Secondly, this category is MINE! Those other b**ches are going down!”
Jordison should win but poker’s bridesmaid will probably just finish runner-up again.
Best Final Table Performance
- Daniel “Jungleman” Cates (USA), WSOP 50K Poker Players Championship
- Espen Uhlen Jørstad (Norway), WSOP Main Event
- Daniel Negreanu (Canada), Super High Roller Bowl VII
- Stephen Song (USA), WPT Prime Championship
Last year, all of the nominees in this category came from WSOP events. This time around, there are two performances from elsewhere. Daniel Negreanu’s Super High-Roller Bowl victory and Stephen Song’s WPT Prime bink go up against the inevitable nominations of the winners of the the WSOP $50K Players Championship (Cates) and WSOP Main Event (Jørstad).
To take nothing away from the other performances (especially the Cates back-to-back) but I think that this one is destined for Scandinavia. Jørstad’s marathon effort on the Main Event final table, capped off by a classy heads-up display, is the stuff of Norse Legend.
Player’s Choice for Toughest Opponent
- Brian Altman (USA)
- Stephen Chidwick (England)
- Alex Foxen (USA)
- Stephen Song (USA)
Voted for by the GPI Top 100, these four poker behemoths really do represent the cream of the crop.
Altman had his best ever year cashing for $1.4m, including wins at WSOP Circuit Florida, WPT Seminole, and at the online WSOP. Song had a remarkable year, cashing for $2.3m, including 44 cashes, 17 final tables, a runner-up finish in the WSOP $5000 6-max, and victories in the Wynn Fall Classic and the guarantee-obliterating 5,430-runner WPT Wynn Prime.
Foxen will run this category close but ultimately the gong will go to Chidwick
With $27.5m in live career winnings and millions more online, Foxen is without doubt one of the game’s great competitors. In 2022, he cashed 41 times for over $7m, including five victories, the largest of which came in the WSOP $250,000 Super High-Roller when he took home a whopping $4.6m. In my opinion, Foxen will run this category close but ultimately the gong will go to Chidwick.
Fourth in the all-time money list, Chidwick is, quite simply, a phenom. The Englishman crushed online for a decade before focussing more on the live circuit and has so far amassed $44.7m in live winnings. In 2022, he posted his third largest year, with $7m in live winnings across 40 cashes, 18 podium finishes, and a mind-blowing eight wins.
Fans Choice: Best Hand
- Daniel Negreanu hits runner-runner quads on way to SHRB victory
- David Diaz lays down absolute monster on Day 7 of WSOP Main Event
- PapoMC pulls monster bluff in WSOP Main Event
- Wild J4 vs 89 hand between Robbi Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein
An outlier run-out, a sick fold, a dastardly bluff and the hand that launched a thousand podcast episodes, this is a tough category to judge because each hand was so very different.
either would be worthy winners in a different year
Firstly, I would rule out Negreanu’s bit of good fortune for that is all it was and any hardened poker player has seen it all before, admittedly not for these stakes. Diaz and Lococo played so above the rim in their spots that I feel like either would be worthy winners in a different year.
In the end, however, how could anything top the madness-inducing, community-polarizing, misread/hero-call/vibrating cheating-gizmo/LA Times article mud-slinging/endless investigation spawning hand of the century between Robbi Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein. The best thing that could happen to poker is that this hand wins the award and we all agree to never speak of it again.
- Phil Ivey (USA)
- Alex Keating (USA)
- Taylor von Kriegenbergh (USA)
- Daniel Weinman (USA)
This is a brand new category and, to be honest, I’m not sure if it belongs nor how how to quantify how a player becomes eligible for it. I mean, weren’t we all sort of ‘coming back to live poker’ for our first full year in 2022 post Covid Lockdowns?
There’s also the risk that it only serves as a bit of a rubdown to players.
In any case, Weinman had a solid year, cashing for $680,000. So too did von Kriegenbergh who hit the $1m mark in live cashes for the first time since his WPT victory in 2011. Keating cashed for $690,000 but again, this seems like nothing out of the ordinary and far from a ‘comeback story.’
the prize will go to Phil Ivey who won’t show up to collect it
By process of elimination then, and maybe the only reason that this category exists, the prize will go to Phil Ivey who won’t show up to collect it, thus nullifying the award’s very raison d’etre. Ivey cashed for about $6m in 2022 – a remarkable return to form when you consider he only managed to win a paltry $1.7m in 2020 during a worldwide pandemic.
In Part 2 next week, I will look at the nominations for content creators.