On March 3, the fourth GPI Global Poker Awards will honour players, content creators, and industry figures across 29 categories. Hosted by Jeff Platt, the ceremony will take place in the PokerGO studio at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and will be broadcast live on PokerGO. Speaking exclusively to VegasSlotsOnline, Platt expressed his excitement ahead of awards night:
I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting the Global Poker Awards once again. It’s always great to see the biggest names in poker (many of whom declined the hosting gig) get together to celebrate the industry. I look forward to handing out some awards, and hope that we have a guest presenter for Best Podcast as I don’t really care about that one and need a minute to run to the bar.”
In Part 1 of my guide to the event, I made my predictions in the player-focused categories. Now in Part 2, I will turn my attention to poker’s content creators. These are the people who have entertained us throughout the year – whether it be via countless Twitch streams, the vicarious thrill of their vlogs, their eloquent words, the wisdom or humour that they can jam into 280 characters, their capturing of a moment in time, or in the case of The Chip Race, the sexiness of their voices.
Simply put, these are the people who look at the poker space and make things. In one form or another, they are artists. To borrow from the great sculptor Alberto Giacometti: “The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” ‘Content creation’ is a very pretentious term. ‘Content creator’ is even more masturbatory. So let’s take a closer look at all of these w*nkers.
- Kevin ‘kevinmartin’ Martin (Canada)
- Ben ‘Spraggy’ Spragg (UK)
- Jonathan ‘apestylespoker’ Van Fleet (USA)
- Lex ‘LexVeldhuis’ Veldhuis (Netherlands)
This will be a rerun of last year’s final with the same four streamers battling it out. Despite having ended his partnership with Twitch, Lex is still the King of Poker Streamers, his audience numbers surpassing all others year in year out. Last year, however, my personal favourite Benjamin ‘Spraggy’ Spragg dethroned him, keeping the coveted prize with Team Pokerstars. Either man would be a worthy winner again but my instinct is that this prize might go elsewhere this year.
infusing entertainment with education
Apestyles and Kevin Martin are both tremendous communicators, infusing entertainment with education on their streams. The former is an online poker OG who has remained at the top of the game for almost twenty years while the latter is a reality tv star who has brought his audience on a journey from fun player to genuine crusher.
In what is perhaps the most competitive category, I think it might be Martin’s turn to claim the award:
- Jaman Burton (USA)
- Mariano Grandoli (ARG)
- Brad Owen (USA)
- Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau (USA)
Grandoli in, DePaulo out. Otherwise it’s a rerun of last year. Can Brad Owen go back-to-back-to-back? Yes, and he probably will. That being said, the talented Yau and my personal favourite Burton will give him a run for his money. So too will Grandoli and his 123K YouTube subscribers.
- Phil Galfond (USA)
- Will Jaffe (USA)
- Jamie Kerstetter (USA)
- Marle Spragg (USA)
Last year, I said how there would never be another winner of this award so, after she won it again, it should be renamed ‘the Jamie Kerstetter Award’ and then she can no longer win it.
VegasSlotsOnline News spoke to Kerstetter and the following exchange ensued:
VSO: “So, what do you make of your competition this year?”
Kerstetter: “I’m just really confused how two vloggers and Farah’s husband snuck into the category I paid Eric Danis to create for me.”
VSO: “And how does it feel to be constantly recognized for your 280 character work but never for your ten day broadcasts?”
Kerstetter: “Best broadcaster? Again?…
Wow, I’m pretty sure they accidentally left my name in there from last year.”
All joking aside, I actually believe that there will be a new winner of this award. Will Jaffe’s ‘tough convos’ bit have been the funniest thing in the poker space for quite some time and this year he took it up a notch.
Rising Star in Content Creation
- Natalie Bode (USA)
- Caitlin Comeskey (USA)
- Jesse Fullen (USA)
- Lexy Gavin-Mather (USA)
This is a new category and definitely the smartest addition by the GPI Global Awards team. There are established talents with big audiences in poker. Therefore, it is wholly appropriate to parse out the up and comers and give important recognition to breakout talents in the content space.
Natalie Bode is a smart and funny sideline reporter who has worked for PokerGo this past year. Lexy Gavin-Mather is an excellent vlogger who specialises in hand history reviews. Jesse Fullen is a social media guru who has successfully brought his skills from other industries to become quite the character in the poker space.
While all of these guys are undoubtedly rising stars, I think there is a standout person in this category who combines smart writing, comic timing, and genuine acting chops. Caitlin Comeskey’s chameleon-like impressions of members of the community earned her a Best Video Content nomination and I think she is a shoo-in to bink this prize.
Best Media Content: Written
- Tim Fiorvanti (USA) for WPT.com: Andrew Moreno Made Good on a 15-Year Dream
- Connor Richards (USA) for PokerNews: The Endlessly Creative Side of Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel
- Jennifer Shahade (USA) for the Wall Street Journal: How Becoming a Poker Pro Helped Me Accept a Personal Tragedy
- Robbie Strazynski (Israel/USA) for Cardplayer Lifestyle: In the Name of the Father, the Son… and the Poker
A problematic category that needs to be broken up. Poker books desperately need their own category, at least every two years. Another way to solve this could be to have a ‘Best Strategy Content’ award, allowing poker strategy books to compete with strategy video series and seminar material. This should be voted on specifically by an informed group (similar to how only the GPI Top 100 vote for Toughest Opponent).
Regardless, the finalists all did great work. Fiorvanti wrote a beautiful piece on Andrew Moreno’s journey. Richards delved into another side of poker legend Erik Seidel with the help of his friend and poker protégé Maria Konnikova. Strazynski offered up some nostalgia with a personal story of his father journeying to Las Vegas as the recipient of a WPT Wynn package.
giving us access to her process in the face of tragedy
My favourite, however, is a stunningly honest and raw Wall Street Journal article by Jen Shahade. Shahade is a terrific writer, evidenced by her numerous books and articles. She possesses a keen eye for what details to leave in, giving us access to her process in the face of tragedy and the battle that takes place between mind and the emotional self when we are confronted with situations outside of our control. The subject matter of this piece is close to my own heart and it was important to see somebody put beautiful words to a heart-breaking experience.
Best Media Content: Photo
- Antonio Abrego (USA) for PokerGO: “Oooooooooooo yeah!”
- Hayley Hochstetler (USA): Glantz Pulls Million Dollar Bounty
- Alec Rome (USA) for PokerNews/WSOP: Schindler Wins First WSOP Bracelet
- Spenser Sembrat (USA) for PokerNews/WSOP: “That First Bracelet Feeling”
Their looks are laughable… unphotographable… but occasionally poker players can be the subject for a favourite work of art. Great poker photographers operate in the shadows, playing their own volume game as they swish between tables in search of a great shot.
This year’s nominations for best photo are eclectic, capturing different emotions in a single image. Abrego and Jungleman combine for a macho-manly offering. Hochstetler depicts an explosion of emotion which as I recall followed a moment of supreme composure by the slowroll-loving Matt Glantz. Sembrat caught the moment that Michael Jukich leapt onto the table after winning his first bracelet:
My pick, however, is Rome’s moody rendering of the recently accused cheater Jake Schindler. Reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting, he cuts lonely figure at the end of a tournament that he just won. A hollow man enjoying a hollow victory:
Best Media Content: Video
- Caitlin Comeskey (USA): A love letter to the investigation parody
- Joey Ingram (USA): Emergency Investigation: Garrett vs Robbi on Hustler Live
- Gregory “Greg Goes All In” Liow (Canada): Poker vlogger who doesn’t understand that the voice over is done in post
- Marle Spragg (USA): Solvers
This is another strange category that pits apples and oranges. The solution for this one would be to split it into long and short form. Another way to do it would be to honour an individual video but also a person’s body of work over the course of the year. (The same would be apt for writing and I would like to see the return of the Best Journalist category).
Liow, Spragg, and Comeskey belong in the short form category as would someone like Will Jaffe who is my personal favourite and had half a dozen worthy entries this year. If it were just between the three more easily comparable bits, I’d give the edge to Comeskey for the variety of talent on show.
Joey’s seemingly endless ‘Investigation’ streams gripped most of the poker world
However, it isn’t between those three and Joey’s seemingly endless ‘Investigation’ streams gripped most of the poker world in the aftermath of ‘that hand’ and the twists and turns that followed. I don’t think there is much chance of beating him in this category so expect the 2018 Journalist of the Year to add to his trophy case:
- Only Friends Podcast (Matt Berkey (USA), Melissa Schubert (USA), Landon Tice (USA) & friends)
- Poker in the Ears (James Hartigan (Ireland), Joseph Stapleton (USA) for PokerStars)
- PokerGO Podcast (Timothy Duckworth (Australia), Donnie Peters (USA), Remko Rinkema (Netherlands) for PokerGO)
- The Chip Race Poker Podcast (David Lappin (Ireland), Dara O’Kearney (Ireland), Barry Carter (UK) for Unibet Poker)
I’ve said this before but ‘Thinking Poker’ is an OG in the poker podcast space and its omission year after year needs to be rectified.
Dara O’Kearney and I are honoured that ‘The Chip Race’ has been nominated for a record third time. Last year, we interviewed 97 people from the poker world, producing more content than ever with 20 episodes of the main show, 25 episodes of ‘The Lock-In,’ and 13 strategy videos:
Defending champions ‘Poker In The Ears’ will certainly fancy their chances. The PokerGO podcast is shortlisted for the second time, having previously been up in 2019. My hunch, however, is that the trophy will go to new kids on the block ‘Only Friends.’
Producing around 190 episodes in 2022, Matt Berkey, Melissa Schubert, Landon Tice, Conrad Simpson, Christian Soto, and pals stream live most weekdays from the Solve For Why studio, offering the viewers/listeners a hang-out vibe as they weigh in on the topics of the day.
In Part 3 of my definitive GPI Global Poker Award guide next week, I will look at the categories honoring poker’s leading industry figures.