The Essential Guide to the GPI Global Poker Awards 2024 – Part 3: Industry Prizes

  • The Global Poker Awards give industry pros the kudos they deserve
  • Wynn Las Vegas could take home a haul because of the WPT World Championship
  • Other mid-majors get more attention, but the BSOP is the most fun
  • The race for Best Broadcaster is way too close to call
GPI Global Poker Awards
David Lappin provides his final installment of his 2024 Global Poker Awards predictions. [Image: Global Poker Index]

Pigs on roller skates

All around Las Vegas right now, poker players are googling the phrase “cocktail attire” and wondering if that means they have to clean their best hoody and sweatpants combo. I actually think it’s great that poker has a formal night each year. It‘s impressive but also weird seeing a poker player in a tuxedo. It’s like seeing a pig on rollerskates.

The Global Poker Awards are this weekend and for the last couple of weeks, I have been previewing the categories. A fortnight ago, I cast an eye over the Player awards and last week I broke down the Content Creator prizes. Since those articles were published, some people have asked me if my picks are who I want to win or who I think will win. It’s probably a mix overall, but mostly the former.

the awards that honor the unsung heroes of our game

For my final installment, I’m going to look at nominees in the industry categories, the awards that honor the unsung heroes of our game. These are the people working hard behind the scenes to organize tournaments, run cash games, choose venues, do paperwork, hire staff, call the action, referee, and most importantly, uphold standards.

The best industry professionals in poker respect the fact that they operate in an industry completely different from any other. It’s a bit like running a sport, but with the very big difference that it is the players that pay the bills. They are the athletes and the customers and, for that reason, the dynamics are unique.

Live poker operators stand out in 2023

In 2023, the efforts of live operators stood out within the industry because poker in the real world is booming. That is not to say that online poker is in decline, but it is more fragmented and its operators are currently in an existential war with cheaters who threaten to ruin poker on the virtual felt. Live poker feels safer, maybe even feels purer to some, and its renewed popularity is reflected in an interesting and telling statistic.

The Hendon Mob website had 38.5 million page views in 2023

The Hendon Mob and Global Poker Index sites are beloved in the poker community and last month, Global Poker Index president Eric Danis tweeted that The Hendon Mob website had 38.5 million page views in 2023, breaking its 2019 record of 33 million page views. Live poker is currently booming, so I asked him how commercially valuable those extra visits are. He replied:

“We appreciate each and every person who visits The Hendon Mob and the GPI sites – we truly, honestly do. The traffic – and our brands – are the only places we create revenue and can operate as a company – being one the most visited sites in poker is vital to us.”

In a sense, The Hendon Mob is the canary in the coal mine for live poker and right now that canary is chirping. It is therefore unsurprising then that the vast majority of the Global Poker Award nominees have emanated from the live realm. Let’s take a look at the runners and riders….


  • Ryan Beauregard
  • Mori Eskandani
  • Adam Pliska
  • Francine Watson

Eskandani is a Poker Hall of Fame inductee and the godfather of poker broadcasting, responsible for the careers of so many. A poker visionary, he was responsible for High Stakes Poker, the WSOP broadcast and much more in 2023. Pliska is a trailblazer and has been caretaker of the WPT brand through five acquisitions. Being at the helm as the WPT broke its own record with the World Championship in the Wynn is a huge feather in his cap. Speaking of the Wynn, Beauregard is the executive director there and he has worked extremely hard on not just the WPT event, but also their Millions and other series.

I believe, however, that Watson is a lock for this award because Joe Stapleton wants her to win and he is the head of poker’s deep state. All joking aside, Watson is very deserving for her tireless behind-the-scenes efforts for over a decade. PokerStars Live is a first-class product and that is largely down to her superb work as producer.


  • Jack Effel
  • Ray Pulford
  • Matt Savage
  • Toby Stone

This is not a category in which I can weigh in too confidently as the shortlist features four titans of industry all presiding over huge series. Effel has overseen mostly positive changes as the WSOP settled in to its second year at a new venue. Stone is at the helm of a resurgent PokerStars Live whose EPT broke records and who brought back the NAPT with a hugely popular Las Vegas event. Savage is as much talent as he is tournament director these days, an ever-present familiar face who seems to be in four places at once as he simultaneously schmoozes, reassures, innovates, and oversees at WPT events.

I think this is the year of the Wynn

Any of these guys are worthy winners but I think this is the year of the Wynn, which continue to push standards higher and higher, setting a new bar of excellence for poker experience in the US. For that reason, my pick is the tireless Ray Pulford whose attention to detail is matched only by his friendly demeanor.


  • Irish Poker Open Main Event
  • World Series of Poker Main Event
  • WPT Prime Championship at Wynn Las Vegas
  • WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas

Four record-breaking tournaments battle it out for the Best Event award. The WSOP will always contend for this prize as its size, legacy, and prestige are unrivalled. In 2023, it broke its own attendance record and gave away the biggest first prize in open poker event history. The WPT Prime at the Wynn obliterated its impressive 2022 numbers, crowning a worthy champion in poker legend Calvin Anderson.

As a proud Irishman, it is heartening to see The Irish Poker Open make this list. JP McCann and Paul O’Reilly were faced with a significant challenge in 2023, losing both their venue and overlap with the Norwegian Poker Championships. In adversity, they saw opportunity, and moved Europe’s oldest poker tournament to Dublin’s RDS, pulling off a record field with the help of PokerStars/PaddyPower.

While my heart wants The Irish Poker Open to win, my head tells me that it will be back-to-back victories for the incredibly successful WPT World Championship. Promising a $40m prize pool was gutsy up against stiff opposition in December. Sure, they missed it, but I think that created even more goodwill in the community.


  • Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP)
  • RUNGOOD Poker Series (RGPS)
  • World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC)
  • WPT Prime (WPTP)

I will start with the important disclaimer that from the nominees, I have personally only played one Prime event and nothing besides. That said, these series all have incredible reputations, not least the RUNGOOD Poker Series which wins this award most years. Tana Karnchanakphan and Hayley Hochstetler clearly know their customers and understand how to bring excitement to a mid-stakes series.

The Prime offered players a genuine world circuit at a mid-range price point and it was fantastic to see the popularity of these events in Australia and Europe in 2023. The WSOP Circuit has given away more rings than I’ve had hot dinners, but the dilution of the brand shouldn’t take away from the stellar efforts of players like Ari Engel and Maurice Hawkins who beast that well-run circuit.

garnered so much notoriety for the fun atmosphere at all its stops

As I have said in previous articles, it is a little disappointing how under-represented poker is outside of North America and Europe, so my sincere hope is that this will be won by the BSOP which has garnered so much notoriety for the fun atmosphere at all its stops. Loose-aggressive play, a carnival atmosphere, and rail antics that more resemble the behavior in the stands of the Maracana…what’s not to love?


  • Irish Poker Open
  • Malta Poker Festival
  • Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
  • Wynn Millions Poker Series

Everything that The Wynn touched turns to gold, but I think they will have to settle for a podium finish in this one. The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open is an extravaganza of degeneracy and fun, but it, too, will have to play second fiddle.

I predict that this award will be a shootout between two beloved poker festivals on opposite corners of Europe. In 2018, Ivonne Montealegre created the Malta Poker Festival from scratch and thanks to a phenomenal ground game, she has attracted players from the US, Australia, the UK, and all parts of Europe. In partnership with the Unibet Deepstack Open, her Main Event has been setting attendance records each year and 2023 was no different.

I suspect, however, that The Irish Poker Open will clinch this coveted prize on awards night. A tournament older than any other besides the WSOP Main Event, it holds a special place in European poker. In its 42nd year, it crowned a worthy winner in David Docherty who outlasted 2,490 other players to win the famous event.


  • Henry Kilbane
  • Ali Nejad
  • Jeffrey Platt
  • Nick Schulman

The dream team of Nejad and Schulman square-off for one of the biggest prizes of the night. They are joined by former winner and host of the Global Poker Awards Jeff Platt and breakout star of commentary Henry Kilbane.

may boil down to a runoff between the two Triton commentators

Is Schulman the GOAT? Yes. Is Jeff Platt exceptionally talented and versatile? Yes. I think, however, that this year it may boil down to a runoff between the two Triton commentators. I have been fortunate enough to share the booth with both and I genuinely can’t muster a winner.

In summary, Nejad is probably the smoothest broadcaster poker has ever had. He is sublimely slick in the play-by-play role. His vocabulary, word-smithery and segues are the stuff of legends. In previous years, Kilbane was a diamond in the rough. Now he’s the Cullinan diamond. The young broadcaster served his time as resident commentator in Rozvadov and at Unibet Opens. Now he’s in the big leagues, anchoring Tritons, the WPT World Championship and WSOP events. Either man would be a worthy recipient.


  • Gregory Liow “Greg Goes All In”
  • Seth Moeller “SethyPoker”
  • Jonathan Rand “Slow Poker”
  • Alexander Seibt “Wolfgang Poker”

In a battle of the vloggers/short form content creators, the public will decide on this years Poker Personality. In 2020, Liow transformed the poker content space with his hilarious videos. Seibt appeared out of nowhere this year, boasting a hastily run-up million YouTube subscribers. Rand’s “SlowPoker” channel got a boost in 2023 thanks to his Platinum Pass victory via the innovative Poker.Org “Runner Runner” promotion.

My pick, however, is breakout star Moeller whose well-observed bits are a daily treat as I trawl the hellscape that is social media videos. I fully expect SethyPoker to become a household name in poker before long.


  • Hustler Casino Live
  • Poker at the Lodge
  • PokerGO
  • PokerStars Live
  • Triton Poker

In the words of Ricky Gervais back when he was funny, “geeez, is this not over yet?”. Well stick with me, I’m nearly there. All of these streams are well produced, bu, in my opinion, the team at ShareHand brings that little bit extra that separates them from all other livestream production companies. Triton is the very best example of that and for that reason and the broadcasting talent on show, I fully expect them to take down this award.


  • Asian Poker Tour Taipei Lion Trophy
  • Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup
  • NAPT Las Vegas Main Event Trophy
  • Poker Dream Malaysia Dragon Trophy
  • World Series of Poker Main Event Bracelet

Last, and in my opinion, least, the inexplicable return of the “Best Trophy” award has produced five nominees. I have no strong views on this, so I’ll do what all good poker players do and randomize…eeny, meeny, miny, moe…let’s give it to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup.


The Global Poker Awards will take place on Saturday, February 24th, in the PokerGO Studio in the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The ceremony will be broadcast live on PokerGO as part of a three-year deal brokered by Global Poker Index President Eric Danis in 2022.

a BIG step-up from the days of a single webcam broadcasting a blurry image to the world”

VSO News spoke exclusively to Danis, asking him whether he had entered into talks with PokerGO again and if they were to pass on it, would he consider having the ceremony in another part of the world? He answered:

“PokerGO has been an amazing partner, and being able to setup shop inside the PokerGO Studio is a no-brainer. PokerGO has treated us like royalty and we’re proud of the quality of the production of the Awards, certainly a BIG step-up from the days of a single webcam broadcasting a blurry image to the world. I’m delighted to say then that GPI/THM and PokerGO have committed to working together for 2024 and beyond!”

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