Friday night’s 2021 Global Poker Awards ceremony at the Aria in Las Vegas drew a couple of hundred attendees as the poker world’s best and brightest were honored for their contributions to the game during 2021. Jeff Platt and Drea Renee hosted the ceremonies, in which 18 new winners were announced, joining eight previous honorees already disclosed by GPA parent Global Poker Index since the beginning of 2022.
The 18 new winners spanned the poker industry, from events, live and online celebrities, and producers of poker content. Co-emcee Platt was one of the 18 newly announced winners, in the “Best Broadcaster” category, while there were no multiple winners among the 18 newly announced awards.
Fourteen of the 18 awards revealed on Friday night were decided by GPI’s expert panel. A 15th award, the Player’s Choice for Toughest Opponent, went to Ali Imsirovic in honor of his incredible 2021 year-long performance; Imsirovic was already assured of and presented with two other 2021 GPA honors on Friday, as the 2021 GPI Player of the Year, and the 2021 PokerGO Player of the Year, giving him nods at the podium on the night.
Three more new awards went to the winners of “Fan’s Choice” categories. Anyone with an interest in poker could vote in these categories by visiting the GPA website in the weeks preceding last night’s ceremony. Doug Polk (Best Hand), the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup (Best Trophy), and Masato Yokosawa (Best Poker Personality) received those honors.
Among the night’s well-received highlights, in addition to the award presentations, was an “In Memorian” segment remembering many of poker’s well-known personalities who passed on during 2021, even including the iconic “Hal the Bartender,” a fixture in the hallways of the Rio and the World Series of Poker for many years.
Here are the 18 award winners announced by the Global Poker Awards during Friday’s ceremony (winner in boldface/italic):
BEST FINAL TABLE PERFORMANCE
Adam Friedman (USA), WSOP 10K Dealer’s Choice 6-Max ChampionshipKoray Aldemir (Germany), WSOP Main EventJeremy Ausmus (USA), WSOP PLO High RollerDaniel “Jungleman” Cates (USA), WSOP 50K Poker Players Championship
GPI BREAKOUT PLAYER
Johan Guilbert (France)Christopher Brewer (USA)Kyna England (USA)Vanessa Kade (Canada)
PLAYERS CHOICE FOR TOUGHEST OPPONENT
Ali Imsirovic (Bosnia & Herzegovina)Michael Addamo (Australia)Stephen Chidwick (England)David Peters (USA)
Jamie Kerstetter (USA)Will Jaffe (USA)Kitty Kuo (Taiwan)Kevin Mathers (USA)
Benjamin Spragg “Spraggy” (England)Kevin Martin “kevinmartin” (Canada)Jonathan Van Fleet “apestylespoker” (USA)Lex Veldhuis “LexVeldhuis” (Netherlands)
Brad Owen (USA)Jaman Burton (USA)Ryan Depaulo (USA)Ethan “Rampage” Yau (USA)
BEST INDUSTRY PERSON
Matt Savage (USA)Tony Burns (USA)Jack Effel (USA)Mori Eskandani (Iran/USA)
BEST TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR
Paul Campbell (USA)Justin Hammer (USA)Ray Pulford (USA)Andy Tillman (USA)
World Series of Poker Main EventSeminole Hard Rock Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Opening EventWynn Mystery Bounty (Summer 2021)Wynn Millions
Poker in the Ears (James Hartigan, Joseph Stapleton for PokerStars)The Chip Race Poker Podcast (David Lappin, Dara O’Kearney for Unibet Poker)The Doug Polk Podcast (Doug Polk)The Heart of Poker (Kara Scott)
Jeff Platt (USA)Jamie Kerstetter (USA)Ali Nejad (USA)Joseph Stapleton (USA)
BEST LIVE REPORTER
Christian Zetszche (Germany)Merom “Mickey” Doft (USA)Timothy Duckworth (Australia)Chad Holloway (USA)
BEST MEDIA CONTENT: WRITTEN
Lance Bradley (Canada) for PocketFives: Isai Scheinberg: His Company, His Legacy, and How Black Friday Impacted BothAlex O’Brien (Germany) for BBC: How a $10k poker win changed how I thinkD’Arcy Maine (USA) for ESPN.com: While battling brain cancer, Michael Graydon lives World Series of Poker dreamCharles Rabin (USA) for Miami Herald: From immigration ‘cage’ to newest poker champ at Hard Rock. An Afghan refugee’s luck turns
BEST MEDIA CONTENT: PHOTO
Enrique Malfavon (USA) for PokerGO: The WSOP Main Event Bubble BurstsAntonio Abrego (USA) for PokerGO: Adam Friedman defeats Phil Hellmuth for 3rd straight WSOP 10K Dealers Choice titleHayley Hochstetler (USA): The End of an EraDanny Maxwell (Ireland) for PokerNews/WSOP: Brandon Shack-Harris and his umbrella at WSOP
BEST MEDIA CONTENT: VIDEO
Remko Rinkema (Netherlands) for PokerGO: Run it Back with Stefanie UngarPaul Graydon & Andrew Neeme (USA): The Villain Who Stole ChristmasLast Call Pokeridokumentii (Finland)Jeff Platt (USA) for PokerGO: “Stand Up for Me, Please!”Run It Once: Meet The Jungleman
FANS CHOICE: BEST HAND
Doug Polk (USA) makes epic fold vs. Phil Hellmuth on High Stakes PokerDaniel “Jungleman” Cates (USA) gets Leng to fold in 50K PPCNicholas Rigby (USA) pulls monster bluff during late stages of WSOP Main EventQuads over Quads on Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event (Chang Liu vs Ugur Secilmis)
FANS CHOICE: BEST TROPHY
Mike Sexton WPT Champions CupMSPT South Dakota State ChampionshipSeminole Hard Rock Poker Open ChampionshipWPTDeepStacks Gold Coast
FANS CHOICE: POKER PERSONALITY
Masato Yokosawa (Japan)Johan “YoH ViraL” Guilbert (France)Greg “Greg Goes All In” Liow (Canada)Jonathan Little (USA)
Germany’s Zetszche, a multi-lingual live reporter, wasn’t on hand to receive his honor. His three competitors in the category — Chad Holloway, Mickey Doft, and Tim Duckworth — all good friends of Zetszche’s, took the opportunity for a loser’s pic with “Zed”‘s trophy:
Previously announced winners also receive awards
Eight other 2021 GPA winners received their mantleplace trophies during the ceremony as well. Those included the awards presented to several GPI category winners, a “Poker ICON” award recognizing the late Mike Sexton, and the two meritorious-service honors recently announced for Maria Konnikova and Veronica Brill.
Sexton’s honor included a montage covering many of the highlights off his years in the game. Sexton, an Ohio native who later moved to Las Vegas, was known primarily for his twin roles with the World Poker Tour and partypoker. He was elected to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2009. He’s only the second person to receive the GPA Poker ICON honor.
A special “THM Award” was also presented to one of the Global Poker Index’s newest hires, Kevin Mathers. Mathers will no longer be eligible for a Global Poker Award due to his GPI/THM employment, and the award was a special thank-you for his years of service to poker — including as the WSOP’s “Twitter Czar” — for his unending delivery of poker news to the playing public.
Here are the eight 2021 winners in the eight non-voting categories:
Charitable Initiative: Veronica BrillGPI Award of Merit: Maria KonnikovaGPI Female PoY: Nadya MagnusGPI Mid Major PoY: David MzareulovGPI PoY Ali ImsorovicPokerGO Tour POY: Ali ImsirovicPoker ICON: Mike SextonTHM Award: Kevin Mathers
Featured image source: Global Poker Awards