Breaking Down the Action:
  • Two Years in the Making
  • Presenting the Poker Awards in Style
  • Making The Speeches
  • The Work Starts Here
  • A Thriving Community

8 Minute Read

We've found the secrets of the Global Poker Awards with our Behind the Scenes look at the awards ceremony

The 3rd Global Poker Awards take place on February 18th at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas as poker celebrates the greatest achievers of the year. This year, the ceremony will be broadcast exclusively on PokerGO, as some of the biggest names in the game gather to accept their awards.

Everyone in poker is excited about who might win, but what really goes on behind the scenes of a huge global awards ceremony? To find out, we sat down with Eric Danis, President of The Hendon Mob & Global Poker Index and the man behind the show.

Two Years in the Making

“This event is 23 months in the making, you can feel the excitement!”

With no award ceremony due to the COVID pandemic in 2021, it has been almost two years since the last time the awards were given out. This year’s awards, given to the greatest achievers in 2021, will be one of the highlights of the year. Danis told us that the team can’t wait to bring the biggest awards ceremony in poker back for the fans.

“To be honest, I think most of my teammates are more excited to making their return to the craps tables at ARIA!” he laughs. “But seriously, this event is 23 months in the making, you can feel the excitement! We’ve always tried to find ways to include the fans and this year, we just decided that sometimes, simple is best – give the fans their own awards.”

Fans have been voting in their thousands for their favorite players and personalities to take home awards. Danis admits he’s been blown away by the scale of the response from the poker community.

“The votes we received for Fans Choice for Poker Personality was off the charts – we’re so happy to poker see fans around the globe getting involved.”

Presenting the Poker Awards in Style

“We can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!”

This year sees a ‘dream team’ of poker presenters bring the Global Poker Awards to life, with Jeff Platt and Drea Renee on stage to introduce the action. Danis explains that it took some time to put together the show, including the on-screen ‘talent’.

“We’ve been blessed having some of the best in the industry host the awards,” he says. “This year, Jeff Platt went after me Succession-style; he has proof of some stuff and is blackmailing me! All kidding aside, Jeff joining Drea Renee, who’s now a pro at hosting these awards, is amazing – we can’t wait to see what they come up with this year! Putting a host team together is a long process – we hold discussions with PokerGO for months, going through several candidates – it’s certainly not an easy process.”

This is the third year that the ‘GPA’s’ will be streamed live and exclusively on PokerGO, and as Danis describes, the operation that brings the stage show to the screen is an epic and far-reaching one.

“Pat McMath, Zach Ralston, Mori Eskandani, Dan Gati, Tim Duckworth and Brent Hanks are a few of the dozens of people to thank for putting this event together.” He says. “I’ve worked closely with Pat for years now and he just knows what’s needed to put on a great show. It’s not easy, it’s a ton of work, hours and hours of preparation – we just hope that it translates to an amazing show on awards night.”

Making The Speeches

“There’s no censorship, as long as it’s fun and respectful.”

When it comes to the awards themselves, the Oscars in Los Angeles are often lambasted for how long the winners take to thank their friends and family as they clutch their statuette. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be a problem at the Global Poker Awards if previous years are anything to go by.

GPA Awards

Accepting a Global Poker Award is an honor as demonstrated back in early 2020.

“No one’s on a time limit,” says Danis. “I don’t remember it ever being an issue – those that last a little longer tend to be a bit more emotional, so I love those moments. Most acceptance speeches are probably a little too short to be honest. There’s no censorship – see Brad Owen’s speech from the first Global Poker Awards where he proceeds to roast me for a minute! As long as it’s fun and respectful, it’s all good.”

If you ever needed encouragement to go into details when you win your award, now’s your chance, clearly. The Global Poker Awards trophies are stunning in themselves, which you might expect with one of the awards being for ‘Best Trophy’. The trophies were originally designed by Gaudio Awards based in London and the team love them dearly.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind design that they created for us years back and we continue to work with Gaudio for our awards to this day,” says Danis. “We’re proud of the trophies we hand out. There are hand-crafted trophies from the same company that designs one-of-a-kind trophies for Master Chef, The BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards, amongst others.”

The trophies are a big part of the ceremony, and Danis is proud to say that a lot of thought and expense are put into them.

“They’re not cheap,” he admits. “We pay a pretty penny for them, but we wouldn’t have it any other way – we want the people who receive the trophies to be proud to display them. The yearly sweat of whether the awards arrive in time at the ARIA, will they be lost somewhere in the ARIA warehouse, will I have to beg Sean McCormack to go on an adventure to find them somewhere inside the ARIA – that sweat is real.”

GPA Trophies

The legendary Global Poker Award trophies were developed and designed in London, England.

The Work Starts Here

“I’m just really happy to see smiling faces winning trophies.”

When it comes to the Global Poker Awards, Danis will be like a ringmaster watching the circus with pride when the first stars step into the tent. He wants everything to go perfectly to pay back the incredible amount of effort his team put into preparations.

“It’s funny, I’m more anxious than nervous on the night of the awards,” he says. “There isn’t much that can go wrong that’s in my control. If something goes wrong in the production room, for example, there’s nothing I can do, so we just go with the flow. I’m just really happy to see smiling faces winning trophies for something they’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

The Global Poker Awards are an exhausting business for everyone who puts it on, but its all worth it, as Danis explains.

“By the time the awards start, I’m dead tired – it’s a 12-month process – but the final few months are torture. Voting, RSVP’s, making sure everything is ordered, making sure everyone knows what they’re doing, mingling with the guests. People often joke and say you must be going to get drunk once the awards ceremony is over, but it’s usually one drink with the team to celebrate and then I’m off to bed!”

GPA 2020

Every year, the Global Poker Awards reward the great and good in the poker industry.

A Thriving Community

“It’s the only night of the year where people look their best, have fun and enjoy a few drinks together, as an industry.”

For Danis and his team, the best thing about the Global Poker Awards is bringing the poker community together to celebrate as a whole.

“We succeed each year in getting some of the best people in poker to dress up, get together and have a good time – it’s the only night of the year where people look their best, have fun and enjoy a few drinks together, as an industry. It’s our most proud accomplishment.”

I finish by asking Danis exactly how quickly he and his team stop celebrating the 3rd GPAs and start planning for the 4th annual celebration, knowing exactly what his answer will be.

“The work for next year’s Global Poker Awards has already begun!” he admits. “We’ve already started planning, we’ve already started our lists to find candidates in each category — heck, we’ve even started talking on which categories will make the cut for next year!”

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller is a veteran casino writer with decades of experience writing online casino reviews and game guides. His betting strategy articles, and gambling news updates have been a fixture in the industry since 2004.

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