PokerStars served as the official sponsor for the 3rd annual GPI American Poker Awards, but it was the company’s roster of Team Pros and media personalities who stole the show.
Held on February 23 in Beverly Hills, the latest edition of poker’s answer to the Oscars honored top performers on the felt and industry contributors. In addition, standouts from poker’s close-knit media community were given their own moment in the spotlight.
And in both cases, PokerStars and crew made the most of their numerous nominations.
Team Pro Jason Mercier received two awards related to his stellar run at the 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
There, the Florida pro won two gold bracelets – with a runner-up finish in between – within less than a week. That incredible performance netted nearly $870,000 in prize money, along with a significantly higher sum from “bracelet bets” against fellow high-stakes pros – while propelling Mercier to WSOP Player of the Year (POY) honors.
Mercier, who also won Moment of the Year for the historic 1-2-1 run, revealed a longstanding desire to win WSOP POY during his acceptance speech:
“I’m really happy to have won WSOP Player of The Year and to receive it at the GPI Awards. I wanted to win WSOP Player of the Year from the moment I sat down at my first WSOP event in 2008.
Fellow Team Pro Jason Somerville received the new Twitch Streamer of the Year award, in recognition of his innovative RunItUp live streamed poker instruction.
Joe Stapleton, stream commentator for the PokerStars Live tournament series, was named Media Person of the Year.
In a statement, PokerStars’ VP of Corporate Communications celebrated the big night:
“This is tremendous and very well deserved recognition for Jason Mercier and Jason Somerville and we congratulate them both, we are delighted for their continuing achievements and winning moments. Oh, yeah, and that guy Stapes did pretty good too!”
The other story to emerge from the ceremony concerned breakout star Cate Hall, who received the GPI Female Player of the Year award.
Hall, an outspoken advocate for many issues, including feminism, took to the stage and issued an unexpected, but well-reasoned, critique of poker’s propensity for gender divisions:
“The concept of Female Player of the Year doesn’t make a lot of sense. There were 77 men who finished ahead of me in the Player of the Year race this year and for me to get an award ahead of 76 of them – it feels to me like it has to send the message that I am not expected to compete with them.
In the context of awards for athletic achievement, because men are faster and stronger – that’s a biological fact – but when you carry that over to an award for performance for a mental game it sends the message that men are just in another league and every part of me rebels against that idea.
This is my first year playing poker full time as a professional. I really think if I had been here for 5-10 years I would have been able to beat anybody in the world.
Even if I never get to that point, I would rather compete and lose than be content with the consolation prize. Thank you for the consolation prize.”
Hall’s award was based on her dominant performance in the Global Poker Index (GPI) “Ladies” points race. A former lawyer playing professionally for her first full year, Hall won the GPI race handily with dozens of cashes and several World Poker Tour (WPT) final tables.
GPI Player of the Year: David Peters
GPI Female Player of the Year: Cate Hall
Media Person of the Year: Joe Stapleton
Industry Person of the Year: Sean McCormack (Director of Poker Operations – ARIA)
Breakout Performance of the Year: Maurice Hawkins
Tournament Performance of the Year: Ari Engel (Winning the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event)
Mid-Major Circuit of the Year: World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC)
Event of the Year: Super High Roller Bowl
Charitable Initiative of the Year: Dan Smith Charity Drive
APA Lifetime Achievement Award: Mori Eskandani
Moment of the Year: Jason Mercier Captures 2 WSOP bracelets and a 2nd place finish in a single week to secure the GPI WSOP Player of the Year award in 2016.
Poker Media Content of the Year: Bob, Charlie and a life changing WSOP Main Event Journey (Lance Bradley, PocketFives)
Twitch Streamer of the Year: Jason Somerville (jcarverpoker)
Poker Podcast of the Year: Joe Ingram (Poker Life Podcast with Joe Ingram)
PocketFives Legacy Award: Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy
The Hendon Mob Award: John Holley
APA Jury Prize: Matt Savage