After nearly two years away, the Global Poker Awards returned on Friday night, celebrating the people and events who made headlines in the poker industry in 2021.
Hosted by Jeff Platt and Drea Renee, the awards show was a little like the game of poker itself – fun, casual, and packed with moments that keep you wanting more. Sure, it was clunky at times but also a very touching show. The broadcast was packed with heartfelt speeches from award recipients and an overall genuine sense of elation among those enjoying the opportunity to get back to celebrating the game in person, 23 months after the last awards ceremony.
A number of the awards were announced ahead of the ceremony including those handed out to Ali Imsirovic (GPI Player of the Year), Nadya Magnus (GPI Female Player of the Year), and David Mzareulov (GPI Mid-Major Player of the Year) for their achievements on the felt.
Maria Konnikova was honored with the GPI Award of Merit for authoring her book The Biggest Bluff. Veronica Brill was acknowledged with the Charitable Initiative Award this year for spearheading the effort to help fellow player K.L. Cleeton purchase the much-needed special transportation so he could make it to Las Vegas to participate in the World Series of Poker. Kevin Mathers (aka @Kevmath) was rightly recognized with a Service to Poker Award for his varied and non-stop contributions to the game for the better part of a decade.
Finally, the GPI looked back on the life of one of poker’s ultimate ambassadors, Mike Sexton, and bestowed his legacy with the 2021 Poker ICON award.
Adam Friedman took down the trophy for the stacked category of Best Final Table Performance with his historic back-to-back-to-back victories in the World Series of Poker $10,000 Dealer’s Choice.
Another too-close-to-call category was the GPI Breakout Player of the Year in which popular French poker pro and content creator Johan Guilbert was recognized.
A pair of Fans Choice awards grabbed the spotlight including Doug Polk winning Best Hand of 2021 for his incredible fold to Phil Hellmuth on High Stakes Poker. Also, professional poker pro and content creator from Japan, Masato Yokosawa, topped the tough category of favorite Poker Personality.
When the top 100 players were asked who the Toughest Opponent in the game was in 2021, they selected Ali Imsirovic, sending him to the podium to accept his second award of the evening.
Here’s a look at the rest of the 2021 GPA Recipients:
2021 World Series of Poker Main Event
Benjamin ‘Spraggy’ Spragg
Best Twitter Personality
Best Industry Person
Best Tournament Director
Paul Campbell – Aria Resort & Casino
Poker In The Ears – James Hartigan, Joe Stapleton
Best Media Content: Written
Lance Bradley – Isai Scheinberg: His Company, His Legacy, and How Black Friday Impacted Both
Best Media Content: Video
Remko Rinkema/Run It Back for PokerGO
Best Media Content: Photo
Enrique Malfavon for PokerGO – The WSOP Main Event Bubble
Best Live Reporter
Christian Zetzsche, PokerNews
Fans Choice Best Trophy
Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup