Archive for January, 2016

Annette Obrestad Signs Ambassador Deal with the Venetian Las Vegas

 Annette Obrestad Signs Ambassador Deal with the Venetian Las Vegas

According to her personal Twitter account and the casino, the inaugural champion of the World Series of Poker Europe, Annette Obrestad, has signed an “ambassador deal” with the Venetian Las Vegas. The deal, of which no details were announced, apparently began this weekend.

The mysterious details began to leak out earlier this week when Obrestad bubbled over her Twitter feed, “Have a pretty exciting announcement (for me anyway) coming up…Stay tuned.” On Thursday, the other shoe dropped in that little tease when the Venetian Poker Room announced over their Twitter account, “We are pleased to announce Annette Obrestad as ambassador of the Sands Poker Room. Welcome to the team!” along with her official “team” photo. Obrestad would waste little time in saying, “Guys, its (sic) official! I’m now an ambassador for Venetian Poker. I’m SOOOO excited. I hope to give a lot of you a chance to play with me soon!”

That chance came on Saturday when, during one of the Venetian DeepStack tournaments, Obrestad took on her first tournament. “(Will be) Playing my first tournament as a Venetian Poker ambassador today. Don’t be shy, come say hi if you’re there!” As of a couple of hours ago, Obrestad reports she’s doing well because she “keeps getting Kings…ez game LOL.”

Now, for those of you that haven’t quite captured the irony of all of this yet, please stay tuned.

Obrestad is one of the most well-known players in the game and her history is also well-known. She got her start as a 15-year old, hence her online poker screen name of ‘Annette_15,’ where she was able to hone her game on PokerStars’ free play room. Once she made enough money from the freerolls, she transferred to the cash tables and tournaments, even once playing a tournament – and winning it – without ever looking at her hole cards. This was all before she could even vote in any political election, let alone enter a casino legally. It also allowed her to be able to be the youngest ever World Series of Poker bracelet winner (at one day prior to her 19th birthday) in the esteemed organization’s history.

Since that time, however, Obrestad has had a few rough years. Despite winning over $ 600,000 in 2010, she didn’t even crack five figures in each of the last two calendar years and it was pretty lean in the three years prior to those. She also hasn’t had a great streak in online poker sponsorships either; in May 2010, Obrestad signed a sponsorship deal with Full Tilt Poker (the company was shut down slightly more than a year later) and, following that, she was ready for a “great beginning of a new and exciting relationship” with Lock Poker in 2012. Lock Poker shut down in April 2015, owing players conservatively around $ 15 million.

What makes Obrestad’s new position interesting is that it is with a company that is, for all practical purposes, trying to ensure that Obrestad has to leave the United States to be able to play online poker. Obrestad’s new boss, Las Vegas Sands Corporation chairman/billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is the bankroll behind the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which has been active in the prohibition of online poker on the federal level through the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, or RAWA. Adelson and his cronies have also traversed the United States, testifying wherever and whenever a state looks as if it will pass any form of legislation that will regulate online gaming or poker for its citizens.

There is no word on whether Obrestad knows of the irony of her situation (or if she really gives a damn), but the poker world has obviously taken notice and U. S. players aren’t very pleased about it. One commenter on a Facebook chat noted, “Another pro not showing any support for us, so aggravating.” On Twitter, Obrestad’s association with Lock Poker and now Adelson was noted, saying, “People who KNOWINGLY promote scams such as Obrestad should not be given ANY jobs in poker.” Another Twitter user stated, “So an online prodigy represents a brand whose owner wants to ban online poker. #Baffling”

Poker News Daily

Fabian Quoss Quickly Takes Down Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge

 Fabian Quoss Quickly Takes Down Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge

In a rapid four-hour final table – after a four-day layoff for the Aussie Millions Main Event – Germany’s Fabian Quoss defeated the start of day chip leader Ben Tollerene to capture the championship of the $ 100,000 Challenge at the Aussie Millions in Melbourne on Saturday.

Tollerene was the massive leader coming into play, being the only one who was over the one million mark in chips with 1.522 million markers in front of him. Connor Drinan was the closest one to Tollerene with his 943,000 in chips and it appeared, at least at the start, that the other four men were simply playing for honor. Jason Mercier (508K), Quoss (478K) Sam Greenwood (458K) and Fedor Holz (192K) all needed some serious help if they were to work their way into contention.

Quoss would get that help on the very first hand dealt at the final table. Drinan raised the action out of the hijack with Big Slick and Quoss, sitting on his big blind, three bet with pocket Aces. As you might figure, the hand played itself out from there; Drinan pushed in the remainder of his stack, Quoss called and, following a Queen-high board, Quoss became the second place stack with 984,000 in chips while Drinan dropped to 465K. Five hands later, Drinan would get some of those chips back in eliminating the short-stacked Holz from the tournament.

The pace of play continued to be rapid as, only seven hands later, the next player would depart the scene. Now the short stack, Greenwood was forced into making some moves. He would chop a pot with chip leader Tollerene and lose a chunk to Quoss before his demise occurred. On Hand 12, Drinan would open up the betting from the cutoff and Greenwood moved all in from his small blind. Drinan, faced with the option of folding or taking out a dangerous opponent, opted to take a shot and called, showing a Q♣ 9♣ that was alive – but just barely – over Greenwood’s A♣ 2♣. All was good through the J-6-3-4 flop and turn, but the nine on the turn wasn’t what Greenwood wanted to see. With that card, his tournament was complete in fifth place and Drinan reached the 900,000 chip plateau.

That would be the apex of the day for Drinan, who was slinging chips from the drop of the flag on Saturday. Only six hands after knocking off Greenwood, Drinan let a decent sized pot go to Mercier when he couldn’t make the all-in call on the river against Mercier. Another seven hands after that, Mercier returned the favor in doubling up Drinan. One hand later, it would be all over for Drinan and it would provide Quoss with the chips he would use to win the championship.

After Quoss raised from the button. Drinan defended his big blind to see a 7♣ 10 J♣ flop. Drinan, sitting with a Q♣ 9♠ for the open-ended straight draw, opted to check his action over to Quoss in an attempt to trap. Quoss, unfortunately for Drinan, had the better end of the deal with his A♣ 2♣ for the lead and a better draw at the nut flush. He would bet 75K and, after Drinan made the call, the 9♣ landed on the turn. This brought another check-call out of Drinan into Quoss’ made nut flush, this time for 135K, and the river was devastating. A 6♣ put four clubs on the board and ramped up the action.

On the river, Drinan suddenly woke up and fired what he figured was a 165K value bet for his Queen-high flush. When Quoss came back all in against him, Drinan suddenly was left with a decision for his final 292,000 in chips. Using special time extension chips used at the Aussie Millions for players to contemplate difficult decisions, Drinan would use all but one SECOND before calling Quoss’ bet. When Quoss unveiled the turned nut flush, Drinan was out of the tournament as Quoss took a massive chip lead.

With two seven figure stacks ahead of him, Mercier did his best to stay in the game. He hung around for nearly 40 hands before Quoss was able to get a bit fortunate against him, his K-Q catching both ends by the turn against Mercier’s A 8 flush draw, to bring the tournament down to heads up play with Quoss firmly in charge.

Tollerene would prove to be just as resilient as Mercier when it came to battling Quoss. Only seven hands into heads up action, Quoss had chopped Tollerene’s stack down to slightly more than 400K (nearly an 8.5:1 advantage), but just couldn’t seem to put Tollerene away. Within ten hands, Tollerene had reduced Quoss’ advantage to 3:1, but he never could quite get it back to even to truly make a battle out of the match.

On the final hand, Quoss moved all in from the button and, after a glance at his cards, Tollerene decided they were good enough to go home on. Quoss’ K-J held the edge against Tollerene’s J-10 and, once the board rolled out 6-5-4-5-5, Quoss’ K-J played over Tollerene’s holdings to give him the hand and the championship of the $ 100,000 Challenge.

1. Fabian Quoss, $ 1,446,480
2. Ben Tollerene, $ 924,140
3. Jason Mercier, $ 602,700
4. Connor Drinan, $ 441,980
5. Sam Greenwood, $ 321,440
6. Fedor Holz, $ 281,260

(all denominations in Australian dollars)

With the $ 100,000 Challenge complete, the Aussie Millions Main Event will resume on Sunday afternoon (local time, roughly Saturday night in the United States) at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. Simultaneously beside the Main Event final table, Day One of the LK Boutique $ 250,000 Challenge – featuring some of the most well-heeled players in the game – will open up action. When the $ 250,000 Challenge concludes on Monday, that will signify the end of the Aussie Millions for another year.

Poker News Daily

2016 Aussie Millions: Tony Dunst Seizes Lead in Main Event, Ben Tollerene Holds Lead in $100K Challenge with Final Table Suspended

 2016 Aussie Millions: Tony Dunst Seizes Lead in Main Event, Ben Tollerene Holds Lead in $100K Challenge with Final Table Suspended

After a flurry of activity on Day 3 in Melbourne, Australia, Tony ‘Bond_18’ Dunst is at the helm of the Aussie Millions Main Event. As Dunst holds a sizeable lead in one of poker’s unofficial “majors,” Ben Tollerene will have a couple of days to ponder his position as the chip leader of the $ 100,000 Challenge, which reached its final table on Thursday and will be suspended until Saturday.

Aussie Millions Main Event

150 players stepped back to the tables “Down Under” on Thursday, looking to pop the money bubble at 80 players left and send some people home with the first cashes from the $ 7.32 million (Australian) prize pool. Jean-Pascal Savard used a late night surge to sit atop the leaderboard with his 455,200 in chips, but Dunst himself was also the beneficiary of a little late night “magic” on Day 2. On Wednesday, Dunst had taken down both Julius Colman and Richard Ashby when his pocket Kings stood strong over Ashby’s pocket Queens and Colman’s pocket Jacks; the 229,700 in chips Dunst picked up in the hand put him in prime condition in the middle of the pack to be a strong threat during Thursday’s play.

Dunst was rather quiet in the early going, but he would surge to the lead five hours into the day’s play when he clashed with Savard. After an early position raise, Savard three bet the action and Dunst, in the big blind, pushed out a four bet of 55K. That was enough to get the original raiser out of the way, but Savard called to see a 5 Q♠ 7 flop and all hell broke loose. Dunst would lead out from the big blind for 48K and, after Savard moved all in, called immediately.

Once the cards were on their backs, the hand played itself. Dunst’s pocket Queens had found top set on the flop, but Savard’s A 4 had flopped a nut flush draw. An Ace paired up Savard on the turn, but that wasn’t what he was looking for. Down to any diamond other than the Queen, Savard instead saw the 2♠ complete the board, shipping a 327K chip pot and the chip lead to Dunst.

Along the way, some prominent names came up short of the money. Manig Loeser, defending World Series of Poker Asia/Pacific champion Scott Davies, former World Champion Martin Jacobson, Dzmitry Urbanovich, Ami Barer, Erik Seidel and Fabian Quoss all were long gone by the time that Mark Bevan’s Big Slick fell to Artur Koren’s pocket Kings, sending Bevan to the rail in 81st position ($ 0) and guaranteeing the remaining 80 players a minimum $ 15,000 payday. Liv Boeree, former World Champion Joe Hachem and his brother Tony, Max Silver and Savard all were recipients of the early money from the Aussie Millions prize pool.

Dunst was in the mix on the top of the leaderboard when another massive hand solidified his position. After a raise from Philipp Gruissem, Pascal Hartmann decided to make a stand with an all-in. Dunst, this time in the small blind, simply called and Gruissem, sensing weakness, moved all in over Dunst. Dunst made the call and faced a challenge against his opposition:

Hartmann:  9♣ 9
Gruissem:  Q♠ Q♣
Dunst:  A J♠

When the A♣ K♣ 8♣ flop came, Dunst was in a tenuous lead as Gruissem picked up a flush draw and Hartmann was still alive with his set potential. A seven on the turn was black, but it was a spade and not a club. Once another eight came on the river, Dunst had survived the sweat for his second double knockout of the tournament and retaken the lead, which he would not relinquish for the remainder of the evening:

1. Tony Dunst, 1.627 million
2. James Obst, 1.196 million
3. Samantha Abernathy, 1.195 million
4. Alexander Lynskey, 1.073 million
5. Artur Koren, 1.009 million
6. Ari Engel, 834,000
7. Bobby Zhang, 809,000
8. Kitty Kuo, 783,000
9. Martin Rowe, 729,000
10. Dylan Honeyman, 726,000

The final 40 players will return for Day 4 on Friday at 12:30 local time (8:30PM Eastern Time Friday evening), where the field will be whittled down to the final table. Everyone coming back on Sunday will earn at least $ 25,000, but the eyes of all are on the $ 1.6 million that will go to the champion of the Aussie Millions.

Aussie Millions $ 100,000 Challenge

Of the 37 players who came into the $ 100,000 Challenge, only 18 came back on Friday’s Day 2 for action. By the end of the day, Ben Tollerene emerged as the man to beat, the only one who was sitting over a million chips as the final table took a break until Saturday.

The 41-entry field generated a bit more than a $ 4 million prize pool but, due to the lack of players actually stepping to the event, only the final table – six players – will actually receive any of the largesse from the tournament. Thus, the battles were frequent through the day on Thursday, with names such as Igor Kurganov (in for a whopping FIVE buy-ins), Steve O’Dwyer, Erik Seidel and Pratyush Buddiga falling to the wayside as the day rolled along. Former World Champion Martin Jacobson was looking as if he would be a shoo-in for the final table, but he would run into Fedor Holz to devastate his stack; he would depart before the final nine were determined.

The plan had been to stop at that point, but they played it on down to the money. David Peters was the next to go and former $ 100K champion David Steicke hit the rail in eighth to bring the field to the money bubble. No one wanted to be the one to leave with nothing – especially so close to the final table – but eventually Jason Koon ran Big Slick in Connor Drinan’s pocket Aces to close the evening’s action.

1. Ben Tollerene, 1.522 million
2. Connor Drinan, 943,000
3. Jason Mercier, 508,000
4. Fabian Quoss, 478,000
5. Sam Greenwood, 458,000
6. Fedor Holz, 192,000

The $ 100,000 Challenge appears to be Tollerene’s to lose with his big chip lead. If Drinan is able to get ahold of some more chips, however, he could present a threat. There is also some danger lurking with Mercier should he get a double.

The champion of the $ 100,000 will be determined on Saturday (taking Friday off), as the Aussie Millions Main Event final table takes a day off for preparation. Everyone is already guaranteed the minimum payday of $ 281,260, but the $ 1,446,480 for first place would be a much needed shot in the bankroll for any poker player.

Poker News Daily

Ari Engel, Tony Dunst atop Aussie Millions Main Event Final Table; Samantha Abernathy, Kitty Kuo Also in Mix

 Ari Engel, Tony Dunst atop Aussie Millions Main Event Final Table; Samantha Abernathy, Kitty Kuo Also in Mix

The final table is set for Aussie Millions Main Event and it looks like it will be a battle between two men. Chip leader Ari Engel and Day 3 chip leader Tony Dunst will head to the final table on Sunday 1-2 in the counts, with Samantha Abernathy and Kitty Kuo among those in the pack who will be looking to hunt them down.

It promised to be a long Friday for the players at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia, as 40 players came back to battle for the final table. Dunst, after finishing off Day 3 with a nearly 500K lead over James Obst and Abernathy, was content to watch as the field contracted in the early going. Engel, in trying to get something going, instead would double Joseph Sandaev after Sandaev flopped an Ace for his Big Slick against Engel’s pocket Kings. Abernathy would also have a misstep as she shipped some chips to Jessica Dawley when Dawley rivered a King that matched her K-J against Abernathy.

Within an hour of play, the field of 40 had been whittled down to 36 and the tables redrew into six six-handed tables. Fortunes for Engel changed at this point as he doubled up through Sinan Aydogan to 838K in chips and other challengers began to mount their charge against Dunst. Martin Rowe, in eliminating Stephen Chidwick from the tournament, cracked the 1.4 million chip mark; Dylan Honeyman, in the Top Ten at the start of the day, got healthier in taking a sizeable pot from James Ong; finally, Abernathy exploded to 1.8 million in chips in winning a 600K-plus pot against Yuki Ko.

Abernathy’s time at the helm of the Aussie Millions was short-lived, however. Kuo was moved to a new table to balance them out and, on the very first hand, she popped the action up from the button. Ong made the call from the small blind and, after a Q-8-7 flop, Ong would check-call a bet out of Kuo. When a six came on the turn, Ong suddenly sprung to life in moving all in but he chose the wrong moment to bluff; Kuo immediately called and tabled her 10-9 for the nut straight, leaving Ong drawing dead with his A-K. Once the formality of the river was dealt, Ong was out and Kuo assumed the lead with her 2.35 million stack.

It was Dunst, however, who took the tournament back over by the dinner break. After opening the betting from first position, Derek Wolters three-bet him from the button and the blinds got out of the way. Dunst popped Wolters back with a four-bet and, after pondering for a moment, Wolters decided to make his stand. Now it was Dunst’s turn in the tank and, with a nonchalant, “Yeah, I call,” turned up pocket Queens to Wolters’ pocket Jacks. A Queen on the flop virtually sealed the hand for Dunst and, after an innocuous four on the turn, Wolters’ fate was sealed in 17th place as Dunst rocketed to four million in chips. By the time the dinner break came with 12 players left, Dunst had added another 430K to the mountain of chips in front of him.

Following some sustenance, the Dunst Steamroller kept mowing down opponents. He busted Cankai Zhang in 12th place to crack the five million chip mark, his pocket Aces standing over Zhang’s pocket tens, and carved some chips off of Alexander Lynskey also. Engel, who had been hovering in the two million range, began to grab some traction in eliminating Obst in 11th place and jumped close to three million in taking almost 600K off of Bobby Zhang when Engel’s J-10 was good on a 3-6-J-4-8 board. He would join Dunst over the four million mark by forcing K. C. Wong to fold to him on his all-in river bet for a 635K pot.

After Bobby Zhang was eliminated in tenth place, the field continued to play on two tables, forcing an increase in the action. It was a surprisingly big hand between Engel and Ko in the short table situation that pushed Engel into the lead, with both men playing a 9-2-5-10 flop and turn before getting the chips in the center. Engel’s pocket Aces delivered a cooler to Ko’s pocket Kings and the six on the river didn’t change anything; once Engel vacuumed up Ko’s chips, he cracked the six million barrier and took a lead he wouldn’t let go of for the remainder of the evening.

Still, eliminating that final player before the final table proved to be difficult. Abernathy doubled up through Dunst to get healthy and the twosome would joust with each other frequently over the next three hours of play. When Engel was able to finally eliminate the eighth place player – Wong, whose pocket sevens couldn’t withstand Engel’s A-8 on an A-Q-Q-10-5 board – he solidified his lead and brought an end to the night’s action.

1. Ari Engel, 8.155 million
2. Tony Dunst, 5.99 million
3. Samantha Abernathy, 2.485 million
4. Alexander Lynskey, 2.39 million
5. Kitty Kuo, 1.005 million
6. John Apostolidis, 960,000
7. Dylan Honeyman, 885,000

Both Engel and Dunst have tremendous experience and skills in poker and have closed out big tournaments before. Abernathy has been a true breath of fresh air in this tournament as she has been fearless in tackling anybody that stands between her and chips on the table. If she were to get on a bit of a rush, there is no reason that she couldn’t win the Aussie Millions. Lynskey is also an intriguing figure in that he has lurked around the top of the leaderboard for much of the event but hasn’t exactly drawn a great deal of attention to himself, making him dangerous. Kuo, Apostolidis and Honeyman have to have some early lightning strike to get themselves back in the event.

The Aussie Millions final table will take the day off on Saturday as the $ 100,000 Challenge final table takes the main stage. The seven players will return on Sunday to play down to the champion, who will take home the prestigious Aussie Millions championship and a $ 1.6 million (Australian) payday that goes along with it.

Poker News Daily

Handicapping the 2016 American Poker Awards

 Handicapping the 2016 American Poker Awards

When it was first unveiled in 2015, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from Alexandre Dreyfus, the Global Poker Index and, in particular, the inaugural American Poker Awards. What the North American poker world received was a gift:  it was a ceremony befitting of its counterpart from “across The Pond” with the European Poker Awards, with the elaborate ceremony honoring the best in North American poker and attended by some of the biggest names in the poker community. The poker world will once again turn out as, on February 25, the 2nd Annual American Poker Awards will take place.

Held at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA, the ceremony is only the capstone for what will be a hectic day. The first round draft picks for the Global Poker League will take place, as will a host of other seminars and discussions featuring poker professionals and industry insiders. But the ceremonies and dinner for the American Poker Awards and the recipients of those awards will be what draw many to sunny Southern California for the day.

Those categories feature some of the greatest moments from 2015 as well as highlight some of the top performances and players from the preceding year. Without further ado, let’s take a look at these categories and try to forecast who will take home the award come February 25. (Bold indicates pick.)

Tournament Performance of the Year

Jonathan Duhamel, WSOP One Drop $ 1 Million High Roller
Mike Gorodinsky, WSOP $ 50,000 Poker Players’ Championship
Joe McKeehen, WSOP $ 10,000 Championship Event
Anthony Zinno, WPT $ 10,000 L. A. Poker Classic

While I would love to take Zinno’s second leg of his back-to-back run of WPT titles in early 2015 with this selection – or even Duhamel’s win at the One Drop – McKeehen’s utter domination of the WSOP Championship Event makes this category a no-brainer. McKeehen grabbed this tournament by the throat on Day 7 and, even after a four-month break, never relinquished that grasp. You can probably count the number of mistakes that McKeehen made at the final table on one hand and have fingers left over…that, fans, is a Tournament Performance of the Year winner.

Moment of the Year

Anthony Zinno, back-to-back WPT championships (WPT Fallsview, WPT L. A. Poker Classic)
22,000-plus players enter “The Colossus”
Phil Hellmuth wins WSOP Bracelet #14 – WSOP $ 10,000 Razz World Championship
Daniel Negreanu exits 11th in the WSOP Championship Event

While all of these are excellent choices for the Moment of the Year, there is only one choice. It didn’t matter what level of poker fan you were – or whether you even were a fan of the game – people for some reason were transfixed by Negreanu’s deepest run in the WSOP Championship Event in his career. Perhaps because of Negreanu’s effervescent charms, perhaps because of his skill in the game, perhaps because of his self-promotion…EVERYONE seemed to be pulling for Negreanu to make it to the “November Nine.” When he came up two slots short of the goal, it (along with McKeehen’s dominant chip stack) seemingly pulled all of the air out of the Amazon Room. That’s what a Moment is supposed to do…be a snapshot of time that people fixate on.

Breakout Performance of the Year

Joshua Beckley
Asher Conniff
Cate Hall
Kelly Minkin

Beckley is the odds-on favorite here from his runner-up finish in the Championship Event, but Conniff’s story of winning what could be the final-ever WPT World Championship (hey, we’ll see how long that Champions’ Invitational lasts) – about how he really didn’t want to play in it, then got in by a satellite through the New Jersey online poker rooms, so he decided to just go ahead and win the tournament – could push him past Beckley. Minkin’s “Last Woman Standing” run at the WSOP Championship Event is nice, but it won’t top Beckley or Conniff.

Event of the Year – Buy-in under $ 2000

WSOP “The Colossus,” Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
WPT500 at ARIA Las Vegas
WSOP “Millionaire Maker,” Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
WPT DeepStacks – DeepStacks Poker Tour Championship, Grey Eagle Resort & Casino, Calgary, Canada

The WPT DeepStacks event is the ONLY thing outside of the U. S., unless you want to count Kara Scott, that has been nominated for an American Poker Award. While it would be nice for it to win, it isn’t going to happen. “The Colossus” was a bold move by WSOP and Caesars officials and it paid off for them, for the most part (a few controversies over the payouts, but I digress). The “Maker” will be eclipsed in this category again (was beaten last year by the “Monster Stack”) and the WPT500, while a great tournament, just doesn’t have the panache to battle.

Event of the Year – Buy-in over $ 2000

$ 500,000 Super High Roller Bowl, ARIA Las Vegas
WSOP $ 10,000 Championship Event, Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
WSOP $ 1 Million One Drop High Roller, Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, Hollywood, FL

The Super High Roller Bowl was a shot in the dark that paid off. Nobody – ARIA, the brand new streaming network Poker Central, POKER PROductions (the producers of the broadcast) – knew whether there would be any players that would actually come out for it or not. In the end, they got an outstanding broadcast out of the proceedings which helped Poker Central demonstrate what they wanted to do with their network with their innovative programming. It’s good to see the tournament will return again in 2016 and we can only hope it is just as entertaining.

Industry Person of the Year

Jack Effel, WSOP Vice President and Tournament Director
William Mason, Seminole Hard Rock Director of Poker
John Pappas, Poker Player Alliance Executive Director
Matt Savage, Tournament Directors Association Founder, WPT Executive Director

This is always a difficult choice because the people who work in the industry “behind the scenes” often do their best work when nothing wrong happens. That could be said for Effel, Mason and Savage, who have done some exemplary work in the tournament poker realm over the years. But to ignore what the PPA and Pappas have been able to do over the past 12 months – with a budget that is about 1/100th of what the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) has at its disposal from sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson – would be a great disservice. It would also allow for the poker community to sound off as one against Adelson in a manner that might capture his attention (not that he would give a damn, but still).

Charitable Initiative of the Year

Chad Brown Memorial Tournament (Maria Ho and Vanessa Rousso, organizers)
Charity Series of Poker (Matt Stout)
Tiger’s Poker Night (Tiger Woods and the WPT Foundation)
WSOP One Drop High Roller/Little One for One Drop

Once again, outstanding choices for the award, but Matt Stout and the Charity Series of Poker have crisscrossed the country with their efforts in fundraising. Whether it is a bank of tournaments in Las Vegas, Hollywood, FL or Atlantic City, Stout is at the forefront of a multi-tournament schedule that raises funds for several worthy causes. Raising money for worthwhile causes is difficult enough; to do it several times and for several days…Stout has his work cut out for him and he always rises to the occasion.

Media Person of the Year

Joey Ingram
Kevin Mathers
Donnie Peters
Jason Somerville

Although we might be stretching the term “media person” for this award, Somerville has become one of the people that the poker community listens to the most. His Twitch broadcasts have set records and his opinions regarding the latest hot topics in the industry are always sought out. Those are the things you need – the audience and an opinion – to be able to have an impact as a member of the media and Somerville has them in spades.

Poker Presenter of the Year

Sarah Herring
Kara Scott
Joe Stapleton
David Tuchman

With all due kudos to the other three members of this category, Stapleton is long overdue for some attention for his work. Heading the livestreams of the EPTLive! broadcasts, Stapleton has brought a unique combination of poker knowledge, comedic timing and self-deprecating humor to those broadcasts, which is entirely necessary when you’re filling hour after hour of people playing cards. If you haven’t checked out a broadcast with Stapleton at the helm, you’re missing a rare treat.

Poker Innovation/Initiative of the Year

Poker Central Launches
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open/Poker Night in America livestreams four final tables/same room/same time
WSOP Online bracelet with live final table
WSOP “The Colossus”

The madness that was the Seminole Hard Rock/PNiA livestream deserves some recognition somehow, but it gets overshadowed here by the debut of Poker Central. Although I’ve been harsh on Poker Central, I’d like to see them work beyond the “growing pains” stage to actually see if they can get on a REAL cable provider. I like my Roku just as much as the next person, but it isn’t my first choice for television programming. If Poker Central continues to move upward, perhaps getting on a cable provider, then the award here is worthwhile…if not, well…even the Grammys gave out Best New Artist to A Taste of Honey over Elvis Costello and The Cars once.

Media Content of the Year

Brad Willis – BUST, an Insider’s Look at Greenville, SC’s, Underground Poker Scene
Faraz Jaka and CNN Money – Faraz Jaka:  Homeless Poker Millionaire
Jason Somerville – September 2015 Twitch broadcast of WCOOP breaks records
Joe Giron – Daniel Negreanu post-elimination in 11th place, 2015 WSOP Championship Event

Poker doesn’t have too many of those “captured in the moment” types of shots that are typical of other sporting endeavors. The shot of Negreanu – with the palms of his hands pressed to his eyes and forehead as he laid on his back on the floor of the Main Stage in the Amazon Room – is about the closest thing we have to a dramatic moment. With this said, I wouldn’t be at all upset if Willis was to win his second AMA in this category; his four-part series on Greenville’s underground poker scene – and the deep scars that remain even today – was incomparable.

What would your choices be? We will find out the winners come February 25 when the 2nd Annual American Poker Awards are handed out.

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