After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Global Poker Awards returned on February 18, honoring the huge contributions of poker players, media personalities, content creators, and industry figures to the overall growth of the game. The ceremony was held at PokerGO Studio at the ARIA Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, hosted by Jeff Platt and Drea Renee.
Over 20 awards were given away throughout the night, with some of poker’s biggest names among the recipients.
Ali Imsirovic Bags Three Awards
Ali Imsirovic was the biggest winner of the night, bagging three awards. At the start of the ceremony, he received both the GPI Poker Player of the Year and PokerGO Tour Player of the Year.
The Bosnian-American poker pro later went back to the podium to claim the award for Players Choice for Toughest Opponent, defeating poker elites David Peters, Stephen Chidwick, and Michael Addamo.
2021 was probably Imsirovic’s biggest year. He won a record-setting 14 tournament titles in addition to multiple in-the-money finishes, bringing his total earnings to more than $6 million.
In his acceptance speech, Imsirovic said he never thought he would achieve such a feat in poker, though winning Player of the Year was his goal from the start. In the end, his dedication and hard work all paid off.
Vanessa Brill Wins Charitable Initiative Award
From now on, Brill will not only be known as the Postlegate whistleblower. She took home the Charitable Initiative Award for setting up a fundraising campaign to bring KL Cleeton to Las Vegas. Cleeton, co-founder of the training app Range Trainer Pro and manager of poker training site Learn Pro Poker, suffers from a severe form of spinal muscular atrophy.
Brill was instrumental in getting Cleeton a new customized van to travel around the US, and most especially, to take part in the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP). She started the gofundme campaign back in 2020. The $75,000 goal was hit a year later through the help of the poker community.
Other winners during Friday night’s ceremony were Adam Friedman (Best Final Table Performance), Nadya Magnus (GPI Female Poker Player of the Year), Johan Guilbert (GPO Breakout Player), Matt Savage (Best Industry Person), Masayo Yokosawa (Fans Choice: Poker Personality), and Doug Polk (Fans Choice: Best Hand).
David Mzareulov won GPI Mid-Major Player of the Year, while Enrique Malfavon was awarded Best Media Content: Photo. Kevin Mathers won the Services to Poker award, while Christian Zetzsche and Lance Bradley respectively took home Best Live Reporter and Best Media Content: Written.
Maria Konnikova won the GPI Award of Merit, with Remko Rinkema receiving the Best Media Content: Video award. Ben “Spraggy” Spragg was named Best Streamer, while Jeff Plat walked away with the Best Broadcaster award.
Fans Choice: Best Trophy went to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup, while Best Event went to the WSOP Main Event. Poker in the Ears by James Hartigan and Joseph Stapleton for PokerStars won Best Podcast.
There were several repeat winners as well, including Imsirovic who received the Breakout Player of the Year award in 2019, and Paul Campbell who once again won Best Tournament Director (he won the same award in 2019).
Brad Owen also claimed his second award, Best Vlogger, after bagging the People’s Choice Award for Poker Personality of the Year back in 2019. For the second straight year, Jamie Kerstetter was named Best Twitter Personality.
The ceremony also honored late poker players such as Larry Flynt, Noel Furlong, Norm Macdonald, Layne Flack, Joy Miller, Clyde Hinton, Robert Gray, Willie Garson, Tommy Hufnagle, Ethan May, Keith Kozar, Paul Strohm, Kenny Rogers, Stephane Godet, Louie Anderson, Sam Grizzle, and Susie Zhao.