Poker superstars gathered at the Aviation Club de France in Paris Wednesday for the 11th Annual European Poker Awards. Some of the game's brightest young stars were given hardware over the course of the evening, including Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Pius Heinz and Sam Trickett.
Trickett bested superstars like Grospellier, Heinz, Jake Cody, Eugene Katchalov and Andrey Pateychuk to win the "Player of the Year" award. He earned nearly $4.5 million on the tournament circuit in 2011, including victories at the Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge and the Partouche Poker Tour Main Event. Trickett was playing in the Aussie Millions cash game Wednesday and wasn't able to accept the award, but he was delighted to hear the news.
Just found out i Won European Player of the Year! Thanks every1 for supporting me. Ur all legends :)Follow @Samtrickett1
Although they didn't win the most coveted honor, Grospellier, Heinz and Pateychuk didn't walk away empty-handed. Grospellier, the hometown favorite, was honored with the "Poker Personality of 2011" award. The Frenchman won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in June to secure poker's elusive Triple Crown, but he also faced off against friend and fellow Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis in a kickboxing match and was very active in promoting poker both online and around the globe.
"It's my first personality award so that's why I'm really proud of it," Grospellier told PokerNews reporter Laura Cornelius Wednesday evening. "It feels really good to be recognized because the past few years I've tried to be a better ambassador for the game."
Heinz, of course, was honored with the "Best Tournament Performance" award after becoming the first German player to win the WSOP Main Event in November. Heinz won more than $8.7 million.
Pateychuk was named "Rookie of the Year" after winning two legs of the Triple Crown in less than two months. Pateychuk took down the PokerStars EPT San Remo Main Event in October for $875,470, and then won the World Poker Tour Prague Main Event in December for another $630,000. The 21-year-old also made a deep run in the 2011 WSOP Main Event, taking 15th place for $478,174.
"This prize is very important to me and I'm very glad to get it," Pateychuk told PokerNews. "I hope this year I'll be able to win a WSOP bracelet and finish my Triple Crown. That is a big goal of mine."
Other winners on Wednesday were Ilari Sahamies (Online Player of the Year), Natalia Nikitina (Europe’s Leading Lady), Warren Lush (Staff Person of the Year), and the WSOP Cannes (Event of the Year).
In addition, poker commentator Jesse May was honored with the "Lifetime Achievement Award." May, who has been involved in more than a dozen poker television series, joined the likes of Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, John Duthie, Thomas Kremser, Marcel Luske, Bruno Fitoussi and Nic Szeremeta in being recognized for their achievements in the game.
For a closer look at the 11th Annual European Poker Awards, check out the recap video with Laura Cornelius: