On Thursday night, the 2nd Annual American Poker Awards took center stage in a celebration of the industry at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. A total of 15 awards were given out in a variety of categories, with PokerNews Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peters walking away with the hardware in the Media Person of the Year category.
Other winners included Matt Savage for Industry Person of the Year, the World Series of Poker Colossus for Event of the Year (Buy-In Up To $2,000), and Anthony Zinno, who won Tournament Performance of the Year for his World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic win.
"I couldn't be happier to have won the award for Media Person of the Year, but I'd be lying if I told you I expected it," Peters said on Friday. "I said it in my speech, and I'll say it again, but the other nominees in the category — Kevin Mathers, Jason Somerville, and Joey Ingram — are all very much deserving of the award for all they provide to our industry. Just being nominated in the company of that group was enough of a blessing."
Among the awards given out were two predetermined ones based on the 2015 Global Poker Index. Byron Kaverman was honored with the 2015 GPI Player of the Year Award, and Kelly Minkin was honored with the 2015 GPI Female Player of the Year.
The final two awards of the night were special ones. The Jury Award was awarded to Kevin "Kevmath" Mathers, and a Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Mike Sexton.
Here's a full list of those who received an American Poker Award:
- MEDIA PERSON OF THE YEAR: Donnie Peters, Editor-in-Chief, PokerNews.com
- TOURNAMENT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: Anthony Zinno, WPT L.A. Poker Classic
- MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Daniel Negreanu busts 11th in WSOP Main Event
- BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: Joshua Beckley
- EVENT OF THE YEAR (BUY-IN UP TO $2,000): WSOP Colossus, Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
- EVENT OF THE YEAR (BUY-IN OVER $2,000): WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, Hollywood, FL
- INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR: Matt Savage, TDA Founder, WPT Executive Director
- CHARITABLE INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR: [*]Charity Series of Poker, Matt Stout
- POKER PRESENTER OF THE YEAR: Kara Scott
- POKER INNOVATION OR INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR: WSOP Online Bracelet event
- MEDIA CONTENT OF THE YEAR: Joe Giron's elimination photo of Daniel Negreanu in WSOP Main Event
- JURY AWARD: Kevin "Kevmath" Mathers
- LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Mike Sexton
- 2015 GPI PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Byron Kaverman
- 2015 GPI FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kelly Minkin
Similar to last year's inaugural event, the American Poker Awards were preceded by the American Poker Conference. This year's conference featured four informative panels, including The Boom of the eSports Industry: An Example To Follow for Poker, Women in Poker: How Could a More Balanced Gender Diversity "Redynamize" the Live Poker World?, Media: Does the Future of Poker Media Have To Be Based on Players' Self-Marketing and "Starification"?, Players Panel: How To Improve Collective Initiatives Among the Players Community To Efficiently Impact the Industry.
The conference was once again well attended by a large number of members from the poker and gaming industry, and if you missed it, you can watch an archived replay through the Global Poker League's channel on Twitch, starting at the 50-minute mark.
"Last year, I was very pleasantly surprised with the success of the American Poker Conference and the American Poker Awards," said Peters. "I came away last year with the feeling that anyone and everyone involved in the poker industry must experience the event, and I feel even stronger in that regard after the second edition. Not only is the entire event a celebration of our industry, but it's an initiative that aims to move our industry forward and grow poker. I encourage everyone to make the trip out next year."
Speaking of the Global Poker League, this year's big day included the inaugural Global Poker League Draft, which was sandwiched in between the American Poker Conference and the American Poker Awards. The draft was exciting and promising to the future success of the league, with manager Max Pescatori of the Rome Emperors selecting countryman Mustapha Kanit as the first overall pick.
"The Global Poker League Draft was extremely exciting," said Peters. "The draft room was buzzing with electricity, and if this is a sign of things to come for the league, then we should all be looking forward to its success. Alex Dreyfus and his team certainly set the bar high, but if you're not 'all in' in this industry there will be no progression. Judging by the reaction of the community, I think it's safe to say we're all very much anticipating the first event."
*Image courtesy of the American Poker Awards/revolutionpix Incorporated.