The 3rd Annual American Poker Awards are in the bag: record nominee Mike Sexton misses out, Jason Mercier earns a double, and Cate Hall picks up her ‘consolation prize.’
He didn’t win a single one.
Sentimentality wasn’t a core tenet for members of the jury. Unlike the 70+ people who believed his victory at WPT Montreal was worthy of two nominations. Personally, I’m a sucker for sentimentality, and believe it’s a travesty that Sexton didn’t pick up the award for either Tournament Performance or Poker Moment.
So who did pick up those awards?
Jason Mercier took the Poker Moment award for his insane performances at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Mercier, who had millions in bracelet bets riding on his success or failure, made four final tables, won two, and was runner-up in a third, all in less than a fortnight. The WSOP crowned him their Player of the Year for his effort, an award he accepted in Beverly Hills.
Pitching Sexton’s WPT Montreal victory against Mercier’s achievements, I can see why the jury handed the award to the younger man. But I can’t fathom how Ari Engel’s victory in the Aussie Millions could conceivably be more special than Sexton’s win.
Engel’s victory in the Aussie Millions is no more special than any of the other wins that went before him going all the way back to Gus Hansen, and he ended up writing one of the greatest poker books of all time off the back of that one.
While the victory would have been one of the finest moments in Engel’s career, and his close friends and family would have been moved by it, some possibly to tears, it pales into insignificance when compared to Sexton’s achievement.
You will be hard pressed to find anyone who has been responsible for bringing more faces to our game than Sexton. The televised production of the WPT Main Event is a gateway drug. Sexton is Walter White. He hooks everyone, and to not honour him for winning the very title he has breathed life into over the past decade is an insult.
The Cate Hall View
I had no other complaints about the order of merit but was looking forward to Cate Hall’s acceptance speech for her GPI Female Player of the Year award.
Unsurprisingly, Hall shot from the hip:
“The concept of Female Player of the Year doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Said Hall. “There were 77 men who finished ahead of me in the Player of the Year race this year and for me to get an award ahead of 76 of them – it feels to me like it has to send the message that I am not expected to compete with them. In the context of awards for athletic achievement, because men are faster and stronger – that’s a biological fact – but when you carry that over to an award for performance for a mental game it sends the message that men are just in another league and every part of me rebels against that idea.
“This is my first year playing poker full time as a professional. I really think if I had been here for 5-10 years I would have been able to beat anybody in the world. Even if I never get to that point, I would rather compete and lose than be content with the consolation prize. Thank you for the consolation prize.”
It was a refreshing angle, in a difficult and hackneyed conversation.
Here are the other winners at the 3rd Annual American Poker Awards.
Media Person of the Year
• Lance Bradley
• Sarah Herring
• Joe Stapleton
• David Tuchman
Industry Person of the Year
• Tony Burns
• Jack Effel
• Sean McCormack
• Matt Savage
Breakout Performance of the Year
• Ari Engel
• Maurice Hawkins
• Ankush Mandavia
• Sam Soverel
Tournament Performance of the Year
• Kristen Bicknell ($1,500 WSOP Bounty Tournament)
• Ari Engel (Aussie Millions Main Event)
• Maurice Hawkins (Back to back WSOPC ME Wins)
• Mike Sexton (WPT Montreal Main Event)
Mid-Major Circuit of the Year
• Heartland Poker Tour
• Mid-States Poker Tour
• WSOP Circuit
Event of the Year
• Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
• Super High Roller Bowl
• WSOP Main Event
• WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic
Moment of the Year
• Griffin Benger vs. Will Kassouf WSOP Main Event
• Jason Mercier WSOP POY
• David Peters GPI POY
• Mike Sexton WPT Montreal
Poker Media Content of the Year
• Bob, Charlie and a Life-Changing WSOP Main Event Journey (Lance Bradley, PocketFives)
• Life’s a Gamble (Mike Sexton)
• Stu Ungar’s Last Chance Gone Wrong Documentary (Matthew Showell, PokerListings)
• Aussie Millions Live Coverage on Twitch (Jason Somerville)
Twitch Streamer of the Year
• Kevin ‘kevinmartin987’ Martin
• Jason ‘jcarverpoker’ Somerville
• Jaime ‘pokerstaples’ Staples
• Parket ‘tonkaaaaP’ Talbot
Poker Podcast of the Year
• Poker Life Podcast with Joe Ingram
• Full Contact Poker with Daniel Negreanu
• PokerNews Podcast
• TwoPlusTwo Pokercast
The other awards, either nominated by special jury or GPI rankings were as follows:
• GPI Player of the Year: David Peters
• GPI Female Player of the Year: Cate Hall
• Charitable Initiative of the Year: Dan Smith Charity Drive
• APA Lifetime Achievement Award: Mori Eskandani
• PocketFives Legacy Award: Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy
• The Hendon Mob Award: John Holley
• APA Jury Prize: Matt Savage