PokerListings announce the 2017 Spirit of Poker award winners in the categories of Most Inspiring Player, Rising Star, and Living Legend.
Pin the tail on the donkey?
How about pin the medal on the professional poker player?
Since 2013, PokerListings has been doing just that, only they’ve been brave enough to make theirs a little different. Rather than reward the players who are killing the game, they try to recognise professionals who epitomise the spirit of poker.
What does that mean?
Don’t ask me, but I know it’s been churning up some rare coins within the numismatics of the poker world since the award ceremony debuted in 2013. Fan vote determines who has the greater spirit, and the voting period lasted three months.
Here are the three winners.
Most Inspiring Player
The Team PokerStars Pro, Liv Boeree, beat out a stellar field that included Jeff Gross, Kenny Hallaert, John Hesp, Max Pescatori, Mikhail Semin, Ema Zajmovic, and Jaime Staples.
I’m a big Liv Boeree fan, but I was sure the award was going to go to John Hesp. The caravan salesman’s scintillating run during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event captivated a global audience.
But the fans voted for Boeree, and she has had an exceptional year.
The Global Poker League (GPL) London Royals Team Manager won her first WSOP bracelet when she joined forces with her beau Igor Kurganov to capture the $10,000 Tag Team Championship.
She made the final table of a tough €10k event at the PokerStars Championship Barcelona finishing eighth, and she shipped the top prize of $150,000 after leaving her debut performance at Poker After Dark with a victory.
But I believe Boeree won the award, not for her performances on the felt, but her stance of it. She is a great ambassador for poker, often appearing in the public eye championing poker’s cause. And as a board member of the non-profit Raising for Effective Giving (REG), she is also encouraging a hoard of poker players to donate money and time to help reduce suffering in the world.
Here are the previous winners.
2013 – Naoya Kihara
2014 – Shannon Shorr
2015 – Anatoly Filatov
2016 – Felipe Ramos
I have to be honest; I’m not the greatest poker writer in the world because I only knew two of the names on the short list of Kelly Winterhalter, Oriol Fernandez, Parker Talbot, Vivia Saliba, and Espen Uhlen Jørstad.
Fortunately, one of them was the winner.
Espen Uhlen Jørstad hails from Norway. He is an ambassador for Unibet and is primarily an online cash game player, but you will see him competing on the Unibet live circuit.
Jørstad was once a very out of shape youngster addicted to World of Warcraft until he joined the army, learned discipline, lost a lot of weight, and discovered that there was a little cutey hiding underneath the puppy fat.
An extremely introverted and reserved young man, Jørstad, can be found sipping on a carrot juice and involving himself in activities that make him very uncomfortable such as streaming live on Twitch and creating a VLOG.
His grit and determination to get in front of the camera despite his gut instincts telling him to run away is extremely inspiring and shows recreational players that you can come from nowhere and carve a career in the industry.
Previous winners of the award include:
2013 – Luca Moschitta
2014 – Dominik Panka
2015 – Charlie Carrel
2016 – Silje Nilsen
Of the five people nominated for this award (Barny Boatman, Padraig Parkinson, Mike Sexton, Marcel Luske, and Per Hildebrand), the one player I know the least about is Hildebrand.
I guess the PokerListings readers know him better than me.
The Swede joins Pierre Neuville, Thor Hansen, Humberto Brenes, and Konstantin Puchkov in poker’s museum. It’s been an excellent year for Hildebrand after the Swedish poker community lavished praise on him by inducting him into the 2017 Swedish Poker Hall of Fame.
Here are those previous winners:
2013 – Pierre Neuville
2014 – Thor Hansen
2015 – Humberto Brenes
2016 – Konstantin Puchkov
PokerListings will hand out the awards at the forthcoming 2017 Battle of Malta.
The event takes place in the Portamaso Casino in St Julians. The festival runs from Nov 1 through Nov 7, and the star of the show is a €550 buy-in €500k GTD Main Event. Last year, Berglund Robert defeated 1,813 entrants to take home the €160,000 first prize.
Gaelle Garcia Diaz will play host, and that in itself is worthy of the €550 entrant fee.