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Those are the two words I would use to sum up the American Poker Conference (APC) and the American Poker Awards (APA) that took place this past Friday – Check out our recap of the event here.

The APC and the APA’s are the brainchild of Zokay Entertainment (Global Poker Index, Hendon Mob, and other brands) CEO Alex Dreyfus, and part of his grand vision to “Sportify” poker. The conference and award ceremony was the culmination of several years of determination and hard work, and while I’m not sure if poker was Sportified this past Friday, I’m certain the game’s image was helped and the poker world got a glimpse of what was possible if they present a united front.



The tweets and the pictures coming out of Beverly Hills had me wishing I was there (unfortunately, real life got in the way and caused me to miss the event) as it seemed like an informative and exciting day of poker talk, with the best and brightest from every corner of the poker world in attendance.

The packed and truly diverse house was not only a sign of the day’s successes, it was also a nod to the genius of Alex Dreyfus, the man behind the American Poker Conference and the American Poker Awards. Dreyfus managed to do what conferences like Global Gaming Expo (G2E) and high-profile events like the World Series of Poker have never managed to accomplish, bring the ENTIRE industry together.

The American Poker Awards (and to a lesser extent the APC) created a buzz throughout the entire poker community. From poker players to the poker media to poker industry types, Twitter feeds were alight with APA/APC news on Friday evening, and this is something that rarely happens in the poker world.






Quite frankly, the reason for this buzz and excitement was Dreyfus.


Dreyfus cast a wide net

The APC featured several panels that touched on a number of topics, and therefore needed representatives from all parts of the poker world. The APC was not a conference about online gambling legislation, or industry related issues, or ways to improve live tournaments, or how to bring more casual players into the mix. The APC’s was a hodgepodge of all these ideas.

The APA categories were also wide ranging, with awards in categories from poker media and content, to poker industry and innovation, to individual player and lifetime achievements.

The APA’s weren’t focused on players, with a few token awards going to industry and media types. The APA’s were a celebration of all parts of the poker industry, and seemed to treat everyone, players, media, and industry as peers, as equals.

This mixture insured that the biggest name players, the most important representatives from the poker industry, and virtually all of the poker media outlets would be in attendance.

You’d be hard pressed to find a poker event that was capable of assembling people from every corner of the poker industry, including fierce rivals for a fun event where everyone was forced to interact and where everyone got along.

Poker players don’t really care about G2E and industry types don’t rush to to Vegas for the WSOP. But the APA/APC banquet appealed to everyone.

It was Dreyfus’s willingness to cast such a wide net (hosting a poker conference that attracts industry types and iGaming media, and an awards banquet would draw players and the attention of the more mainstream poker media) that piqued everyone’s interest and made the day a rousing success.


Brought the industry together

Form the pictures of WPT President Adam Pliska and EPT President Edgar Stuchley together, to a panel discussion with some of the biggest rivals in the industry sharing ideas, the APC and the APA’s allowed the usually secretive and cloistered industry to set aside its differences and see what Dreyfus’s vision of poker would look like – Individual companies who are fiercely competitive, but also willing to work together for the greater good.


An honest discussion was had

The tone at the APC, and winners of APA’s, tells you everything you need to know about where the 60+ person nomination panel and the smaller eight-person jury want the industry to go: Fun and innovative.

This was the theme of the day.

While the entire industry isn’t in lockstep agreement on this issue, and there isn’t anything approaching a consensus on how to achieve it, the overwhelming majority of panelists were of the mind that poker has lost its way in recent years and in order to right itself the entire industry will have to get on the same page.

Steve Ruddock

Steve is veteran of the the poker industry, first as a player and now as a writer focusing mainly on the regulated U.S. markets and the politics of poker. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveRuddock and at Google+.