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The 3rd Annual American Poker Awards ceremony was held on Friday and the best and brightest in the game and industry for 2016 were honored. Seventeen awards were given out at the ceremony, including the two GPI Player of the Year Awards.

There weren’t many surprises in this year’s ceremony as many of the awards went to the most deserving. Of course, there’s always going to be a couple awards that leave some scratching their heads. Even so, it was a great showcase of the game’s best and something players and fans can look forward to for years to come.

David Peters, Cate Hall and Jason Mercier Among Those Honored

A who’s who of poker was on hand Friday for the American Poker Awards ceremony. Twitter blew up with tweets from those in attendance looking to help celebrate with the winners.

David Peters was honored for winning GPI Player of the Year while Cate Hall took GPI Female Player of the Year. Jason Mercier was on hand and received two awards. In addition to receiving his GPI WSOP Player of the Year Award, he also won for Moment of the Year.

Dan Smith received the award for Charitable Initiative of the Year for his charity drive and Ari Engle took Tournament Performance of the Year for winning the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event.

In addition to the standard awards, there were special awards given. November Niner Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy took the PocketFives Legacy Award while Mori Eskandani was awarded the APA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Below is a full list of the winners:

  • GPI POY – David Peters
  • GPI Female POY – Cate Hall
  • GPI WSOP Player of the Year – Jason Mercier
  • Event of the Year – Super High Roller Bowl
  • Breakout Performance of the Year – Maurice Hawkins
  • Tournament Performance of the Year – Ari Engle
  • Moment of the Year – Jason Mercier’s WSOP Heater
  • Industry Person of the Year – Sean McCormack (Aria Director of Poker Operations)
  • Media Person of the Year – Joe Stapleton
  • Mid-Major Circuit of the Year – WSOP Circuit
  • Poker Media Content of the Year – Bob, Charlie and a Life Changing WSOP Main Event Journey (PocketFives – Lance Bradley)
  • Charitable Initiative of the Year – Dan Smith for his Charity Drive
  • Twitch Streamer of the Year – Jason Somerville
  • Poker Podcast of the Year – Poker Life Podcast with Joe Ingram
  • The Hendon Mob Award – John Holley
  • APA Lifetime Achievement Award – Mori Eskandani
  • APA Jury Prize – Matt Savage

The Most Deserving Won in Most Categories

Overall, the Jury did a great job in selecting this year’s winners. Those honored were definitely deserving.

Sean McCormack taking Industry Person of the Year was completely appropriate considering the work he’s done at ARIA and how the property has become the home of high stakes tournament action in the United States. The fact that the Super High Roller Bowl took Event of the Year is further testament to his work there.

Other winners were virtual no-brainers. We could have given Jason Somerville and Joe Ingram their trophies months ago for Twitch Streamer of the Year and Poker Podcast of the Year. It’s hard to argue against the WSOP Circuit being the top mid-major circuit.

Jason Mercier taking the moment of the year is also a no-brainer just based on the amount of headlines it received over the summer. Some might argue that the Benger-Kassouf got more media attention worldwide, but that attention was also extremely short-lived. Mercier was the talk of the WSOP and the only story that could trump Fedor Holz’s insane run in High Roller events in Vegas during the same period.

Media Person of the Year Only Real “Surprise”

Media Person of the Year was the one category I was quite surprised at the winner. My personal picks of Joe Giron and Steve Ruddock didn’t even make the official list of finalists. Instead, the four finalists were Lance Bradley, Sarah Herring, Joe Stapleton and David Tuchman.

Out of those four, I would have probably picked Tuchman first and Bradley second. Stapleton was dead last on my personal list. I suppose that many really enjoy his broadcast style, but it just isn’t for me. I do like how he acknowledged the others that fell short of the award and recognized how his award was more of a team effort and not solely on his merit.

Otherwise, there were no real “shockers” in the selections. The Media Content of the Year winner might be debated, but personally, I saw that as a two horse race between Lance Bradley’s piece and Jason Somerville’s Aussie Millions coverage.

Matt Showell over at PokerListings did a great piece on Stu Ungar and I’ve heard great things about Mike Sexton’s book, but there just didn’t seem to be enough buzz over them to warrant the win. I also wonder if Sexton’s book would have made the list had he not won his WPT title.

Some might also argue that it was a bit of a surprise that Mike Sexton didn’t get the nod for either Tournament Performance of the Year or Moment of the Year. I’m not saying that he was more deserving in either category, but our industry is huge on sentiment and Sexton’s win was the perfect type of sentimental win that our industry has enjoyed publicizing in the past.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.