The European Poker Awards

So over the weekend me and the missus were in Paris for the European Poker Awards. Last year I noticed that an ‘Online Player of the Year’ award was missing from the previous 8 events and put together a (pretty impressive imo) proposal about why there should be one and how easy it would be to gather the information to judge it. They liked it so much they decided to do it and also asked me to be a judge, which meant an all expenses paid weekend for me and my girlfriend in Paris on Valentines weekend.

Paris is lovely and I was delighted to see that one National stereotype, that the French are rude, was scuppered. They all were lovely, very friendly, hospitable and fun, the service we received and treatment we got was superb. Like a tit I tried my hand at some of the lingo and got very overconfident when I remembered what ‘merci’ and ‘s’il vous plait’ meant, which led me into a DelBoy-esque binge of trying use as much French as possible and before I knew it, I was saying ‘Bonjour’ to say ‘thank you’, ‘good bye’ and ‘one beer and a white wine please’.

When we got round to the judging I found that I was pretty much the only person truly representative of online poker on the panel, as the awards previously had very much been a live poker centric affair. I will be honest and say that I was concerned that the rest of the panel would either not understand, not care or not appreciate the online poker element that I had introduced to the awards, but I was wrong. All in all I think the judging process was very logical, solid and 'my award' was treated with respect.

It was a blind vote, which meant we didn’t know until the awards ceremony who had won.

Vitaly Lunkin (Russia)
Antoine Saout (France)
Jeff Lisandro (Italy/Australia)
Patrick Antonius (Finland)
Edgar Stuchly (Austria)
Eddie Hearn and the Matchroom Sport Team (England)
Bruno Fitoussi (France)

I agreed with all the awards, in fact most of them were who I voted for. The only one I didnt vote for was Edgar Stunchly but it was very close and I almost did, but I went with Simon Trumper on that one. I am glad that Patrik Antonius won 'my award' and also very pleased that Eddie Hearn and Matchroom won their gong, because I was one of the guys that intially put their name forward as a potential nominee. Its nice when people agree with you.

There was a lot of huff on the forums that James Akenhead and JP Kelly were not even nominated for Player of the Year, when there is no doubt in previous years they would have probably won it. Its tough but I understand it, the nominees were decided just before James won the Poker Million (No idea why that is and that itself doesn't make much sense) and being as Antoine Saout made both the WSOP/WSOPE finals too and placed further in both, I understood why he would get the nod over James.

I think JP Kelly has more reason for complaint, bagging a WSOP and WSOPE bracelet. But compared to the other nominees he had cashed for decidely less and also Jeff Lisandro had won three that year, which is a (joint) WSOP record. Now there was a bit of heat over Jeff being considered European but he insists he was born in and considers himself Italian, therefore it stood. Apparantly he also cant speak that good Italian which made me think of this:

The award ceremony was brilliant fun. We had Sandra Naujoks at our table (Very pretty, didn't seem very cheery, didnt say a word, bless her.) and thankfully she won her award otherwise I would have felt guilty for the rest of the night (Not that her mood seem to change that much after winning it). It was a very lavish affair and they were pouring Moet like it was tap water (Sounds like a brag but I would have killed for a John Smiths). And what poker night out would be complete without the Devilfish press ganging the band into letting him sing and make a proper twat of himself?

Great night though, and delightfully free of bad beat stories which meant, for the first time perhaps, my girlfriend got to go to a poker event without being bored shitless. I like to think I have had a big and positive influence on the European Poker Awards and I hope they invite me back next year.

Whoever said Paris on Valentines Weekend was romantic has clearly never been, because it was freezing all weekend and actually pretty unpleasant to walk around for that reason. An otherwise great weekend was ruined by one of the worst meals of my life on our final night. We saw what looked like a quaint, romantic little place that looked very French and decided to end the weekend there. It was very cosy and intimate inside and we ordered something off the menu, no idea what as it was all in French, and the second we ordered everything changed. The room went dark, lights started flashing and music started pumping, somehow this cute little Restaurant had suddenly become a karaoke bar.

So we had to sit eating what I can only describe as 'French Poo on a Plate' in a pumping nightspot, as we listened to the French butcher some Stevie Wonder classics in their native tongue. Our meal looked like it had been prepared at Little Chef, tasted much worse and cost me €75 for the pleasure. I had hoped that the extortionate bill would be my parting memory but unfortunately a week later and I am still making a mad dash to the toilet every 20 minutes, I have been ill for a week.

Its a shame that we have essentially four great days and that meal will always be the thing we remember, but hopefully next year we can erase that memory.

Other than that, just been very busy with work and finding no time to play. The book is very hard work but its worth it, I think I have luckboxed my way into a classic there. Its probably better to refer to it as a Poker Performance book than a Poker Psychology book, either way I can safely say there is nothing out there like it on the market and I hope we can get it finished before the WSOP.

Over at Pokernews we have loads going on. We have just finished a very successful week as the presenting sponsor of the PartyPoker Premier League and its very exciting to think that our branding will be all over Channel 4 in a few months time when that's broadcast. We also have a few new UK poker partners about to be announced and this week had a cracking interview with Julian Thew, amongst others.

OK gotta go, all my mates are having babies and the latest one popped out today.


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