The one thing poker players like doing more than anything else is playing poker. The second thing they like doing is heading to a swanky cafe/restaurant overlooking Monte Carlo bay, drinking champagne out of delicate glass flutes and listening to the results of the EPT8 Awards, punctuated by the comedy stylings of TV’s Joe Stapleton. Who wouldn’t.
It turns out that this week those poker players have been in luck. After one of the most demanding and rewarding festivals of poker the world has ever seen, tonight everyone could cut loose at Cafe Llorca, in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, for the latest EPT party.
But this was not just any old EPT party. It was the last one of the tournament year, where those awards would also been handed out to some of the very best players of a scintillating season.
Stapleton took to the stage in inimitable style: beer in one hand, five o’clock shadow on his chin and a list of gags at hand. “What do Daniel Negreanu and an emergency room have in common?” he asked. “Neither of them ever closes.”
The biggest laugh was from Negreanu himself, fresh from losing heads up in the €25,000 High Roller event, and now finding needles stabbed into his wounds. But Negreanu seemed well equipped to cope with the disappointment, sitting in the VIP seats alongside fellow Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree and posing for pictures with anyone who just happened to be passing.
Stapleton pressed on, awarding the first two trophies of the night to the Welsh player Roberto Romanello. Romanello won both the EPT Achievement of the Year and the Player’s Choice award, popular among commentators and peers alike.
From there, we celebrated the success of Melanie Weisner (Heads Up Player of the Year), Salvatore Bonavena (Mixed Game Player of the Year) and Khiem Nguyen (Omaha Player of the Year) before Pierre Neuville swaggered onto stage in a white-shirt-white-shoes-white-suit combo not seen since Thomas Wolfe stopped playing on the EPT.
“What did I win?” asked Neuville, apparently unaware that the self-styled Serial PokerStars Qualifier was now PokerStars Qualifier of the Year. Expect the embroiderers of Belgium to be rubbing their needles together with glee, and putting up prices for bespoke garment decoration.
Lebanon won Country of the Year, before we made it to the big one: EPT Player of the Year. That meant an appearance on stage of the EPT Director Edgar Stuchly, who told the gathering masses that Ondrej Vinklarek had beaten the likes of Romanello, Martin Finger, Steve O’Dwyer and Jonathan Duhamel to the top prize.
Vinklarek came to accept his prize, pose for the camera, and just like that we were done.
A full list of nominees and winners is below. Many of them were cut down from much longer lists, the full details of which will be making its way to the EPT Facebook page.
As you read this, the majority of this year’s fine talents are still demonstrating their abilities at the free bar at Cafe Llorca. Soon after, they will be stumbling to their chauffeur-driven limos and yachts.
That’s the end of another wonderful EPT season. Sail away.
EPT ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR
(Voted for by the media)
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
OMAHA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jose “Nacho” Barbero
MIXED GAME PLAYER OF THE YEAR
HEADS UP PLAYER OF THE YEAR
ONLINE QUALIFIER OF THE YEAR
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Here’s the video team’s take on events: