January 19 2015, by Eric Danis

GPI American Awards: Top tournament performances for your consideration

In my latest GPI American Poker Awards post, I take a look at possible candidates for the Tournament Performance of the Year by an American or Canadian player this past season on the circuit. The list takes us to Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Florida and Australia!

Note: These are not official nominees for the category. Members of the Nomination Panel have until February 1st, 2015 to place their votes. This is simply a compiled list of events that may merit consideration when the Nomination Panel members make their selections.

Although they are a few of my suggestions, there are plenty of other valuable candidates from Canada and the United States that do deserve this honor, so I urge all members on the Nomination Panel to do their homework before making their selections!


Borgata Hotel, Casino & Span, Atlantic City NJ | April 2014 | $15,000 buy-in | 328 players | $4,892,254 prize pool

Keven Stammen GPIHeading into 2014, you knew it was just a matter of time before Keven Stammen‘s (GPI#27) first major win on the live tournament circuit. He had enjoyed very successful stretches in the past and started 2014 off strong, leading the GPI Player of the Year race by spring time.

Stammen entered the WPT World Championship at Borgata as a marked man, but that didn’t stop, in fact, nothing would stop the Ohio man as he would leave Atlantic City a millionaire, becoming the 12th World Champion in the WPT’s history.

Earning the win would not be easy, however. A heads-up battle with another WPT standout, Byron Kaverman (GPI#45) would be the final land mine he would need to avoid at a final table that included WPT Caribbean winner Tony Dunst (GPI#719), Ryan D’Angelo (GPI#332) and Curt Kohlberg (GPI#420).

Others cashing in the event were former major event winners: Tony Gregg, Brock Parker, Eric Afriat, Bobby Oboodi, Jeff Madsen, Scott Seiver, Loni Harwood and Athanasios Polychronopoulos.


Crown Casino, Melbourne AUS | February 2014 | $10,600 buy-in | 668 players | $5,843,912 prize pool

Ami Barer (The Hendon Mob)If you strictly follow the live tournament circuit, you may not have known the name Ami Barer (GPI#7) prior to the 2014 poker season. That all changed early in the year when Barer defeated a final table filled with North Americans in the Main Event at the Aussie Millions in Melbourne.

Barer and fellow countryman Canadian Sorel Mizzi (GPI#6), who were both named to Canada’s squad at the upcoming Global Poker Masters, duked it out heads-up with Barer earning the big win as each player collected over $1M Australian dollars.

Former WSOP November Niner Jacob Balsiger (GPI#863) and fellow Americans Darren Rabinowitz (GPI#117) and Scott Seiver (GPI#25) would also make the final table Down Under.

GPI Player of the Decade Top 9 members Erik Seidel and John Juanda, Aussie National Poker Player of the Year Jeff Rossiter, and star pros Jason Mercier, Craig McCorkell, Jonathan Duhamel, Liv Boeree and Antonio Esfandiari all collected Top 50 finishes in the event.


Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas NV | May 2014 | $25,000 buy-in | 131 players | $3,111,250 prize pool

Vanessa Selbst GPIAll eyes were on Vanessa Selbst (GPI#103) heading into the 45th World Series of Poker. Selbst was the talk of the town, she was many people’s pick to win a bracelet at the WSOP and was on the cover of several publications, she was trending … and she would not disappoint! In the very first open event of the Series, Selbst would earn her third WSOP gold bracelet in the $25K Mixed Max event, surviving the 131 player field composed mostly of star poker pros.

The win would not come easy for Selbst as she was short or having to fight an uphill battle on many occasions in order to get back into tournament contention, including during the heads-up portions of the tournament. She would earn the big win defeating Jason Mo (GPI#xx) in the final heads-up battle and take home $871,148 for her efforts.

Former November Niners JC Tran and Matt Giannetti, Ryan Fee, WPT Season XIII PoY front-runner Darren Elias, Nick Schulman, Calvin Anderson and Noah Schwartz were just a few other notables to score points in the event.

The win allowed Selbst to move to #1 on the GPI World Poker Rankings for the very first time just a few weeks later; becoming the very first woman to do so.


Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas NV | May/June 2014 | $1,500 buy-in | 7,977 players | $10,768,950 prize pool

Jonathan Dimmig (WSOP)On the other end of the WSOP spectrum, Jonathan Demmig (GPI#3081) became the people’s champ, outlasting an astounding 7,977-player field on way to a career win as the WSOP presented the Millionaire Maker event for the second time. The event, which featured a $10M prize pool was filled with amateurs hoping to earn over 800-times their investment … but don’t fool yourselves, the roster of players also including a ton of the game’s best, also hoping to pickup that $1M first prize.

The final table would include proven circuit veterans Andrew Teng (GPI#1429), Maurice Hawkins (GPI#132) and the man who would eventually take down EPT Prague later in the year, Stephen Graner (GPI#209) … more on Graner later.

Bart Lybaert, Sean Prendiville, Curt Kohlberg, Brian Yoon, Ilkin Savalan Amirov and former November Niner John Racener all earned Top 50 finishes in the event.

Back to Dimmig for a second, the win was the first of his career. Prior the Millionaire Maker, his biggest cash was a $11,106 pickup in a side event at WSOP Circuit San Diego in 2011.


Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood FL | August 2014 | $5,300 buy-in | 1,499 players | $10,000,000 prize pool

Daniel Colman GPIDaniel Colman (GPI#9) had himself an amazing 2014 poker season. Most will remember the One Drop victory, or the numerous other High Roller titles he collected along the way. But it’s the fact that he was also able to pull off the win at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open – a $5,300 buy-in event with 1,499 entries that makes the year extra special. The win proved that Colman could not only win the high buy-in events, but he could also survive big fields and come out on top.

The win is even more special when you take a look at the quality of the opposition at the final table. Colman got the best of Mike Leah (GPI#40), who also enjoyed tons of success on the circuit in 2014, heads-up for the $1,446,710 top prize. WPT Champions Club member Shawn Cunix (GPI#564), John Dolan (GPI#116) and Joe Kuether (GPI#43) were three other notables at that final table.

Blake Bohn, Curt Kohlberg (who makes a third appearance in this article!), former November Niners Russell Thomas and Amir Lehavot, WPT winner Jared Jaffee, Tyler Reiman and Sergey Rybachenko all finished in the Top 30.


Hilton Prague Hotel, Prague CZE | December 2014 | €5,300 buy-in | 1,107 players | $1,200,936 prize pool

Stephen Graner (European Poker Tour)Stephen Graner (GPI#209) is a late entry on this list. Graner won one of the final tournaments of the season, taking down EPT Prague for the biggest win of his career on the live tournament circuit. With the focus squarely on David Kitai (GPI#3) – who was making a deep run in a last-second attempt to takeover the GPI Player of the Year race – and Vanessa Selbst (GPI#103), who was aiming for another major title to close 2014, Graner was able to quietly make his way to the top of the podium, collecting €969,000 with the victory, the 5th of his career.

Joining Graner at the final table was former EPT Deauville winner Remi Castaignon (GPI#656), who was hoping to become the second player to win twice on the EPT, but Graner was able to survive the Frenchman’s charge.

Andras Nemeth, Sam Grafton, Tamer Kamel, Thomas Butzhammer, Artem Metalidi, Balazs Botond and Andy Seth all collected Top 30 finishes at EPT Prague.


The 2014 GPI American Poker Awards will take place on February 27th, 2015 at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Over 130 poker industry members have received their ballots and will have until February 1st to submit their votes for all categories for the inaugural GPI American Poker Awards. If you are a poker industry member and have not received your voting instructions via e-mail – or should you have any questions – please reach out to us at [email protected]



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About the author

Eric Danis’ passion for poker came at a very early age but it’s when writing about and covering the game he loves that Danis is most in his element. Danis is better known for creating www.PTPRpoker.com where he spent a few years covering poker events. Danis is also known for having worked on the poker shows Poker Eh! and The Pulse on the Quad Jacks Network.