2009 is all but over and that can mean only one thing, end of year awards.
The last 12 months saw some crazy stuff happen in the poker world. $500/$1,000 exploded online, leading to the biggest sessions, and the biggest pots, in history.
2009 gave us the youngest ever Main Event Champion in Joe Cada.
We also saw some familiar faces return to the big game as well as a certain fish that shall remain nameless. (cough … he just went to space … cough)
So, without further delay, the awards.
If we can keep the speeches short and avoid any Kanye-esque interruptions we should be done before the sun comes up.
Comeback Player of the Year: Brian Townsend
Without a doubt Brian Townsend was the comeback player of 2009.
Once 2+2's prodigal son Brian Townsend had a rough 2008. After a huge downswing both live and online the railtards were saying that Townsend had lost it.
With a depleted bankroll Townsend had too much pride to let his Full Tilt Red Pro account be seen playing lower than the highest stakes online. But he needed to rebuild so he started playing under a different name.
He was found out in August 2008 and they stripped his redname for six months. Most thought that would be the end of Townsend in the high-stakes games.
But in 2009 Townsend replenished his roll, crushing the $10/$20 and $25/$50 games and by the end of the year was once again seen playing the biggest games online. This time it was the bigger-than-ever $500/$1,000 limits.
And he's been winning. Townsend proved all the haters wrong and, according to his blog, is booking his best year ever, which is saying quite a bit coming from a guy who absolutely crushed during the golden era of online poker.
Breakout Player of the Year: Isildur1
It wasn't until late in 2009 that Isildur1 burst on the scene and challenged everything that we know about who's the best online poker player in the world.
In just a month Isildur1 showed up on Full Tilt Poker and immediately started playing, and beating, the best Full Tilt had to offer.
In November every eye in the poker world was glued to this alleged 19-year-old Swede. Night in and night out he engaged in epic, 24-hour long battles with the world's best.
One night it was Phil Ivey, the next Patrik Antonious. Seemingly every day it was durrr. Occasionally, and amazingly, it was all three.
Never before had anyone had the guts to play those three players heads-up, let alone all at the same time. It was absolutely unheard of.
Thus far December has been more than swingy for Isildur1. But with the world's best admitting that Isildur1 is no fish we predict he’ll be back in action again in 2010.
Best 2009 WSOP Performance: Phil Ivey
2009 at the WSOP was the year of the multi-bracelet winner with four players winning two or more.
Any other year winning two bracelets would put you out in front of the Player of the Year race. In 2009 it took so much more.
In the end the POY award went to Jeff Lisandro and his three bracelets victories. In our opinion though, Phil Ivey did him one better.
Shipping two bracelets and then topping it off by making the November Nine, Ivey showed the world yet again why he’s the best.
Sorry Lisandro, any other year this award would be yours.
Sickest Online Hand of the Year: Antonius vs. Isildur1 for $1,356,946
On Full Tilt Poker Patrik Antonious and Isildur1 played a staggering $1,356,946 pot in PLO, the biggest in the history of online poker.
A quick re-cap of the action:
The hand starts out with effective stacks of $678,473. With the stakes at $500/$1,000 Isildur1 raises to $2,500 with 6♦ 9♠ 7♦ 8♥.
Holding A♥ K♥ K♠ 3♠, Antonious re-raises to $8,000. Isildur1 fourbets to $24,000 and Antonius puts in one more raise to $72,000. Isildur1 finally just calls and the flop comes 4♠ 5♣ 2♥.
Antonius bets $91,000 and Isildur1 raises to $435,000. Antonius raises enough to put Isildur1 all-in and Isildur1 calls.
The tun 5♥ misses Isildur1's numerous outs and the river bricks off the 9♣.
Antonius' wheel holds for the $1,356,946 pot and the title of largest pot ever played online.
Sickest Televised Hand of the Year: Durrrr Bluffs Eastgate and Greenstein
The hand that had everyone talking this year came from High Stakes Poker Season 5.
Tom “durrrr” Dwan runs up a massive bluff in a multi-way pot successfully getting Barry Greenstein to fold aces and Peter Eastgate to fold three of a kind.
The hand starts with Greenstein raising to $2,500 at $400/$800 UTG with the A♥ A♣. The entire table calls behind him and the flop comes 2♣ T♦ 2♠.
Eastgate and Doyle both check and Barry c-bets $10,000 into just over $20,000. durrrr raises to $37,300 using the ten in his Q♣ T♣ as a top set blocker and everyone folds to Peter Eastgate who was in the small blind.
Eastgate makes the call with three of a kind, holding 4♥ 2♣, and Greenstein calls as well.
The turn comes 7♦ and Eastgate and Greenstein check to durrrr and he obliges by betting $104,200.
Eastgate tanks before folding and, after a bit of though, so too does Greenstein make a tough fold.
Durrrr picks up the $133,500 pot and sickest televised hand of the year honors.
Biggest Name in Poker: Phil Ivey
Without a doubt Phil Ivey was the biggest name in the poker world in 2009. He was everywhere, it didn't matter what he did the poker world was glued to it.
If there were poker paparazzi Phil Ivey would have a tough time grocery shopping, if Ivey actually did his own grocery shopping.
The poker public's fascination with Phil Ivey was born long ago but it climbed to new heights with PokerRoad.com's Life of Ivey.
People loved the fly-on-the-wall look into the life of the biggest poker player in the world.
It was incredible, he gambled for more money in a single day then the rest of us will likely make in decades. He took jets to the dentist, everywhere he went he was royalty and we were lucky enough to watch it.
Phil Ivey didn't stop there, however. He decided to have one of the best World Series ever and shipped two bracelets and an untold amount of money in bracelet bets.
And, to top it all off, he went on a sick run and final tabled the Main Event.
Again, the poker public was glued. He got the cover of ESPN magazine and E:60 did their own “Life of Ivey” following him around the world on a dice tour
People can talk about durrrr and isildur1 all they want but they will never compare to Phil Ivey. He seems more than human and is hands down the biggest poker name of 2009.
Online Player of the Year: nanonoko
Defining what makes the best online player of the year is tricky. It can't just be profits.
If it were, then it would change every week due to the swings associated with nosebleed poker.
The $500/$1,000 games only run so often and though the “best” poker players in the world play in those games it's impossible to rank who is better than who because the entire year's sample size is too small and there is so much variance.
Even the best player in the world could conceivably have a $3,000,000 downswing in a week. For these reasons I decided to go another route.
The best online poker player IMO is one that's made a killing this year, but done it over a massive sample size. They didn't make their money in a week-long heater. They made it with a year long, epic, every day grind.
Which is why I am giving the Online Player of The Year award to nanonoko.
The guy played 2,462,113 hands this year and booked over $1 million in winnings and the sickest part is that 90% of his hands are at $5/$10 and below! He crushes those games day in day out and manages to ship a $1,000,000+ year.
It's incredible and he'll keep that. He's not going to bust it taking a shot at durrrr et all. It's money he's earned as a true grinder.
And for that he’s more than deserving of this award.
Best Overall Tournament Player of the Year: Yvgeniy Timoshenko
Competition was tight for this award and a short list included Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier, PokerListings blogger Jason Mercier, 2x WPT winner Cornel Cimpan, and Yevgeniy Timoshenko.
Though all four of the aforementioned had incredible years the best overall tournament player goes to Yevginy Timoshenko.
Timoshenko's biggest win of the year was an amazing $2.1 million at the $25,000 WPT Bellagio Five Star Poker Classic.
Showing incredible versatility Timoshenko also went ahead and shipped the 2009 PokerStars WCOOP Main Event online as well pocketing $1.7 million in the process.
It was a tough decision but banking almost $4 million and crushing two of the biggest tournaments of the year both online and live gave Timoshenko the slight edge in this category and ultimately the award.
Congratulations to all the winners! If you apply yourself and really, really try, your name might be on this list at the end of 2010.