Demidov, ElkY prevail at Euro Poker Awards

Ivan Demidov

The annual European Poker Awards were held in Paris this past week, fitting in nicely just before the European Poker Tour returned to France and Deauville for the first time in several years.

The ceremony hands out several awards each year in categories to recognize not only players but also the backroom staff of the poker industry, as well as those who have come up with innovative ideas to help improve poker in all its forms.

Ivan Demidov picked up the Rookie of the Year award in what was arguably the toughest category of all. His feat? Making both Main Events of the year.

That put him ahead of some otherwise equally impressive candidates: Jesper Hougaard was the first man to win WSOP and WSOPE bracelets (on top of that, he won them both in the same year); and Stephen "Stevie444" Chidwick, who won an estimated 100 WSOP Main Event seats on PokerStars last year.

There was also the winner of the $5,000 Stud-8 event at the WSOP and the recent EPT in Barcelona, Sebastian Ruthenberg; Belgian's first-ever bracelet winner Davidi Kitai; Aussie Millions winner Alexander Kostritsyn; and some guy called Peter Eastgate, who just happens to be the youngest winner of the WSOP ever.

Certain players did seem to dominate the categories. Eastgate picked up Best Tournament Performance for winning the WSOP, ahead of Hougaard, Ruthenberg, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Irish Open winner Neil Channing, David Benyamine and Marty Smyth.

Bertrand Grospellier
ElkY earns European Player of the Year for 2008.

ElkY took home what was probably one of the most coveted titles of the night, beating compatriot Benyamine, Channing, Smyth and Germany's Andreas Krause to Player of the Year for his PokerStars Carribean Adventure win, which, combined with a WPT victory, put him on two legs of the so-called trifecta.

In the slightly oddly named "Europe's Leading Lady" category, the award went to Full Tilt pro and CAPT Baden winner Sandra Naujoks, who beat Isabelle Mercier, Annette Obrestad (last year's winner), EPT hostess Kara Scott and Ladies Event bracelet winner Svetlana Gromenkova.

The Casino Staff Member of the Year was Jonathan Raab, who is widely credited with the creation of the very successful GUKPT tour in England. On his watch, the tour brought about several improvements which have since been adopted by both the EPT and the WSOP in 2008.

The first of these is the introduction of player ID cards, which have been an absolute godsend for reporters of live poker, allowing them to be able to name every single player still in the event without disturbing said player during the tournament. The second was to get every dealer to do a chip count during each break, thus providing the entire media with accurate counts every couple of levels.

Raab won the award ahead of Thomas Kremser, Casino de Barcelona's Sylvie Berlanger and the host of Dusk Till Dawn, Simon "Aces" Trumper, as well as last year's winner, EPT media boss Madeline Harper.

Rob Yong, the owner of Dusk Till Dawn, took home the Rob Gardner Award for Innovation for his building of the new poker club in Nottingham, England. The popular club has had a very successful year including a few wildly popular festivals. None were more so than the Norwegian Poker Championships, which saw nearly 600 Norwegians descend on the club last spring and proceed to drink the bar dry within the space of a few hours.

Yong faced off a strong challenges from the aforementioned Jonathan Raab; the PokerStars team of Francine Watson, Conrad Brunner and Madeline Harper, who had been nominated for EPT Live, the live streaming service which accompanies many of the EPTs on the last couple of days; and also Gene Gioia, who created a brand new system for online card-deck shuffling based on the automatic shuffling of real cards.

Finally, the colorful Dutchman Marcel Luske was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his long service to poker, his singing and also of course his wearing his glasses upside-down.


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