PokerListings Most Inspiring Player 2014
To be nominated for our signature PokerListings Most Inspiring Player Award you've got to have something pretty special going for you.
It's helps to be at the peak of your game, with the results to match, but being "inspiring" at the poker tables means a lot more than just binking a few big tournament scores.
In short: Watching you play poker makes other people want to play poker.
You're innovative (or even groundbreaking) in your game play. Your personality makes sitting at a poker table with you for a few hours a joy.
You bring a sense of gratitude and light-heartedness whenever you play.
And, maybe most importantly, you don't stop thinking about, talking about and sharing the game of poker with those around you.
The poker world needs you to survive and thrive, and we're all the better for your presence at the tables. Our eight inspiration-evoking nominees for Most Inspiring Player in 2014:
UPDATE: Public voting has ended. The PokerListings editorial team will now deliberate on the Top 3 votegetters and select the winners of this year’s Spirit of Poker Awards. The winners will be presented here on PokerListings on September 15.
Who better to start our inspiring nominees off with than a guy who outranked even Phil Ivey on the GPI's Player of the Decade list? Shorr has literally grown up on the poker circuit, transforming from a stereotypical "bluff4rent" college kid into one of the most courteous and respectful players you'll ever share a table with. Two WSOPE final tables and a runner-up at WPT Lucky Hearts this year showed he's better than ever at the felt, and you'd be hard pressed to find a player who appreciates every opportunity the poker world has given him more than Shorr.
Randy "nanonoko" Lew
Multi-tabling pioneer and Guiness World Record holder for most hands played in eight hours while making a profit. Fun-loving social media addict who shares his poker journeys via blog and Go Pro video with his scores of fans. And, in 2014, just the fourth person ever to cross the 10 million VPP mark on PokerStars. Just think about that number a bit. Video gaming's loss is undoubtedly poker's gain and Lew inspires a legion of button clickers every time he fires up another 24+ tables.
Vicky Coren Mitchell
To poker fans/TV watchers in the UK, Vicky Coren Mitchell doesn't need introduction. She might not need one anywhere else in the world now either after her win at EPT San Remo in April made her the first-ever two-time winner on the EPT. An inspiration to "casual" players everywhere the fact Coren pulled off her amazing feat while maintaining a half-dozen other legit careers is, well, jaw-dropping. You won't find anyone who explains the game to the mainstream press more joyfully or eloquently than her, either.
For a guy who's "broke" all the time, Jean-Robert Bellande sure has a nice life going for him. A central player in the invite-only high-stakes cash games in Vegas - primarily for his social networking skills - Bellande has played the role of loveable loser for years but the truth might be that he has us all snowed. A big score at a high-stakes cash game earlier this year pushed him over the top to a buy-in for this summer's $1m Big One for One Drop - the richest poker tournament of all time. It's hard to find anything more inspiring than that -- if JRB can drum up a $1m buy-in one day, why can't we?
What's more inspiring than one of the best high-stakes poker players in the world who sees his immense skill as a way to make a greater contribution to the world at large? The German high-roller specialist has almost $10m in live event winnings - a large portion of which he's given away to deserving charities as part of his commitment to the principles of Effective Altruism. Gruissem has inspired numerous other players to follow in his charitable footsteps, as well, redistributing even more wealth to people in need around the world.
The young Italian has six live cashes this year - all of them final tables, three of them six-figure scores (one almost $500k at the PCA High Roller) and two of them tournament wins (both at the Aussie Millions). He finished up an immensely tough 2014 SCOOP by taking the $2,100 Turbo NL title (on one buy-in) for $376k and rolls in a circle of friends that includes Benny Spindler and Ole Schemion - players that are literally changing the way people think about poker strategy.
With grinding pals like PokerStars pro Angel Guillen and Matias "festivuss" Gabrenja, Colombian Mayu Roca already runs in pretty elite poker circles. All that's left now is the worldwide recognition. Roca has killed it online for years ($3m+) under the screen name "marroca5" and crushed the 2014 SCOOP, finishing third on the High-Stakes leaderboard and hitting four final tables. The 27-year-old was already Colombia's all-time live money leader before adding $579k with a fourth-place finish at this year's EPT Grand Final main event.
Most of North America will be unfamiliar with Manuel Bevand but it's hard to imagine the French poker scene without him. An essential presence on the Club Poker forum (11,000 posts) Bevand continually offers up encouragement and positivity for his fellow players via personal blogs and videos that share his poker knowledge and passion. A self-described "self-improvement" addict, Bevand takes criticism with an open mind and relentless spirit and the result is an affable, approachable and humble "man of honor" who draws the best from those around him.