PokerListings Most Inspiring Player 2015
Update: It's official! The 2015 Spirit of Poker Awards go to Humberto Brenes, Anatoly Filatov and Charlie Carrel! Congratulations to all of our winners!
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 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 2015 are below; vote for your pick on the right.
That Jacobson is more or less considered the “most deserving” WSOP Main Event winner in a long time (Greg Merson fans excluded) is impressive enough in its own right. That he donated over $250,000 of his $10m prize specifically to protect at-risk animals puts Jacobson in another realm of inspiration altogether. Health-conscious, hard-working, wealth-conscious and humble, Jacobson is a rare find in a poker pro; in a World Champ, he’s borderline engineered in a lab. A more fitting representative for Sweden’s bottomless talent pool and lasting legacy in the game would be hard to find.
Within the PokerListings team we’ve secretly dubbed Kitai “The Phil Ivey of Europe.” And that still doesn’t capture it quite right. Quite simply one of the best and most creative players in poker Kitai has gained a reputation for his eerie reads and spot-on hand analysis. A three-time WSOP bracelet winner he’s had 17 (!) cashes in international poker events since last summer. The Belgian pro has also made it one of his career goals to hit #1 in the Global Poker Index and we have no doubt he’ll get there sooner rather than later.
The former Last Woman Standing of the WSOP main event has become one of the most-liked players on the global poker circuit. The Team PokerStars pro has done more than any other player to popularize poker in the Iberian Peninsula. She’s a passionate runner and cat lover and shares her poker life with thousands of fans via her own personal blog. Like many female players she got her start in poker from a boyfriend; unlike most she’s turned it into her own stunning career – and one that keeps getting brighter with each impressive run.
How inspiring do you find re-shaping the poker path of an entire nation? One of the game’s most influential online poker players as “Intervention” Agarwal has literally crafted the next generation of Indian poker superstars under his own tutelage. Educated in the US but thriving from his hometown of Calcutta Agarwal is the first Team PokerStars pro from India but he’ll certainly not be the last. When WSOP Asia-Pacific is hosted in Bombay in 2025, it’ll be Agarwal’s image up on the banners.
Global poker nomad before he turned 19; soft-field tournament connoisseur; newest member of Team 888poker, 3-time WSOP bracelet winner. As November Niner Joe Cheong put it Dominik Nitsche is an “efficient poker machine” and truly one of the game’s best MTT minds (despite his own claims to the contrary). That he’s also one of its most approachable/light-hearted is icing on the cake. Maybe it’s time spent among the denizens of his adopted Edinburgh home but Nitsche has found the right balance of talent and temperament to make the game of poker seem like the Life of Riley. And that’s not easy to do.
One of the most colorful players on the European poker circuit the 27-year-old Muscovite is literally reshaping the face of Russian poker. With his spectacular wardrobe and occasional over-the-top demeanour he’s one of the most influential characters in one of poker’s biggest markets and was a leading light on the Russian team at the 2015 Global Poker Masters. On the felt he had 10 live cashes in the second half of 2014 alone including a win at the WPT High Roller in Cyprus.
Since coming out as poker’s first openly gay professional in 2012 Somerville’s poker game and personality have literally come into their own. A tireless worker Somerville put himself on the map as an ambassador for now-defunct Ultimate Poker and built the immensely popular RunItUp video/live stream goliath from scratch. Turning his online centrepiece into a sponsorship deal with PokerStars has simply taken things to the next level. He’s now the undisputed king of poker on Twitch.tv, exposing the game to millions of viewers in a completely new demographic.
Over a decade running with one of the most enjoyable nicknames in poker (who wouldn’t root for “The Italian Pirate?”) only scratches the surface of Pescatori’s importance in the Italian poker consciousness. Unfailingly consistent, top-level results are his trademark as shown again in 2015 by his third and fourth career WSOP bracelets – becoming the first of his countrymen to do so. Given Italy’s growing prowess as a poker nation (see Team Italy’s triumph at the first-ever Global Poker Masters) and a new generation of Italian stars in the making, a gigantic portion of that credit goes to Pescatori.