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PokerListings Living Legend Award 2016
Update: It's official! The 2016 winners of the PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards are set. And they are:
- Most Inspiring Player: Felipe "Mojave" Ramos
- Rising Star: Silje Nilsen
- Living Legend: Konstantin Puchkov
A big thank you to all who voted and congratulations on our very worthy winners! We hope to see all of you at the 2016 Battle of Malta!
Originally called the "This is 50+" Award we renamed it the "Living Legend" Award in 2013, which couldn't possibly be a more fitting moniker for our past winners including November Niner Pierre Neuville, Thor Hansen and Humberto Brenes
For example the Godfather of Norwegian Poker, as Hansen is known, has not only survived a 35-year poker career among the greats of the game he's also survived terminal cancer. As his doctors told him, "I'm not made of blood and flesh. I'm made of steel."
Neuville not only swept to our inaugural award but went on to become the oldest player ever to make the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event. Brenes has simply altered the course of poker for all of Latin America.
Our five nominees for the 2016 Spirit of Poker Living Legend award are equally befitting of hyperbolic accolades. All are poker players over the age of 50 who not only compete with the best young guns in game today on a daily basis, they often come out ahead.
Sharp of mind and spirit they repeatedly show us that game of poker doesn't have to pass you by as you get older In fact you might even find yourself getting better at the game - and booking the results to prove it - well into your golden years.
Back to the PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards main page here.
Barny Boatman - (England)
It doesn’t get any more “core” in poker than being one of the original members of the Hendon Mob. The definitive “crew” that set the gold standard for UK poker on iconic poker television shows like Late Night Poker and beyond, Boatman could easily hang up his chip protector and be an instant inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Instead, he still picks his spots and shows he’s not outmatched among the new generation of math whizzes. Even with cashes dating all the way back to 1998, a third at the WSOP last year and his second career gold bracelet at the 2015 WSOPE feel like just the beginning of even more to come.
John Gale - (England)
Speaking of iconic figures in the pantheon of UK poker, John Gale has more than cemented his legacy in the poker history books – and not just once, but twice. One of the first winners of the PCA main event back in 2005, Gale carried that momentum all the way into the 2006 WSOP when he won his first career bracelet. After a steady string of scores over the next six years Gale was forced to take a hiatus in 2012 for over three years with multiple surgeries to remove a brain tumor.
At age 61 he returned to the World Series of Poker and knocked off his second career bracelet in a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo event. If that doesn’t show that the 62 year old can hang with the young vanguard of poker phenoms these days, we don’t know what does. If you need a topper to figure out why Gale is a textbook nominee for our Spirit of Poker Living Legend award, how about his nickname: Gentleman John.
Donnacha O’Dea - (Ireland)
Irish poker legend Donnacha O’Dea probably made his biggest news last year by being on the end of one of the more talked about and rightfully scorned slow rolls of the year. Sadly, his impressive fifth-place finish in the Irish Poker Open in 2015 may have been overshadowed because of it but, make no mistake, O’Dea still has a ton of game.
First, though, a few things to remember about the man they call “The Don:” He made the WSOP Main Event final table twice, in 1983 and 1991. He beat Johnny Chan heads-up in 1998 to win a WSOP bracelet. He beat the Devilfish in 2004 to win the Poker Million. And a more gracious and humble player at the table would be difficult to find.
You don’t get a nickname like “The Don” without earning it, right? With or without the Spirit of Poker Award, O’Dea is a Living Poker Legend any way you parse it.
Jan Bendik - (Slovakia)
Jan Bendik had three final tables in European Poker Tour main events prior to making the final eight at this year’s EPT Grand Final. So how did he go out and top himself? Just by going on to win the whole thing – the biggest EPT Grand Final in history no less – and claiming €961,800. One of our original nominees for this award back in 2012 we’ve been biding our time since, looking for another excuse to recognize just how bad-ass Bendik is at the felt.
The EPT win was more than enough. #1 on Slovakia’s all-time money list, Bendik got there with a lot of class and style and the EPT couldn’t have handpicked a better champion to wrap another grand season in style.
Konstantin Puchkov - (Russia)
Konstantin Puchkov has been nominated for our Spirit of Poker Living Legend award every year since its inception in 2012. Losing out in consecutive to years to Pierre Neuville, Thor Hansen and Humberto Brenes is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. When we looked at our nominees again this year we couldn’t find a single reason to leave him off. He still cashed 11 times at the 2012 WSOP.
He still travels around the world playing poker tournaments with buy-ins large and small, cashing on continent after continent. He still named all of his racehorses after poker terms. He even finished 21st in last year’s Battle of Malta Main Event. Puchkov is a legend, through and through, and we'll just keep putting him on this list until he wins it. And probably even after that.