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Puchkov, Ramos, Leah Rep SOPA Nominees at WSOP; Kuo Early Fav
In the wee hours of Nov. 1, the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event will play down to a champion just as the Battle of Malta gets underway in the Mediterranean.
While the WSOP champ will be figuring out what do to with a $7m+ windfall, the 3 winners of the 2016 Spirit of Poker Awards will be poised to collect their own small piece of recognition for a year (or career) in poker well spent.
The Spirit of Poker awards were created to recognize players who’ve made outstanding contributions to the poker community and while monetary results are never the main factors for nominations, they certainly don't hurt either.
As we head down the later stretches of the WSOP here's a look at some of the performances of our 2016 SOPA nominees.
Puchkov Cash Train Keeps Chugging
Konstantin Puchkov has been a nominee for our Living Legends award every year of its existence and, as we said in his bio this year, will likely be a nominee every year until he wins it.
One of the primary reasons? His unmatched consistency in events large and small.
In 2012 Puckkov set a record for WSOP cashes in a year with 11 and he may be on track to break that this year.
With 41 events in the books Puchkov already has seven more cashes under his belt and will more than likely have a stack in whichever he plays next.
Canadian Mike Leah, meanwhile, has five cashes of his own with a stack in the final 12 of the $10k Stud Hi-Lo Championship resuming today.
His cashes have all been small so far but given Leah's dogged determination and ability to excel in all games, it would be shocking if he doesn't add at least a few more cashes and another deep run.
Fellow Most Inspiring Player nominee Felipe Ramos has been all over the chip counts as well with deep runs in four events and cashes of over $65k.
With a 9th, 14th, 15th and 24th so far Ramos' game seems on form and on the brink of a big final table.
As always, though, his positive attitude and relentless joy has brought a ton of added value to the tables.
Dominik Nitsche, Rainer Kempe and John Gale are all on three cashes, but if we include Vegas events outside of the Rio Nitsche has also had a pretty successful summer with a 2nd and a 6th in Aria $25k events for almost $700k.
Rising Star nominee Ivan Luca has a 3rd and a 4th in those $25k events as well to give him $150k in cashes so far this summer.
Nominees Dan “jungleman12” Cates, Fatima de Melo, Luca Pagano and Vladimir Troyanovskiy have yet to cash at the 2016 WSOP but that's due to one particular reason - they're not actually in Las Vegas yet.
Troyanovskiy doesn’t have a visa for the US while de Melo was recently seen at the UKIPT Marbella. Italian multi-tasker Luca Pagano has other business to take care of and Cates is currently on a 1,000-hour online poker binge. He might consider LV when he’s done.
Early Voting Has Kuo in Front
Voting for the PokerListings Awards has been open for a couple of weeks now and a quick look at the votes shows a few early favorites emerging.
While she has just one cash at the WSOP so far Kitty Kuo has certainly been a favorite at the tables among her peers and her spectacular Twitter feed has been filled with gems.
She's made plenty of friends, too, and taken the early lead in the Most Inspiring Player voting. Leah and Ramos are also off to strong starts but there's plenty of time left for other nominees to gain ground.
In the Rising Star department Argentinian Ivan Luca has left a lasting impression and received a lot of early attention.
The most balanced category so far is the Living Legends as Barny Boatman, Donnacha O’Dea, Jan Bendik, John Gale and Puchkov all have plenty of support.