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Shorr, Hansen and Panka Scoop 2014 Spirit of Poker Awards
It's official: Shannon Shorr, Thor Hansen and Dominik Panka have won the 2014 PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards.
After 2.5 months of public voting and a week of deliberation by the PokerListings panel the well-respected trio rose to the top of their respective categories to claim the 2014 SOPAs.
Shorr takes home the headline award - Most Inspiring Player. His exceptional year included two WSOPE final tables, a runner-up finish at the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open and a monumental personal accomplishment in climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Hansen claimed the Living Legend Award and there couldn't be anyone more fitting to earn said title than the Godfather of Norwegian poker.
After battling terminal cancer for the past two years Hansen has found solace and inspiration in the game of poker and still somehow managed to bring his best to the tables, both online and live.
Panka, winner of the 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event and already Poland's all-time leading money winner, claimed the Rising Star Award.
The 2014 Spirit of Poker awards will be handed out in a live ceremony at the Battle of Malta in November. All award winners will be contacted shortly with full details about exclusive packages to attend the event.
Most Inspiring Player: Shannon Shorr
As we said in our original nominations the 29-year-old Shorr has literally grown up on the poker circuit.
One of the original "online kids," Shorr broke through on the live scene overseas in 2006 before he even turned 21 with a 4th-place finish at the Aussie Millions.
His first summer in Vegas he chopped the Bellagio Cup main event and it's been a steady string of cashes since.
Despite still somehow missing a WSOP bracelet Shorr has lived a poker life to the fullest. He's criss-crossed the globe, expanded his horizons and when life-altering opportunities have presented themselves, like summitting Mt. Kilimanjaro this summer, he's taken them.
It hasn't all been easy, though, and as he's written about in his blog the ups and downs of poker have inspired him to not take anything for granted and to make the absolute most of life on the road.
At the felt Shorr has embodied consistency so much over the years he even outranked Phil Ivey on the GPI's Top 9 Players of the Decade list, coming in at #7.
In the final panel deliberation Shorr edged out PokerStars Team online pro Randy "nanonoko" Lew and late contender Mayu Roca in the final voting. Check the full list of nominees here.
Living Legend: Thor Hansen
Every one of the eight nominees in our Living Legend category embody a long and inspiring life in poker but it's no surprise Hansen was the name at the top of the ballots in the end.
In January 2012 Hansen was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Doctors told him the absolute maximum life expectancy in a case like his was two years. He's been in and out of debilitating chemotherapy since.
Still, going on close to three years later, Hansen is still finding his way to the tables and giving his opponents all they can handle. He's even snuck in a final table or two.
As he told us less than a month ago at EPT Barcelona, "I know I am very, very sick. But I’m a strong guy, I can take a lot. I’m not even supposed to be alive anymore, but here I am playing the main event.”
Twice nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame but not inducted, PokerListings is thrilled to annoint Hansen with a Spirit of Poker Award that truly captures the magnitude of his accomplishments - Living Legend.
Also finishing in the top 3 of fan balloting were Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott and the amazing Jennifer Tilly. See the full list of nominees here.
Rising Star: Dominik Panka
If you followed the 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event at all you'll also understand why Dominik Panka was the runaway winner of our Rising Star award for 2014.
Despite a stacked nominee list that included the much-adored Sofia Lövgren, Norwegian crusher Yngve Steen and WSOPE main event winner Adrian Mateos, Panka's cool, calm and inspiring play stuck with voters from Day 1.
While winning one of the signature events of the poker year for $1.4m was impressive his follow-up win at the EPT Deauville High Roller less than a month later sealed him as a player people couldn't take their attention off.
Just 23 and already Poland's all-time live tournament money leader, Panka obviously has a long and successful career in poker available to him if he chooses.
But, like all of our SOPA nominees, poker's still just one facet of a well-rounded life that sees him collect as much satisfaction off the felt as on.
Panka defeated fellow finalists Lövgren and Steen to earn the title; see the full list of Rising Star nominees here.