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Spirit of Poker Winners Panka, Hansen and Shorr Set Sights on BOM
The PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards were introduced in 2013 to recognize players that do more than just play poker well.
With a great attitude and passion for the game they continually inspire poker players near and far to enjoy the game to the fullest and make the most of opportunities it presents.
Inaugural winners Naoya Kihara, Pierre Neuville and Luca Moschitta pased the torch on to 2014 winners Dominik Panka, Thor Hansen and Shannon Shorr this year and all six represent exactly what we had in mind when we created the SOPAs.
Two of our three PL Award winners will join us for the live Spirit of Poker ceremony at the Battle of Malta ths year and we caught up with all of them at EPT London for their thoughts on the award.
Panka: "It Feels Great to Be an Inspiration"
Dominik Panka, winner of the 2014 PCA main event and our 2014 Spirit of Poker Rising Star Award winner, was back on the felt at EPT London looking for his next big title in the main and the high roller.
He was also prepped for his trip to the Mediterranean, as we found out on one of the breaks of the main event.
“I appreciate this award a lot," Panka said. "I know it’s not one of the big international awards, but I don’t think I would appreciate any of them more.
"I don’t play only for the money, so to find recognition in such a way is great for me. I have never won anything like this and the value of the PokerListings Award might not be financial but is still highly idealistic.
"I am 23 years old, and I haven’t really been extremely active on social media. I am now trying to do better.
"It feels great to be an inspiration, but I don’t know if I could be an idol for young players, like Daniel Negreanu is. It carries a lot of responsibilities. I know I played well at the Aussie Millions, but to be honest I don’t always play that well. I also had good cards.
"I have never been to Malta and I’m really looking forward to it. I have everything planned and set up.”
Hansen: "These Awards Value the Game"
Thor Hansen, winner of our Living Legend Award, is one of the true pioneers of European poker.
For starters, he moved to Las Vegas before Chris Moneymaker was even born.
Hansen has played not only in all of the iconic big games at Vegas casinos but also in private cash games with illustrious people like Hustler owner Larry Flynt, who actually staked Hansen for several years.
His ongoing battle with terminal cancer and his continued drive to play poker has also been an inspiration to many.
“I am proud and honored to receive this award," Hansen said on a quick break in London “I will be in Malta personally to pick it up and play the Battle.
"These awards value the game. It doesn’t matter that there is no money on it.”
Shorr: "I Feel Extremely Honored"
The only one of our award winners who can't physically make it for the live ceremony is American pro Shannon Shorr, our 2014 Most Inspiring Player.
Shorr is a non-sponsored "pro's pro," travelling the world on his own dime and adding one winning year after another to his resume.
“I feel extremely honored," Shorr said in London. "You know, I’ve always prided myself on going out there and living my life and getting the most out of it, so being labelled as inspirational is almost better than any other poker award I could have ever gotten.”
Unfortunately, as Shorr can’t rely on a regular income from sponsors, he has plenty of things on his schedule and can't attend in person this year. On a side note, how can a player like Shannon Shorr not be approached by sponsors?)
“It’s an American thing," say Shorr. “There is just no market, as long as online poker is illegal. However, I am generally open to speak about it if a poker room approaches me.”
Being the only American in the mix he also has by far the longest trip to the island of Malta. He told us that he's already crossed the Atlantic twice this fall and won't be able to do it again.
“I really hate to miss it and I would be there if at all logistically possible. I really apologize," he explained, "but I’m going to record a video acceptance and send it to you. Hope you guys can use it!”
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