Who Inspires You? Meet the 2015 Spirit of Poker MIP Nominees

Aditya Agarwal 2015 WSOP Main Event 1
Ever spearheaded a poker movement in an entire subcontinent? Aditya Agarwal has.

Most poker players, to some degree, have an idol. Someone they found so inspiring it “made” them jump into poker.

It can be the player's personality, success in the game, or even just something said on TV once. Maybe it's how he or she played a certain hand.

For the past three years PokerListings has put those players in the spotlight for our annual Spirit of Poker Awards. The awards are handed out in three different categories: Living Legend, Rising Star and Most Inspiring Player.

The eight nominees in each category are the players we feel have been the most inspirational on and off the felt over the past 12 months.

At the 2015 Battle of Malta PokerListings will host the third Spirit of Poker Awards ceremony and who will ultimately win in each category all comes down to you.

Who do you think deserves it? Take part in the voting and give your favorite player his or her due. As part of a three-part series here's a closer look at our 2015 Most Inspiring Player nominees.

Martin Jacobson

Martin Jacobson3

Age: 28

Country: Sweden

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 9/2

His $10 million triumph at the 2014 WSOP was the tipping point of a poker career that began in 2008 and had, to that point, included four runner-up finishes at EPT, WPT and High Roller events.

Jacobson immediately put that money to work for the global causes he finds important. Prior to becoming the world champ he signed on to represent the Raising for Effective Giving charity and donated 1% of his take - totaling $250,000 - in support of the humane treatment of animals.

Jacobson has also inspired the poker community with his continued dedication to better health. Physical fitness is a major trademark and it was only fitting the meticulous preparation he put in for last year’s WSOP final table paid off.

He trained with over 30 different players and had them take on the roles of his opponents, which they had to study in turn. Studies included videos, past events and statistical analyses.

The payoff: Jacobson overcame his shorter stack to win poker's ultimate championship. He's now #1 on the all-time Swedish money list, #1 in the Swedish POY ranking and made it into the Top 10 of the world’s all-time money list.

But his legacy will carry on far past any poker leaderboard.

Davidi Kitai

Davidi Kitai

Age: 35

Country: Belgium

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 18/2

What can be more inspiring than ambition? The small-but-energetic poker powerhouse that is Belgium has brought forth the man we call the “Phil Ivey of Europe."

Kitai has made it his mission to conquer the GPI rankings and he’s already made it to second place. In the meantime he's #1 in the Belgian all-time money rankings and #1 in the Belgian POY rankings.

But maybe the most fascinating thing about him is his incredible insight into the game. Watch how he baffles his opponent at a WSOP final table, calling three streets with queen high and then showing confidently!

Leo Margets

Leo Margets

Age: 31

Country: Spain

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 3/0

The Last Woman Standing at the WSOP main event in 2009, Leo has come a long way since then. She’s a PokerStars team pro, a writer and a sports fanatic.

She uses physical challenges to get in the right mindset and she even has an almost ready manuscript for a novel on her bookshelf.

She listens to what people has to say and 24k followers on Twitter are more than enough evidence that people like to listen to what she says, too.

Recently Leo has taken up writing a blog on PokerListings to give us some personal insight into the life of a professional player with all its ups and downs.

Many women learn poker from their boyfriends, as Margets did, but few go on to make it their own career and prevail in such a male-dominated environment.

Aditya Agarwal

Aditya Agarwal 2015 WSOP 1

Age: 30

Country: India

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 8/2

Plenty of players have stood out by influencing a larger group of people. Agarwal, by comparison, is the poker spearhead of a whole sub-continent with well over a billion people.

He’s the first player from India ever to be named to Team PokerStars Pro. He has more cashes than any other player from India. He’s made the money in the WSOP main event the last three years in a row (71st this year) and he’s number one in the Indian GPI.

Asia is still underrepresented on the global poker circuit despite a larger population than all the other continents together and it needs players like Agarwal to change that.

With the second largest population on Earth India's poker potential is unfathomable and Agarwal is the guy who might just wake up the Bengal Tiger.

Dominik Nitsche

dominik nitsche

Age: 24

Country: Germany

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 19/6

At the age of only 24 poker globetrotter Dominik Nitsche already has 92 cashes in international tournaments.

There are plenty of good players in Germany but nobody is as outspoken about the level of play, nobody spends as much time in commentary booths and nobody spends as much time on the road.

Since he burst on the stage with an LAPT win at the age of only 18 Nitsche has won titles and tournaments on all continents.

Recently 888poker has contracted him so he’s now a sponsored player who’s still winning. His second place at the Bellagio Cup post-WSOP is just one more example.

Anatoly Filatov

anatolyfilatov

Age: 27

Country: Russia

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 9/2

Ever think there’s not enough fun in poker? Then you obviously haven’t met Anatoly Filatov.

The man from Moscow – often dressed in the most striking of colors – always has a very good time -- at the poker table as well as away from it.

Filatov this year led Team Russia into the finals of the inaugural Global Poker Masters in Malta, won the High Roller event of the WPT Cyprus and was a jury member at the European Poker Awards.

One of the most talked about and revered players on the Russian poker forums, Filatov may not be a big name in the English market yet but he's a driving force of one of the biggest poker markets in the world.

Jason Somerville

Jason Somerville

Age: 28

Country: US

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 3/2

One of the latest introductions to the PokerStars team Somerville has accumulated almost 7.5 million views with his broadcasts on Twitch -- many people seeing his clips as the most educational for new players out there.

He’s excelled as a live commentator for TV and entertained poker fans from all over the world with his chats with professional players.

Somerville has also received a lot of acclaim for his online poker career where he made over $2m without ever making a deposit.

His live successes include a 4th place in the $100k Las Vegas High Roller event for $1.3 million but maybe the bravest thing he’s ever done was coming out as poker's first openly gay pro in 2012.

He continue to inspire poker players - and people from all walks of life - to live out their best lives. And not much you can accomplish on the felt can top that.

Max Pescatori

Max Pescatori

Age: 44

Country: Italy

Cashes last 12 months/WSOP 2015: 22/7

“The Italian Pirate” this summer became the first European player ever to win four WSOP bracelets. His victories have come in four different games, too, as he's won tournaments in No-Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Hold’em/Omaha, Razz and Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo.

Pescatori lives in Las Vegas but hails from Milan, Italy. Like many live players he’s on the road almost all the time. Over the last 12 months Pescatori has cashed in Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia and England.

He’s been partly responsible for two of the very few books on poker that were originally written in Italian. His live career began in 2002 and he’s now accumulated almost 200 cashes. He shows no signs of slowing down.

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Which of these players do you consider most inspiring to the poker community? Who do you look up to?

Cast your vote right here!

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