Brenes, Filatov and Carrel Triumph in 2015 Spirit of Poker Voting

Charlie Carrel
Charlie Carrel has won some hearts.

After three months of fan voting and a long, heated debate by the PokerListings panel the winners of the 2015 Spirit of Poker Awards have been determined.

Costa Rican poker legend Humberto Brenes, Russian spark plug Anatoly Filatov and psychedelic young Brit Charlie Carrel will receive PokerListings’ own Spirit of Poker Awards during the 2015 Battle of Malta.

Brenes will collect the Living Legend Award, Filatov Most Inspiring Player and Carrel the Rising Star Award.

Brenes a True Legend

In our Living Legend category there was no denying that fan favorite Humberto Brenes, the spearhead of Latin-American poker, deserved more than just an honorable mention as a nominee.

Hunberto Brenes
Game changer for Latin American poker.

“The Chark” was nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame last year and didn’t make the shortlist this year, but Brenes took up tournament poker the year (1974!) before Daniel Negreanu was born.

He’s an old school, all-round player who feels just as comfortable in NLHE as in Omaha Hi-Lo or Ace-Five Triple Draw.

Brenes came fourth in the WSOP main event before any of the GPI top 20 were even born and was one of the early members of Team PokerStars, joining in 2006 and staying on for nine years.

Still, despite all his success, Brenes never considered himself a professional player. He was always involved in a business on the side to keep poker more fun than work.

It showed in his joy at the tables and that clearly still resonates with fans as Brenes easily collected the most votes overall to top fellow nominees like Erik Seidel and Barry Greenstein.

Congratulations to Humberto Brenes from everyone at PokerListings! We look forward to greeting him at the Battle of Malta in early November and seeing Maria Ho hand over our Living Legends Award to “the epitome of competitive spirit and class” (Nolan Dalla).

Filatov in a Landslide for Most Inspiring Player

Our search for the Most Inspiring Player over the last 12 months found such a clear winner this year there wasn't much to discuss.

Russian Anatoly Filatov received over 70% of the total votes to make him the runaway choice and obvious driving force in one of the most important markets in the poker economy.

filatov splits
Anatoly Filatov or JCVD?

Known online and on Twitter as nl_profit Filatov has amassed $1.8 million in earnings and transitioned to being a regular at the biggest live tournaments around the world.

Filatov represents the fastest growing poker room in Russia – Pokerdom – and is known for being a meticulous worker who spends a lot of time coaching other players.

Long before Twitch Filatov was also one of the first players who streamed his games live using a website now known as gosupoker.

For the European Poker Awards held last March in Malta he was elected to be on the panel of judges who picked the winners.

With his outspoken nature and his memorable style Filatov won the PokerListings readers over to defeat Indian superstar Aditya Agarwal and Twitch phenomenon Jason Somerville, both of whom have recently joined the PokerStars pro team.

Last not least his famous “Filatov splits” show that he’s one of the modern players who values physical fitness just as highly as mental vigor. Kudos from PokerListings to Anatoly Filatov, who on his next trip to Malta will be on the receiving side of an awards ceremony.

Carrel Claims Rising Star

It's always difficult to predict if a young gun who’s had some early success will make it to the top of the international elite and stay there.

Charlie Carrel 2
Talented and fashionable.

This year there's no doubt in our minds that each of the top three players in the Rising Star category will have long careers in the game if they choose to.

We'll hear from Charlie Carrel, Dzmitry Urbanovich and Fedor Holz for many years but it was British player Carrel who has collected and inspired the most fans among the readers of PokerListings so far.

Carrel has risen to the highest levels of the game in a dazzlingly short timeframe, going from ranking around 20,000 in the GPI to the top 200 within the last 12 months; from depositing $15 to playing NL5k; from being a relatively anonymous online player as 'epiphany77' to EPT Grand Final high roller champion.

This was the closest race of the three categories of the Spirit of Poker Awards and in the final vote Carrel rose to the top over German wunderkind Holz, who just may have grown right past the level of 'rising' and into the legend category.

Kudos to Mr Carrel; we look forward to presenting your award at the Battle of Malta.

Ceremony at Battle of Malta in November

Our three winners follow in the footsteps of popular poker personalities Shannon Shorr, Pierre Neuville, Dominik Panka, Thor Hansen, Naoya Kihara and Luca Moschitta.

panka ho
Maria presents Dominik Panka with Rising Star award.

This is the third year PokerListings has presented the Spirit of Poker Awards and the list of nine winners already covers some of the most fascinating and inspiring players around the globe.

Representing nine different nationalities they also show just how far-reaching the game of poker has become and hint at how much further it can go.

Host Maria Ho will present our latest group of awards at the Battle of Malta 2015, held November 4-9 at the Portomaso Casino in St. Julian’s.

There are still lots of seats for the “Best Low Buy-in Tournament of the Year" winner at last year's European Poker Awards. Buy your complete package here or qualify online at one of our partnering online poker rooms.

Watch 2015 Spirit of Poker Awards

Humberto Brenes: "The Biggest Secret is That Poker is My Hobby"

For a poker "hobbyist," Humberto Brenes has piled up some pretty impressive results over his decade-long career.

The Costa Rican poker "Chark" became a household name during the poker boom years with his entertaining appearances on the WSOP broadcast and he's barely slowed down since.

In 2014, in fact, he cashed 10 times at the World Series of Poker and looked as primed to capture his third career gold bracelet as ever.

Since moving on from Team PokerStars pro last year Brenes has slipped into a much more casual role as a hobby player but make no mistake: he's still as sharp as ever when the game's afoot.

He's also not lost much of his worldwide popularity as he was a clear winner in the online voting for the Living Legend Award this year, defeating such esteemed nominees as Erik Seidel, Barry Greenstein and James Woods.

He's here on the island to accept his award and play the Battle of Malta Main Event and PokerListings Spain's Esther Amores had a quick chat with him before things got underway:

Humberto Brenes BOM 2015 7
Happy and flattered.

PokerListings: The final vote tally for the PokerListings Living Legend Award gave you a landslide win that shows just how strongly the poker community admires you. How do you feel to be the winner of this award?

Humberto Brenes: I feel very happy and flattered to receive this recognition that has been decided with the participation of the people. I would like to thank everybody who thought of me to receive this award.

PL: You already have one of the most important poker titles with two WSOP bracelets but we know you're looking for the third. What are your poker goals now?

HB: My goal is to keep playing more years as I have the opportunity of being a poker player as a hobby, a kind of hobby where age does not matter so much and I can keep enjoying it.

PL: You're playing the Main Event of the Battle of Malta 2015. Although this is your first time at this tournament we'd like to know what attracted you to play and what do you expect to find?

HB: One of the things that attracts me is the fact that I am going to discover such as nice place as Malta and also lot of new faces in the poker community.

PL: As you know the Battle of Malta is a low buy-in tournament that appeals to recreational players with an atmosphere of more fun than other tournaments. In Europe we know there are not too many tournaments like this but we're not sure about Latin America. Are there any similar tournaments or shall we start thinking of exporting our Battle?

humberto brenes 3

HB: I have played in several similar tournaments with low buy-ins but they try to spread the gamer of poker and also to promote tourism among the players. This kind of tournaments are more enjoyable because the main focus is not the money; it's just the game.

PL: You're one of the players that prefers to play tournaments over cash games. Why? And how do you think the game has changed?

HB: Yes, the tournament tables are more competitive. At the tournaments everybody starts with the same stack so players make the difference among the others with their skills and not with their economic power.

PL: At the tables you're very well known for being The Shark but also because of your personality and your singing. We've heard you singing at the tables while you're listening to your iPod and sometimes not everybody likes that. Do you have a memorable story that happened at the table with your music?

HB: Yes. At one of the WSOP tournaments after playing for nine hours with a young player next to me, he went All-In with a pair of Aces and lost the hand.

Humberto Brenes
Never play a buy-in where you don't feel comfortable

When he stands up from the table, he says 'goodbye' and with very bad Spanish says 'well Humberto, see you later. The only good thing about leaving is that I won't have to listen to you singing.'

Then he shakes hands with me smiling and leaves the room.

PL: Remembering again that you have won the Living Legend Award can you tell us the recipe for your success?

HB: The biggest secret is that poker is my hobby, so I have never played any tournament or cash table where I didn't feel comfortable with the people or with the buy-in.

PL: Finally, what are the 3 tips you can give to new players?

HB: If you want to be a winner I recommend:

Never play a buy-in where you don't feel comfortable

Never play when you don't feel good or your mind is not clear

Spend some time at the beginning to know the players at your table. What you know about your opponents will make the difference.

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