Shorr, Hansen and Panka Scoop 2014 Spirit of Poker Awards

Thor Hansen6
Thor Hansen: Living Legend

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.

Shannon Shorr

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 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.

Thor Hansen
Impossible not to revere Thor.

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.

Calm, cool, #1 at 23

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.

2014 Spirit of Poker Winners Set Sights on Battle of Malta

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.

Dominik Panka

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.

Thor Hansen

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.

Shannon Shorr

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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