It’s Time to Fix the Poker Tournament Performance Awards Process

February 17, 2018
It’s Time to Fix the Poker Tournament Performance Awards Process

The American Poker Awards Tournament Performance of the Year nomination system is broken. The only way it can be fixed is by moving into poker’s modern world of live-streamed final tables.

Two of the finalists for the 2017 award, to be announced later this month, had their performances consumed only via written live updates. That is not worthy of the modern poker era.

Nominees of a time gone by

Not to take anything away from Bryn Kenney and Darren Elias, but are written hand histories the best way to evaluate their respective victories? Two great players deserve more than what the APAs are honoring them for.

Kenney earned his nod via the PokerStars Championship finale in Monte Carlo where he won the $100,000 Super High Roller. Elias came through at the now notorious Fallsview World Poker Tour event last February for his third WPT win.

Remove the last names of Bryn and Darren — are we sure they are getting nominated in the first place?

Winning all-ins and pots without showdown is nice but it reeks of recognition solely for the name-brand. Famous players deserve credit for building a brand strong enough to get top honors. At the same time, the audience watching from home should have the chance to make their own evaluations.

Moving to a new era

The new age of poker demands a live stream to give viewers and voters an eye-witness to all hands played at a final table. How they defend a big blind. The pots they bluff on the river. The folds made that can’t be shown in a written hand history. Those are the details that matter.

The American Poker Awards are behind the times in giving these two wins an overrated credit through nomination. James Harden scoring 60 points in a box score is a different experience than watching him score 60 points on TV with every detail captured.

Go back and read the updates from Elias’ win. How the variance displayed in the favor of Elias makes for a tournament performance of the year nominee is nonsensical. Elias may have very well played the best final table of his life, but we’ll never know.

Doug Polk and Scott Blumstein’s nominations have their flaws but at least they carry the full context of what this award should be asking for. Both players endured a live stream for their final tables and for a period of time to get to that point. You could not ask for a larger sample size than what the two players gave the viewing audience.

Discredit their play if you would like; both ran well and found themselves in fortunate spots. Unlike Elias and Kenney, though, there is some transparency to all the hands both champions played. That can be evaluated.

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Giving the right players their due

Full disclosure, I voted for the APA awards this year and made my decision based on the live stream aspect. My votes went to Blumstein and WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown winner Tony Sinishtaj.

Tony Sinishtaj? Yes. The player who navigated an impossible final table of Dan Colman, Darryll Fish, and Robert Mizrachi. A live stream audience witnessed Sinishtaj play the poker of his life to defeat one of the toughest WPT final tables of Season XV.

Sinishtaj’s win could not receive any proper merit if only read in written updates. His last name isn’t Elias or Kenney.

The APA voting committee and GPI have the chance to change their archaic criteria to a modern age. One that demands the full evaluation of a new age of poker when weighing a performance.

Mike Leah’s Fallsview win has come under major controversy and based on the current ways of the voting process, he’s a favorite to be up for nomination next year. A fitting continuation in this saga.

Lead image courtesy of American Poker Awards

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