The Global Poker Index (GPI) has announced that it has canceled all of its ongoing 2020 calendar-year Player of the Year races in response to the year’s severe limiting of poker events and festivals because of the global and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In a brief statement on its website, the Las Vegas-based GPI also cited its unwillingness to put players in a situation where they might consider unsafe travel to pursue index points, in addition to traveling to any awards ceremony, which in previous years has been held in the winter months. While the promise of a widely-available vaccine looms, it almost certainly will not be available before the end of 2020, and it may not be available in large quantities until mid-2021.
“This past year has been tough on the industry. Most venues were unable to host events due to lockdowns or various restrictions and players were not able to travel to play”, GPI/THM President Eric Danis said.
The GPI’s statement also noted that “there have not been enough festival results or events in 2020 to justify competitive winners in our traditional PoY races.” The 2020 races that have accumulated some limited point standings will essentially be wiped from the slate. First-place finishers in several categories the GPI tracks and honors will not receive such honors this time around; officially, 2020 PoY results will remain blank in GPI’s historical records.
The decision nullifies what was a close race in the 2020 global Player of the Year chase. Despite the severely limited poker schedule since March, six players were bunched within 200 points at the top of the board, led by Russia’s Anatoliy “Dykalis” Zyrin.
In 2019, the GPI honored players of the year in six separate categories, led by Alex Foxen, who picked up both the global GPI honor and the “Americas” title as well. These were the six categories and their respective winners:
2019 GPI Player of the Year – Alex Foxen
2019 GPI Female Player of the Year – Kristen Bicknell
2019 GPI Player of the Year Americas – Alex Foxen
2019 GPI Player of the Year Europe – Stephen Chidwick
2019 GPI Player of the Year Asia – Daniel Tang
2019 GPI Player of the Year LATAM – Farid Jattin
One point of curiosity in the GPI’s cancellation of all the 2020 races is that it was indeed an abrupt cancellation. One alternative that the GPI and parent company Mediarex could have entertained was to simply turn the 2020 points races into a two-year deal, spanning 2020 and 2021. While casinos hosting live-tourney poker are still facing lockdown situations around the globe, that will likely change as the coronavirus vaccines become available and infectivity rates begin to decline. March or April is not an unreasonable timeframe for that to occur. Had such a “2020-21 Global Poker Awards” modification been considered, it might well have spanned roughly a year of live-event results. It would also have provided some incentive for players who did well in the early part of 2020 to resume playing (assuming it could be done safely), but for now, at least, the GPI has chosen the hard stop for the duration.