Have you got your vote in for the 2017 Spirit of Poker Awards?
If not, the time is now as the voting closes this Sunday, September 17.
Voting is open in three categories – Most Inspiring Player, Rising Star and Living Legend – and there’s still plenty of room to sway the votes for the three finalists in each.
Staples Leads MIP Count
As of today the leader of the signature Most Inspiring Player voting is, unsurprisingly, Jaime “PokerStaples” Staples.
The affable Canadian has earned a legion of fans through his ambitious live streaming and Vlogging and his epic 150k weight bet with Bill Perkins has endeared him to even more.
The Team PokerStars Online pro and his Streamboat cohorts had to evacuate the Virgin Islands last week in advance of Hurricane Irma but he took the opportunity to visit New York City for the first time and swing back to his hometown of Lethbridge, Alberta.
The noticeably slimmer Staples has a “slim” (see what we did there?) lead in the voting, though, with British WSOP sensation John Hesp and Italian legend Max Pescatori currently joining him in the Top 3.
Liv Boeree and Kenny Hallaert are very close behind and could easily jump into the Top 3 with a surge of last-minute votes. Jeff Gross, Ema Zajmovic and Mikhail Semin need to rally the troops.
Most Inspiring Player – Current Top 3
Jaime Staples (CAN)
John Hesp (ENG)
Max Pescatori (ITA)
Jørstad, Fernández Neck-and-Neck for Rising Star
In our Rising Star category Spain’s Oriol Fernández and Norway’s Espen Uhlen Jørstad are a lock to make the final 3.
Jørstad’s particularly inspiring story of finding poker and changing his life around has clearly moved the needle with voters but Fernández’s fans aren’t letting it go without a fight.
Who will join them for the final selection panel? Right now 888poker pro Parker Talbot has the edge but Brazil’s Vivian Saliba could make a last-gasp push too.
Kelly Winterhalter is trailing but undoubtedly deserves her spot alongside the other four, regardless of the voting.
Rising Star – Current Top 3
Espen Uhlen Jørstad (NOR)
Oriol Fernández (SPA)
Parker “TonkaaaaP” Talbot (CAN)
Hildebrand Running Away with Living Legend
Make no mistake: When Sweden’s Per Hildebrand made the final five nominees for the 2017 Living Legend Award, he may have been overshadowed by some bigger names but he was never a “throw-in.”
The 2017 inductee into the Swedish Poker Hall of Fame deserves every accolade that comes his way but, it seemed, was a longshot to leap over such poker luminaries as Mike Sexton and Marcel Luske.
Consider that longshot to have come in. Hildebrand has crushed the voting over the past couple of months and now holds a commanding lead heading into the final days.
Could Sexton or Luske overtake him before Sunday? It’s possible, we suppose. Barny Boatman and Padraig Parkinson could, too.
But Hildebrand is clearly much-loved in Scandinavia and beyond and now the clear favorite to bring the Living Legend trophy back to Sweden.
Living Legend Award – Current Top 3