Behind The Scenes At The GPI European Poker Awards

Alexandre Dreyfus asked me to host the GPI European Poker Awards. 

For those who don’t know, Alexandre Dreyfus is the CEO of the Global Poker Index. He’s somehow a millionaire despite spending more time on Facebook than anyone I’ve ever met.  More surprising is that he’s also somehow smart, charming, and likable despite being French.  

Alex’s vision (the part he’s chosen to share with me at least) is to turn poker into more of a mainstream “sport.” I don’t know his entire plan, but part of it is to have a consistent method of statistics and record-keeping – hence the GPI rankings, GPI Fantasy Facebook App, and his recent purchase of poker’s go-to poker statistics site “The Hendon Mob.”

I legitimately have no clue how he plans to make money at any of this, but what I do know is that so far – he’s done everything right.  He’s impressed the right people, and he’s made the right friends.  He’s an eloquent writer, and his blogs about the industry are cogent and forward thinking.  From what I can tell – he hasn’t made any mistakes.

Until now.

Alex f*cked up royally when he asked me to host this dumpster fire, and I want to share that mistake with all of you.

I hosted the EPT Awards at the end of Season 8, and I boooooombed.  As a result, I had trepidations about hosting again, but let’s be honest:  I wanted the money.  Alex also mentioned that Gaelle Garcia Diaz was going to be my co-host, and I figured her **** might command more of the room’s attention.  If you don’t know who Gaelle is, she’s the former Belgian/Spanish hostess for the EPT and she’s hotter than Las Vegas dashboard in July.  Google her.  Then Google her with the safe search off.  Then Google yourself until you get hairy palms.  Enjoy that.

PokerStars made a video of the evening, but due their insane corporate policy of not wanting to highlight racist, sexist, or crude material – 90% of my jokes were cut from the footage.  For your reading pleasure, I’ve included a sampling below.

Rookie of the Year

Martin Finger is nominated?  Nice job, nominating committee.  Martin Finger has been playing poker since the late 90’s.  That’s like nominating Gaelle Garcia Diaz for virgin of the year.

Best Tournament Performance

Steve O’Dwyer won the EPT Grand Final and didn’t get nominated.  From now on I’m just going to call him “Captain Phillips.”

Internet Player of the Year

I just hope that if Victor wins, they’ll let him come back to Atlantis. Let’s hope he doesn’t come up number 2.

(Inside joke.  Look it up if you must.)

At one point, I knew our lack of rehearsal was going to bite us in the ass.  Luckily I had this joke prepared:

We were supposed to have a tech rehearsal for tonight’s show, but since the people running this are French, everyone had a cigarette instead.

I wish this joke weren’t 100% true.

You know, when Alex asked me and Gaelle to present these awards he said it was because he wanted it to be hosted by the EPT’s hottest pair and Joe Stapleton.

The Lifetime Achievement Award

This award has previously been won by: Gus Hansen, Jesse May, Nic Szeremeta, Bruno Fitoussi, Marcel Luske, Thomas Kremser, John Duthie, Dave Colclough, Dave Ulliott, Lucy Rokach, Liam Flood, Pascal Perrault.
This award is very prestigious.  Whoever wins it will have some pretty esteemed company.  Previous winners include: 2013’s biggest online loser, an embezzler, two mobsters, and a guy who married a teenager.

That got 0 laughs, three gasps, and one round of applause.

I took many, many shots at Alex himself.  Including congratulating him on buying everything in poker that Party and Stars don’t want, saying he was the most likeable thing to come out of France since the guillotine, and telling the audience that he suggested I don’t call him “CEO” but instead call him “horsecock.”  In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have opened with that.

Well, how did it all go over?  In the end, the consensus was “Good job.  Tough crowd.”  I’ll take it.

All things considered, I’d say the night went fairly well.  However, here are some of the some of the “things” that must be considered:

1) Conservatively, 65% of the people in the room were native French speakers.  And unfortunately, there’s only thing that Americans and French have in common:  they both think the rest of the world should speak their language.  As a result, many of them did not understand my jokes, and the rest did not care to try.  I would have had better luck shouting my jokes aloud during a screening of Amelie because at least then the main character occasionally addresses the audience.

2) Of the 35% who remained, only about 20% of them were native English speakers.  This was the European Poker Awards, and as such it played host to French and Spaniards and Germans and Swedes and Finns, and while they were all fairly respectful, it’s pretty tough picking up jokes in a language that isn’t your own.  Also.  Let’s be honest.  They’re not really known for being the comedians of the world.  Unless you count smoking and blackness as comedy.

3) This leaves the final 15% of the audience.  The English-speaking, sense of humor-having segment of the audience.  This 15% responded very well – to my jokes.  While Gaelle Garcia Diaz’s tatas translate in any language, she speaks English with a fairly thick accent, thereby excluding anyone English-speaking who was also drunk.  Since we’re talking about English English-speaking people, that was pretty much all of them.

4) The audio/visual system wasn’t very good.  It’s hard to laugh at what you can’t hear, and it’s hard to laugh at what you can’t see.  I don’t know where the A/V budget went for this, but it certainly didn’t go to the presenter’s fees.  Don’t worry.  I drank my weight in prosecco.

That last one specifically ruined this joke (conceived of by Gaelle, actually, and implemented by a very talented tech guy named Claw) in which we questioned the integrity of Alex buying the Hendon Mob.

The only audience member who fell into outside this Belgian-Franco-Drunko-audio-distorto laugh-free Venn diagram was the only American in the crowd, Neil Johnson.  If you don’t know who he is, for lack of a better term we’ll call him the EPT’s Matt Savage.  Neil was a dream audience member, and he very deservedly took home the “Poker Industry Person of the Year” award.  I didn’t know the winners ahead of time, so I wasn’t able to make individual jokes roasting the winners, but had I known, I would have said that Neil deserves the award solely for having to listen to the complaints of Daniel Negreanu.  Daniel is the rich-man’s version of Allen Kessler.

So the first time I hosted a poker awards show I bombed so badly you would have thought the performance happened as a result of the Manhattan Project.  This time, I can at least say there were at least more laughs than in Schindler’s List.  Barely. You think I would have learned from my mistakes, but, as it turns out – not only did I not learn from it the first time, I didn’t learn from it the second time, because here I am still trying to make these jokes work. 

See you at the next awards show! (Probably not)

The camera makes everything look like it's running so smooth.

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