Global Poker Awards announces special honors for Veronica Brill, Maria Konnikova

Haley Hintze
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Posted on February 16, 2022 11:19 pm EST

The Global Poker Awards (GPA) has announced the winners of two special honors in advance of Friday night’s 2021 Global Poker Awards ceremony in Las Vegas. Veronica Brill and Maria Konnikova will be the recipients of GPA awards on Friday in recognition of unique contributions the pair have made to the world of poker.

Brill will receive this year’s GPA Charitable Initiative Award for her efforts in helping handicapped poker pro K.L. Cleeton gain greater accessibility to poker events across the U.S. Konnikova will receive the Global Poker Index’s Order of Merit for her 2020 poker-life book The Biggest Bluff.

Both special honors were announced via the Global Poker Index’s social-media accounts. The annual Global Poker Awards are just one aspect of the GPI’s tracking and awards services that cover the poker world.

Brill’s battle in Postle libel suit kicked off charitable initiative benefiting Cleeton

How Brill came to K.L. Cleeton’s in raising funds to buy him a wheelchair-accessible van was one of the brightest stories to emerge from the long and sordid Mike Postle saga. Brill was the initial whistleblower accusing Postle of somehow having access to hole cards during filming of the Sacramento-based “Stones Live!” livestreamed poker cash game. Postle’s improbably high win rates over dozens of sessions led to widespread accusations and, eventually, a lawsuit against Postle by nearly 90 players.

Postle was eventually dismissed from the lawsuit under a technicality within California gambling laws. Rather than let the matter rest, and despite never being declared innocent, he later decided to file a $330 million defamation lawsuit against Brill and 11 other individual and corporate defendants. The other defendants were all in much better financial condition than Brill, and she sought charitable donations to help in her defense.

Then, though she already had drawn significant contributions, wealthy poker player and charitable benefactor Bill Perkins announced he would cover all of Brill’s legal expenses. That created a surplusage, and with Perkins’s permission, she directed that fundraising overage toward purchasing the new van for Cleeton.

Later, Postle’s libel suit collapsed in comic faction, leaving him on the hook for legal expenses still owed to Brill and one of her co-defendants, Todd Witteles. Yet through all of that, with Brill’s efforts and Perkins’s assistance, the popular Cleeton received the special vehicle he needed to attend more series in the future, which already included the 2021 WSOP.

Konnikova’s book dropped after pandemic hit

There’s a much different reason behind Konnikova’s special nod from the Global Poker Awards. Her tale of learning how to play in high-stakes tournaments, with the aid of several vaunted pros, was written before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in March, 2020.

However, The Biggest Bluff wasn’t released until June of 2020, at a time when the live poker world was all but shut down. That global live-poker shutdown essentially shelved the Global Poker Index. What would have been the 2020 Global Poker Awards, held at some point in early 2021, never got off the ground, as all the GPI-based honors and categories were suspended.

The Biggest Bluff turned out to be a big hit with the poker world, but it ended up never being nominated for a GPA honor. It would certainly have been a strong contender in the “Written Content” category for 2020. The Order of Merit Konnikova will receive on Friday helps make up for the pandemic-induced lack of earlier honors.

Featured image source: Global Poker Index