Barstool’s Ben Mintz Hosts Gulf Coast Poker Awards; Caitlin Comeskey Among Winners

Poker News

The fourth annual Gulf Coast Poker Awards in New Orleans, hosted by Barstool Sports personality Ben Mintz, brought about some deserved recognition for many players and industry personnel, including the comedic Caitlin Comeskey.

Hosted at the newly renovated Harrah’s New Orleans (soon to be Caesars New Orleans), located in the famous French Quarter, the ceremony took place Oct. 15 during the annual Poker Gras Festival. Seven individuals claimed trophies across a wide range of categories.

On top of the awards handed out, Mihail Karasoulis won the $580 Poker Gras Main Event, defeating David Nicholson heads-up for the title. Both players took home more than $27,000.

Comeskey Earns Content Award

Caitlin Comeskey
Caitlin Comeskey

The Gulf Coast Poker Awards, presented by Maker’s Mark whisky, was created in 2019 to offer recognition to poker professionals and players in the Southern part of the United States. Comeskey, who co-hosts the Aceholes podcast with Nikki Limo, took down the award for Content Provider of the Year. Last year’s winner in the same category, Ben Mintz of Barstool Sports, was among the 2023 nominees.

Comeskey beat out a talented list of nominees including us here at PokerNews, and some of our skilled content creators including live reporter Liam Gannon and photographer Rachel Kay Winter. Veteran tournament director Justin Hammer and The Hendon Mob were among the others considered for the award.

PokerGO’s Brent Hanks and RunGood Poker Series founder Tana Karn were up for the Industry Professional Award. The winner, however, went to Chase Haydel, Director of Operations at Harrah’s New Orleans (now with Horseshoe Las Vegas).

There was a third award for non-players, and that was the Love of Poker Award, which went to both Judy LeBlanc and the late Ross Leitz. LeBlanc has been courageously battling cancer the past two years, but that hasn’t stopped her from showing up to play poker regularly at card rooms in the South.

McEwen Nabs Top Award for Poker Players

Preston McEwen
Preston McEwen

Perhaps the biggest award of them all — Player of the Year — went to Preston McEwen, who has been crushing it in 2023. The Tennessee native has over $1.6 million in lifetime live tournament cashes, according to The Hendon Mob.

In 2023, McEwen has nearly doubled his previous cashes with over $780,000 in earnings. That includes a World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) ring in Tunica at the start of the year for a career-best $183,653 score. He also finished third in August at Harrah’s Cherokee in another Circuit Main Event for $175,713.

McEwen beat out a number of high-profile players, including Angela Jordison, Maurice Hawkins, and 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion Daniel Weinman.

This wasn’t the first Gulf Coast Poker award for McEwen. In 2020, he took home the award for Breakout Player of the Year.

Gulf Coast Poker Awards
Gulf Coast Poker Awards presented by Maker’s Mark.

Cody Sanford claimed the Tour Player of the Year, while Jaymie Virtusio nabbed Female Player of the Year, and Jay Bishop earned Senior of the Year.

Complete List of Gulf Coast Poker Awards Recipients

Award Winner
Love of Poker Judy LeBlanc and Ross Leitz
Player of the Year Preston McEwen
Tour Player of the Year Cody Sanford
Senior of the Year Jay Bishop
Female of the Year Jaymie Virtusio
Industry Professional of the Year Chase Haydel
Content Provider of the Year Caitlin Comeskey


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