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Found 21 results

  1. In just two years, the Global Poker Index (GPI) has made huge strides in positioning itself as the authority on poker rankings. But that was only one piece of the puzzle, never the end game. Now, CEO Alexandre Dreyfus has announced the next step in GPI's plan to "sportify" poker and bring the game a whole new level of exposure. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by William Hill Poker, one of the largest skins on the iPoker Network. The poker room offers a generous welcome package including a 200% deposit bonus up to $2,000 and a superb VIP program. PocketFivers will love playing in the site's €1 million guaranteed iPOPS series, which runs through November 9. Visit William Hill today! --- In a recent blog post, the serial entrepreneur laid out his plans to fully capitalize on the "genuine legitimacy" that GPI rankings have achieved. The first comes in the form of the Global Poker Masters (GPM), the company's vision for a World Cup of Poker. Slated to be held in early 2015, Dreyfus explains that the GPM will bring together the top eight poker countries in the world. The team of each country will be comprised of five of that nation's top poker players and events will be live-streamed across the web through different media outlets. "We have clear precedents: tennis has the Davis Cup, football has the World Cup, and poker has the Global Poker Masters," he said. "On a personal level, I can't wait to see what happens when 'Team France' runs into 'Team USA.'" The last, and most "risky" part to GPI's plan is to create a professional poker league structured similarly to other major sports franchises. Dubbed the Global Poker League (GPL), teams will compete during a series of live events over the course of a season. Initially, six to eight teams will be created under the direction of a franchise owner, with the first season taking place over three to four months. "Unlike the Global Poker Masters… GPL teams will consist of 'draftable' players from GPI's rankings and wildcard entries," continued Dreyfus (pictured). "I've already presented this concept and terms for participation to a number of prospective future team owners." The GPI CEO understands that turning an inherently individualistic game like poker into a team sport could be a tough sell, but he is confident that the idea will catch on. "Reception has been warm across the board and we've already had a number of commitments from intrigued future 'franchise' owners," he said. "Commitments from leading figures from in front of and behind the felt are rolling in too." To back up the rationale behind his big gamble, Dreyfus was quick to point out the huge mainstream success that other individualistic "sports" have had. "NASCAR is owned by one family, Formula1 is owned by Bernie Ecclestone," he told PokerNews. "We, as the GPI, can own poker in this very specific vertical. I believe it's possible and I think the GPI is also fully legitimate to have that role." Dreyfus believes that star poker players and big events are undervalued and not reaching their marketing potential. "Let's say that you will be the owner of one team and that the project will go well and it will get the exposure we want it to get from mainstream sports media," he said. "This would open to a lot of marketing opportunities for you. You could turn your team into a brand or get big international companies to sign sponsorship deals that you, as the team's owner, would definitely benefit from." To achieve the exposure he believes poker deserves, Dreyfus wants to make sure to stay away from associating the game purely with money and online grinders who view the game is nothing more than a job. "That's not what mainstream media care about," he said. Using its poker rankings as the backbone for its future ventures, the GPI could be well on its way to turning poker into a game with mass-market sports appeal. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. In what was a wide-ranging three-hour discussion, the Chief Executive Officer of Mediarex Sports & Entertainment and the man behind the Global Poker Index, Alex Dreyfus (pictured), offered his vision to a few hundred video conference attendees on Twitch. That vision? "Sportifying" poker through what Dreyfus is calling the Global Poker League. Check out Part 1and Part 2 of the discussion. The first hour and fifteen minutes was Dreyfus detailing much of what he has previously said in other outlets and press releases. Testing out the philosophies through the Global Poker Masters, which held its first competition earlier this year, Dreyfus believes that the next step, the Global Poker League, "will duplicate the success of the Masters into a year-round event." "What we want is to create an experience where the fans – not the players – are engaged with it," Dreyfus said in the video presentation. "The only way to do that is to create storylines that last some time." With this in mind, Dreyfus envisioned the Global Poker League. Through a 12-week regular season, the GPL will feature 12 teams divided into two conferences. Six of those teams will make up GPL Americas – Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Sao Paulo – with the other six – London, Moscow, Paris, Prague, Barcelona, and Hong Kong – making up GPL EurAsia. "These cities were chosen because they are good markets, plenty of marketing possibilities," Dreyfus noted. The teams will feature owners, who were not revealed during the Q&A period but are expected to be "businessmen, hedge fund managers, and sports owners" that will make an initial two-year commitment. The owners will "draft" three players from the GPI 1000. There will be two "wild card" slots for each team, once again the choice of the owner, to fill out the five-man roster. "This provides a sport element to the proceedings," Dreyfus said. Dreyfus provided a timeline for the inaugural GPL season. The teams will be assembled between December 2015 and February 2016, with the first six weeks of the first GPL season to start thereafter. After a week's break, the second six weeks of the regular season will be contested before the GPL takes a hiatus for the 2016 World Series of Poker. Following the break, the top two Americas teams and the top two EurAsia teams will meet in what Dreyfus calls an "iconic" live setting to determine the Conference Champions and, eventually, the World Champion of the Global Poker League. The league will play in three different formats – online, in a "studio" arena, and in a "live" format – and will also play "innovative" forms of poker that will force the action. While playing in "The Cube" (pictured), an isolation booth, the players will stand, allowing for sponsorship sales on their backs as the fans watch. "We're making this experience a better one for the viewers, allowing for excitement during the event," Dreyfus believes. As to how the fans are going to be able to watch the action, Twitchwas a featured member of the broadcasting group. Dreyfus did not give any further details as to traditional cable or television broadcast companies that may join the GPL team and Dreyfus also held out the possibility that there could be a syndication element. The Q&A that followed Dreyfus' presentation touched on many different subjects, including player compensation, security of the games in non-casino venues, and the potential for a GPL event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Dreyfus attempted to be as forthcoming with information as possible, but with the GPL in its infancy, there is still much that isn't figured out. With this said, Dreyfus is aware of how difficult it will be to put everything together regarding the GPL. "I know it sounds impossible, every step seems as if it is impossible," he stated. "But we are going to experiment and sometimes we will fail. But we will find what works to make the GPL an exciting endeavor." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  3. The Global Poker Index (GPI) and Mediarex Sports & Entertainment (MSE) announced further details about the upcoming Global Poker League (GPL) on Tuesday, part of the GPI's CEO Alex Dreyfus' attempt to "sportify" poker. Not every detail was revealed in the press release issued by MSE, but it did give us a much better idea of how the Global Poker League will work. The first season will begin in the first quarter of 2016 and feature 12 teams of five players each. The league will be comprised of two conferences: the Americas Conference, which is expected to field teams from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Sao Paolo, and the Eurasia Conference, which will likely consist of London, Paris, Barcelona, Prague, Hong Kong, and Moscow. The first three players on each team will be acquired via a draft and the top 1,000 ranked players in the GPI will be eligible. The remaining two spots on each team will be filled via "Wild Card" players, though no details were given as to how those players will be selected. The teams will compete for "at least" 14 consecutive weeks in matches that will take place online, in live venues, and in television studios. One game type that was revealed is the "duel match," which will consist of 30- to 40-minute timed contests using digital cards and real chips outfitted with RFID technology. The idea is to have many more hands played than normal through the combination of the game clock and technology that will allow for cards to be dealt faster and chips to be counted faster. Details about other game formats were not announced. Players will also be standing throughout the games, which will supposedly provide "a more dynamic approach to game play." The Global Poker League is attempting to make the competitions spectator events and, as such, will be locating them in "iconic venues across the globe" rather than just in casinos. The GPL World Championships "will be staged at one of the most renowned sport and entertainment venues in the USA." Along those lines, the Global Poker League competitions will take place in a specially designed, 20-foot, one-way, sound-proofed, transparent cube called, appropriately enough, "The Cube" (pictured). It will be outfitted with all of the technological trappings to give the live audience a show: LED lighting, 3-D projection mapping, a video screen, and cameras. The goal of this whole thing, as mentioned earlier, is to "sportify" poker, to bring it out of its niche market and get casual sports and entertainment fans involved. It appears that by having teams represent different cities, the hope is that casual poker fans will get emotionally invested in their team even if they don't really know much about the players. As the saying goes, sports fans root for "laundry" rather than individual players, so the Global Poker League is trying to apply the same idea to poker. In a survey of poker fans taken last month, 30% supposedly said that they were interested in buying tickets to GPL events, while 25% said they would buy GPL and team merchandise. Almost two-thirds said they would watch the GPL World Championships. Participants in the Global Poker League will not have to put up their own money to play. Prize money will be derived from various revenue streams like advertising, merchandising, and ticket sales. All contests will be streamed online and some will be broadcast on television. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  4. [caption width="640"] Anatoly Filatov hopes the Russian fighting spirit will lead the Moscow Wolverines to GPL success[/caption] If you believe American pop culture, the Russians are always the bad guys. In Rocky IV, Ivan Drago was meant to destroy Rocky Balboa. In Rambo, Colonel Podovsky was the one torturing John Rambo. In the WWF, Nikolai Volkoff wouldn’t begin his matches until he sang the Soviet national anthem. Granted, those are all throwbacks to the Cold War, but you get the point. As the Global Poker League makes its way through its first season Anatoly Filatov is hoping to be anything but a bad guy. Still, the 28-year-old Moscow Wolverines team manager went into the inaugural draft and with a really short list of players he was targeting. “I mostly concentrated on Russian and (Commonwealth of Independent States) players because they were more clear for me. Some of them are my friends and I know what to expect from them,” said Filatov. “My strategy was to find flexible people who can work in the team and adapt to different circumstances.” To that end Filatov filled his four spots with three Russian players and another with strong ties to the former Soviet Union. With his first pick, eighth overall, Filatov took one of the hottest players in poker today, Dzmitry Urbanovich. The 20-year old poker pro, who was born in Belarus but now lives in Poland, won European Poker Tour Player of the Year last season and last month took down the EPT Dublin Main Event for the third biggest score of his career. From there, Filatov went full Russian and had more than a few heads turning as he filled out his roster. In the second round he chose Vladimir Troyanovskiy, fresh off of his fifth place finish in the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event. With over $4,000,000 in lifetime earnings, Troyanovskiy is a successful tournament player. Filatov selected Andrey Pateychuk and Sergey Lebedev in the third and fourth round respectively. Pateychuk already has EPT and World Poker Tour titles to his credit and is the ninth highest ranked online player in Russia. When Filatov selected Lebedev with his final pick, those watching the live stream were left with one question. “Uhh, who?” Lebedev has made final tables in Europe, Asia and North America but hasn’t broken through with a live win just yet. He’s banked over $1.2 million in tournament earnings with a quarter of that coming in the last four months. While the general public might not be overly familiar with his roster, Filatov is quite happy to have built his team around players from his part of the world. “I must admit that it played a huge role for me, because we need to communicate well and have the common mentality. That`s why I prefer to choose mostly Russian-speaking or European players,” said Filatov, who also took into consideration the enthusiasm the players showed for the GPL concept. Enthusiasm is what got Filatov interested in the GPL in the first place. Not his mind you, but that of GPL founder Alex Dreyfus. “Some time ago Alex called me and described the concept. We talked a lot about the ideas that they have to promote and how these events will develop poker as a sport,” said Filatov. “His vision of this project, enthusiasm inspired me to lead the Moscow team and I didn`t doubt that I wanted to be involved in it.” Even though the Cold War is long over, Filatov is happy to some Russian history when it comes to his team name and logo. “I like the red color of the logo because its associates with 'Red Machine' – the USSR hockey team and Red Square," said Filatov. "And the the logo shows Russian character and fighting spirit.”
  5. [caption width="640"] Davidi Kitai of the Paris Aviators won the first Global Poker League tournament.[/caption] After months of build up and hype, the Global Poker League finally got cards in the air this week with three days of action and it was two players, Randy Lew of the Hong Kong Stars and Davidi Kitai of the Paris Aviators, who stole the show. Kitai gets the honor of going down in history books as the first winner of a GPL tournament. Kitai came out on top of a Six Max match that included Daniel Cates, Dzmitry Urbanovich and Igor Kurganov. Lew, one of the wildcard picks for the Stars, left his heads-up match with Sergey Lebedev of the Moscow Wolverines with a perfect record – the only player to do so in Week 1. The schedule has teams playing Six Max matches, one player from each squad, on Tuesdays and Heads Up matches on Wednesday and Thursday. Teams play against their own conference until the Summer Series when inter-conference play is introduced for the first time. Day 1 The Paris Aviators had the best opening day in the Eurasian Conference. David Kitai won the first Six Max match and finished third in the second to earn 10 points for the Aviators. The Hong Kong Stars picked up the win in the second match-up thanks to Raiden Kan. The most talked about hand from Week 1 was a hero fold by the Belgian that seemed to dominate post-match conversation. With a 5-1 chip lead over Kurganov, Kitai checked his option with [poker card="ts"][poker card="8h"] after Kurganov limped his button with [poker card="ac"][poker card="8c"]. Kitai then checked the [poker card="8s"][poker card="4d"][poker card="3s"] flop to Kurganov who bet 1,600. Kitai check-raised to 4,444 only to have Kurganov reply with a re-raise to 7,288. Kitai folded, leaving announcers Griffin Benger and Sam Grafton in shock. The other end of the spectrum was the Berlin Bears. Daniel Cates managed to post sixth place finishes in both matches, leaving the Bears without any points after Day 1. Cates admitted on Twtter later to being distracted while playing his GPL match. In Americas Conference play, Jason Wheeler, of the New York Rounders, also had a win and third place finish to give his team 10 points. The Las Vegas Moneymakers also had a strong showing thanks to Anthony Zinno finishing runner-up in both matches. And Anthony Gregg repeated Cates’ performance, posting identical sixth place finishes for the San Francisco Rush in both matches. Day 2 With the Six Max matches out of the way, the schedule turned to Heads Up matches in the Eurasian Conference. The Hong Kong Stars vaulted themselves into first place in their division thanks to Randy Lew’s 3-0 sweep of Sergey Lebedev of the Moscow Wolverines. Lew was the only player over the course of two days of heads-up matches to win all three. Grospellier earned six points by beating Cates 2-1 in their match while Justin Bonomo did the same for the London Royals beating Timothy Adams of the Rome Emperors 2-1. Day 3 The third day was all about the Americas Conference. Possibly the most highly anticipated match saw the L.A. Sunset’s Olivier Busquet, considered by some to be the best heads-up sit & go player in the world, going up against Darren Elias of the Sao Paulo Metropolitans. Busquet earned six points for the Sunset, beating Elias 2-1. All three Americans Conference heads-up matches ended with identical 2-1 scores. Tom Marchese of the New York Rounders beat Anthony Zinno of the Las Vegas Moneymakers and the San Francisco Rush got six points from Anton Wigg beating the Montreal Nationals’ Martin Jacobson 2-1. Zinno and Cates were the only two players to play every match for their team in Week 1. Week 1 MVP Sure, Lew went 3-0 in his match against Lebedev and deserves some consideration, but Kitai gets the Week 1 honors. The Belgian pro earned 10 points for his team with a win and a third place finish in the Six Max matches and gave those who tuned in on Twitch something to talk about with his amazing fold against Kurganov. Standings Week 2 Schedule Tuesday, April 12 12:00 pm ET Six Max: Eurasia Conference 1:40 pm ET Six Max: Eurasia Conference 3:30 pm ET Six Max: Americas Conference 5:10 pm ET Six Max: Americas Conference Wednesday, April 13 12:00 pm ET Heads Up: London Royals vs. Hong Kong Stars 2:30 pm ET Heads Up: Paris Aviators vs. Rome Emperors 5:00 pm ET Heads Up: Moscow Wolverines vs. Berlin Bears Thursday, April 14 1:00 pm ET Heads Up: Sao Paulo Metropolitans vs. Montreal Nationals 3:30 pm ET Heads Up: San Francisco Rush vs. New York Rounders 6:00 pm ET Heads Up: Las Vegas Moneymakers vs. L.A. Sunset All matches are streamed live on Twitch.tv/GPL.
  6. [CAPTION=100%]The GPL schedule includes the finals in London this November.[/CAPTION] The Global Poker League is one of the most ambitious poker initiatives launched this year. With the inaugural season kicking off in less than a week, organizers announced the full schedule of events, which includes 15 game weeks, 400+ hours of live streamed content and a two-day final held at The SSE Arena in London at Wembley. Poker fans will enjoy six months of battles between the league’s 12 teams, with the first live matches taking place on Tuesday, April 5. The season wraps up with a playoff event in North America and culminates with the GPL Finals on November 22-23. The league hopes to capture the attention of some of the world’s 100 million poker fans by streaming events live on Twitch and on GPL.TV. "While there is a huge existing fan base for poker, it is largely fragmented because of the isolated nature of existing poker initiatives," said GPL founder Alex Dreyfus. "GPL has an aggressive vision to build new storylines and narratives to engage poker fans with the poker stars playing in the league." Season one will unfold in the following four phases: GPL Regular Season: (April 5-September 22) Matches will be held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as to not compete with the big weekend games. The contests will be accompanied by an eSports style broadcast, with competitive online matches played out on GPL’s game platform. GPL Summer Series: (June 6-July 8) This phase includes 33 days of heads-up contests filmed live at GPL’s Las Vegas studio. GPL Playoffs: (TBD) The league plays down to four places before heading to the finals. GPL Finals: (November 22-23) The first ever GPL Finals play out live at the SSE Arena in Wembley. The GPL chose Wembley as its final destination due to London’s international flavor and gaming-friendly setting. "London gives us the opportunity to build a fully immersive, interactive experience for the GPL Finals thanks to its regulated online sports betting environment," Dreyfus said. "We are going to connect fans with one another as well as the GPL players at a leading entertainment venue. The experience is more than just 'sit and watch' – it's full engagement." Poker presenter and London Royals manager Liv Boeree was equally excited about the location of the finals. "The SSE Arena has so many great memories for me with all the gigs I’ve seen there, so I’m absolutely chuffed that poker is the first eSports spectator event that will be hosted at this awesome venue," she said. Dreyfus created the league after noticing what he believed was a decline in poker entertainment, while at the same time watching the dynamic eSports industry explode. By "shaking up" the game with innovations like The Cube, a soundproof glass box where players will face off in front of a live audience, Dreyfus believes that the game can experience a new surge of popularity. Tickets for GPL events go on sale in May, with exact dates announced in the near future. You can see the full schedule of events here.
  7. [caption width="640"] Celina Lin relied heavily on her personal connections to construct the Hong Kon Stars roster.[/caption] One of the core concepts of the Global Poker League is taking a game that has always been about individuals and making it about a team of players and personalities. Attaching those teams to a geographic region and giving poker fans in that part of the country a reason to cheer for their local team is another. On draft day last Thursday, nobody May have done more for their local market than Hong Kong Stars manager Celina Lin. Through the four rounds of the draft, Lin was entirely focused on players from Asian markets, something she admitted was her strategy before the draft even began. “I would like the team to feel comfortable and at home, so since I live mainly in Asia, I will look to draft players from my region who regularly play in the PokerStars Live Macau tournaments,” Lin said on draft day. The Hong Kong Stars Roster: Weiyi Zhang (China) - $257,873 career live earnings - #614 on GPI Raiden Kan (Hong Kong) - $908,891 career live earnings - #284 on GPI Dong Guo (China) - $555,656 career live earnings - #431 on GPI Bryan Huang (Singapore) $854,703 career live earnings - #474 on GPI “The idea of having a unified team amongst many different markets/communities brings me to believe we will have strong team morale,” said Lin, a Team PokerStars Online pro. “One of the key characteristics I was paying attention to during the draft was players with an e-gaming background, especially Hearthstone, as I feel many elements are comparable to poker.” Lin was the only manager to not draft a single player ranked in the top 25 of the Global Poker Index. Lin was first approached by GPL founder Alex Dreyfus about running the Stars franchise and was immediately on board. “Alex reached out to me. He was looking for the right ambassador to manage and represent the Hong Kong Stars,” said Lin. “Since I have lived in Macau/Hong Kong the past five years, I’m very familiar with the players and am well-respected in the poker community.” It was that familiarity with the Asian players that turned heads on draft day. As Lin made her way to the stage and announced each pick, more than a few other GPL managers had to ask, “Who’s that?” That sort of risk-taking is something she apparently shares with and admires in Dreyfus. “The idea of ‘sportifying’ poker is an exciting new take on promoting the game like never before. It puts an interesting twist on the game we already know and love,” said Lin. “The idea of playing in ‘The Cube’ on a global stage in front of thousands of people drives me to give my 100% effort into forming and representing the Hong Kong Stars.” While she has plenty of experience as a player – she has $581,359 in career earnings and is 14th on China’s all-time money list – she will now be managing a group of players, something entirely new to her. “As a poker player, you are used to working alone. As the GPL manager for the Hong Kong Stars, I will be working and managing other poker players, something I have never done before,” said Lin. “If I can find good, helpful, hard-working people who are team players, I think my role as the manager will be a breeze.” While Lin didn’t have a hand in naming her team or designing the logo, she’s thrilled that it ties in some cultural aspects of Hong Kong and some of her personal poker story. “I do have to say that the logo is very fitting, as it reminds me of my success of winning the Red Dragon main event twice in Macau,” said Lin.
  8. [caption width="550"] Chris 'moorman1' Moorman is one of 203 players eligible for the Global Poker League Draft[/caption] The draft is one of the highlights of any sporting event's season. The NFL Draft is spread over multiple days and attracts hundreds of reporters and thousands of fans. The NBA Draft is only two rounds, upping the drama. Fantasy football enthusiasts probably already have next season's draft date circled on their calendars. The Global Poker League will hold its first ever player draft later this month in Los Angeles. On Friday, the league released the list of 203 players, including many longstanding and successful members of the online poker community, who have made themselves eligible for the GPL Draft. Last month, the GPL announced a dozen franchises, whose rosters will now be filled out with players from around the world: the Berlin Bears, Hong Kong Dragons, Los Angeles Sunset, Las Vegas Moneymakers, London Royals, Montreal Nationals, Moscow Wolverines, New York Rounders, Paris Aviators, Rome Emperors, San Francisco Rush, and Sao Paulo Metropolitans. Members of the online poker community like Faraz 'The-Toilet' Jaka and Bryn Kenney were tasked with managing teams. Now for the draft. The 203 draftable players boast earnings in excess of $560 million and include six of the top 10 players in the Global Poker Index (GPI). They hail from 33 countries around the world. Online poker players in the top 10 of the GPI who have signed up for the draft include Jason 'treysfull21' Mercier, who has $16.3 million in live tournament winnings according to the Hendon Mob, and over $2 million online. Mercier is #6 in the GPI and is the fourth highest ranked player to register for the GPL draft. "I'm excited to do anything that has the potential to grow the game of poker," Mercier said of his entry into the draft. Also in the top 10 of the GPI and draftable for the GPL is Kevin 'ImaLuckSac' MacPhee, who boasts $5.4 million in career live winnings and another $7.1 million online. MacPhee was ranked as high as #7 worldwide on PocketFives in 2009. The most successful online poker player to enter the fray is, without question, Chris 'moorman1' Moorman, who has almost $13 million in career online tournament winnings, the most of any player. Moorman has also piled up a record 25 PocketFives Triple Crowns and won the Monthly PocketFives Leaderboard four times. Moorman is a former #1 online player and will be a valuable commodity for whichever GPL team drafts him. Fedor 'CrownUpGuy' Holz, who has been on a tear of biblical proportions, also threw his hat into the ring. Holz won the 2014 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker Main Event and has taken down a litany of high-profile online tournaments over the years, including the Sunday 500 and Full Tilt Sunday Major. He hit #1 on PocketFives in late 2014 and won High Roller events in December and January for $5 million total. Managers can also select from the likes of Scott 'BigRiskky' Clements, Mike 'goleafsgoeh' Leah, Shannon Shorr, Mohsin 'chicagocards1' Charania, Justin 'ZeeJustin" Bonomo, Christian 'charder' Harder, Jonathan 'FieryJustice' Little, Sorel 'Imper1um' Mizzi, Sam 'KingKobeMVP' Stein, Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier, Dani 'ansky451' Stern, Chris 'Big Huni' Hunichen, Joe 'ender555' Ebanks, Isaac 'mr. menlo' Baron, Chad 'evechad' Eveslage, Matt 'mcmatto' Affleck, Chris 'SLOPPYKLOD' Klodnicki, and Bryan 'bparis' Paris. Needless to say, the field is stacked with talent borne out of the online poker world. Well-known live pros that will take part on the GPL draft include Allen Kessler, Jeff Madsen, Anthony Zinno, and Byron Kaverman, the latter of whom is the #1 ranked player in the GPI and the owner of almost $7 million in live tournament winnings. Kaverman banked $3.4 million from live events in 2015 and is approaching $7 million for his career. Zinno is the second highest-ranked GPI player in the draft and has three World Poker Tour titles, tied for the most by anyone. Antonio Esfandiari is arguably the most successful live pro to be draftable come February 25. He's #3 on the all-time money list, according to the Hendon Mob, trailing only Daniel Negreanu and Erik Seidel, neither of whom entered their names into the GPL sorting hat. Esfandiari has over $26 million in career live winnings. Former World Series of Poker Main Event winner Jonathan Duhamel could be drafted as well. The Canadian won the Main Event in Las Vegas six years ago and is #10 on poker's all-time money list. Duhamel has $17.5 million in live winnings and earned two bracelets last year, proving he's still highly relevant. Also likely to be taken off the board early is Vanessa Selbst, #23 on poker's all-time money list. Selbst is the highest-earning female poker player and won the Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout in mid-2015 for a million bucks. She has a GPI ranking of #447. GPL managers will field a five-man squad, which may or may not include themselves. The draft will take place on February 25 from the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills and will be live-streamed on Twitch starting at 2pm Pacific Time for those who can't make it out to LA. Only players in the top 1,000 of the GPI were eligible for the draft, and player contracts have been a hot topic on Twitter. The draft order will be drawn on February 18. Players do not need to be connected in any way to the city their team represents. Matches in a specially-designed "cube" will take place as part of the GPL. Heads-up and six-man games will also occur as the season plays out, as will online events.
  9. [caption width="640"] Chris Moneymaker is the only GPL manager with a team named for him.[/caption] 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker is already credited with being one of the driving forces of poker's explosion in popularity following his win, but over a decade later Moneymaker is part of what he hopes to be a second boom. Moneymaker is heading up the Las Vegas-based Global Poker League team with his last name leading the way, an honor that the former world champ is greatly humbled by. "When you look around at all the great players in today’s game, it’s a huge honor to be one of 12 team owners. It means I am still respected by my peers, and that is very humbling," Moneymaker said, noting that the GPL is something that poker needs to create that "next wave of poker superstars." As an icon of the first poker boom, Moneymaker said he’s been pitched with dozens of poker-related ideas over the last few years but has also been hesitant to get involved in most of them, as he "didn’t believe in the concept or the people behind it." That is not the case with the GPL, as Moneymaker believes wholeheartedly in the brand and the people behind it. "I met with Alex (Dreyfus) a year ago in the infancy of the idea. I think we shared the same vision for the league and what it could do for poker," Moneymaker said. While he was more or less there from the start, he admits that it was "all Alex." "He put all the time, money, and effort into making it a reality," he said. "I truly think that the GPL is a great idea and has the right guy at the helm." While Dreyfus is at the helm of the upstart league, Moneymaker is at the helm of the Las Vegas Moneymakers, a name he is honored by but also thinks "fits well" with Las Vegas and poker culture. Moneymaker doesn't want to look too far into the future, remaining focused on the inaugural season before anything else, a year in which he expects "slow and steady growth," but admits that he wouldn’t be surprised if the GPL became bigger than most expect through the early stages of development. "There has already been extreme interest from the poker community. I think it will be a great thing for poker," he said. Since Moneymaker’s 2003 victory, which took the poker world by storm, the game has grown exponentially. Moneymaker’s hope is that the GPL can have a similar effect on the game that his WSOP win did. It’s impossible to tell whether that will happen, but Moneymaker is willing to do his part and will be using a draft strategy to do just that. "I’m looking for team players first, but also players who will utilize media opportunities to grow the GPL and their respective brands." Moneymaker knows a thing or two about branding, as he’s been a face of PokerStars and the WSOP over the better part of the last decade-and-a-half. He hasn’t forgotten his roots through all of that, though, as he’s hoping the GPL not only helps produce the next wave poker superstars, but also encourages players who haven’t yet made it. "I’m also looking for that unknown guy who, like me, is looking for his shot," he said. Moneymaker already took his "shot" and hit, big. He’s now hoping that the Global Poker League can do the same, as he leads the Las Vegas Moneymakers into this week’s draft and beyond. The Las Vegas Moneymakers pick fifth overall.
  10. [caption width="595"] The Global Poker League held its draft lottery on Tuesday[/caption] "Tonight is a very special night," Global Poker League mastermind Alex Dreyfus opened by saying. "It's the first show about GPL, and it's the draft. The draft was the important key element." Those were some of the first words spoken on Tuesday as part of the GPL's Draft Lottery show, which aired on Twitch and occurred just one month after the franchises were unveiled. The teams were drawn in reverse order, meaning the first team selected received the 12th pick and the final ball drawn got the coveted first pick. Here is the draft order for the inaugural GPL season: Rome Emperors Montreal Nationals New York Rounders San Francisco Rush Las Vegas Moneymakers Sao Paolo Metropolitans London Royals Moscow Wolverines Los Angeles Sunset Berlin Bears Paris Aviators Hong Kong Stars "Because the field was so good, we decided to increase the number of players who will be draftable," Dreyfus continued. "We will have 12 teams of six players instead of 12 teams of five players." There will be four rounds of the snake-style draft, which will take place on February 25 from the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles. Who Will Be Drafted First? The camera panned to Global Poker Index editor Eric Danis for reaction. He stopped short of betting his first born child that Italy's Mustapha Kanit, who just won the EPT Dublin High Roller Event, would be the first player drafted. "I think this is a no-brainer," Danis said. "I think (Rome Emperors manager) Max Pescatori is the man to bring Mustapha Kanit back to Italy." [caption width="640"] Mustapha Kanit could be the first player drafted[/caption] Picking right behind the Emperors are the Montreal Nationals, captained by Canadian Marc-Andre Ladouceur. "This is not a selection that Marc-Andre necessarily wanted," Danis said. "It'll be fun to see what he decides to do. There are a lot of Canadian players, but… nationality doesn't matter. There are also a few great Germans out there and a few great Swedes." Danis mentioned a safe pick at #2 overall could be 2010 Main Event winner and Quebec native Jonathan Duhamel. Picking at #10 overall in the snake draft are the Berlin Bears, captained by Philipp Gruissem. "Berlin is going to be disappointed," Danis explained. "I think Philipp would like to add Fedor Holz to his team, but I don't think Fedor is going to fall to #10... That's one of the teams that will not go with national pride. They are looking at players from around the world." The GPL draft takes place on February 25 in Los Angeles. Managers do not need to pick players from their home country or city; anyone in the draft pool is eligible.
  11. The Global Poker League, or GPL, has announced the names and locations of its 12 franchises. As a press release from GPL explained, there are "12 cities, 12 franchises, 12 brands, and as many reasons to build a platform to aggregate fan engagement for the 100 million poker fans (51 million in the USA) in the world." The 12 franchises that will make up the GPL, along with their managers, are as follows: Berlin Bears: Philipp Gruissem, Team Manager Hong Kong Dragons: Celina Lin, Team Manager Los Angeles Sunset: Maria Ho, Team Manager Las Vegas Moneymakers: Chris Moneymaker, Team Manager London Royals: Liv Boeree, Team Manager Montreal Nationals: Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Team Manager Moscow Wolverines: Anatoly Filatov, Team Manager New York Rounders: Bryn Kenney, Team Manager Paris Aviators: Fabrice Soulier, Team Manager Rome Emperors: Max Pescatori, Team Manager San Francisco Rush: Faraz Jaka, Team Manager Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Andre Akkari, Team Manager If you're doing the math, that's one franchise in Asia, one in South America, one in Canada, five in Europe, and four in the United States. The 12 team managers total 71 career live wins, 405 top-10 finishes, and $46 million in live tournament earnings. Each team's manager is now tasked with drafting their five-man squad. The GPL Draft will take place at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills on February 25 preceding the American Poker Awards. Kara Scott will host the draft, which will also feature analysis from players like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu. The gala will be live-streamed on Twitch starting at 2pm Pacific Time for those who can't make it out to LA. [caption width="450"] Faraz Jaka, manager of the San Francisco Rush[/caption] Managers are not required to be one of the five players on the active roster for a franchise. In other words, the manager can elect to draft or not draft himself. Managers and drafted players have two-year commitments for 2016 and 2017. Chris Moorman, Darren Elias, Anthony Zinno, and Fedor Holz are among those who will attend the GPL draft, making them eligible to be selected for a team. According to the same press release, drafted players will get all they can handle poker-wise: "The Global Poker League will provide a new level of fan engagement, with live events and innovative new game play formats. Its combination of online, studio, and venue-based events aims to ignite the passion of the 100 million-plus existing poker fans worldwide." [caption width="555"] Chris Moneymaker will manage the Las Vegas Moneymakers[/caption] Chris Moneymaker, whose iconic win in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event helped spark the modern poker boom, was announced as the Las Vegas franchise's manager last week. Alex Dreyfus, the brains behind the GPL, commented, "Today is an exciting day in Global Poker League history. The confirmation of our team managers is a crucial step towards our goal. We've secured an incredible amount of talented leaders to represent our 12 franchise teams as well as strong intent from some of the world's best poker players to make themselves draftable on February 25. We're looking forward to what the next few months and the inaugural season of the Global Poker League will bring for fans across the globe." [caption width="640"] Alex Dreyfus, the brains behind the Global Poker League[/caption] Dreyfus shared the logic behind what 12 cities received teams with PocketFives on Wednesday: "These 12 cities have been chosen for their marketing potential and to represent poker globally." Certain GPL competitions will take place in a specially-designed, transparent cube called, you guessed it, "The Cube." Events will run in "iconic venues across the globe," while the league's finale "will be staged at one of the most renowned sport and entertainment venues in the USA." No firm start date for the first GPL season has been given.
  12. [caption width="640"] Andre Akkari represents Brazil in the GPL - but that doesn't mean he's only drafting his fellow countrymen.[/caption] Andre Akkari is a very proud Brazilian. He bleeds gold and green. So when the Global Poker League came calling for him to be the manager of the only Brazilian team – the Sao Paulo Metropolitans - in their inaugural season, Akkari was more than happy to answer. “I loved the idea since the first moment and I was looking for a way to be involved on this,” said Akkari. It was almost a year ago that Akkari first got wind of the GPL. Founder Alex Dreyfus was in Monaco for the European Poker Tour Grand Final and was gauging interest of players. Now, Akkari, who ranks third on Brazil’s all-time earnings list, is readying himself for the first season and knows the key to a great team starts with the GPL Draft this Thursday. “The draft is a really big moment. I have a lot of pressure in Brazil, so it will probably be impossible for me to please everyone,” said Akkari. “I am focused on drafting the best I can, whether I have Brazilians or not. I want the Sao Paolo Mets to be the first GPL champions.” The Brazilian poker scene is full of great tournament players and Akkari could easily draft just for nationalistic pride, but before he looks at passports, Akkari has some other requirements for what he’s looking for to make up his initial roster. “First of all I am looking for a great heads-up player. I have to think about the way that we are going to compete and a great heads-up player is really important,” said Akkari. “Then I am looking for a great six-max player. There are a lot of players that can take this position.” Filling his roster with skilled players is important, but thanks to the unique GPL team concept, Akkari recognizes he’ll need to make sure he’s got people willing to do more than just be a great individual player. “I want to try to get great players, but also get some great people. We will be a team, we will have to create relationships, talk strategies every day, share the energy and the game plan,” said Akkari. “It’s not easy to build it, but I think I can do that.” Since the list of 203 draft eligible players was released last week, Akkari has been in contact with some of them to see if they’d be interested in joining the Metropolitans. Spending a good chunk of his calendar year playing tournaments around the world, Akkari has been using recent trips, including EPT Dublin, to get some valuable face time with potential teammates. “Some people might be surprised because they don’t know a lot of Latin American players and maybe if I draft one or two of them, they will think that it’s because of where they’re from, but its not,” said Akkari. “We have some amazing players, online players, heads-up players, but obviously the names at the top of the Global Poker Index are the most valuable players right now.” While he’s been busy doing his draft homework, Akkari can’t get over the fact that he gets to be a part of something of new and represent his native Brazil in the process. In his mind, the GPL is set to take the game of poker to an entirely new level. “I truly believe that poker is a mind sport. After several years, we brought this concept to the Brazilian community and GPL is completely related with this spirit, the energy of the competition,” said Akkari. That energy and passion for poker is something that Akkari thinks will be an advantage for the Sao Paulo squad no matter who is on the team. “I am a genuine 'Paulista,' so it’s a blessing to be representing the city. The Brazilians are so excited for the draft and to support the SP Mets,” said Akkari. “And everybody that plays poker knows that when the Brazilians supporters are involved, it's trouble time for our opponents.” Akkari picks sixth overall on Thursday.
  13. [caption width="640"] "Breaking Bad" actor Aaron Paul has been drafted by the Global Poker League's LA Sunset.[/caption] Last week, "Breaking Bad" actor Aaron Paul was a guest on the "Late Late Show with James Corden." This week, he's the newest member of the Global Poker League's LA Sunset, the second and final wild card pick from team manager Maria Ho. "I love poker as a game and mind sport, so I'm excited to be part of this new eSports league," Paul said. "Representing the LA Sunset together with some of the best players in the world should be a blast." A blast indeed. Paul joins a Sunset team that includes Fedor 'CrownUpGuy' Holz, Olivier Busquet, Eugene Katchalov, and Chance Kornuth, a veritable gauntlet of poker talent. The Sunset's players have a combined career winnings north of $30 million, according to the league. Paul may be best known for playing Jesse Pinkman on the hit AMC show "Breaking Bad." He's also a lead on the ongoing Hulu show "The Path" and played Joshua in the 2014 movie Exodus: Gods and Kings. He has been acting ever since the late 1990s, according to IMDB. "Poker as we know it has existed for decades, but with the eSports boom, the GPL is creating a new competitive format very similar to what conventional sports have done in the US," Ho said. "We've had a lot of opportunities to include celebrities who happen to also be talented players, but in my experience Aaron is one of the most committed to the sport of poker right now. He wants to learn and beat the best. He's an amazing addition to the LA Sunset and I'm hoping he’ll end up being a pivotal part of our team being a winning hand." GPL President Alex Dreyfus, who is guiding the league into its second week of matches, added, "We created GPL to engage with the game's global fan base. Having Aaron Paul joining the league with a wild card spot on the LA Sunset is an amazing milestone for us, especially because he himself is a real fan. I can't wait to see him learn, play, and I hope he does well." After Week 1, Ho's team is in fourth place in the GPL Americas Standings out of six teams with nine points and one win. Busquet beat the Sao Paulo Mets' Darren Elias in the opening week of the league, defeating Elias in the first two games before Elias took the third match. The team is back in action on Thursday of this week, facing off against the Las Vegas Moneymakers, captained by 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker. The Global Poker League consists of a dozen franchises. Its first-ever draft was held in February alongside the American Poker Awards in the Sunset's home city of Los Angeles. The regular season of the league, which seeks to "sportify" poker, culminates in the playoffs this fall and the GPL Finals in London in November. According to the league, there are over 51 million poker fans in US and over 100 million around the world.
  14. [caption width="640"] Mustapha Kanit was the first player selected in the Global Poker League draft[/caption] Mustapha Kanit is one helluva poker player. As of Thursday afternoon, he’s also the answer to a future trivia question. Who was the first player selected to play in the Global Poker League? Kanit went first overall to the Rome Emperors on Thursday as the GPL held their inaugural draft at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Kanit was one of 48 players chosen by the 12 GPL team managers on Thursday. The second overall pick went to the Montreal Nationals, managed by Marc-Andre Ladouceur. While most observers expected the Nationals to draft fellow French-Canadian Jonathan Duhamel, Ladouceur took a different approach and instead chose Mike McDonald. Other players chosen in the first round include Jason Mercier, Phil Galfond and Fedor Holz. Mercier was one of few draftees in attendance and was quick to thank his new manager, Bryn Kenney, and the GPL. “Being a professional poker player is a great honor and we need to be great ambassadors to the game and this is a great opportunity for all of us,” said Mercier. Complete First Round Selections Rome Emperors: Mustapha Kanit Montreal Nationals: Mike McDonald New York Rounders: Jason Mercier San Francisco Rush: Phil Galfond Las Vegas Moneymakers: Anthony Zinno Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Darren Elias London Royals: Igor Kurganov Moscow Wolverines: Dzmitry Urbanovich L.A. Sunset: Fedor Holz Berlin Bears: Brian Rast Paris Aviators: Bertrand Grospellier Hong Kong Stars: Weiyi Zhang The second round began with Hong Kong Stars manager Celina Lin drafting Hong Kong pro Raiden Kan. All four of Lin’s picks were players with strong ties to the Chinese or Hong Kong poker community. While managers were encouraged to draft players with connections to their city, Lin was the only manager to do so. The London Royals drafted Vanessa Selbst 18th overall and 2014 WSOP Main Event champion Martin Jacobson went 23rd overall to the Nationals. The Emperors closed the round by drafting another Italian, Dario Sammartino. Complete Second Round Selections Hong Kong Stars: Raiden Kan Paris Aviators: Davidi Kitai Berlin Bears: Sorel Mizzi L.A. Sunset: Olivier Busquet Moscow Wolverines: Vladimir Troyanovskiy London Royals: Vanessa Selbst Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Byron Kaverman Las Vegas Moneymakers: Jonathan Duhamel San Francisco Rush: Anthony Gregg New York Rounders: Thomas Marchese Montreal Nationals: Martin Jacobson Rome Emperors: Dario Sammartino After drafting Italian pros with his first two picks, Pescatori went a different direction with the first pick of the third round. Pescatori added Canadian pro Timothy Adams to his roster. Rounders manager Bryn Kenney was able to add one of his good friends to his team with the 27th overall pick, Kevin MacPhee. Online poker’s all-time leading money winner, Chris Moorman, also heard his name called in the third round. London Royals manager Liv Boeree drafted Moorman 31st overall. Complete Third Round Selections Rome Emperors: Timothy Adams Montreal Nationals: Pascal Lafrancois New York Rounders: Kevin MacPhee San Francisco Rush: Kitty Kuo Las Vegas Moneymakers: Jake Cody Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Thiago Nishijima London Royals: Chris Moorman Moscow Wolverines: Andrey Pateychuk L.A. Sunset: Eugene Katchalov Berlin Bears: Dominik Nitsche Paris Aviators: George Danzer Hong Kong Stars: Dong Guo The fourth and final round started with a quick change in the formalities. Managers were originally told they could defer their fourth pick and instead be given an extra Wildcard selection to use in Season 1. After a meeting with all managers, it was determined that all teams would draft a fourth player to fill out their initial roster. After Lin finished her team by drafting Bryan Huang, the Paris Aviators took Canadian Mike Leah and the Berlin Bears drafted Jeff Gross. Other big names added to teams in the fourth round include Chance Kornuth, Justin Bonomo, Joao Pires Simao and Jonathan Little. Complete Fourth Round Selections Hong Kong Stars: Bryan Huang Paris Aviators: Mike Leah Berlin Bears: Jeff Gross L.A. Sunset: Chance Kornuth Moscow Wolverines: Sergey Lebedev London Royals: Justin Bonomo Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Joao Pires Simao Las Vegas Moneymakers: Jonathan Little San Francisco Rush: Anton Wigg New York Rounders: Jason Wheeler Montreal Nationals: Xuan Liu Rome Emperors: Walter Treccarichi
  15. [caption width="640"] Liv Boeree is one of three female managers in the 12-team Global Poker League[/caption] A common, almost regular topic of conversation in poker circles is women and their role in poker. That discussion in a whole is for a different day, but three female players will be playing a big role this year, as they manage their respective Global Poker League teams. While Maria Ho heads the Los Angeles team and Celina Lin represents Hong Kong, perhaps the most well-known female pro in the game leads one of the European entries. England’s Liv Boeree readies herself for the challenge of a lifetime in leading the London Royals into the first season of the GPL. Throughout her life and career, the Team PokerStars Pro hasn’t seemed to meet a challenge she can’t overcome. Boeree earned a First Class Honors degree in Physics from the University of Manchester and over the last few years has been one of the highest ranked female players in the world according to the GPI rankings system. It’s the above success that makes Boeree the perfect candidate to not only manage a team in the GPL, but also to be one of the faces of the league, a league that she is excited to be a part of. “It’s a huge honor to be asked to be part of the Global Poker League,” Boeree said, adding that what excites her most is the “sheer scale of the operation that Alex is trying to achieve.” The Alex she mentions is Alex Dreyfus, the man behind the GPL. While she admits that she, Alex, and the entire poker community are “kind of jumping into the unknown,” she remains confident with the team behind the first season of the GPL. Boeree added, “(Alex is) unbelievably determined to create a format that appeals to the mass e-sports audience and beyond.” Many managers share the same sentiment and with the GPL operating on a worldwide scale, the sky really is the limit. If there is anyone who knows something about worldwide projects, it’s Boeree. She’s one of the co-founders of Raising for Effective Giving, or REG Charity, an organization that encourages poker players to donate percentages of their winnings to effective charities. Those altruism efforts span the entire globe and while the two aren’t directly related, Boeree hopes that her involvement in, and the “taking off of,” the GPL can bring more publicity to her and REG’s global efforts. Closer to home, Boeree, who admits she's "not particularly nationalistic,” is excited to carry the torch for the UK’s lone GPL team. She admits that the only time she gets patriotic is during sporting events. With the GPL’s main goal being to “sportify” poker, we could see a more patriotic than usual Boeree at the helm of the London Royals through the first season of the league. That first season starts with Thursday’s GPL Draft, where Boeree and the Royals will select 7th out of the 12-team league. When asked about that draft and her strategy, she admits that there definitely was a strategy, although she wouldn’t divulge much more information than that. This is also her first time being a part of a draft, something that has forced her to “consult with other players who have much more experience.” Draft experience aside, Boeree knows how important her participation in the GPL is to the growth of the game for women in poker. "It’s great that a quarter of the managers are female and I’m chuffed to be one of them," she says, while agreeing that women’s involvement in poker is slowly growing. She knows the importance that female representation, not only in the managers of the league, but the draft as well, plays in the landscape of poker and hopes that that representation can "balance out the ratio even more" as time goes on. What that community does know is that with one of poker’s most recognizable players and ambassadors leading the London Royals into the draft, they’ll certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
  16. [caption width="640"] San Francisco Rush manager Faraz Jaka knows the Global Poker League will be a winner. (Danny Maxwell photo)[/caption] The inaugural season of the Global Poker League is underway. Twelve teams make up the league, and sitting in fifth place after the first two weeks of action in the Americas Conference is the San Francisco Rush, captained by none other than Faraz 'The-Toilet' Jaka. From writing city guides to a week-long stay at a no-talk retreat, Jaka has done it all. Now, he's part of history, joining the likes of Chris Moneymaker, Liv Boeree, and Max Pescatori as managers of GPL teams as the league navigates its first season. "Managing the San Francisco Rush takes time on top of remaining competitive in the poker world, so I'm trying to keep it at just that for now," Jaka said. "I've always said hi to [GPL founder Alex Dreyfus] in the halls of the WSOP while he was at his GPI desk. Over little chats here and there, I got to know more about what he was doing as an entrepreneur and he got to know about some of the things I was doing outside of poker." Dreyfus thought Jaka would make a good fit to help lead the first GPL season, which is now entering its third week and concludes in November in London. "It's an opportunity to be on the forefront of something that could revolutionize the game of poker," Jaka said. "I feel like it's all of our jobs, if you desire to do so, to help promote the league if you truly care about growing this industry. It's important for our industry leaders, both from the player and business sides, to involve themselves and help in whatever ways they can. Even if you aren't super well known, simply sharing what's going on in the GPL with your friends, family, and social media will make a difference. If the GPL wins, we all win." Jaka passed $4 million in career online tournament winnings on April 12. In the live arena, he hit $5 million in career winnings late last year, 15% of which came after a third place finish in the PCA Main Event in 2012. Despite being overly successful at the tables, it's his work away from the felts that has allowed him to grow professionally. "I like taking on roles where I get to pursue new things," the San Francisco Rush manager said. "Having to manage players and seeing the ins and outs of a business run by such a savvy entrepreneur like Alex Dreyfus is an opportunity for me to experience something new. The experience you get from taking on different tasks will be beneficial in your future." One of the "new" things Jaka recently took part in was the first ever GPL draft, which was held in Los Angeles in February. When the draft was over and the final pick was in, Jaka's team consisted of Phil Galfond, Tony Gregg, Kitty Kuo, Anton Wigg, and Jonathan Jaffe. "I wanted a team that was both talented and marketable," Jaka said of his draft strategy. "It was also very important that I had a team that would have good chemistry with each other. I didn't want to draft anyone who might be difficult to work with. Our team is full of players who are all very positive and are very happy to be working with each other." "The GPL is in Season 1 and there are a lot of unknowns, changes, and mistakes that will happen. Having overbearing personalities who aren't flexible or open-minded and forgiving could be detrimental to the success and chemistry. I wanted people who would be personable and represent the San Francisco Rush well," said Jaka. "I was discussing draft strategy with my wild card, Jonathan Jaffe, and I think he said it perfectly: 'Let's not draft anyone who isn't capable of having a conversation with their opponent while the turn card is being flipped over.'" Despite the fact that team poker initiatives have existed before, and largely been duds, the GPL appears revolutionary, drawing its inspiration from the eSports market. "It seems insane to me that the customers in the poker industry are becoming younger and younger and yet there aren't people working in the businesses who understand optimal ways to communicate with Generation Y," Jaka said. "That's an area where I think Alex Dreyfus really excels," he continued. "I've had some limited experience in the startup world and, more importantly, I'm surrounded by a lot of friends who are in the forefront of the Silicon Valley tech startup scene. Working with Alex, I can tell he knows what he's doing. He thinks and operates just like the guys and girls I know who are running some of the most cutting-edge technology companies and startups in Silicon Valley. I think this industry has lacked innovation for some time and it's about time we start to see it." Aside from being part of the GPL, Jaka continues to play online poker. Although he doesn't put in nearly the volume he used to due to his other obligations and his busy live schedule, he still remains an elite and notable player. "I'm happy I can still be part of the online poker scene even though I'm playing on the live felt the majority of the time," Jaka said. "The poker industry wouldn't be what it is without the online community and being able to play online poker, so I'm happy that I'm still able to be part of it and continue to have success." Jaka has logged three six-figure scores online, including a massive $417,000 haul for final tabling the WCOOP Main Event in 2014. Over his career, he has taken down the Super Tuesday (while grinding in a shared Airbnb), Sunday 500, $1K Monday, Sunday Second Chance, and a SCOOP title, just to name a few. As such, he knows about the importance of the online poker world and tries to preach it to others. "Online communities are what offer the spread of information and transparency," Jaka said. "Our generation knows it's absolutely necessary and going to make the world a better place because of the power of spreading information and the ability for people to connect and share their experiences. Once you understand online communities, you know how to filter information, you know who the reputable people are, and you know how to differentiate reliable information from information that is false and biased." "Online poker also gives easier access to more people to play," Jaka said. "It makes the game of poker more popular and, at the end of the day, will bring more people into the live realm as well, whether it's the GPL, tournament circuits, or cash games at casinos."
  17. [caption width="640"] Dominik Nitsche dominated Week 2 action of the Global Poker League. (PokerStars photo)[/caption] Don’t call it a comeback just yet, but Week 2 of the Global Poker League’s inaugural season saw the Berlin Bears recover from a disastrous Week 1 with 15 points, good enough to move them out of the Eurasian Conference basement. The Bears were lead by their first round pick, Dominik Nitsche, who put together a much better performance in the two Six Max matches than teammate Dan Cates did in Week 1 when he finished sixth in both matches. In the Americas Conference, the Montreal Nationals passed the New York Rounders on the combination of Xuan Liu's Six Max performance and the zero points earned by the Rounders in those same matches. Those waiting for former Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul to make his GPL debut will have to keep waiting. Paul's team, the L.A. Sunset, kept Paul on the sidelines for Week 2. Day 1 Nitsche got things started in the first Six Max match of the week. The Bears star beat Mike Leah of the Paris Aviators heads-up for the win and the seven points that came with it. The match also included the debut of #1 overall pick of the Rome Emperors, Mustapha Kanit, who finished third. Bryan Huang, Vladimir Troyanovskiy and Justin Bonomo rounded out the field in the opening match. Only the Hong Kong Stars made a change in the second match, having Dong Guo play. Nitsche managed a runner-up finish to Troyanovskiy to earn five points. Leah finished third to give the Montreal Nationals eight points on the day. While the Bears were the story in the Eurasian Conference Six Max matches, the Americas Conference was all about the ladies. San Francisco Rush wildcard Kitty Kuo took down the opening Six Max match, beating Sao Paulo Metropolitans’ Joao Simao heads-up. The second match went to Xuan Liu of the Nationals. She outlasted eventual runner-up Chance Kornuth to score seven points. Kuo finished fourth. Meanwhile, Kevin MacPhee earned zero points for the New York Rounders with two sixth place finishes. Day 2 With the Six Max matches out of the way, the schedule turned to Heads Up. Day 2 was all about the Eurasian Conference and each of the three matches finished 2-1. London Royals’ Sam Trickett beat Randy Lew of the Stars, Paris Aviators’ Alex Luneau beat Dario Sammartino of the Rome Emperors and in a match-up of the only two players to play every Week 2 match for their respective team, the Moscow Wolverines’ Troyanovskiy beat the Bears’ Nitsche. Day 3 The Heads Up matches give poker fans a chance to see some of the best players in the world go head-to-head with their peers. The most highly anticipated Week 2 match had New York Rounders’ Jason Mercier playing against Phil Galfond of the San Francisco Rush. Mercier swept all three matches to earn the maximum nine points for the Rounders. In the other two matches, Pascal Lefrancois of the Aviators beat Thiago Nishijima of the Metropolitans 3-0 and L.A. Sunset heads-up specialist Olivier Busquet beat Las Vegas Moneymakers’ Jonathan Duhamel 2-1. Week 2 MVP Dominik Nitsche may have single-handedly rescued the Berlin Bears’ season. The team had just three points coming into Week 2, but Nitsche finished first and second in the two Six Max matches and won one of three Heads Up matches to earn a total of 15 points for the Bears. Standings Week 3 Schedule Tuesday, April 19 12:00 pm ET Six Max: Eurasia Conference 1:40 pm ET Six Max: Eurasia Conference 3:30 pm ET Six Max: Americas Conference 5:10 pm ET Six Max: Americas Conference Wednesday, April 20 12:00 pm ET Heads Up: Berlin Bears vs. Hong Kong Stars 2:30 pm ET Heads Up: London Royals vs. Paris Aviators 5:00 pm ET Heads Up: Rome Emperors vs. Moscow Wolverines Thursday, April 21 1:00 pm ET Heads Up: Sao Paulo Metropolitans vs. Las Vegas Moneymakers 3:30 pm ET Heads Up: L.A. Sunset vs. San Francisco Rush vs. New York Rounders 6:00 pm ET Heads Up: New York Rounders vs. Montreal Nationals All matches are streamed live on Twitch.tv/GPL.
  18. [caption width="640"] The Montreal Nationals broke the 100-point barrier this week thanks to a record setting performance by Jason Lavallee.[/caption] In the final week before the Global Poker League heads to Las Vegas for the ‘Summer Series’, there were teams moving in both Conferences with the Montreal Nationals becoming the first team to hit triple digits in points thanks to an outstanding performance from Jason Lavallee. EURASIA CONFERENCE The London Royals continued their march in the Eurasia Conference, picking up 18 points thanks to Liv Boeree’s win in the first Six Max match and Igor Kurganov’s second place in the second. This was Boeree’s third Six Max win, the most of any player in the GPL. It was an interesting set of Eurasia Heads Up matches, with first place playing second, third place playing fourth and fifth place playing sixth. The Royals were further boosted by Sam Trickett’s 2-1 win over Moscow Wolverines Vladimir Troyanovskiy, a result which moved them above the Wolverines in the Conference. At the end of Week 6 the Royals were 14 points behind the Wolverines, but have since outscored Moscow 29-10 to lead the conference by five points. There was also movement for the Hong Kong Stars thanks to two strong performances from Raiden Kan who finished second and third in the two Six Max matches, and is now the only player to have never finished outside of the top three in any match. Those results propelled the Stars past the Paris Aviators in the standings. It wasn’t all bad for the Paris team though. Mike Leah’s victory in the Six Max was wiped out as Randy Lew swept Bertrand Grospellier in the heads-up match. At the bottom of the Eurasia conference things continue to look bleak for the Rome Emperors, who fell even further behind to the Berlin Bears owing in part to Sorel Mizzi’s win over Timothy Adams on Wednesday. The Emperors are now nine points behind the Bears, and a seemingly insurmountable 23 points behind the Paris Aviators in fourth. AMERICAS CONFERENCE There was no change at the top of the Americas Conference, as the Montreal Nationals became the first team to break the 100 point barrier. Martin Jacobson finished first and third in his two Six Max matches. He now has two wins along with a second place and a third place finish in his four Six Max matches It was a good week for the LA Sunset. They moved up to second place in the Americas Conference thanks to a first and third place from Fedor Holz in the Six Max, and Olivier Busquet’s Heads Up win over New York Rounders ‘Tom Marchese. Holz (42 points) and Busquet (41 points) have been the two standout performers in the GPL so far, with the pair of them combinind for over 90% of their team’s points. https://twitter.com/olivierbusquet/status/735980865197641728?lang=en-gb The Sao Paulo Mets enjoyed a solid week, with Joao Bauer winning all 12 of his team’s points to move within five points of third place heading into the Summer Series. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the conference the Las Vegas Moneymakers and the San Francisco Rush had disappointing weeks. The Moneymakers could only manage two points this week from Jonathan Little’s fourth place finish in on Six Match, as Anthony Zinno was swept by Lavallee in the Heads Up round. In doing so, Lavallee set two records; he became the second player after Randy Lew to win two sweeps and is now unbeaten in Heads Up matches since the second game of his Week 4 match against Scott Ball, winning seven straight games. WEEK 8 MVP It was a tough choice for this week's MVP but in the end it has to go to Jason Lavallee. Martin Jacobson gets an honorable mention for his consistent Six Max form, but Lavallee not only secured a sweep (his second in a row), but pushed the Montreal Nationals past the100 point barrier. COMING UP The Six Max online portion of events now take a back seat to the Summer Series which starts June 6. Play will be live from the GPL's new Las Vegas studio where teams will play inter-conference matches for this first time. These Heads Up matches will see the likes of Olivier Busquet and Randy Lew (the current best heads-up players in their conference) do battle over a month of competition.
  19. Following months of buildup and nearly eight months of play, the first Global Poker League champion was crowned Thursday night inside The Cube in Las Vegas. In a best-of-11 heads up format, the Montreal Nationals overcame a furious rally by the Berlin Bears to take down the trophy along with the $100,000 team prize. Led by manager Marc-Andre Ladouceur, the Nationals, who had the best regular season record, came into the match as a slight betting favorite over the Bears. Ladouceur elected to sit the match out and started Mike McDonald, Pascal Lefrancois, and Jason Lavallee. The Bears countered with a trio comprised of Sorel Mizzi, Bill Perkins, and Brian Rast. The first match of the 11 would be the longest one of them all as Mizzi and McDonald traded blows for nearly an hour. McDonald held the early lead but it was Mizzi who would come away as the victor of the match after 61 hands to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. Despite being in an early hole, the Nationals fought back and won three straight matches to surge ahead. Lefrancois, who went 3-1 in the finals, took down the initial victory as he held off Perkins to tie up the series. Lavallee came in after Lefrancois and kept the momentum going as he dealt Rast his first loss in six career matches inside The Cube. McDonald completed the mini-sweep as he defeated Perkins to avenge his earlier loss against Mizzi. The Nationals may have held the early lead, but the Bears would not give up easily in their hunt for GPL supremacy. Next up was a rematch of Rast versus Lavallee. Rast took down a few sizable pots early on against Lavallee and the Canadian was not able to recover before Rast closed out the match. After Lefrancois bested Mizzi to put the Nationals up 4-2, a lot was riding on the shoulders of Perkins heading into his match against McDonald. A win by McDonald would give the Nationals a nearly insurmountable lead with Lavallee on deck to close the series out. In his final match of the series, Perkins stood tall against the challenge in front of him and pulled the Bears within a single match. Rast and Lavallee squared off next for the third time in the series and it was Lavallee taking the rubber match between the two to put the Nationals only a single victory away from closing the Bears out. Lefrancois stepped in next against Mizzi and for the first time in three matches in the series, Lefrancois would leave The Cube with a loss as Mizzi bested him to stave off elimination. Mizzi stayed in The Cube to face off against McDonald with the Bears down 5-4 and needing another victory to stay alive. Mizzi surged ahead early against McDonald and never looked back on his way to a consecutive win to pull the series even. Everything was on the line in the final match between Lefrancois and Rast. The Bears had staged a fierce rally to force the 11th match but would not see their efforts pay out in full. Lefrancois finished his GPL finals on a high note as he took down Rast in 43 hands to claim victory for his team. Below is a table of all individual matches held in the GPL final with the winners of each match emboldened. Berlin BearsMontreal Nationals Sorel MizziMike McDonald Bill PerkinsPascal Lefrancois Brian RastJason Lavallee Bill PerkinsMike McDonald Brian RastJason Lavallee Sorel MizziPascal Lefrancois Bill PerkinsMike McDonald Brian RastJason Lavallee Sorel MizziPascal Lefrancois Sorel MizziMike McDonald Brian RastPascal Lefrancois
  20. [caption width="640"] Randy Lew earned a full nine points for the Hong Kong Stars this week.[/caption] It was a week of sweeps in Heat II of the cross conference Global Poker League Summer Series from the Cube in Las Vegas. Players are seemingly getting used to the feel of playing in the venue, and fans are warming to the concept of standing play inside of the Cube. Las Vegas Moneymakers (Jonathan Little) defeat Paris Aviators (Mike Leah) 2-1 In the first of a double header of matches in the second week of cross conference competition, Jonathan Little was hoping to overtake the San Francisco Rush at the bottom of the Americas Conference. After a failed hero call by Mike Leah with pocket eights against Little’s kings, Leah lost the opening match, but stormed back to win the second when he rivered a straight, with the same card giving Little two pair. There was a fast start to the third game, with the Las Vegas Moneymakers eventually securing the win. Montreal Nationals (Marc-Andre Ladouceur) defeat Moscow Wolverines (Igor Yaroshevsky) 2-1 The second match saw the leaders of the Americas Conference taking on the Moscow Wolverines. Marc-Andre Ladouceur was looking to reestablish their lead at the top of the conference, after the Las Vegas Moneymakers closed the gap in the earlier game. Despite Igor Yaroshevsky winning the opening game, Ladouceur rallied to win the second two, and maintain their position atop the Americas conference. Sao Paulo Metropolitans (Thiago Nishijima) defeat London Royals (Justin Bonomo) 3-0 Justin Bonomo finished second for a WSOP bracelet earlier in the week and was looking to put that ghost to rest here in this match. However, it was not to be, with Thiago Nishijima putting in an outstanding performance, winning all three matches, including house over house in the second, to close the gap to second place LA Sunset. The Royals failed to take advantage of the Wolverines’ defeat the previous day. Hong Kong Stars (Randy Lew) defeat New York Rounders (Jason Wheeler) 3-0 Randy Lew’s performance last week in the Cube was disastrous, as he was swept by 2014 WSOP Main Event Champion Martin Jacobson. This week he rebounded though to sweet Jason Wheeler 3-0. The first match was over within two hands, and this sweep was the first win by a Eurasian Conference side in the Summer Series so far. The Hong Kong Stars drew level with the London Royals in their conference with this result. LA Sunset (Fedor Holz) defeat Berlin Bears (Sorel Mizzi) 3-0 Fedor Holz was up against the Berlin Bears’ Sorel Mizzi, no stranger to fighting one-on-one with another player after his MMA antics earlier this year. It was Holz’s aggression which held sway in this match, outperforming Mizzi in each match until he emerged as a 3-0 winner. The LA Sunset cut the gap to first by three points in the Americas conference. Rome Emperors (Timothy Adams) defeat San Francisco Rush (Phil Galfond) 2-1 The final match of the week saw the Rome Emperors take on the San Francisco Rush. Both teams are struggling in their respective conferences, and it was a real battle for both players. Timothy Adams won both the first and second games of this match, and Phil Galfond was lucky to avoid a sweep as he took at least three points from this match by winning the third match. The Rome Emperors closed the gap to the Berlin Bears at the bottom of their conference to two points, as the San Francisco Rush were overtaken by the Las Vegas Moneymakers in theirs. MVP Randy Lew’s performance last week was below the standard of which the GPL audience has grown accustomed to, and this week he showed why he should still be considered one of the top players in the league, by dispatching Jason Wheeler 3-0. The Week Ahead The Eurasian Teams will be trying to improve on the 2/12 record they have from the cross conference matches so far. There will be a top meets top clash between the Montreal Nationals and the London Royals to see who will come out on top there. Meanwhile LA Sunset will look to keep the pressure on the Nationals as they face off against struggling Rome Emperors. Week 3 Summer Series Schedule Moscow Wolverines vs. Las Vegas Moneymakers Sau Paulo Metropolitans vs. Hong Kong Stars (double-header) New York Rounders vs. Berlin Bears LA Sunset vs. Rome Emperors San Francisco Rush vs. Paris Aviators
  21. [caption width="640"] Former Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul made his LA Sunset debut this week[/caption] There were three big debuts in the Global Poker League this past week. The first was the Summer Series set of matchups that see inter-conference play for the first time, the second was the highly anticipated “Cube” that players play live heads-up matches in and the third was the debut of former Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul. With all the players in Las Vegas for the 2016 World Series of Poker, the matches are played in a live setting while still using the GPL poker software on tablets. Each day throughout the summer features one best-of-three heads-up match with teams from the Americas Conference sweeping all five matches with their Eurasian Conference opponents. LA Sunset (Aaron Paul) defeat Paris Aviators (Fabrice Soulier) 2-1 To kick it off on Monday, we had the only GPL player yet to play a game, LA Sunset wild card Aaron Paul, take center stage against Paris Aviators Team Manager Fabrice Soulier. The Aviators are in fourth spot in their conference, and needed to pick up some points here to move back into contention. Fabrice Soulier also had a point to prove, after a lacklustre start to his GPL season. The Frenchman currently has the worst Six Max points-per-match tally of any player with more than one match (0.25), with three sixth place finishes and one fifth. Paul was an unknown quantity, but his mixture of creative play and talk back and forth with his opponent saw him run out a 2-1 winner. San Francisco Rush (Jonathan Jaffe) defeat Moscow Wolverines (Dzmitry Urbanovich) 2-1 On Tuesday it was the turn of the wonderkid Dzmitry Urbanovich, taking a break from his action at the WSOP to take a turn in the Cube. His opponent was Jonathan Jaffe, a player with just three wins from nine heads-up matches played so far this season. Urbanovich hadn’t played a single heads-up game in the GPL this season, and perhaps it showed, with Jaffe running out a 2-1 winner, narrowly missing out on a scoop with Urbanovich winning the final game. Las Vegas Moneymakers (Scott Ball) defeat London Royals (Chris Moorman) 2-1 Chris Moorman was named as 888Poker’s latest pro ambassador on Thursday, and was looking to put in a good performance against Scott Ball in his first event wearing the 888 colors. Ball’s performances in the GPL so far have been hit and miss, with his only heads-up match coming against Jason Lavallee in Week 4, where he lost 2-1. That wasn’t to be the case in this match, with Ball besting online poker’s all-time leading tournament money winner 2-1. Montreal National (Martin Jacobson) defeat Hong Kong Stars (Randy Lew) 3-0 It had been an excellent week for the Americas Conference with Martin Jacobson looking to extend that run back in the city where he clinched the WSOP Main Event crown in 2014. Jacobson is one of six players to have won two Six Max matches, but failed to convert that success to the heads-up competition, losing his only match so far to Anton Wigg way back in Week 1. His opponent this weekend was Hong Kong Stars heads-up master Randy Lew. Lew, together with LA Sunset’s Olivier Busquet have the highest number of heads-up wins so far (11), and Lew was looking to take that record for himself with a win over Jacobson. However, in what could be the upset of the week, Jacobson swept Lew 3-0 to extend the Montreal Nationals’ lead at the top of the Americas Conference. Sao Paulo Mets (Felipe Ramos) defeat Berlin Bears (Jeff Gross) 3-0 The penultimate game this week saw Felipe Ramos of the Sao Paulo Mets take on Jeff Gross of the Berlin Bears. Ramos has been busy playing a full schedule in Vegas. Jeff Gross meanwhile was aiming to improve the Berlin Bears’ fifth place position in their conference. Ramos has had an impressive season so far, finishing second three times and winning once in the Six Max competition before sweeping Jeff Gross 3-0 on Friday. New York Rounders (Kevin MacPhee) defeat Rome Emperors (Timothy Adams) With Summer Series Week 1 action in the Cube winding down, the final game of the week pitched Timothy Adams of the Rome Emperors against Kevin MacPhee of the New York Rounders. Kevin MacPhee was yet to play a heads-up match this season, just like Dzmitry Urbanovich, but unlike Urbanovich, MacPhee ran out a 2-1 winner, with MacPhee unlucky to scoop Adams, having won the first two games of the match. This Week's MVP The stand out team so far this season has to be the Montreal Nationals. Coming into the Summer Series, the team was 11 points ahead of their nearest rivals LA Sunset. Despite both teams winning their matches this week, it was Martin Jacobson who put in a sterling performance to sweep Randy Lew, not only cementing his team’s position at the top of their conference, but sweeping a player whose performances in the heads-up game so far this season have been top notch. Looking Ahead This week the Montreal Nationals will certainly be put to the test by a Moscow Wolverines side which is second in their conference. Meanwhile the LA Sunset will hope to make up ground against the Berlin Bears, and the Hong Kong Stars will be aiming to avenge the sweep they suffered last week against the New York Rounders Week 2 Summer Series Schedule Las Vegas Moneymakers vs. Paris Aviators Montreal Nationals vs. Moscow Wolverines Sao Paulo Metropolitans vs. London Royals New York Rounders vs. Hong Kong Stars LA Sunset vs. Berlin Bears San Francisco Rush vs. Rome Emperors
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