Global Poker League Completes Inaugural Draft, Wild Cards Next

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In what may become an iconic moment in poker history (depending on where we are with it, say, five years from now), the inaugural player draft for the Global Poker League is now history. Twelve teams gathered in front of Commissioner Kara Scott on Thursday and, after a four-plus hour ceremony, left the conference room at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills with at least four members of their new teams.

The draft was broadcast live on Twitch and was preceded by a half-hour “pregame” show that featured commentators Joe Stapleton and Eric Danis alongside color commentators Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth. Ranging the draft room floor was sideline reporter Holly Sonders, a late addition to the GPL team but a good one in that she actually brought a feel for the thoughts of each of the managers as they were in their “draft modes.” At approximately 2PM on Thursday, Commissioner Scott took to the microphone and, after a few opening statements from her and GPL founder Alexandre Dreyfus, the Rome Emperors and manager Max Pescatori were on the clock.

The teams had three minutes to make their picks in the first round and each team took the maximum amount of time to complete that act. Pescatori stayed within the confines of Italy with his first pick, taking countryman Mustafa Kanit with his first pick, and Montreal Nationals manager Marc-Andre Ladouceur did the same when he selected fellow Canadian Mike McDonald for his first round pick. New York Rounders manager Bryn Kenney then chose the United States’ Jason Mercier, who was actually on hand for the draft and made a few comments about being chosen before the draft moved on.

Overall there were no real stunning surprises in the first round of picks. What was a bit of a surprise is that teams looked more at the marketing potential of their players rather than maybe choosing the best players available at the moment. Hong Kong Stars manager Celina Kim was arguably the manager guiltiest of this, stocking the Stars with a very Asian-centric team that will be quite well known to Asian poker fans but maybe not so much to the rest of the poker world. To a lesser extent, Moscow Wolverines manager Anatoly Filatov went in a similar direction with an Eastern European team.

Here are the 12 teams that will make up the Global Poker League with their current rosters as they were picked in Rounds 1 through 4:

Rome Emperors

Mustapha Kanit (ITA)
Dario Sammartino (ITA)
Timothy Adams (CAN)
Walter Treccarichi (ITA)

Montreal Nationals

Mike McDonald (CAN)
Martin Jacobson (SWE)
Pascal Lefrancois (CAN)
Xuan Liu (CAN)

New York Rounders

Jason Mercier (USA)
Tom Marchese (USA)
Kevin MacPhee (USA)
Jason Wheeler (USA)

San Francisco Rush

Phil Galfond (USA)
Anthony Gregg (USA)
Kitty Kuo (TWN)
Anton Wigg (SWE)

Las Vegas Moneymakers

Anthony Zinno (USA)
Jonathan Duhamel (CAN)
Jake Cody (GBR)
Jonathan Little (USA)

Sao Paulo Metropolitans

Darren Elias (USA)
Byron Kaverman (USA)
Thiago Nishijima (BRA)
Joao Pires Simao (BRA)

London Royals

Igor Kurganov (RUS)
Vanessa Selbst (USA)
Chris Moorman (GBR)
Justin Bonomo (USA)

Moscow Wolverines

Dmitry Urbanovich (POL)
Vladimir Troyanovskiy (RUS)
Andrey Pateychuk (RUS)
Sergey Lebedev (RUS)

Los Angeles Sunset

Fedor Holz (GER)
Olivier Busquet (USA)
Eugene Katchalov (USA from UKR)
Chance Kornuth (USA)

Berlin Bears

Brian Rast (USA)
Sorel Mizzi (CAN)
Dominik Nitsche (GER)
Jeff Gross (USA)

Paris Aviators

Bertrand Grospellier (FRA)
Davidi Kitai (BEL)
George Danzer (GER)
Mike Leah (CAN)

Hong Kong Stars

Wei Yi Zhang (CHN)
Raiden Kan (CHN)
Dong Guo (CHN)
Di Wei ‘Bryan’ Huang (SGP)

The next task for the managers is to choose two “wild cards” that will fill out the final rosters for the teams. These “wild cards” can literally be anyone in the world, which provides room for a great deal of discussion for the poker world to forecast who some of these picks might be. After these “wild cards” are determined, then the matches themselves can begin and the Global Poker League can truly come to life.

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