March 21, 2015 is going to be a great day for poker because it is the date that the 2015 Global Poker Masters kicks off in Malta. The inaugural event, dubbed the World Cup of Poker, is set to run during the eagerly anticipated European Poker Tour Malta festival and judging by the initial list of qualifiers it is going to be nothing short of spectacular.
Eight countries are represented, with each country featuring a team of five players, and they face off against each other in a series of single table tournaments where players are awarded points depending on their finishing positions during the heats.
Play then progresses to a heads-up format before a six-handed final table takes place where the eventual winners have the bragging rights of being the Global Poker Masters champions.
Each of the eight teams are full of their country's elite poker talent with the top three ranked players from each nation joining forces with their country's Player of the Year and a wildcard – the wildcard criteria is yet to be announced.
The first four qualifiers for each of the qualifying nations are:
|Dan Smith||Stephen Chidwick||Ami Barer||Anatoly Filatov||Erwann Pecheux||Dario Sammartino||Eugene Katchalov|
|Daniel Colman||Jack Salter||Marvin Rettenmaier||Sorel Mizzi||Vladimir Troyanovskiy||Benjamin Pollak||Mustapha Kanit||Oleksandr Gnatenko|
|Pratyush Buddiga||Simon Deadman||Martin Finger||Mike McDonald||Ivan Soshnikov||Sylvain Loosli||Andrea Dato||Artem Metaldi|
|Jacob Schindler||Oliver Price||George Danzer||Andrew Chen||Vitaly Lunkin||Fabrice Soulier||Giuilano Bendinelli||Oleksii Khoroshenin|
Should a player be unavailable to compete at the Global Poker Masters their place is awarded to the next ranked player on the GPI World Poker Rankings. For example, the GPI's Chief Executive Officer Alex Dreyfus has confirmed that he has spoken to Daniel Colman and Colman has stated he won't be available in Malta so his place looks set to go to Bryn Kenney instead.
Speaking of the inaugural Global Poker Masters, Dreyfus said: "GPI’s is to Sportify the game of poker and the presentation of this innovative event will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. There is no buy-in for the event, we want to create an international competition where players are playing for pride, country and for the love of the game in hopes to showcase the game’s best. Through the GPI, it will create a solid platform for poker to be promoted through new distribution channels and mainstream partners."
“With the GPI’s association with Swiss watchmaker Roger Dubuis, who will reward GPI Players of the Year in three regions with unique timepieces worth over $50,000, we hope to continue attracting major sponsors in hopes of creating a true “World Cup of Poker” in the coming years.”
Each of the eight teams look strong and it should make for an exciting spectacle. Who do you think has the strongest team at present and what are your hopes for the wildcard option? Let us know in the comments below.