In a note sent to the media on Wednesday, Jan. 13, the CEO of Mediarex Sports and Entertainment (MSE), Alex Dreyfus, announced the full list of the managers that will run the 12 teams to take part in the first-ever Global Poker League (GPL), the international event that aims to change the poker industry this year.
Appointed by the GPL to be the face of their teams, the 12 managers have all signed a two-year contract that makes them responsible for crucial elements in the development of the League. Their first assignment will take place on Feb. 25, when they will gather at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills to select the players of their teams in a draft that will be live streamed on Twitch.tv.
The first players draft of the GPL will be co-hosted by ESPN's World Series of Poker presenter Kara Scott and will feature a panel of analysts that includes no less than Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.
"Today is an exciting day in the Global Poker League history, the confirmation of our team managers is a crucial step towards our goal," Dreyfus told PokerNews on Wednesday. "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 GPL will bring for fans across the globe."
"The GPL is a single-league entity which gives the company a lot of flexibility for marketing and business development, we therefore appointed 12 managers that we believe are the soul, the spirit, the color of each team," Dreyfus commented. "These managers, are all players who are not only legit but most important who want to support initiatives outside the poker table. They believe in the future of poker and understand our vision."
"I spoke to some of them during the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) and it is exciting to see how they already think about the draft and how they are already working on a strategy for getting the players they want in their teams. One thing I can tell you from what I heard is that you should expect the GPL teams to be very cosmopolitan and diverse," Dreyfus continued.
The decision to ask each manager to commit at least for two years, as the French businessman explained, came to secure a certain degree of continuity between the different editions of the GPL and - one may add - also to show the industry that the league is not just a one-off.
"We decided to offer contracts of at least two years to managers and players because we want to avoid volatility," Dreyfus shared. "We want teams to be solid and fan engagement to be based on a core in each team. This is the reason why each manager, in 2017, will not be able to draft or change more than two players in his roster," Dreyfus continued.
2015 Global Poker League: Teams and Managers
Here's the full list of the twelve teams that will take part to the first ever Global Poker League and their respective managers.
The Berlin Bears: Philipp Gruissem
The chosen manager for the team that will represent Germany at the GPL is Philipp Gruissem, the country's second-biggest winner in live tournament poker history with winnings for nearly $10M according to the HendonMob.
A former #2 ranked player on the Global Poker Index World Poker Rankings, Gruissem is one of the most successful tournament players in Germany's poker history and he's also not entirely new to working with Dreyfus as he represented Germany at the 2015 GPI World Cup in Malta in March 2015.
Hong Kong Stars: Celina Lin
Shanghai-born Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin is the manager and face of the team representing the Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
Thirteenth in China's all-time money list with live tournament winnings for more than $500,000, Lin is considered to be one of the most recognizable and talented poker players in Asia and is also often referred to as "China's Queen of Poker."
Based in Australia since the age of seven, Lin once said in an interview to PokerNews that "in terms of growing up in a Shanghai family, it is kind of expected that you grow up to be a lawyer, to be a doctor, and so forth." She, however, became an internationally-famous poker player sponsored by the largest online poker room and China's first-ever manager of a GPL Team.
Las Vegas MoneyMakers: Chris Moneymaker
The accountant from Nashville, Tenn., who changed the history of the game by becoming the first online qualifier to ever win the World Series of Poker Main Event is ready to do it again.
This time, however, Chris Moneymaker's second poker revolution hopes to pass through the Las Vegas MoneyMakers, the team that will represent Sin City at the GPL.
London Royals: Liv Boeree
Liv Boeree, the professional poker player, philanthropist, TV presenter, and model hailing from Kent, U.K. is the manager appointed to lead the London Royals to the victory of the first edition of the GPL.
Proud member of the Team Pokerstars Pro, Boeree is a complex character who holds a First Class Honours degree in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Manchester and who co-founded with Gruissem and Igor Kurganov the charity organization Raising for Effective Giving.
Boeree's poker career includes the victory of the European Poker Tour Sanremo in 2010 and overall live tournament earnings for $2,977,203.
Los Angeles Sunset: Maria Ho
The leader of the team of Los Angeles is Taipei-born Maria Ho, by far one of the most recognisable faces on the poker circuit. Active on and off the felt, Ho was the last woman standing at the WSOP Main Event both in 2007, has live tournament winnings for close to $2 millions, and has participated to numerous TV shows, including CBS Emmy Award winning Amazing Race 15.
By becoming one of the symbols of GPL, Ho continues to pursue her mission to help the game to develop and to bring poker to a wider audience. "It is very important to me to get the chance to be a positive example for the poker community and also to mainstream media, and that's why I try to spread the good word about poker," Ho once shared with PokerNews.
"I would like poker to be more widely accepted. I want that the next time I say that I am a poker player and that I play poker for a living, people will not only understand what I do, but will also know that there is a lot of great and generous people that are part of the game."
Montreal Nationals: Marc-Andre Ladouceur
Canada's Marc-Andre Ladouceur is the chosen one to represent the only team of his country, the Montreal Nationals.
Member of the PokerStars Team Online, Ladouceur is a known high stakes player who brings to the table the experience of almost a decade spent in the game and live tournament winnings for $1,704,611.
Moskow Wolverines: Anatoly Filatov
Russia's Anatoly Filatov will also lead a team at the GPL, having been selected as the frontman and manager for the Moskow Wolverines.
With more than $1.6M in online winnings and nearly $1.3M in live tournament winnings, Filatov is one of Russia's most successful poker players. Thanks to his new role as team manager for the Moscow Wolverines, from Feb. 25 on, the young player based in Moscow will become the poker ambassador of a country of 143.5 million individuals.
New York Rounders: Bryn Kenney
High-stakes pro Bryn Kenney will also join the 2015 GPL as the team manager of the New York Rounders.
Only a few days ago, the 29-year old American player who once proudly admitted going from $1,000,000 to $100,000 in six days and going from "a million to broke-broke" at least four or five times, won the Super High Roller event at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) and is the most successful PCA SHR player ever with over $3.2M in winnings.
Paris Aviators: Fabrice Soulier
Fabrice Soulier was probably the most natural choice for a French team - and so the GPI managed to secure him the spot of Team Manager for the Paris Aviators.
A true legend in the French poker scene, Fabrice Soulier is a former television director who entered the poker world back in 2000 and has climbed up to the third spot of France's all-time money list with live tournament cashes for $5,815,738.
Rome Emperors: Max Pescatori
With Italy being poker's reigning world champion thanks to the Italian team winning the first edition of the GPI World Cup, the country's "pirate" Max Pescatori will have the responsibility to form a team strong enough to consolidate the image of his country at the international level.
First (and only) Italian poker player to ever be nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame, Pescatori is Italy's second-biggest winner with live tournament cashes for more than $4 million. Over the years, the 45-year old player from Milan put together an impressive list of result, including four WSOP bracelets.
San Francisco Rush: Faraz Jaka
The San Francisco Rush will be in the wise hands of 'Poker Nomad' Faraz 'The_Toilet 0' Jaka, a world-famous player known for his skills and for his becoming homeless to "travel and explore new cultures."
At the PCA with a documentary crew that follows him everywhere he goes, Jaka is not only a man with a suitcase but is also one with an impressive list of results, as he has $5,008,642 in live tournament earnings and was named WPT Season VIII Player of the Year back in 2010.
Sao Paulo Metropolitans: André Akkari
The leader and team manager of the Sao Paulo Metropolitans will be André Akkari, by far the most representative poker player of his country.
Akkari is not only a member of the Team PokerStars Pro or Brazil's third-biggest winner with live tournament cashes for $1,442,127, but he is also one of the player who did the most for the growth of the game in his country.