The inaugural draft for the Global Poker League (GPL) took place on February 26 and saw all 12 franchises select their first four players from a pool of 203 stars. PokerNews’ award-winning Editor-in-Chief, Donnie Peters, has already given his thoughts on the draft, but now we’re going to look at each team member in a little more details so you can choose who to root for when the GPL kicks off.
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Manager: Max Pescatori with $4,176,788 in live tournament winnings.
The Rome Emperors team manager is the flamboyant Max Pescatori, who is currently second in the Italian all-time money listings with $4,176,786 in live tournament winnings. Pescatori is a colourful character and is sure to be a hit with those watching the GPL unfold.
Pescatori has four World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet to his name, each in a different variant. In 2006, Pescatori won the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event for a still career-best score of $682,389 and won the $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em/Omaha mixed event two years later for $246,509. It took another seven years before Pescatori won more gold, claiming a brace of bracelet at the 2015 WSOP in the $1,500 Seven card razz ($155,947) and the $10,000 Seven card Stud Hi-Low Championship ($292,158).
Mustapha Kanit was the first pick of the draft and nobody will fault Pescatori for selecting his fellow countryman. Kanit seemingly wins high roller and super high roller events for fun, which is part of the reason he tops the Italian all-time money listings with $6,065,335 in winnings, $4,999,169 of those coming since 2014. Kanit is also a big winner in online poker circles with more than $4.2 million in winnings.
Once the action was back around to him, Pescatori chose another Italian player in Dario Sammartino. Sure to be a hit with the female section of fans, Sammartino is fourth on the Italian all-time money listings with $3,266,924 in winnings. Sammartino, from Naples, Italy, is a regular on the European Poker Tour (EPT) and he is also adept in cash games.
Timothy Adams was drafted next, the only non-Italian to make Pescatori’s team so far. The talented 29-year-old Canadian travels the world playing in the biggest tournaments he can find. Doing so has worked out so far as Adams has amassed live winnings of some $2,676,915 and an additional $1,407,249 from his online exploits.
Pescatori’s final draft pick was another Italian in the shape of Walter Treccarichi, who recently won an Aussie Millions ring by triumphing in the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em Shot Clock Six Max for A$113,118. Treccarichi’s lifetime live tournament winnings top the scales at $819,053, placing him 28th in the Italian all-time money listings on the Hendon Mob Database.
As team manager, Pescatori now has to pick two wild cards who can be anyone he can persuade to join his outfit. Everyone expects the managers to pick themselves so that leave one more empty seat on the Rome Emperors roster, who do you think will fill it? I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rocco Palumbo be chosen. He fits the bill of being Italian for a start, but also has combined live and online tournament winnings in excess of $5 million.
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Manager: Marc-Andre Ladouceur with $1,704,747 in live tournament winnings.
The Montreal Nationals are run by Team PokerStars Online’s Marc-Andre Ladouceur and there is no way that he is not going to select himself as a wild card for the upcoming GPL season. Not only does the man from Montreal have $1,704,748 in live tournament winnings and $1,072,854 from the online world, Ladouceur is also an accomplished online cash game player to boot.
Ladouceur had second pick in the draft and he plumped for fellow Canadian Mike “Timex” McDonald, who is third in the Canadian all-time money listings with an astronomical $12,981,820. McDonald is a phenomenal talent who cut his poker teeth in the online arena before making the live scene his own. “Timex” still holds the record for being the youngest-ever winner of an EPT Main Event, having taken the EPT Dortmund title in 2008 at the tender age of 18-years-old.
Next on the Nationals’ roster is the 2014 WSOP Main Event champion Martin Jacobson. The popular Swede is considered one of the very best poker tournament players of his generation and will ensure his team has an army of Swedish fans when the GPL events kick off. While Jacobson is more reserved than some of the other players drafted by the GPL franchises, there is no questioning his almost unrivalled ability at the tables.
Like Pescatori before him, Ladouceur went with keeping the majority of his team from his home country, choosing Pascal LeFrancois as his third round pick. LeFrancois has $2,577,792 in live tournament winnings, including $635,011 from his 10th place finish in the 2010 WSOP Main Event. Perhaps more famously, though, LeFrancois poised topless for his winner’s photograpgh after winning the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event at the 2010 WSOP.
Ladouceur’s final pick went on Xuan Liu, which added a female element to the GPL. Liu is a superb poker talent with more than $1.6 million in live tournament winnings and more than $610,000 in the online world. Liu’s addition could be a stroke of genius when it comes to garnering fans for the Nationals thanks in part to Liu starring in the Girl Got Game poker TV show.
So who will the Montreal Nationals’ wile card pick be assuming Ladouceur picks himself as expected? The obvious choice would be Michael “SirWatts” Watson simply for his poker prowess, but don’t be surprised if someone like Mark Radoja gets the nod. Radoja has more than $2 million in live tournament winnings, is Canadian, has two WSOP bracelets, and a close friend of Martin Jacobson.
Stay tuned to PokerNews as we preview the rest of the Global Poker League franchises.