First-Ever Global Poker League Draft Creates Surprises, Snubs

February 27, 2016
First-Ever Global Poker League Draft Creates Surprises, Snubs

The first-ever Global Poker League draft went off without a hitch on Thursday, with nearly 200,000 people tuning in to the live stream on at some point in time — the stream averaged a respectable about 8,000 viewers at any given point over the near-four-hour process.

The draft process was well staged and surprisingly exciting, with Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth joining Eric Danis and Joe Stapleton to break down the picks, as well as the addition of veteran sideline reporter Holly Sonders, who spoke with some of the selected players and team managers on the floor.

Draft breakdown

Here’s a look at each team’s draft list, as well as my top line takeaway for each franchise.

Rome Emperors

Max Pescatori, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Mustapha Kanit
  2. Dario Sammartino
  3. Timothy Adams
  4. Walter Treccarichi

Max Pescatori went local with most of his picks, with the exception of Canadian Tim Adams, who is one of those poker players who flies a bit under the radar despite over $2.6 million in career tournament earnings.

Montreal Nationals

Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Mike McDonald
  2. Martin Jacobson
  3. Pascal LeFrancois
  4. Xuan Liu

Ladoucer’s draft seems to have been thrown off the rails when Chris Moneymaker grabbed Jonathan Duhamel a couple spots ahead of him in Round 2. As I think Ladouceur’s plan was to grab Jacobson with the 23rd pick and Duhamel with the 26th.

New York Rounders

Bryn Kenney, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Jason Mercier
  2. Tom Marchese
  3. Kevin MacPhee
  4. Jason Wheeler

Kenney’s draft strategy became apparent early on, as he was looking for semi-young, really accomplished, poker players with a small bit of attitude mixed in.

San Francisco Rush

Faraz Jaka, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Phil Galfond
  2. Anthony Gregg
  3. Kitty Kuo
  4. Anton Wiig

Jaka’s first two picks are really strong poker minds, and because of the GPL’s novel format, the ability to brainstorm and formulate strategies could prove to be invaluable.

Las Vegas Moneymakers

Chris Moneymaker, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Anthony Zinno
  2. Jonathan Duhamel
  3. Jake Cody
  4. Jonathan Little

Moneymaker simply gets it. His picks are talented, and more importantly, good at promoting themselves and the game of poker.

Sao Paulo Metropolitans

Andre Akkari, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Darren Elias
  2. Byron Kaverman
  3. Thiago Nishijima
  4. Joao Pires Simao

Akkari has one of the stranger draft sheets, and made what is easily the biggest overreach of the entire draft with his first round selection of Darren Elias. That said, it seems like he was able to grab the four players he wanted.

London Royals

Liv Boeree, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Igor Kurganov
  2. Vanessa Selbst
  3. Chris Moorman
  4. Justin Bonomo

Along with the LA Sunset, the London Royals have the most intimidating lineup, and the whole team has really strong name recognition.

Moscow Wolverines

Anatoly Filatov, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Dzimitry Urbanovich
  2. Vladimir Troyanovskiy
  3. Andrey Pateychuk
  4. Sergey Lebedev

Along with the Hong Kong Stars, Moscow manager Anatoly Filatov decided that a completely homegrown team was the way to go.

Los Angeles Sunset

Maria Ho, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Fedor Holz
  2. Olivier Busquet
  3. Eugene Katchalov
  4. Chance Kornuth

Maria Ho put together an absolute murderer’s row of talent, and picked very wisely based on the GPL’s online and short-handed/heads-up elements.

Berlin Bears

Philipp Gruissem, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Brian Rast
  2. Sorel Mizzi
  3. Dominik Nitsche
  4. Jeff Gross

With a slew of talented Germans to choose from, it was a bit surprising to see Gruissem’s final draft list, but what they lack in host city ties they more than make up for in poker skill.

Paris Aviators

Fabrice Soulier, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. ElkY
  2. Davidi Kitai
  3. George Danzer
  4. Mike Leah

The Paris team is the most international, and it’s also going to be one of the more exciting teams to watch, as ElkY, Kitai, and Danzer are all fearless at a poker table.

Hong Kong Stars

Celina Lin, Team Manager

Draft picks:

  1. Weiyi Zhang
  2. Raiden Kan
  3. Dong Guo
  4. Bryan Huang

It’s safe to say that Celina Lin wasn’t looking at the best players available at any point in the draft, and could have probably selected #45, #46, #47, and #48 and gotten the same players. We’ll have to see if her draft strategy, which seems based on team chemistry and unknown talent, pays off.


Mike Gorodinsky – The reigning WSOP Player of the Year is full of positive energy and seems easily marketable.

Felipe “Mojave” Ramos – There is still a good chance Felipe lands on the Brazil squad, but the Brazilian names that went off the board before him were somewhat unexpected.

Justin Oliver – Oliver’s “Draft Me” video put him on everyone’s radar, but alas it wasn’t enough to land the Canadian a roster spot.

Natasha Barbour – Jason Mercier’s significant other, Barbour has proven to have some poker chops of her own.

Christian Harder – Just an all around solid No Limit player.

Noah Schwartz – An outgoing and seemingly highly marketable player (McLovin!) Schwartz is also pretty accomplished in high-roller tournaments, which seem to offer the best comparison for GPL skills.

Jeff Madsen – Madsen has a lot of connections in the poker world and is friendly with several team managers.

Benjamin Pollack – Pollack seemed like a lock to go to the Paris franchise, but instead it was Canadian Mike Leah who was chosen with team manager’s Fabrice Soulier’s final pick.

Fatima Moreia de Melo – A popular player with a strong following, de Melo would have checked off a number of important boxes important to GPL teams.

Mohsin Charania – Charania was one of my sleeper picks, and I’m surprised he wasn’t scooped up for value in the final round, apparently he was too:

Biggest surprises

Sorel Mizzi – The drafting of Sorel is a good move in terms of talent, but the Canadian poker pro has a bit of a checkered poker past that includes numerous multi-accounting scandals, and several other unproven allegations, which didn’t stop Twitter from being Twitter.

Darren Elias goes in Round 1 – Sao Paulo manager Andre Akkari’s first round pick was an absolute head scratcher, but as the GPL’s Eric Danis explained, Elias had said he wanted to play for Sao Paulo more than any other team. And there is something to be said for picking a player committed to your team.

Moneymaker scooping up Duhamel – It seemed like managers were purposefully avoiding picking players that were earmarked by other teams, but Chris Moneymaker was playing for keeps, and snagged 2010 WSOP Main Event Champion a few picks before Montreal manager and Duhamel pal, Marc Andre Ladouceur could select him.

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