22 Players That Global Poker League Managers Should Consider As Wild-Cards

Steve Ruddock March 3, 2016 2733 Reads
Global Poker League wildcard players

Following the Global Poker League’s inaugural Draft Day, the 12 ]team managers have the core of their lineups set, and will soon make their final choice — or potentially choices if the manager chooses to forego playing — when they make their wild-card selections.

Because not every team member will need to play in every Global Poker League match (some may not play much at all), it’s important only to have talented players, but players who possess other positive attributes, and who would be willing to support their teammates.

Here are the 22 players I think should be considered.

Players who declared for GPL draft and went undrafted

Jonathan Karamalikis

With over $2.5 million in career live tournament earnings, and nearly $6 million in online tournament earnings, I’m having a hard time understanding how popular Australian poker pro Jonathan “xMONSTERxDONGx” Karamalikis went undrafted.

Karamalikis is a regular on the Australian and Asian poker scene, and could help extend the appeal of the Hong Kong Stars franchise beyond Asia and to Australia if team manager Celina Lin decided to use her wild-card selection on him.

Best fit: Hong Kong

Justin Oliver

If you’re looking for someone who is going to have a strong commitment to your team and the Global Poker League in general than Oliver is your guy. Any team already heavy on talent should take a look at Oliver.

Plus, he’s good at standing:

Best fit: Montreal

Manig Loeser

Loeser tends to get lost in the shuffle due in large part to the plethora of talent coming out of Germany, but make no mistake about it, this is one of the top NLHE tournament players in the game. Unlike the gaggle of German players who are regulars on the high-roller circuit, Loeser is more of a mid buy-in tournament grinder, who’s racked up over $1.5 million in earnings since 2010.

Best fit: Berlin

Fatima Moreira de Melo

An Olympic gold medalist for Holland in field hockey, de Melo has a lot of crossover appeal (and would truly “sportify” poker), and checks off a lot of GPL boxes. Fatima has become a fixture on the EPT and with over 36,000 Twitter followers she has a reach far beyond most poker players.

Best fit: Paris or Berlin

Konstantin Puchkov

Thus far, Moscow Wolverines manager Anatoly Filatov has selected an all Russian squad, and while there are a lot of high quality Russian players left to choose from (although my guess is Filatov will select a little known, highly skilled, online player, of which Russia has many), Puchov, an elder statesman of Russian poker, and a WSOP bracelet winner and cashing machine, might be a nice fit for his team.

Best fit: Moscow

Igor Yaroshevskyy

One of the highest-ranked GPI players who went undrafted (#34), the Ukrainian is a no-limit hold’em specialist who could bolster any lineup. Yaroshevskyy may have slid because he lacks a signature win, but he’s had success all over the world.

Best fit: Moscow

Ankush Mandavia

A Daniel Negreanu favorite during the GPL Draft Day show, Ankush Mandavia is a classic value pick. His online and heads-up pedigree make him a perfect fit for GPL matches, and he could shore up the roster of any GPL manager who might feel they lack a little on the talent side.

Best fit: Because of his skill set I could see him landing on virtually any roster.

Felipe Ramos

One of Brazil’s most accomplished tournament players, Ramos was expected to be chosen by Sao Paulo manager Andre Akkari, but he went undrafted. Part of his appeal should be his success in other team poker events, as he was part of Brazil’s runner-up team in the World Team Poker Event, and runner-up in the Nations Cup Duplicate Poker tournament.

Best fit: Sao Paulo

Jesse Sylvia

The runner up in the 2012 WSOP Main Event, Sylvia hasn’t won a tournament but has final tabled WSOP tournaments in 2014 and 2015, and cashed in 18 WSOP events in the past three years. Because of his WSOP success, Sylvia would be a good fit for the Las Vegas team.

Best Fit: Las Vegas

Matt Glantz

Glantz is a poker player, an ambassador, and one of the most respected voices in the game. No-limit hold’em may not be his forte, but Glantz’s presence on a roster would pay immediate dividends.

Best fit: New York

Natasha Barbour

Barbour is one of many up-and-coming female poker players who is also very marketable. Barbour is also the girlfriend of Jason Mercier, which could make her a perfect fit for the exclusively male New York franchise that selected Mercier in Round 1 of the GPL draft.

Best fit: New York

Benjamin Pollak

Pollak was the highest-ranked player who declared for the GPL draft (Pollack was ranked #25) that went undrafted. Pollak was expected to be taken by the Paris team, and I’d be surprised (although there might be a sponsorship conflict) if he isn’t added as the wild-card.

Best fit: Paris

Niall Farrell

If London manager Liv Boeree doesn’t select someone else I’ll get to in a bit, Scotland’s Farrell seems like the logical choice. Farrell’s resume includes nearly $2 million in career tournament earnings, an EPT Main Event win, and nearly $2.5 million in career online tournament earnings.

Best fit: London

Mike Gorodinsky

The reigning WSOP Player of the Year, Gorodinsky is a fun, upbeat player, with a solid poker mind. Gorodinsky is originally from San Diego, which gives him some California roots, and while some feel NLHE specialists are better fits in the GPL, his ability to master a number of different poker formats may be a huge intangible because of the GPL’s unique format.

Best fit: San Francisco or Los Angeles

Chris Klodnicki

With over $8 million in tournament earnings, Klodnicki is perhaps the most accomplished tournament player who went undrafted. Add in another $2.5 million in online tournament winnings and Klodnicki seems like a solid addition to any lineup.

Best fit: New York or San Francisco

Potential wild-card players outside the GPI Top 1,000

Luca Pagano

An Italian poker legend, \ Pagano has a lot of experience at the tables and in the commentary booth. Pagano is to the EPT what Phil Hellmuth is to the WSOP, as he holds the tour’s record for final tables (with six), and trails only Johnny Lodden when it comes to EPT Main Event cashes; Pagano has cashed in EPT Main Events an incredible 20 times.

Best fit: Rome

Jamie Gold

This would be an extreme outside the box pick, but Gold would be an intriguing pick for the Las Vegas Moneymakers.

Gold is incredibly entertaining to watch, has solid name recognition, would be the third WSOP Champion on the Moneymakers roster, and would make for a great heel for the GPL.

Best (only?) fit: Las Vegas

Leo Margets

An upbeat player with a really solid resume, the selection of Margets could really help engage Spanish poker fans who had zero players selected in the GPL draft. Margets is also a veteran when it comes to marketing and sponsorships, having been sponsored by several online poker sites, including her most recent sponsor, PokerStars.

Best fit: Paris or Berlin

Sam Abernathy

Abernathy is an up-and-coming player (she recently finished 3rd in the Aussie Millions Main Event) with a lot of personality. Abernathy is active on social media and is friends with the new, younger generation of poker players who would likely support her team.

Best fit: With everything Abernathy brings to the table, she’d be a solid addition to any roster.

Sam Grafton

If he’ll play, this is THE pick for the London Royals. Grafton is a strong online and live player, and has one of the best personalities in poker, both at the tables and away from the tables. Grafton only has $500,000 in lifetime tournament earnings, but he has nearly $4 million in career online tournament earnings.

Best fit: London

Phil Laak & Jennifer Tilly

If a manager wanted to make the ultimate contrarian play, and decide to not select themselves as a player, they could use two wild-card selections (most managers are expected to use one of their two wildcard selections on themselves) and might be able to lure the combination of Tilly and Laak to their squad.

I’m not sure if any managers will go this route, or if Tilly and Laak would even play, but it would be a really interesting development if this happened.

Best fit: Los Angeles or Las Vegas

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