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Global Poker Index CEO Alex Dreyfus announced last year his intention to “Sportify” the game of poker. That vision will become a reality this weekend as the 2015 Global Poker Masters kicks off at the Hilton Malta in the Portomaso Yacht Marina.

The Global Poker Masters is Poker’s World Cup where top players from eight nations gather to determine poker superiority. Unlike poker invitational events of the past, these teams are comprised of players who have performed consistently well and have earned their seats. The event has been structured in such a way to highlight the skills of the participants.

How the Event Will Unfold

The Global Poker Masters is unlike any poker tournament you’ve ever seen and is rather a sporting event. Throughout the weekend, the top players from eight nations will be tested over multiple disciplines of poker. Skill will trump luck over the weekend and those that advance will have earned the right rather than “running good” at right time.

Play is exclusively NL Hold’em and each hand will include a 30 second ‘Shot Clock.’ Below is how the event will unfold over the weekend:

Opening Playoff Round

Each team will participate in the opening playoff round consisting of sit-n-go tournaments. There will be five playoff rounds starting at 12:30 pm on Saturday and continuing until 1:00 am on Sunday. Each table will have one player with each team with balanced competition. At the end of the five rounds, points will be tallied and the end-of-day team rankings will be announced.

The overall playoff winner will receive a bye in the quarterfinals and receive a Playoffs Winner’s Bonus. The eighth place team will eliminated from competition. After the winner has been determined, the second through seventh place teams will be seeded according to playoff points position and the Quarterfinal bracket will be released.


Quarterfinal play begins on Sunday at Noon with heads-up play. The quarterfinal bracket from Saturday will determine which teams compete against each other on Sunday. The second place team will battle the seventh place team. Third place will battle sixth place while the fourth place squad will battle the fifth place quad.

The events of the quarter finals are best of three format with nine matches total. Teams will have to select which three players will participate in these matches. Points will be tallied at the conclusion of the round and the team that’s last in points will be eliminated.


Semifinal play will consist of a pair of six-max sit-and-go tournaments. Action will begin approximately 3:30 pm on Sunday and continue until one of two scenarios is reached. The first scenario sees a winner at both tables and their teams will advance to the finals. The other scenario occurs if the four-hour time limit is reached. If this occurs, the top stack at teach table will return to the finals to battle heads-up for the title.

The Finals

The final two teams are scheduled to return at 7:45 pm on March 22 and begin a best-of-five heads-up championship match. Play will continue in this event until one of the two teams has won 3 out of 5 Heads-Up matches. That team will become the inaugural Champion of the 2015 Global Poker Masters.

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Performance Trumps Celebrity in Team Creation

Eight nations are represented in the Global Poker Masters, each comprised of five team members. The top three players from each country plus the national player of the make up four of the five spots. The last spot is filled by a wildcard entrant that earned the right to play for their country. This criterion ensures that the top players represent each country instead of those that happens to run hot at the right time.

Below are the eight teams participating in the Global Poker Masters:

Team USA

  • Bryn Kenney (National #4, GPI #6)
  • Olivier Busquet (National #9, GPI #19)
  • Dan Smith (National #26, GPI #49)
  • Vanessa Selbst (National #66, GPI #115)
  • Isaac Haxton (Wildcard)

Team Canada

  • Amichai Barer (National #2, GPI #8)
  • Andrew Chen (National #3, GPI #12)
  • Jonathan Duhamel (National #4, GPI #7)
  • Sorel Mizzi (National #5, GPI #18)
  • Andrew Ladouceur (Wildcard)

Team UK

  • Jack Salter (National #2, GPI #24)
  • Simon Deadman (National #3, GPI #38)
  • Oliver Price (National #4, GPI #34)
  • Sam Trickett (National #9, GPI #15)
  • Louis Salter (Wildcard)

Team Germany

  • Ole Schemion (National #1, GPI #1)
  • George Danzer (National #4, GPI #61)
  • Marvin Rettenmaier (National #6, GPI #72)
  • Phillip Gruissem (National #14, GPI #214)
  • Christopher Frank (Wildcard)

Team France

  • Erwann Pecheuz (National #2, GPI #72)
  • Bertrand Grospellier (National #3, GPI #92)
  • Sylvain Loosli (National #6, GPI #162)
  • Paul Tedeschi (National #5, GPI #147)
  • Patrick Bruel (Wildcard)

Team Russia

  • Vladamir Troyanovskiy (National #1, GPI #31)
  • Ivan Soshnikov (National #2, GPI #56)
  • Anatoly Filatov (National #6, GPI #107)
  • Vitaly Lunkin (National #11, GPI #170)
  • Alex Bilokur

Team Italy

  • Mustapha Kanit (National #1, GPI #27)
  • Dario Sammartino (National #2, GPI #34)
  • Andrea Dato (National #3, GPI #83)
  • Giuliano Bendinelli (National #4, GPI #146)
  • Rocco Palumbo (Wildcard)


  • Eugene Katchalov (National #1, GPI #77)
  • Oleksii Khoroshenin (National #2, GPI #113)
  • Oleksandr Gnatenko (National #4, GPI #481)
  • Igo Yaroshevsky (National #7, GPI #369)
  • Wildcard (TBD)

The Global Poker Masters is like many other major sporting events. It is comprised of teams with established players and up and coming stars. There are WSOP bracelet winners and WPT Champions mixed in with players looking to establish their legacy in the game.

This should be a heated contest from the opening “shuffle up and deal” on Saturday until the final all-in on Sunday. Depending on the outcome, this could be a turning point in our game’s history, much like the first AFC-NFC Championship was a turning point for the National Football League.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.