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The Global Poker League set up in Las Vegas this week, with Sin City as the backdrop for the conclusion of the GPL’s first season. The studio, featuring the Cube, was the place to be for the players and some select fans, all anxious to witness the playoffs and finals.

And when it all finished, only one team representing one city in the world was still standing.

Getting There

The GPL began in February with Draft Day, and the twelve teams then began play on April 5. By the end of October, a total of 174 matches had been played, and eight teams were qualified for the playoffs. In order of points won throughout the season, the teams were:

Americas Conference:

1st place:  Montreal Nationals

2nd place:  LA Sunset

3rd place:  Sao Paulo Metropolitans

4th place:  San Francisco Rush

Eurasia Conference:

1st place:  Moscow Wolverines

2nd place:  Hong Kong Stars

3rd place:  Berlin Bears

4th place:  London Royals


On Tuesday, November 29, the Americas teams gathered around the Cube and played for a position in the finals. To get to the playoffs, the Montreal Nationals beat the San Francisco Rush, and the LA Sunset beat the Sao Paulo Mets.

In a best-of-seven semi-finals series, the Sunset and Nationals battled in six total matches. Mike McDonald beat Chance Kornuth and Pascal Lefrancois took down Olivier Busquet to put the Nationals ahead by two from the start. Maria Ho then took one from Marc-Andre Ladouceur and Kornuth from McDonald to tie up the games. But Ladouceur defeated Busquet and then Ho to push his Montreal team to the finals for the Americas.

On November 30, the Moscow Wolverines defeated the London Royals, and the Berlin Bears did the same to the Hong Kong Stars.

That semi-finals round started with Brian Rast taking one from Andrey Pateychuk, but Moscow mounted a comeback when Igor Yaroshevsky won over Sorel Mizzi and Anatoly Filatov over Bill Perkins. But then Rast beat Pateychuk again, and Mizzi got revenge on Yaroshevsky with a win. When Filatov beat Perkins for a second time, it went to the seventh match, at which time Rast emerged victorious over Filatov. The Bears made it to the finals to represent Eurasia.

Fighting Through Finals for Victory

On Thursday, December 1, the two remaining teams entered the studio to battle it out for the Season 1 title and $100,000 in cash. There were 11 matches on tap for the Berlin Bears and Montreal Nationals.

Match 1:  Mike McDonald started strong, but Sorel Mizzi doubled up with A-Q of spades over Q-7 offsuit on a J-T-5-4-3 board with three spades. Mizzi won the game shortly therafter.

Bears 1, Nationals 0

Match 2:  Pascal Lefrancois took his undefeated record into battle against Bill Perkins and stayed aggressive throughout the game. Lefrancois then took K-K against Perkins’ A-J and collected a victory.

Nationals 1, Bears 1

Match 3:  Jason Lavallee tagged in for Marc-Andre Ladouceur and dominated the game against undefeated Brian Rast. But Rast couldn’t find a good spot, ultimately shoving with K-8 but losing to the A-3 of Lavallee.

Nationals 2, Bears 1

Match 4:  Perkins started strong and pushed McDonald down to a short stack. McDonald did double with K-J over pocket queens, though, when a king hit the flop. He then took the lead to the final hand, where his pocket nines took on Perkins’ Q-J on a J-J-T-9-5 board. McDonald’s full house won.

Nationals 3, Bears 1

Match 5:  Rast was up against Lavallee again and put a big hurt on Lavallee with pocket deuces. Another deuce on the flop beat the pocket jacks of Lavallee, and Rast won the match two hands later.

Nationals 3, Bears 2

Match 6:  Mizzi took a big initial lead over Lefrancois to start the match, but Lefrancois doubled with pocket sixes over A-8, and he soared on to victory from there.

Nationals 4, Bears 2

Match 7:  Perkins led off strong again, but McDonald doubled once to stay alive and then again to take the lead. But Perkins doubled back when A-T beat A-Q, and Perkins took the much-needed win.

Nationals 4, Bears 3

Match 8:  Lavallee came on strong against Rast, and despite a Rast double-up, Lavallee was able to take A-T to battle against the 9-7 of a short-stacked Rast to win.

Nationals 5, Bears 3

Match 9:  Mizzi took the initial lead against Lefrancois, and the latter soon found a spot to risk it all with pocket queens on a T-8-7-5-2 board, but Mizzi held T-2 for the win.

Nationals 5, Bears 4

Match 10:  Mizzi was feeling good and reentered the Cube, this time to take on McDonald. Mizzi stepped out into the lead and climbed to a massive lead through the 15th hand. McDonald did double to 23 big blinds but then risked his stack shortly thereafter with A-2. Mizzi called with pocket deuces and won to even the finals.

Bears 5, Nationals 5

Match 11:  The tie-breaker and final match of the GPL season began with Rast and Lavallee, both taking their roles seriously. Rast only took 10 hands to build a nearly two-to-one chip lead, but Lefrancois took an opportunity to double with Q-J over 9-8 and jump into the chip lead. By the 25th hand, Rast had fewer than 20 big blinds. Ten hands later, Rast pushed with A-4 against the 9-8 suited of Lefrancois and doubled on a Q-Q-7-6-2 board. Rast took over the lead, but Lefrancois soon moved all-in with pocket fours, which dominated the Q-4 of Rast to put Lefrancois back in the lead.

On the 43rd hand of the match, Rast shipped all-in with T-8 on a board of Q-T-8-4-2, but Lefrancois snap-called with pocket queens. Lefrancois won and exited the Cube to celebrate with his teammates.

Stay tuned for information to come soon about Season 2 of the GPL.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.