When you have 203 of the top 1000 players in the world – at least according to the Global Poker Index – and only 12 teams in the Global Poker League, there are going to be some omissions that are necessary. But there are simple omissions and then there are glaring snubs that come up that defy description. In this, the second part of a three-part series regarding the inaugural Global Poker League Draft that was held on Thursday, we’ll take a look at five of these snubs – they may still end up on a team, but it’s got to sting that they weren’t chosen in the draft off the bat.
Benjamin Pollak (France)
Pollak is the highest ranked player to be overlooked by any of the managers for the GPL. Ranked #40 in the world at the end of 2015 (the rankings that were used to determine the 1000 players who were eligible to declare for the draft), Pollak would have been a fantastic addition for the Paris Aviators and manager Fabrice Soulier. There might be an underlying reason for Pollak’s snub, however.
During last year’s Global Poker Masters, Pollak was one of the players who was eligible to play for Team France in the competition. Per the rules, none of the players were allowed to wear any poker room sponsorship paraphernalia – no hats, patches, etc. – during the course of the competition. This didn’t sit well with Betclic, Pollak’s online sponsor, who refused to allow Pollak to play in the event if he couldn’t “patch up.” The issue was resolved with Pollak’s replacement on Team France and could have had an effect on his not being selected for any of the teams in the GPL, especially Soulier’s Aviators.
Niall Farrell (Great Britain)
It is an arguable point that Farrell is one of the hottest players in the tournament poker world right now. Since the beginning of 2015, Farrell has earned 21 cashes around the world, on virtually every tournament circuit that is out there and in various formats that exist. He’s an online killer, with 579 verifiable online results (according to the Hendon Mob database), something that might be handy in the GPL with its partially online format. So why is Farrell (#54 in the world at the end of 2015) sitting on the sidelines without a team?
One of the major points of discussion between commentators Joe Stapleton, Eric Danis, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth during the GPL draft was what to look for in players for your team. According to Hellmuth, he wanted players with a proven track record of long-term success, not a “one-year wonder” that might do great for a 12-month period or win a big event then “flame out” afterwards. It is possible that the managers in the GPL looked at Farrell – who won nearly a million dollars in 2015, the best year of his poker career by nearly double – and want to see him have a little more success before they take a chance on him.
Scott Clements (USA)
Ranked #84 in the world, Clements would have been a hands-down pick for any team if the GPL had been in existence three to five years ago. So why is Clements not donning a jersey for any of the 12 teams right now?
Moneymaker said we’d all be very surprised with his next pick. I had him taking Scott Clements.— Donnie Peters (@Donnie_Peters) February 25, 2016
Although he hasn’t made less than six figures in a calendar year since 2006, it seems that Clements is becoming more of a homebody than a world traveler nowadays. While he’s more than willing to keep playing poker, Clements likes to do it on his terms and may have made it known to the managers that, while willing to play, there might be limitations. It might be questioned why he put his name in the GPL hat if this were the case, but it is perhaps one of those things to at least take a look at what the GPL had to offer before making a final decision for Clements.
Shannon Shorr and Mohsin Charania (USA)
In looking at both Shorr and Charania, there are two outstanding players that would bring their own positives to the GPL. Shorr, an outstanding player overall, is a young, marketable player that would look good on the GPL stage. Charania is a former European Poker Tour Grand Final champion who is two-thirds the way to poker’s Triple Crown. Are these guys not worth a pick?
The answer is…there isn’t one. Charania (#70) and Shorr (#100) should have been picked. If it weren’t for the regionally-based teams, such as those in Hong Kong, Moscow, maybe Rome and even Montreal, you probably would have seen both these men picked for one of the 12 teams in the GPL. The international teams are going to want to have players that their fans can “get behind,” however, and the best way to ensure that is to go with regionally known players, hence Hong Kong Stars manager Celina Kim’s basic reliance on Chinese players for her roster.
So who do you believe were the biggest snubs of the inaugural GPL draft? While you’re pondering that, be on the lookout for our “best and worst” of the actual GPL draft itself. Let’s just say it could have been better…