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Since Alex Dreyfus announced the formation of the Global Poker League, the structure of the teams changed. The role of the managers evolved as the GPL came together. In January reports, there were to be three draft picks, assuming that the team managers would also be players. However, as GPL Draft Day approached, it was clearer that managers would not play but choose four draft picks.

It became clear during the month of March, during which time players considered their two wild card choices, that they would be able to choose themselves. And when the announcements began to come in, it was apparent that most managers did choose themselves.

Wild Card Choices

There were only two managers who picked two wild card players for their teams and excluded themselves: Andre Akkari of the Sao Paulo Metropolitans and Philipp Gruissem of the Berlin Bears. Everyone else chose to perform in the inaugural season of the GPL as managers and players – Max Pescatori, Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Bryn Kenney, Faraz Jaka, Chris Moneymaker, Liv Boeree, Anatoly Filatov, Fabrice Soulier, Celina Lin, and Maria Ho.

Early opinions of the wild card choices were quick to be published, with praise for names like Jonathan Jaffe and Randy Lew, and confusion about choices like Todd Brunson and Scott Ball. However, not much was said about the managers choosing themselves to play.

Pros and Cons of Double Duty

All of the GPL team managers are skilled poker players, strategists, and analysts. They know the game inside and out, and they were chosen because of their abilities to manage teams and make solid decisions for everyone involved.

There are positive points about players choosing themselves to compete in the league, and they likely wouldn’t have done it without considering the dual roles they will play.

Pro #1:  Practice What They Preach

Managers in any type of business sometimes lose touch with those they manage, getting caught up in delivering orders and forgetting that they should be a part of the team. GPL managers who play and manage will not lose that connection, as they will have to do what they also expect of others.

Pro #2:  Be the Team

Instead of solely managing, GPL captains will be playing, thus feeling more like a part of the team. They are just as responsible for the teams’ successes and failures while playing online and live. They will all win or lose together as a cohesive unit.

Pro #3:  Multi-Tasking is an Art

Poker players tend to be skilled multi-taskers. They often play many online poker tables at once, and some read or do work at the live tables while playing poker. They handle the demands of making a living in a swing-filled game and do what is necessary to be successful, whether flying around the world for tournaments or starting small businesses on the side or backing other players. If anyone can manage a team and play on that team, these players qualify.

… but there are also cons…

Con #1: Distracted by Dual Roles

A winning strategy for any GPL team will require solid management as well as skilled play. Managers who focus solely on managing their players might be the most attentive to the needs of the players and the team. Instead of having to come up with game strategy, the manager can give objective advice and manage based on how the players perform.

Con #2: Remaining Objective

Managing oneself is a tough job. It may be hard to be objective when judging one’s own play and proper role on the team. Player input may cause friction if managers are criticized as fellow players, and roles of players versus manager become muddled. Poker players are rarely completely objective about their own abilities at the table.

Con #3: Opportunities for Poker Players Limited

Very few poker players had the opportunity to participate in the first season of the Global Poker League. With limited spots on each team, very few of the overall available field were chosen. By taking a seat on their own teams, the managers invariably took spots away from other players who could have shared the experience.


Time Will Tell

The first season of the GPL is just getting underway this month. There are many months of play through the rest of the year, and time will tell how the teams perform and the managers’ choices fare.

Team managers signed on for two years in their roles, which will make the second season choices even more telling. The lessons learned from the first year will inevitably play a part in choosing players for the next, and it will be even more interesting to see how the managers’ analyses differ from that of the audience.

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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.