After months of hype and mystery and anticipation, poker fans finally got to see Global Poker League come to fruition as the first season launched in the first week of April.
The week was one of all online matches, as they will be for the first few months until a live heads-up series in Las Vegas this summer. With one day of six-max matches and two days of heads-up matches, the Hong Kong Stars came out the best after Week 1 with a total of 18 points to start the season.
The 12 teams are divided into the Eurasia conference and the Americas conference, with Canada’s Montreal Nationals obviously placed in the latter. After Week 1, the Nationals sit in third place in the conference after picking up 12 points.
The season kicked off on Tuesday, April 5, with a series of six-max matches. The Eurasian teams gave us the first taste of what this startup league will look like and Dan “Jungleman” Cates was the surprise first elimination in both of the Eurasian six-max matches. Davidi Kitai of the Paris Aviators and Raiden Kan of the Hong Kong Stars each picked up a win in their first day of play.
Montreal Nationals Week 1 6-Max
Shortly after the Eurasian teams wrapped up, the Americas conference quickly got into action on the same day. Montreal Nationals team manager Marc-Andre Ladouceur picked Mike McDonald to represent the Canadian team for both of the back-to-back six-max matches.
In the first match, Mike “Timex” McDonald was well-placed with a significant chip lead and just four players remaining. But then he ran into pocket kings in back-to-back hands.
In the first instance, McDonald open-shoved 65,270 from the cutoff with the blinds at 1,000/2,000. He held and Griffin Benger let out a “wow!” from the commentary booth as he saw the held by Anthony Zinno in the small blind and the of Jason Wheeler in the big blind. Zinno called all in, Wheeler folded, and Timex was left with 27,700 to push or fold after the kings held.
In the very next hand, he was dealt a strong in the big blind but short-stacked Wheeler on his right had the kings this time — . The two easily got all of the chips in and McDonald was all but busted when the kinds held again. He was forced all in with 470 in the small blind in the next hand with and was miles behind Wheeler’s . McDonald was eliminated in fourth place, earning two points for the Nationals. Wheeler went on to win that match, collecting seven points for the New York Rounders.
McDonald came back with the heat in the next match. He powered his way through the table and clinched the victory, earning seven more points for the Nationals. Amazingly, like Jungleman in the Eurasian conference, the legendary Tony Gregg finished sixth in both of the Americas conference matches.
Montreal Nationals Week 1 Heads-Up
On Thursday, April 7, the Montreal Nationals were back in action as it was their turn to elect a player for a round of three rounds of heads-up games against the San Francisco Rush. Ladouceur threw Martin Jacobson in the ring and Anton Wigg met him to represent the Rush, making it a great battle between two Swedes.
The first heads-up round got off to a fast start with Jacobson holding to Wigg’s . Jacobson called Wigg’s preflop three-bet and flopped an open-ended straight draw on the , but Wigg had the lead with second pair. Wigg check-called the flop, the turn, and the river of was checked to showdown as Jacobson missed his draw. Wigg jumped straight into a two-to-one chip lead to after the very first hand.
In the second hand, Wigg received a premium hand again with while Jacobson was fairly strong as well, holding , but dominated by his fellow Swede. The ace on the flop hit both of them and chips started going in. Jacobson check-called the turn as well as the river, but Wigg had made the nut flush by then, further improving his hand.
It took only 12 more hands before Wigg scooped up all of the rest of the chips and won the first round, earning three points for the Rush.
The next round also took just 14 hands before Wigg won an additional three points, but not before a technical glitch that had viewers going wild on social media.
It occurred during a hand when Jacobson held and Wigg held . They both flopped the flush draw and the river card delivered the third diamond card on the board, giving both players a big flush. However, Griffin Benger tried to pause the action before the river card to give the players a sweat in the big hand, but the software malfunctioned and, instead of pausing the river card, it dealt the river and then a sixth community card. The producers solved the problem and restarted that match. The players exchanged pots until they had the same amount of chips as they had before the glitch and carried on with the round.
The third round was even shorter. It took just 10 hands but, this time, Jacobson won the three points for his Canadian team. It wasn’t easily won, as Wigg found pocket kings and pocket queens in back-to-back hands to continue his rungood in the match.
The fortune shifted Jacobson’s way when he went to a flop holding a flush draw with . Wigg had hit top pair with his and chips were destined for the middle. Wigg check-raised the flop and Jacobson three-bet all of the chips which Wigg quickly called. The turn was a blank but the river gave Jacobson the flush and the round.
With the nine points earned by Timex in the six-max matches and the three points from Jacobsons one win, the Nationals tallied 12 for Week 1, slotting them into third place in the conference. The New York Rounders lead with 16 and the Las Vegas Moneymakers are better than the Canadians by one, earning 13 points in the kickoff week.
In Week 2, two more six-max matches will take place on Tuesday, April 12. The Nationals can choose one player to battle in both or a different player for each. Then the Canadian team will face the Sao Paulo Metropolitans for the heads-up match on Thursday, April 14. You can watch all of the matches live at twitch.tv/mtlnationals.