GPL's Montreal Nationals Week 2: Liu and Lefrancois Dominate

Global Poker League

Sweep, sweep, bring out the brooms! With all the excitement in the sports world this week, the Global Poker League (GPL) added a splash of its own.

Much like the first week of the GPL, the heads-up battles in Week 2 were certainly the highlight. Once thought to be a rare accomplishment after Randy “nanonoko” Lew swept Sergey Lebedev, two more donuts have been swallowed.

A big light was cast over the poker world this week with the signing of Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul by Maria Ho and the LA Sunset as their 2016 wildcard pick. The community and fans alike were abuzz as the first major star joined the ranks of the top professional poker players in the world. It is not yet known when Paul will make his debut but one thing is for sure: it will be eagerly anticipated.

After a strong week of play by the Montreal National’s Xuan Liu and Pascal Lefrancois, the Nats sit atop the Americas conference with 29 points. It is, however, the Paris Aviators who claimed the top spot in the league with 30 points backed by the performance of Canadian Mike Leah and Alex Luneau.

GPL Week 2 standings
GPL Week 2 standings

Week two kicked off with six-max action in the Eurasia conference as Dominik Nitsche scored a victory for the Berlin Bears in the first match with the aforementioned Leah finishing second. Nitsche was looking for back-to-back wins in the second match but ultimately fell to match winner Vladimir Troyanovsky of the Moscow Wolverines heads up.

In the Eurasia conference heads-up matches for the week, Sam Trickett earned the London Royals six points beating Randy Lew of the Hong Kong Stars two games to one. Luneau scored six points for the Aviators defeating the Rome Emperors’ Dario Sammartino two games to one, and Troyanovsky finished a massive week besting Nitsche two games to one as well for another six points.

Montreal Nationals Week 2 6-Max

The first Americas conference six-max of the week gave fans their first glimpse of the ladies of the GPL. Marc-Andre Ladouceur sent Xuan Liu to battle against Kitty Kuo from the San Francisco Rush. Also as the table were Joao Pires Simao (Sao Paulo Mets), Fedor Holz (LA Sunset), Kevin MacPhee (New York Rounders), and Canadian Jonathan Duhamel (Las Vegas Moneymakers).

It didn’t take long for MacPhee to be bounced. Only five hands in to play MacPhee and Holz went heads-up to a flop of {4-Diamonds}{3-Clubs}{9-Spades}. Both checked to see the {8-Clubs} on the turn. With 2,060 in the pot, MacPhee check-raised a pot-sized bet by Holz to 6,060. After a short time in the tank, Holz made the call, bringing the {7-Spades} on the river. MacPhee jammed all in for his last 14,560 holding {8-Hearts}{9-Hearts} only to see Holz snap-call with {4-Hearts}{4-Spades}.

Liu was the next to depart. After battling back from life-support the short-stacked Liu found herself at risk with {9-Diamonds}{8-Spades} but, unfortunately, Kitty Kuo woke up with {a-Hearts}{a-Spades}. Liu would earn a single point finding no help on a {10-Clubs}{5-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}{4-Spades} board. Kuo would use the hand to propel herself into victory, defeating Simao heads up.

In the second six-max match of the day, MacPhee once again fell victim to a cold deck. On the eighth hand, MacPhee was all-in and at risk preflop with {a-Hearts}{k-Hearts} running straight into the {k-Spades}{k-Diamonds} of Las Vegas Moneymaker Jake Cody. Liu then went to work eliminating Simao. After limping in for 800 preflop on the button, Liu called a raise of 3,700 from Simao in the big blind. The flop came {5-Hearts}{q-Spades}{a-Spades} and Simao lead with a continuation-bet to 2,801. Liu jammed over the top and Simao made the call, putting himself at risk. Simao was ahead with {10-Spades}{a-Hearts} but had to fade a bunch of Liu’s outs with {j-Spades}{9-Spades}. Liu hit her flush on the river and proceeded to run over the table. Eliminating Kuo, Cody, and finally the LA Sunset’s Chance Kornuth, Liu earned a big win and seven points for the Nationals.

Montreal Nationals Week 2 Heads-Up

Week 2's first Americas conference heads-up match saw World Series of Poker bracelet winner and the Nationals third-round pick Pascal Lefrancois set to take on fellow bracelet winner and Sao Paulo Met, Thiago Nishijima. Mildly criticized for the pick during the draft, Ladouceur had all kinds of confidence in his friend and Lefrancois did not disappoint.

GPL Week 2 Thiago Nishijima vs Pascal Lefrancois
GPL Week 2 Thiago Nishijima vs Pascal Lefrancois

All three rounds were dominated by the French Canadian. The first match lasted just 35 hands. Lefrancois ground down the Brazilian, forcing Nishijima to open-jam his last four big blinds with {8-Spades}{7-Hearts}. Lefrancois quickly called showing {q-Spades}{7-Diamonds} and took the first three points, fading the {9-Spades}{2-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}{a-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} board.

Round two went quite deep as both players found themselves with less than a minute on their time bank. Action began to move fast as both players not wanting to face the “hot seat” mode. Nishijima was left short after he lost an all-in with {a-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} to Lefrancois’ {a-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}. On the 68th hand, Nishijima put his life on the line with {6-Clubs}{a-Spades} needing to hold against {q-Spades}{9-Diamonds}. The {5-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}{4-Hearts} flop left Nishijima drawing to an ace, but the turn ended all hope as the {9-Clubs} gave Lefrancois trips.

The final round went deep as well with the two battling over 54 hands. In the end, a short-stacked Nishijima was put at risk needing his {a-Hearts}{2-Diamonds} to improve against Lefrancois’ {6-Clubs}{6-Spades}. As all of Brazil screamed for an ace, Lefrancois completed the sweep by fading the {q-Diamonds}{8-Clubs}{8-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}{9-Spades} board, scooping up all nine available points.

The most anticipated match of the week also lead to the most surprising result. Arguably two of best poker players in the world squared off as Phil Galfond of the San Francisco Rush took on the New York RoundersJason Mercier. Mercier always had the answer for Galfond en route to the second clean sweep of the day. Mercier disposed of Galfond in 44, 27, and 23 hands in the three rounds to claim the full nine points.

The final heads-up match of Week 2 paired the 2010 WSOP Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel against one of the best online heads-up players in the world in Olivier Busquet of the LA Sunset. After each won a round, the third and final game came down to the wire with Duhamel running out of time and finding himself in the hot seat only having two seconds per action. Soon after, Busquet sealed the deal, winning the match two games to one.

Tune in Tuesday, April 20, for Week 3 six-max action and then catch the Nationals faceoff against the New York Rounders in heads-up action on Thursday. You can watch all of the matches live at twitch.tv/mtlnationals.

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