Since the Global Poker League (GPL) draft back in February, Canadians and poker fans alike have been waiting with anticipation over who team manager Marc-Andre Ladouceur and the Montreal Nationals would select as their 2016 wildcard picks.
Canadian names like Mark Radoja, Sam Greenwood, Sam Chartier, and Justin Oliver were tossed around. All would have been solid picks. In fact, Canada is one of the top poker playing countries in the world. Other names that also could have carried the torch include Twitch star Jaime Staples, Daniel Dvoress, Ari Engel, and Mike “SirWatts” Watson. Team sports, however, are built on chemistry and it is clear that this year’s Montreal Nationals team has it.
On Monday, the GPL released a video of the Nationals team captain on Twitter announcing their wild card picks. Ladouceur and the team chose himself and Laval, Quebec’s Jason Lavallee for the 2016 season.
Lavallee has quite the poker resume with over $4.5 million earned live and online highlighted by a 2013 European Poker Tour (EPT) London High Roller victory for $579,975. Equally as impressive, Lavallee has two monster runner-up finishes. At the 2012 EPT San Remo Main Event, he lost to Ludovic Lacay heads-up earning $694,766 and at the World Poker Tour Festa al Lago in 2009, scored his largest cash to date banking $795,150 with a second-place finish to Tommy Vedes.
With the online portion of the league being such an essential part, “StatusUp”, as Lavallee goes by on the virtual felt, is well-equipped for the task. Lavallee has over $2 million in online earnings. He explained, “I cut my teeth at pot-limit Omaha the past few years and, before that, in heads-up no-limit hold'em.” Lavallee has also had success in online tournaments with a number of titles including a SCOOP title on PokerStars.
When asked how he felt after hearing the news, Lavallee had this to say: “I spent some time brainstorming the GPL when it was in its infancy stage with Alex Dreyfus, so it’s exciting to be a part of the end product and look forward to competing against the best players in the world. I've been looking for a reason to return to the poker world and this challenge has me hungry. Getting to play for my hometown with some close friends is a nice added bonus.” Lavallee was straight to the point talking about his team’s chance this year. “I think we have one of the best teams in the GPL, so I expect us to do really well. I believe everyone brings something different to the table and I feel like it’s a good fit.”
As for Ladouceur, it came as no surprise he was announced as a wlidcard. As a member of Team PokerStars Online, “FrenchDawg” is certainly no stranger to online play. Ladouceur has amassed more than $3 million career earnings live and online, most notably a 13th-place finish in the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event worth $465,159. Ladouceur is also an EPT High Roller champion, winning the 2012 San Remo event for $170,951.
Ladouceur had nothing but praise discussing his team’s choice to go with Lavallee. “Jason is part of an elite group of French Canadians that have been having massive success on the professional tour over the last five years — High Roller EPT Champion and runner-up in both EPT San Remo and WPT Festa al Lago. On top of bringing a strong mathematical approach to the game, his social media presence will be much needed. He's very interested and knowledgeable about the e-gaming industry and will be broadcasting on Twitch which is a big asset for us.”
Much like Lavallee, Ladouceur is also confident with his squad. “I'm very pleased with the team and excited to get the season started. There's no doubt in my mind we're a serious contender and it's nice to take on this challenge with such great people. Everyone is involved in the decision-making process and is committed to helping the team and making the league a success. Can’t wait for April 5th!"
The inaugural season of the GPL kicks off Tuesday, April 5. Follow the action live via the Nationals official Twitch channel at twitch.tv/mtlnationals.