Mike Leah & Qualifier Jonathan Schaler on Canada’s 8-Team Chances

Mike Leah

888poker is gearing up the second annual “8-Team” competition during this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event. Seven teams – each representing a different country and consisting of a captain, wingman, and a qualifier – will participate in the competition, which will see the team with the most points win three seats into the 2019 WSOP Main Event.

Last year, Team Brazil won it when Joao Sousa Monteiro, who qualified for the Main Event via a $30 satellite, finished in 583rd place for $22,449.

This year, Team Canada, which is captained by Parker “Tonkaaaa” Talbot, is expecting to make a big run. Joining him are wingman Mike Leah and online qualifier Jonathan Schaler, who both spoke to PokerNews about the upcoming competition.

Schaler: “I have a lot of respect for the ones that never stop learning."

“Parker approached me about being a part of the team when we were in Montreal for a tournament at the Playground Poker Club,” Leah said about joining the team. “It was a no-brainer, I’m always proud to represent my country and it seems fun. I’m very proud to be Canadian and to represent the country. I couldn’t think of a downside.”

Leah, a bracelet winner with more than $7 million in lifetime earnings, continued: “I didn’t really know Parker too well. I think we briefly met at the WSOP Europe last fall and then have bumped into each other a few times in between. Just kind of getting to know him, but obviously we’ve known of each other for a long time.”

As for playing the Main Event, which Leah has done 10 times without a cash, he offered the following advice.

“I don’t know much about the qualifier so I don’t really know his experience, but some general things about the WSOP Main Event are enjoy the experience, be patient, and don’t try to force things.”

Jonathan Schaler
Online qualifier Jonathan Schaler

Speaking of the qualifier, Schaler is a 30-year-old insurance agent with a wife and a small dog. He learned to play the game 12 years ago around his ex-girlfriend’s kitchen table and has had a poker dream ever since, which is to compete against the best.

“I’m not really sure I have one,” Schaler replied when asked who his favorite poker might be. “I have a lot of respect for the ones that never stop learning, the ones like Jason Koon, Justin Bonomo, Dominik Nitsche. They just seem to always be getting better.”

Schaler, who also qualified for last year’s WSOP Main Event via a $160 satellite on 888poker, continued: “The opportunity to represent my Country with two teammates like Parker and Mike was too good to pass up. I feel more excitement than responsibility for sure, I’m ready to help Canada win this thing.”

Leah also closed by saying that while there has yet to be a Canadian bracelet winner this year, he expects that’ll change by the end of the summer.

“My roommate who travels with me a lot, Thomas Taylor, is always in the mix. He has seven cashes already this year. There are now as many Canadians who come grind the whole series because of the tax situation.”

Indeed, Taylor has been having a solid summer with seven cashes totaling $44,283. His best cash thus far was $26,713 for finishing 41st out of 7,361 runners in Event #21: $1,5000 Millionaire Maker.

Click here for all the 888poker “8-Team” participants and details.

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