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It’s been eight years since Italy won the inaugural — and up until now only — edition of the Global Poker Masters.
Did the competition revolutionize team poker? Did it provide an opportunity for international poker competition? Was it even successful?
While the answers to these may be far from concrete, major international sports tournaments are usually held every four years. For that reason, 2023 would (and perhaps should) have marked the third instalment of the poker’s World Cup.
There’s no sign of that happening, however. In a statement, the Global Poker Index said they had “nothing but fond memories” of the event, but that bringing it back would be “a challenge.”
“We’d love to bring it back,” they told PokerNews. “The problem is time and money. We wouldn’t want to rush an event at the last minute and we would need to find a partner that’s willing to wait 12-18 months for this type of event to happen, and that’s obviously a challenge.
“If someone wants to partner with us to make it happen, we’d certainly be on board!”
So what would it look like if it did make the unlikeliest of comebacks? Here PokerNews takes a look at the countries and players who would be in line for a Global Poker Masters berth.
Germany and Ukraine Miss Out; Spain and Netherlands In
As a reminder, in 2015 eight countries “qualified” for the Global Poker Masters according to their GPI rankings, with teams made up of the top four players from the previous year’s POY rankings. The teams were also able to select a fifth player as a wildcard to complete their rosters.
Here you can see the rankings for 2015 vs 2023. Two teams from 2015 miss out, with Andriy Lyubovetskiy’s bracelet-winning 2022 not enough to secure a place for Ukraine, while perhaps surprisingly Germany also fail to qualify.
A German team led by then world number one Ole Schemion finished fourth in the inaugural competition but drop out of the top eight despite Koray Aldemir’s back-to-back WSOP Main Event runs.
These two countries are replaced by Spain and the Netherlands in the top eight. A modern-day Spanish side would certainly be one of the more dangerous in the competition, with a team made up of familiar names in Sergio Aido, Lander Lijo, Adrian Mateos and Ramon Colillas.
So let’s take a look at the “teams” from each of the eight nations. These are the four highest-ranked players in the 2022 Global Poker Index rankings. Looking at the qualifying players, there are a whole host of famous faces who would represent their country.
- Daniel Negreanu would swap High Stakes Poker for international competition with Team Canada
- Chad Eveslage would be rewarded with a spot in Team USA after winning WPT Season 20 Player of the Year
- Voted Players Choice for Toughest Opponent in the recent GPI Awards, Team UK’s Stephen Chidwick would look to avenge his side’s last-place finish from 2015
- 14 years after making the WSOP Main Event final table, Team France would look to the experience of Antoine Saout, having finished second in the 2022 EPT Prague Main Event.
- Dutchman David Hu would lead his team having enjoyed a successful 2022, finishing third in the Master Classics of Poker and winning a WSOP Circuit ring.
|United States||Canada||United Kingdom||France|
|Stephen Song||Mike Watson||Stephen Chidwick||Julien Sitbon|
|Adam Hendrix||Daniel Negreanu||Jack Sinclair||Paul Tedeschi|
|Jeremy Ausmus||Alex Livingston||Andrew Wilson||Arnaud Enselme|
|Chad Eveslage||Daniel Dvoress||Benny Glaser||Antoine Saout|
|Sergio Aido||Artur Martirosian||David Hu||Michael Rossitto|
|Lander Lijo||Eduard Barsegyan||Zhong Chen||Fausto Tantillo|
|Adrian Mateos||Nikolay Fal||Daan Mulders||Andrea Ricci|
|Ramon Colillas||Arsenii Karmatckii||Jelle Moene||Giuliano Bendinelli|
So who would each country select as their wildcard for their fifth selection? The United States has perhaps the toughest selection — Americans make up 16 of the top 20 players in the current GPI rankings — but there are perhaps equally tough selections for other nations.
Do the UK go with WPT champion Jack Hardcastle or PokerStars Ambassador and Coin Rivet Invitational champion Sam Grafton? Meanwhile, Canada and Spain can pick from a whole host of high-roller regulars. What team wouldn’t be improved by the likes of Timothy Adams, Sam Greenwood, Juan Pardo or Sergi Reixach?
Other countries may not have illustrious “rosters” to select from, but Italy showed what they can do with unknown players in 2015. Giuliano Bendinelli was considered an up-and-comer back then, and has since gone on to show what he can do by winning the 2022 EPT Barcelona Main Event. In fact, Bendinelli is one of only two players from 2015 to have automatically “qualified” again, the other being France’s Paul Tedeschi.
So Who Would Win?
Canada were the bookmaker’s favorites in 2015, but it would be hard to look past the United States were the competition to be held in 2023. The team would be “captained” by Stephen Song, who was named 2022 GPI Player of the Year earlier this year.
Debutants Spain must also be in with a chance with the heavy hitters at their disposal, while the UK boasts arguably the greatest ever British poker player in history in Benny Glaser.
European Executive Editor
Will Shillibier is based in the United Kingdom. He started working for PokerNews as a freelance live reporter in 2015 and joined the full-time staff in 2019. He graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a B.A. in German. He also holds an NCTJ Diploma in Sports Journalism.