GPL 3 Stars Week 2: Dom, Vlad, JMerc and the One Who Now Flops

Aaron Paul!

A scintillating Week 2 in the Global Poker League has come to a close and we're now tasked with sifting through the many shining lights to pick the best of the best.

Plenty of new faces made their debuts and the full range and depth of talent both drafted and undrafted is beginning to show itself.

We also saw perhaps the GPL's first true "must-see" appointment match in Jason Mercier vs. Phil Galfond and a few more budding rivalries taking root.

Who will rise to the top of our prestigious weekly GPL "It" List? Read on (and tell us how wrong we are) below.

1. Dominik Nitsche/Vladimir Troyanovskiy

Is it a complete cop-out to name co-winners of the GPL first star of the week? Totally!


But, much like the GPL itself, the GPL 3 Stars feature is in the teething stages and we stand by the decision to waffle out of a clear winner this week.

Also, if you watched these two guys on both Tuesday and Wednesday, we dare you to say one overshadowed the other. 

Starting out the week on Tuesday in the 6-Max matches, Nitsche came out of the blocks blazing. He rolled to the win in the first match to collect a huge 7 points for the Berlin Bears and single-handedly drag them out of the basement in the standings. 

He looked primed to go back-to-back in Match 2 until a mesmerizing Vlad "vovtroy" Troyanovskiy stole some thunder back for the Moscow Wolverines.

Their heads-up match the next day was equally captivating with Troyanovskiy pulling out some intriguing moves to slow down Nitsche and take the 2-1 win.

In a "points and personality" driven league, these two brought both in spades. With 15 and 14 points, respectively, Week 2 certainly belonged to them. Highlights from their heads-up match below:

2. Jason Mercier

When you sweep the marquee match-up of the week and scoop the entire 9 points you're obviously going to get consideration for the GPL 3 Stars.


When you do it against one of the greatest poker minds in the world in Phil Galfond? It'd be a crime if you didn't make it.

You could make a case for beating Galfond deserving the #1 slot in its own right but it's hard to top with the two-headed juggernaut of Nitsche/Troyanovskiy.

Mercier put on a great show, though, with girlfriend Natasha Barbour and dog Marshmallow adding to the joy factor. His running commentary about the hands, if a little "grumpy old man" as some called it, was also great.

Mercier admitted to being a bit unsure of what to do in some spots (some say Galfond outplayed him) and professed heads-up NL wasn't exactly his favorite game, so he falls slightly short of the #1 slot this week.

Still, as one of the true legends in the poker world, just having him on board is a treat. Match highlights below:

3. Aaron Paul

Can you give a star to someone who didn't even play a single hand of poker this week? Unfortunately for Pascal Lefrancois, Kitty Kuo, Mike Leah, Sam Trickett, Olivier Busquet and Xuan Liu, we say yes.

Aaron Paul 10 2015 WSOP
Poker star in the making.

Maria Ho's announcement on Monday that Paul was joining the LA Sunset as a wildcard got the week off to a sensational start.

Even if he isn't exactly sure just what he signed up for, getting a legit mainstream star to participate in the Global Poker League is, well, astounding.

We don't know just how often he'll play (all team members have to play at least 6 times, though), the thought of watching him battle it out in this format - and sharing the process/results/footage with his gigantic fan base - is a bit mind-boggling.

It's a massive coup for the upstart league and, possibly, the guarantor of its success in Year 1. Congratulations to the whole GPL team for pulling it off!

Honorable Mentions

As mentioned above it was hard to leave a lot of names off the list this week. Pascal Lefrancois' sweep of Thiago Nishijima was decisive and put the Montreal Nationals in commanding position at the top of the Americas Conference. Mike Leah and Alex Luneau racked up 14 points for the Paris Aviators to put them out front in the EurAsia Conference. Kitty Kuo and Xuan Liu both made impressive debuts and won 6-Max matches. Olivier Busquet continued his heads-up dominance with another 6 points for LA and Chance Kornuth was also great to watch. Sam Trickett vs. Randy Lew was a treat. If Trickett's mic worked it would have been even better.Kudos to commentators Griffin Buger Benger and Sam Grafton as well for stepping back more and letting the players fill in the gaps.


When two legit superstars are both talking through hands so much you can't hear either of them, what do you do? The audio engineers had their hands full with Jason Mercier and Phil Galfond and unfortunately a lot of great insight went unheard. Kevin MacPhee and Justin Bonomo also had weeks to forget with early exits (although very much card-related). Guo Dong of the Hong Kong Stars made a big move we're sure he wants to take back.

Performance Index Through Week 2

How does every player that's hit the felt so far measure up? We put them through our semi-scientific Performance Index* to find out.

Here's how it looks. Check the current Team and Conference Standings here.


PlayerPointsGamesPerformance Index
Dominik Nitsche (Berlin Bears) 15 5 4.5
Vladimir Troyanovskiy (Moscow Wolverines) 14 5 3.5
Anthony Zinno (Las Vegas Moneymakers) 13 5 2.5
Olivier Busquet (LA Sunset) 12 6 3
Randy Lew (Hong Kong Stars) 12 6 3
Davidi Kitai (Paris Aviators) 10 2 4
Jason Wheeler (New York Rounders) 10 2 4
Jason Mercier (New York Rounders) 9 3 4.5
Pascal Lefrançois (Montreal Nationals) 9 3 4.5
Kitty Kuo (San Francisco Rush) 9 2 3
Mike McDonald (Montreal Nationals) 9 2 3
Mike Leah (Paris Aviators) 8 2 2
Xuan Liu (Montreal Nationals) 8 2 2
Raiden Kan (Hong Kong Stars) 7 1 4
Justin Bonomo (London Royals) 7 5 -3.5
Alexandre Luneau (Paris Aviators) 6 3 1.5
Anton Wigg (San Francisco Rush) 6 3 1.5
Bertrand Grospellier (Paris Aviators) 6 3 1.5
Sam Trickett (London Royals) 6 3 1.5
Tom Marchese (New York Rounders) 6 3 1.5
Joao Pires Simao (Sao Paulo Mets) 6 2 0
Walter Treccarichi (Rome Emperors) 6 2 0
Fedor Holz (LA Sunset) 6 3 -3
Chance Kornuth (LA Sunset) 5 1 2
Igor Kurganov (London Royals) 5 1 2
Dzmitry Urbanovich (Moscow Wolverines) 5 2 -1
Mustapha Kanit (Rome Emperors) 5 2 -1
Byron Kaverman (Sao Paulo Mets) 4 2 -2
Jake Cody (Las Vegas Moneymakers) 3 1 0
Chris Moneymaker (Las Vegas Moneymakers) 3 3 -1.5
Dario Sammartino (Rome Emperors) 3 3 -1.5
Darren Elias (Sao Paulo Mets) 3 3 -1.5
Martin Jacobson (Montreal Nationals) 3 3 -1.5
Timothy Adams (Rome Emperors) 3 3 -1.5
Daniel Cates (Berlin Bears) 3 5 -7.5
Bryan Huang (Hong Kong Stars) 2 1 -1
Jonathan Duhamel (Las Vegas Moneymakers) 2 1 -1
Weiyi Zhang (Hong Kong Stars) 2 1 -1
Chris Moorman (London Royals) 1 1 -2
Dong Guo (Hong Kong Stars) 0 1 -3
Phil Galfond (San Francisco Rush) 0 3 -4.5
Sergey Lebedev (Moscow Wolverines) 0 3 -4.5
Thiago Nishijima (Sao Paulo Mets) 0 3 -4.5
Kevin MacPhee (New York Rounders) 0 2 -6
Tony Gregg (San Francisco Rush) 0 2 -6

*The performance index measures how a player performs compared to his expected value. For example: on average a player will win 3 points in a 6-max tourney. If he finishes first, (s)he’ll earn 7 points, 4 above the expected value, meaning a performance index rating of +4 for this tourney. If a player finishes last, (s)he’ll get 0 points, which corresponds to a performance index of -3.

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