The Montreal Nationals out-dueled the Berlin Bears in an epic 11-game series to take down the inaugural Global Poker League Championship for $100,000.
The Bears and Nationals needed all eleven games and nearly seven hours in the Cube to settle the championship in Las Vegas last night.
In the end Mike “Timex” McDonald, Jason Lavallee, Pascal Lefrancois and Team Manager Marc-Andre Ladouceur proved to be a winning combination for the Nationals in the 2016 GPL playoffs.
Close Call for Underdog Bears
The Berlin Bears came within one hand of claiming the championship for themselves.
Brian Rast, who was downright dominant in the GPL playoffs, had Pascal Lefrancois all-in with Q-4 to Lefrancois’ 4-4.
Rast didn’t hit anything, however, and the chip lead flipped back to Lefrancois.
The final hand proved to be a blockbuster with Lefrancois flopping a set of queens and then getting some good fortune on the turn when Rast hit two-pair with his T-8.
The Bears were an underdog in this year’s playoffs as they entered the playoffs as a third seed and with a unique mix of players that included recreational player Bill Perkins and stalwart Sorel Mizzi.
The Philipp Gruissem-managed team (who didn’t actually play for the squad) upset both the Hong Kong Stars and powerhouse Moscow Wolverines on their way to the finals.
They were an underdog in the final too and went down 5-3, only to reel off two back-to-back wins to force a game 11.
Nationals Rule Inaugural GPL Season
The Nationals got a last-minute boost with the addition of Lavallee for the finals.
You could make a good argument that the Nationals were the best team from the start of the GPL. Their roster also included Xuan Liu and former world champion Martin Jacobson who sat the playoffs out and cheered from home.
The team will split $100,000 but McDonald, who’s won more than $13 million playing live tournaments, said the experience was worth more to him.
“I’m honestly more excited about the trophy than the money,” said McDonald after winning.
“This really made it more about the poker than the money and I think that’s what‘sportifying’ poker was all about. The GPL has accomplished that.”
There were also some considerable side bets rumored to be wagered on the outcome of the final.
Big Things Coming for Global Poker League in 2017
The GPL will return for season 2 in 2017 but it might look considerably different. GPL founder Alex Dreyfus said the team is already working on ways to improve the league.
First and foremost the GPL will be much shorter the next time around, which was one of the main complaints over the course of the inaugural season. Another component that Dreyfus will add is amateur players getting a chance to put their skills on display in the GPL spotlight.
There’s a good chance the league will also expand geographically with GPL China set to debut.
One thing that won’t be going away? The draft. Dreyfus said it was one of the strongest parts of the GPL and there are plans to expand it with a Players Combine and casting qualifiers.