Coming your way: The Global Poker League playoffs
It has become one of the year's biggest poker stories. A year-long competition culminating in play offs and a championship game. It sounds more like basketball or baseball than a poker tournament, but that became part of its appeal, and now the poker spot light is about to shine directly onto the Global Poker League as it gears up for its inaugural season finale.
PokerStars is a proud sponsor of the GPL and will be featuring articles in the run up to the playoffs which start at the end of November. Of the 12 teams that started out the season back in April, eight advance to this crucial stage, and the line-up is as follows:
Round 1 playoff matches
Montreal Nationals (1) vs San Francisco Rush (4)
LA Sunset (2) vs Sao Paulo Metropolitans (3)
Moscow Wolverines (1) vs London Royals (4)
Hong Kong Stars (2) vs Berlin Bears (3)
But that's only half the story. The dynamics within those matches are what will make the play offs a thrilling conclusion to the league. Those numbers in the brackets show the finishing position, or seeding, of each team.
What's more the format of the play offs, played in this first round in a best-of-seven fashion, makes the order of play significant. Which players take on who could make all the difference, among them several Team PokerStars Pros who'll be in the thick of it for various teams.
The Sao Paulo Metropolitans are skippered by Andre Akkari. Among those he can call upon to guide the Mets through to the Championship game are countryman Felipe Ramos.
Meanwhile in the Eurasia Conference, the London Royals, managed by Liv Boeree, with Vanessa Selbst ready for action, seek their passage into the Championship game, as do Celina Lin's Hong Kong Stars. Lin has the likes of Bryan Huang and Randy Lew (the highest scoring player in the GPL) to call on.
Here's a detailed look at the rosters going into the playoffs, with how it will work below.
|MONTREAL NATIONALS||SAN FRANCISCO RUSH|
|Marc-Andre Ladouceur (M)||Faraz Jaka (M)|
|Xuan Liu||Phil Galfond|
|Mike McDonald||Kitty Kuo|
|Pascal Lefrancois||Anton Wigg|
|Jason Lavallee||Jonathan Jaffee|
|Martin Jacobson||Anthony Gregg|
|LA SUNSET||SOA PAULO METROPOLITIANS|
|Maria Ho (M)||Andre Akkari (M)|
|Olivier Busquet||Darren Elias|
|Fedor Holz||Byron Kaverman|
|Chance Kornuth||Joao Pires Simoa|
|Aaron Paul||Joao Bauer|
|Eugene Katchalov||Felipe Ramos|
|MOSCOW WOLVERINES||LONDON ROYALS|
|Anatoly Filatov (M)||Liv Boeree (M)|
|Andrey Pateychuk||Chris Moorman|
|Igor Yaroshevsky||Sam Trickett|
|Vladimir Troyanovsky||Justin Bonomo|
|Sergey Lebedev||Igor Kurganov|
|Dzmitry Urbanovich||Vanessa Selbst|
|HONG KONG STARS||BERLIN BEARS|
|Celina Lin||Philipp Gruissem|
|Raiden Kan||Bill Perkins|
|Weiyi Zhang||Jeff Gross|
|Randy Lew||Daniel Cates|
|Guo Dong||Sorel Mizzi|
|Bryan Huang||Dominik Nitsche|
How it works
* Three-player units will play as a team in a single heads-up match against their opponent.
* Each match in the Conference playoffs will use a best-of-seven format, with the first team to win four games advancing to the GPL Championship game, which in turn will use a best-of-nine format.
* Team Managers will set a rotation between their three players, with each required to play the same number of games before being allowed to play again.
What does that mean? Well, it forces managers to be creative in their line-ups, particularly when assigning their best heads-up player (more details on the playoff format can be found on the GPL website).
* The winning team from each play-off match advances to the Championship game, which determines who will contest the GPL Final on December 1, where a $100,000 prize awaits.
The spectacle is not just in the setting, taking place in The Cube in Las Vegas, but in the world's best players, in teams, pitted against each other. All that's required from you between now and kick off on November 29 is to pick your favourite team (if you haven't already).
Who will play, let alone who will win, is still to be decided. But one thing's for sure. After a long and eventful first season, things are about to get even more interesting in the GPL.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.