Team Italy Wins Inaugural Global Poker Masters
The tiny island nation of Malta is rocking this week. Not only is the country hosting its first-ever European Poker Tour stop, but it also served as host for the inaugural Global Poker Masters World Cup. The Global Poker Masters is a creation of the Global Poker Index (which seems to be coming up with every new poker idea these days), the latest in a long line of attempts to “sportify” poker. From all reports, it sounds like it was a success, helped by Team Italy surprising everyone by taking down the first title.
The Global Poker Masters was contested by eight five-person teams, each team representing a different country. Below is the complete team lineup, which changed fairly significantly from the initial announcement:
Team United Kingdom
How here is how the competition worked. Bear with me now, as it can get a little convoluted (I mean, hell, look at the diagram to the right for a quick glimpse of what a mess it is if you don’t study it). It all started with the Playoffs, which was comprised of five heats of five eight-handed Sit-and-Go’s. In each Sit-and-Go, there was one player from each team at the table. The mix of players at the tables in each heat was determined by random draw. The top four finishers in each Sit-and-Go received points – 9,000 for first, 5,000 for second, 2,000 for third, and 1,000 for fourth – which were added to his team’s overall total. At the end of all the playoff heats, the last place team was eliminated from the Global Poker Masters. The first place team received a bye into the Semifinals, while the rest advanced to the Quarterfinals.
The Quarterfinals consisted of three best-of-three heads-up matches. The second place team from the Playoffs went up against the seventh place team, third went against sixth, and fourth faced fifth. Teams were required to have different players compete in each Quarterfinal match and since it was best-of-three, the teams actually had to make some decisions as to which players would represent them and which would sit out. Teams would receive 17,000 chips for the semifinals for each Quarterfinal victory (to be added to the chips earned in the Playoffs, based on total points). Again, the team in last place after the Quarterfinals was knocked out.
The remaining five teams then joined the Playoffs winner in at the six-handed Semifinals table, each bringing a different number of chips to the proceedings, based on how they did in the opening rounds (the Playoffs winner received 50,000 bonus chips). One player represented each team at the table, but that player could be swapped out after each level. Play would continue until it was heads-up, at which point the Finals commenced.
Are you still following this?
The Finals were comprised of five heads-up matches, with the first team to win three declared the winner. The rub: in each match, teams would start with the chips they had when the Semifinals reached the heads-up stage.
And now here is how it all went down while sparing you the gory details of every hand.
The Playoffs round was closely contested, but the United States ended up on top, just edging out Team Germany, 68,000 points to 67,000. Thus, Team USA skipped directly to the Semifinals with 118,000 chips. Team United Kingdom finished the first round in last place and was eliminated. The standings after the Playoffs:
Team USA – 68,000 (bye into Semifinals)
Team Germany – 67,000
Team Italy – 62,000
Team Russia – 60,000
Team France – 52,000
Team Ukraine – 50,000
Team Canada – 43,000
Team UK – 23,000 (eliminated)
The Quarterfinals commenced on Day 2. In this heads-up round, it was Germany versus Canada, Italy versus Ukraine, and Russia versus France. Germany ended up taking two of three matches from Canada, the Ukraine won two of three against Italy, and Russia swept France, meaning Team France was knocked out. Thus, heading into the Semifinals, the chip counts were as follows:
Team USA – 118,000
Team Russia – 111,000
Team Germany – 101,000
Team Ukraine – 84,000
Team Italy – 79,000
Team Canada – 60,000
Team Russia grabbed the lead from Team USA quickly at the six-handed table, but Dan Smith doubled-up through Russia’s Oleksandr Gnatenko during the fifth orbit to get Team USA over the 200,000 chip mark and give them a huge lead. Soon thereafter, Team Ukraine was eliminated in sixth place, unable to gain any traction in the early going.
Team Canada was knocked out in fifth place by Team USA and it looked like Team USA might run away with things. Just a few hands later, Team Italy doubled through Team Germany then busted Germany completely, getting themselves back into the discussion, though still nearly 100,000 chips behind Team USA.
The tide turned quickly, though, as on Hand 51, Russia doubled through the U.S. and after that, Italy moved into the lead. Then, on Hand 62, the first hand after a player change, Italy’s Dario Sammartino and the USA’s Dan Smith got into a pre-flop raising battle, Sammartino with Aces and Smith with Sevens. Smith called for his allowed time bank so he could discuss his move with Isaac Haxton (also permitted), but Haxton had left the room to take a break after he had switched spots with Smith. Haxton returned after the time bank had run out, so Smith decided on his own to go all-in. It was all academic from there, as Sammartino knocked him out with his Aces.
And just like that, Team USA was gone and Team Italy had an enormous 404,900 to 148,100 chip lead on Team Russia going into the Finals. With the chip stacks so uneven, you might expect Italy to have an easy of things, and you would be right. Italy swept Russia in the best-of-five finals to win the first Global Poker Masters.
2015 Global Poker Masters Final Standings
1. Team Italy
2. Team Russia
3. Team United States
4. Team Germany
5. Team Canada
6. Team Ukraine
7. Team France
8. Team United Kingdom
* Tournament updates courtesy PokerNews.com.