World Series of Poker Europe

A Look at the Global Poker League's Paris Aviators and Berlin Bears

  • Take a closer look at the Global Poker League's Paris Aviators and Berlin Bears.

We continues our preview of the Global Poker League franchises by taking a closer look at two European teams, the Paris Aviators and Berlin Bears.

Paris Aviators

A Look at the Global Poker League's Paris Aviators and Berlin Bears 101
PlayerHome CountryLive Tournament Earnings
Bertrand GrospellierFrance$10,992,424
Davidi KitaiBelgium$6,913,455
George DanzerGermany$2,249,979
Mike LeahCanada$5,320,933
Alexandre Luneau*France$165,822
Fabrice Soulier*France$5,829,818

*Denotes wildcard pick.

The Paris Aviators are led by manager Fabrice Soulier, who currently occupies the third spot on the French all-time money list with more than $5.8 million in live tournament earnings. Soulier has been recording cashes in live poker tournament for a decade and a half. The flamboyant Frenchman has already recorded a dozen live victories before he won the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the 2011 World Series of Poker to get his hands on his first and only bracelet, plus $609,130. In 2013, Soulier, who has selected himself as a wildcard, was the runner-up to Adrian Mateos in the WSOP Europe Main Event, and bagged a career-best score of €610,000 ($824,513).

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

Soulier's first pick was Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and it is easy to see why. Grospellier has just shy of $11 million in live tournament winnings thanks in part to him winning live poker's coveted Triple Crown of titles. The current No. 1 on the French all-time money list also has a huge following in Asia from his StarCraft days, and recently signed with top eSports team, Team Liquid.

Davidi Kitai is another stellar name on the Aviators' roster and one that would be a welcome addition to any of the GPL franchises. Kitai has three WSOP bracelets to his name and almost won a fourth in 2015 when he finished second to Jonathan Duhamel in the €25,600 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller at the WSOP Europe. Kitai plays a rather unorthodox style of poker and we are sure that the poker community is looking forward to seeing Kitai's hole cards on GPL broadcasts.

George Danzer
George Danzer

Pick number three for Soulier was another Team PokerStars Pro in George Danzer. Danzer is a phenomenal poker talent, one who is equally adept at live poker as he is in the online world. Although Danzer is more of a mixed game player, his can definitely more than hold his own in hold'em and he could turn out to be one of the stars of the GPL.

The only non-European to make it into the Paris Aviators was Canada's Mike Leah. Known as "GoLeafsGoEh" in online circles, where he has $2.76 million in winnings, Leah is another player who would have fit into any of the GPL franchises. In the live poker arena, Leah has more than $5.3 million in tournament winnings, helped by him winning his first WSOP bracelet in the AU$25,000 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller at the 2014 WSOP Asia-Pacific.

When choosing his final wildcard pick, Soulier opted to select online cash-game specialist Alex "Alexonmoon" Luneau as his sixth and final pick. Luneau starred in the poker documentary Nosebleed and is a phenomenal talent.

Luneau's selection raised a few eyebrows, not only because he is predominately a cash-game player, but because his inclusion means there is no room in the Paris Aviators' roster for the likes of Benjamin Pollak, Paul Tedeschi, or Sylvain Loosli.

Berlin Bears

A Look at the Global Poker League's Paris Aviators and Berlin Bears 102
PlayerHome CountryLive Tournament Earnings
Brian RastUSA$16,313,290
Sorel MizziCanada$11,148,823
Dominik NitscheGermany$5,600,225
Jeff GrossUSA$2,483,584
Bill Perkins*USA$2,507,051
Daniel Cates*USA$3,480,077

*Denotes wildcard pick.

The Berlin Bears, managed by Germany's Philipp Gruissem, have one of the strongest rosters of the GPL, at least on paper. Like the Sao Paulo Metropolitans' Andre Akkari, Gruissem has opted not to select himself as a wildcard, instead opting for two others.

Brian Rast was Gruissem's first pick during the draft and it is safe to say that Rast would have been snapped up by another franchise had Gruissem not drafted him for the Bears. Rast has $16.1 million in live tournament winnings, helped massively by his $7.525 million win in the $500,000 Super High Roller Bowl in July 2015. A super high roller specialist with two WSOP bracelets, Rast is one of the best poker players of his generation, if not of all time.

Pick two for the Bears was Canada's Sorel Mizzi, who, interestingly enough, recently fought Rast in a boxing match for charity. Mizzi first cut his teeth in the online poker world, where he has won more than $3.6 million under aliases "zangbezan24" and "Imper1ium,", before becoming successful in the live poker world where he has $11.148 million in winnings. Although Mizzi is yet to win a WSOP bracelet, World Poker Tour title, or European Poker Tour main event, many believe it is only a matter of time before that occurs.

Three-time WSOP bracelet winner, and 888poker ambassador, Dominik Nitsche is a perfect fit for the Berlin Bears, not only because the popular pro is German, but also because he is equally dangerous in online and live poker tournaments. In the live arena, Nitsche has $5.6 million in winnings, while his online exploits have netted the man from Minden an additional $3.5 million.

Gruissem's next pick went on Jeff Gross. With $2.48 million in live tournament winnings and more than $550,000 from his online play, it is safe to say that Gross knows his way around the poker table. One thing that is massively in Gross' favor is the fact he has played in a number of made-for-TV poker tournaments such as the partypoker Premier League, which will be a handy asset due to the nature of the GPL.

Despite having more than $2.5 million in live tournament winnings, the selection of Bill Perkins for the Berlin Bears is a little surprising. Most of Perkins' winnings come from his third-place finish in the $111,111 No-Limit Hold'em One Drop High Roller at the 2013 WSOP for just under $2 million, but he is a player who likes to have fun at the table and that is sure to attract some fans for his team.

The final wildcard selection was filled by Daniel "jungleman" Cates, and it could be a master stroke by Gruissem. Cates isn't afraid to speak his mind, and although he can suffer the occasional blow up, he is considered to be one of the best technically gifted poker players of his generation, particularly in heads-up games, which feature in the GPL schedule.

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