PokerNews were in attendance at the Global Poker Masters Draw Party, and we wanted to get an idea how each team was feeling about representing their country while facing off against the best in the world. To get answers, we grabbed a representative from each team for a quick chat.
Here's what they had to say:
Mustapha Kanit (Italy):
“It’s a fun competition for me and I really like it. It’s nice that we get to represent our country
“Italy’s strength is that we are always kind of crazy, so for sure we’ll bring something to the competition. All of us, in a different way, have to bring something to the team. We’ve all known each other a long time and have a lot of experience together, which will help, and I’m looking forward to playing with my friends.
“I think the favorite of course is the US, followed by Canada, but I like all the teams. They all have good players and everybody knows what’s going on so everyone has a chance to win. I like Russia, the Ukraine, and each team has something we have to be wary about.”
Olivier Busquet (USA):
“It’s an honor to be able to play for the US, especially with my team. I’m probably the fifth-best player out of the five, so it’s very cool to be able to play with such great players and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“As a team we have an overwhelming amount of strength; we have so many super-talented players. A decent amount of the format is heads-up so that’s good for me and good for a bunch of the players on our team. We have a couple of players – Vanessa [Selbst] and Dan Smith who are very, very good at adjusting to new formats or ways to change up a game or create a new game plan. I think we have a great chance.
“I know the Canadian team is very strong and the German team too. To be honest, there are 40 very good poker players here, so a lot of it will come down to whoever plays the format best. “
Eugene Katchalov (Ukraine):
“Definitely looking forward to representing Ukraine, I think it’s going to be fun.
“We’re all good players so we’ve been laughing at the odds that existed at first. They’ve corrected now, but when they first came out we were 40-1 underdogs, which is insane! It’s basically saying that if we get it in with jacks versus ace-king we’re like 10-1 dogs, ha, ha! It’s kind of silly as I like our chances.
“It’s hard to say which team to fear most, a lot depends on the structure. Every team has good a shot at winning this, there’s no big advantage here.”
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (France):
“I feel great about representing my country. It’s a great competition and the first time so hopefully will help the profile of poker. It’s kind of similar to a World Cup with all the top national teams. There were efforts like this before but this is on a grander scale.
“I don’t think we the favorites by far, but we have a strong team. There are some other superstar teams though, so that definitely makes us outsiders. It will help us that there are a lot of heads-up matches and in poker anything can happen. Patrick Bruel is on our team and a lot of the other players haven’t played with him so that could be good for us.”
Antoly Filatov (Russia):
“I’m really excited to be representing Russia. It’s a new format for us and we play only for fame and our countries. It’s going to be fun and we’re going to do our best to show you what we can do.
“I think all the teams have equal chances to win as there’s not a big difference in skill between us. We just need to run good!”
Simon Deadman (UK):
“I feel good about representing my country, it should be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it. Getting to represent your country in anything is exciting and, as it didn’t happen in football, I’m glad it could be poker, even though I thought that would never happen.
“We’re not going to have many strengths is the heads-up format. I think we have one trophy between us despite lots of heads-up matches, so not looking forward to that. The Salter brothers are sit-and-go specialists so that bit should be fine.
“I think it’s close as all the teams are really, really good. You know what poker’s like, I don’t think any team can be a huge favorite. Ukraine are odds-on to come last but I think that’s silly as they have a great team the same as everyone else.”
Andrew Chen (Canada):
“I’ve no idea what it’s going to entail but I think it’ll be fun at the very least, players against some good players.
“I’d say the US is probably the favorite, especially as there’s a heads-up format. They probably have two of the best players, period. Olivier [Busquet] plays heads-up obviously, and Ike [Haxton] is just one of the best heads-up players. The rest of the team are really good, too. I’d say ourselves and Germany are right up there, and then the rest are not that far behind. I think Russia are underrated to the general public, and a couple of the unknown Italian players – Rocco Palumbo and Giuliano Bendineli – are actually pretty good. Basically, no team is going to be really bad or severe underdogs.”
George Danzer (Germany):
“It feels very nice to represent Germany. We have a lot of new players and I’m one of the chosen ones so that feels great.
“I don’t want to avoid any teams but I want to play Italy last. They are the most unpredictable with the style they employ. I think they are the most dangerous team and definitely the most underrated. They play with feel, go on to check-raise you and you don’t know what to do! It’s different with the other teams, as you kind of know where you are at against most of the players. Of the 40, I probably know 30 or 35 of them pretty well.”
Today’s events all are going to be streamed live on Twitch with commentary from EPT Live’s Joe Stapleton and Jesse May. We caught up with the latter to get his thoughts:
“I love team events! I’ve been involved with a lot of different team events in poker and I think this one’s got a nice shot of working. Anytime you can get tactics involved and players cheering for their team, it’s going to be fun. Hopefully the Twitch stream will get people really going for it, I want to see people in there getting really partisan. I’m not sure who I’m rooting for as Denmark doesn’t have a team. I kind of like Germany and Canada right now but the Germans seem strongest top to bottom right now, with Canada second favourites.”