The Montreal nationals are the first Champions of the Global Poker League after defeating the Berlin Bears 6-5 in an epic best of 11 match series.
Only three members of each team competed in the heads up matches to determine the champions: Mike McDonald, Pascal Lefrancois and Jason Lavallee for the Nationals and Sorel Mizzi, Bill Perkins and Brian Rast for the Bears.
Mizzi survived the play good and run good of McDonald in the first match, but short-stacked in match 2, billionaire businessman Bill Perkins shoved his AJ into the pocket Kings of Lefrancois. The board bricked out and the series was quickly tied at one game apiece.
The National’s Jason Lavallee was then able to do what no other player had been able to do in the GPL playoffs until that point, beat Brian Rast who had won 6 in a row for the Bears.
McDonald then made relatively quick work of Perkins in game 4 to put the Nationals up 3-1.
Rast got back to his winning ways in game 5 when he flopped bottom set against Lavallee’s pocket Jacks on a 9-high board just five hands into the match. Lavallee managed to stay out of much trouble as the flop went check-check and he just called a half-pot bet when a king hit the turn. But when Rast shoved on a river brick card, Lavallee talked himself into a call that ended the match.
Mizzi rivered a 6-high flush in game 6, and after what some may consider an ill-advised bet in that situation, he proceeded to suggest that Lefrancois bluff shove as Mizzi would find it hard to call. Well, Lefrancois obliged and true to his word Mizzi folded the hand and his chance to get back into the match which came to an end on the very next hand.
But Perkins drew the Bears within a game of the Nationals in Game 7 when he called McDonald’s 9 BB preflop all-in with 98o against McDonald’s KJo. Perkins hit a 9 on the turn and the series was 4-3 in favor of Montreal.
Lavallee got the Nationals within one match of victory after exacting revenge on Rast in Game 8, but Mizzi won back-to-back games against Lefrancois and McDonald to force a deciding Game 11.
For the final game, the Nationals sent Lefrancois into The Cube to face Rast for the Bears. On hand 43 of the match, after Lefrancois flopped top set and Rast turned two pair, all the chips went in, but there was no miracle river card for Rast and Lefrancois and the Nationals emerged victorious.
The team won the $100,00 first place prize and probably a lot more with side bets, but this night wasn’t about the money, it was about the title.
“If we were watching Pascal at a final table for 10 times the stakes, we’d just be sitting there having a good time. Here we were .. nervous,” McDonald commented after the final match. “This really made it about the poker rather than about the money, and I think that is kind of what the goal of sportifying poker was.”
You can watch the entire GPL Championship series below, and you can read about how the Montreal Nationals navigated through the Americas conference playoffs and the how the Berlin Bears made it through the Eurasia conference playoffs.