Global Poker Masters: Forza Italia!

Rank outsiders Italy stun the world at the inaugural Global Poker Masters in Malta

Team Italy was available to back at 22/1 when bet365 opened its book on the inaugural Global Poker masters. In a tournament with just eight entries that was incredible value, and anyone who got a bet on would have been celebrating as hard as the five-man Italian team who were crowned the first ever world champions in Malta last month.

The Global Poker Masters arrived with much fanfare, promising a spectacle like no other – eight teams of five made up from the best poker players in the world, battling it out to crown the best poker nation.

Day 1 saw the eight teams playing 25 sit-and-gos, split into five rounds. Each player played five times, against different opponents, and when the points were totted up at the end of the day it was the UK who were eliminated in eighth. It was a hapless performance from the Brits, who only scored 23,000 points. Canada were seventh with almost double their total and the USA narrowly pipped Germany at the top with 68,000 points. As a result they got a bye to the semi-finals, with the remaining six teams playing the quarter- final heads-up matches to determine their stacks for the semi-final, and the next team to be eliminated.

Flipping for fun

France lost all their matches against Russia, and were eliminated in seventh, leaving six teams to play in the tag-team six-man sit-and-go semi-final. Each team nominated a player to start, who could be changed at the end of each level. USA had the biggest stack, with Russia and Germany just behind, and started off strongly, eliminating first Ukraine with set-over-set, and then pre-tournament favourites Canada in a flip.

Italy came in with the second shortest stack but hung in and won two crucial flips against Germany to eliminate them and then took out Team USA after Dan Smith five-bet shoved Sevens into their Aces.

That left Italy and Russia in the heads-up final. Italy had a huge chip lead and Russia couldn’t get themselves back into it. After two long, hard days of poker, Italy were the world champions. They celebrated as a team, with pride, not cash, as the prize.

Did it work?

The win obviously meant a lot to Italy, but it’s fair to say the Global Poker Masters wasn’t the mainstream hit it wanted to be. The live Twitch stream racked up close to a million views, but for the most part it only had around 6-8k watching at any one time. Jason Somerville had more people watching his Run It UP stream.

Part of the problem was the format, which proved confusing for the players and commentators, let alone wandering Twitchers who would have clicked on it from the home portal and left scratching their heads. Trying to up the skill level is admirable, but the spectators paid the price here.

Poker isn’t purely a skill game – even with this format Germany were eliminated in two back-to-back flips after playing for nearly two days. You have to embrace the luck in the game and we’re hoping that next year the Global Poker Masters returns as a leaner, more mainstream product that’s as easy to follow as the football world cup it desperately wants to emulate.

The Main Event

Dominik Panka narrowly misses the double at EPT Malta

The European Poker Tour isn’t used to playing second fiddle to anyone, and while all the headlines might have been made by the Global Poker Masters, the EPT Malta main event had a story brewing of its own.

895 players bought in for €5k creating a bumper prize pool of €4,340,750, but when Sam Trickett was eliminated in 62nd there were no more marquee names left in. Except, perhaps, for Dominik Panka, the Polish winner of the 2014 PCA.

When the final six players returned to play for the trophy on the last day, Panka was still in the hunt. And if he won he would become the first man to win two EPT titles.

He played brilliantly but, as often happens, his fate was decided by a flip with three players left. He had about five million chips when he three-bet with nines and called Jean Montury’s a♣-Q♣ shove. the 2♦-k♣-7♠-J♦ runout was kind but the t♠ filled Montury’s straight and sent Panka to the rail. Montury and fellow Frenchman Valentin Messina did a deal, with ex-pool world champ Montury going on to lift the trophy.

Click the video below to watch all the final table action

EPT Malta

  • Buy-in – ¢5,000+¢300
  • Entries – 895
  • Prize pool – ¢4,340,750


  1. Jean Montury – €687,400 
  2. Valentin Messina – €615,000
  3. Dominik Panka – €347,300
  4. Stefan Schillhabel – €260,500
  5. Javier Zapatero – €205,300
  6. Hossein Ensan -€153,700
  7. Antonin Duda – €108,200
  8. Remigiusz Wyrzykiewicz  –  €76,000

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