The 888poker-sponsored 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is nearing the halfway point, and it won’t be long until the $10,000 buy-in Main Event is upon us. We previously announced our “The 8-Team” promotion, which will see five different teams compete in the WSOP Main Event.
Each team, which is comprised of a captain, wingman, and a qualifier, represents a different country -- UK, Germany, Canada, Brazil and Sweden. Whichever qualifier does the best, meaning whoever goes deepest in the tournament, will not only win a $12,500-prize package into the 2018 WSOP Main Event, but also the pride that comes with representing their country on a worldwide stage.
The captains and wingmen, who will serve as advisors for the qualifiers, have been revealed, and you can read more about them below. Meanwhile, the online qualifiers for each team will be determined by June 28th.
Team UK– Kassouf Joins Bracelet Winner Chris Moorman
If ever there were two opposites, 888poker Ambassador Chris Moorman and William Kassouf are it. The former plies his trade quietly and in an unassuming manner, while the latter made a name for himself in last year’s Main Event due to his brash and polarizing speech play.
Earlier this series, Moorman, who has more than $14 million in lifetime earnings, topped a field of 959 players in Event #27: $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed to win his first gold bracelet and $498,682 in prize money. The win brought the 31-year old’s lifetime live earnings up to more than $5.1 million, which moved him into eighth on England’s all-time money list.
Toss in two previous WSOP runner-up finishes, which includes a career-best $1,068,690 for finishing second to Elio Fox in the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event, and Moorman clearly knows how to go deep in WSOP tournaments.
Likewise, last year Kassouf finished 17th out of 6,737 players last year, which was good for $338,288. That also made him the UK’s last player remaining, barely edging out 18th-place finisher Andrew Christoforou.
Since then, Kassouf has been traveling the international circuit. Back in May he placed 11th in the 888Live Barcelona Main Event for $8,890, and at the end of last year he won the EPT13 Prague €10,000 High Roller for a career-high $555,619.
Griffin Benger Teams Up with “Tonkaaaa” to Represent Canada
Team Canada is led by Parker “TonkaaaaP” Talbot, who is one of Twitch’s hottest poker streamers. While he plays primarily online, “Tonkaaaa” has amassed $246,368 in live tournament earnings, which includes $180,909 for finishing seventh in a Barcelona €25K High Roller last year.
While Talbot may not have the same amount of live experience as his other captains, he has the support of an A+ wingman in Griffin “Flush_Entity” Benger. The former Counter Strike champion has more than $6.5 million in online earnings and $3.8 million in live earnings.
That includes a career-best $1,250,190 for finishing seventh in last year’s WSOP Main Event, a tournament he had qualified for via an 888poker satellite. Benger’s heater continued into the new year when he won the 2017 Irish Poker Open Main Event for $215,731.
No team has more combined experience playing online and live as Canada, which makes them an early favorite in “The 8-Team” competition.
Team Swede’s Sofia Lövgren Get Support of Former WSOP Champ
Last year, Sofia Lövgren had a bit of WSOP success after she almost made the final table of the Millionaire Maker, ultimately finishing 12th out of 7,190 entrants for a career-high $75,109. She’s largely regarded as one of the game’s best up-and-comers, and now she has the support of a world-class wingman in Martin Jacobson.
If you recall, Jacobson topped a field 6,683 players to win the 2014 WSOP Main Event for $10 million. He did so after starting the November Nine as the short stack, playing a patient game, and winning the whole thing to become Sweden’s all-time money lead with nearly $16 million in earnings.
As of this writing, Jacobson already has two final tables at the 2017 WSOP. The first came when he and teammate Mark Radoja finished sixth in Event #2: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Tag Team Championship for $23,636, and the other another sixth-place finish in Event #6: $111,111 High Roller for One Drop for $641,382.
Bruno Foster Enlists Football Legend Denílson for Team Brazil
888poker Ambassador Bruno “Foster” Politano became the pride and joy of Brazil three years ago when he finished eighth in the 2014 WSOP Main Event for $947,172. He missed out on a bracelet in that tournament, but he managed to get his piece of gold jewelry last year when he won the WSOP International Circuit Sao Paulo Event #8: R$2,300 Pot-Limit Omaha for $36,514 and a ring.
Politano, who earlier this summer finished 10th in the WSOP Event #25: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha for $10,129, has chosen Brazilian TV host and former footballer Denílson as his wingman. In 1998, Denílson became the world’s most expensive player and gained more than 60 caps for Brazil, including two World Cup appearance (he was part of the winning team in 2002).
Last year, Denílson became our first celebrity ambassador in Brazil and has become fast friends with our Brazilian crew including Bruno Foster, Bruno Kawauti, and Nicolau Villa-Lobos.
So, what does he think it’ll take for his qualifier to win? He’ll no doubt draw upon his competitive football background.
“Undoubtedly, patience and concentration,” Denílson previously said on what it takes to win in both football and poker. “In both sports, these characteristics are essential if you accelerate a situation, you can lose everything.”
Mario Basler Joins Dominik Nitsche on Team Germany
888poker Ambassador Dominik Nitsche knows how to get the job done at the WSOP, after all he has won three gold bracelets. The LAPT champ has amassed more than $6.5 million in tournament earnings dating back to 2009, and he’s added to that with plenty of online scores such as $206,400 for being a part of a three-way deal in last September’s Super XL Series Main Event.
Backing Nitsche and the German qualifier will be former German football winger and current manager Mario Basler. He played for the German national football team from 1994-98 and gained 30 caps. He also won the European Championship in 1996. He currently works as sports director at 1.FC Lokomotive Leipzig.
Like the Brazilian team, Nitsche and Basler hope to use a combination of poker and sporting experience to coach their qualifier to a deep run in the Main Event.
Be sure to check back prior to the WSOP Main Event to learn which five lucky qualifiers win their way into 888poker’s “The 8-Team.”