With the inaugural event just over a month away, the roster for Team USA has been determined for the World Team Poker competition.  The squad is filled with familiar faces and sure to be one of favorites at the May 19th  match at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.
Phil Hellmuth was originally named captain of Team USA and it was therefore upon him to make the selections, but at a World Team Poker press conference, he showed great respect for “The Godfather of Poker,” Doyle Brunson, offering him the opportunity to take the helm.  “If (Brunson) accepts, I’m going to give him the captain jersey because he deserves it and I’ll play the number two spot.”
Brunson accepted and, in turn, announced the members of Team USA: siblings Annie Duke and Howard Lederer, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Erik Seidel, Allen Cunningham, Jennifer Harman, and Mike “The Mouth” Matusow.  The World Team Poker website states that each team will consist of five players and an alternate, so it is not known how Team USA will handle having nine members.
In all, there will be eight countries participating in the first event, each with five-player teams.  The event will consist of five single-table shootouts, with one player from each team at the table.  The last two players standing at each table will advance to the final table showdown.  These are not your standard No Limit Hold’em Sit and Gos, though.  There are two unique twists to the competition.  First, three different game formats – No Limit Hold’em, Fixed Limit Hold’em, and Pot Limit Omaha – will be played.  Second, team captains can make substitutions in the middle of a tournament, so strategy centered on which players are the strongest at which games may come into play.
Competing in the first World Team Poker match with Team USA are teams representing China (captained by Johnny Chan and David Chiu), Greece (George Kapalas and George Theofanopoulos), Vietnam (Men “The Master” Nguyen), England (Ben Roberts), Australia (Jeffrey Lisandro and PartyPoker’s Tony G), Israel (Eli Elezra), and Brazil (Juliano Maesano).  Other teams listed on the World Team Poker site, which will likely play in future matches, are Armenia (Chris Grigorian), Czech Republic (George Kozel), Germany (Daniel Heimiller), Iran, Korea (Kevin Song), Lebanon (Dany Joe Georges and Freddy Deeb), Mexico (Mario Esquerra), Norway (Thor Hansen), Philippines (Toto Leonidas), Switzerland (Chris Bigler), and Turkey (Rob Peltekci).
As it stands right now, it looks like Team USA’s stiffest competition will come from Team Vietnam and Team England.  It is no secret that many of the world’s best poker players hail from those two countries and they certainly stacked their teams.  Team Vietnam consists of Nguyen, Tim Phan, David “The Dragon” Pham, Karina Jett, Scotty Nguyen, John “The Razor” Phan, Kenny Tran, and Van Nguyen.  Team England boasts the aforementioned Roberts, David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Surinder Sunar, 2009 WSOP November Nine member James Akenhead, Peter Costa, Joe Beevers, David Colclough, and Ram Vaswani.
The $50,000 buy-in event on May 19th will be just the first of several “League Matches.”  There will likely be some sort of scoring system, although it has not been published, and the season will culminate with a Championship Event.  The event will be taped for television broadcast and shown live  on the internet, complete with hole card cameras, commentary, player interviews, and interactive web chat.

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