Jim "Pocket Bullets" ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

As just about everybody knows, currently online poker is regulated in only three US states: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, with California getting closer by the second. Of course, poker fans have been hearing that for a very long time, so here’s the latest.

 

PokerStars Online

On Monday August 22, 2016, a new amended AB 2863 Online Poker Bill will be reviewed, with an amendment that will enforce a five-year ban for PokerStars in the Golden State. In other words, Monday’s vote will decide PokerStars’ fate.

 

California Gold RushAlthough California, my home state, has made some progress in struggling through years of negotiations, regulations and hurdles necessary to get a bill legalizing online poker to pass, it is still illegal in the Golden State. As hard as it’s for me to believe after so much time has gone by, there is still one huge obstacle to overcome: a majority of hard-line Native American tribes simply do not want  PokerStars to enter the market and take any piece of their action.

That is the reason why the five-year moratorium has been introduced. Hopefully, it will receive a majority vote so that after all these years the bill can finally be advanced to the Senate.

Five years certainly seems like a very long time for the online players to wait around for all this legal mumbo-jumbo to finally be unraveled. But what is worse, in my humble opinion, is the loss of all the extra gold that would come into the Golden State.

So in the meantime, Californians will return to the offline poker tables and dream about when they can legally play for real money online in their PJs if they choose to. Like they can in every other country.

Send us your comments or thoughts!

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

Imagine my surprise when I checked the Global Poker League’s schedule one last time before posting my GPL blog yesterday, only to discover that the second half of the season, scheduled to begin next week, had been pushed back to September 20th.

What was particularly frustrating is that I follow @GPL and @Alex_Dreyfus on Twitter and Facebook, but the news didn’t come directly from either primary source. The announcement, along with the news that the Playoffs and Finals will take place in Vegas and not at TwitchCon and Wembley, came from Pokernews.com in an Aug. 10th blog by Matthew Parvis, retweeted by the GPL and Dreyfus. Their second retweet, after a bit of sleuthing, came from an independent poker site called www.backdoorquads.com, which also claimed to be breaking the news exclusively at the same time.

Global Poker LeagueI’ve not only been an advocate for the Global Poker League, but I’ve also blogged about it – 20 in-depth blogs to be exact. I expect breaking news about the League I’ve been following so closely and supporting so fervently to be announced by its CEO and the GPL. I don’t want to learn it in a retweet!

I don’t get it. I’ve focused on The Global Poker League from its inception. I introduced it, explained it, praised it, waxed poetic about it and motivated people to watch it. I applauded the innovative team concept.  I raved about the genius of Alexandre Dreyfus and his vision to “sportify” poker and to make it “fancentric.” I was a huge fan and followed the action closely.

Along the way I also pointed out what I considered its shortcomings and made some constructive suggestions about what I believed needed to be improved.

I noticed that my tweets were either liked and/or retweeted more than 16 times by @GPL and @Alex_Dreyfus when I had posted a positive blog, which the vast majority of them were. The likes and retweets seemed to stop when I incorporated suggestions or recommendations for improvement the League might consider. Probably just a coincidence, but still . . .

One of my major criticisms was directed towards the GPL website. After their incredibly successful professional inaugural draft, it soon became clear that the GPL site needed to be redesigned and then maintained consistently. Stories and features had to be updated frequently, a less cumbersome schedule and video archive had to be developed, the site had to load faster and, of course, it had to be optimized for mobile. In other words, the site MUST be a high class, high-functioning professional website.

I’ve been writing since the beginning that the GPL’s vision of poker as a team sport is what sets it apart. In fact, I wrote:” . . . it was that team concept that was supposed to build the fan base. Unless the mission has changed, I don’t believe the GPL did enough to reinforce the team concept.”

Global Poker League Team logos coveredFor example, during the online matches, I wrote in my blog and in the Twitch chat “, the logos of the teams ought to be prominent. Instead, they are often difficult to see. The design of the graphics covered up the team logos when the hole cards were being shown.”

During the Summer Series in The Cube, I also wrote, “ . . . the players should have been wearing their team t-shirts sporting their team logo”. There was practically no visible branding of the teams or of the GPL for the streaming audience. And, because the team merchandise was STILL not available, I lamented that a huge marketing opportunity had been missed: “ fans of the teams could have worn their t-shirts all over Vegas, including at the heavily attended WSOP.”

In other words, I bought into the team sport concept. Naturally I grew to have my favorites among the players; it was hard not to., But in the end, I explained, “If I don’t know what GPL team Fedor, Nano or Mercier play for, there’s something wrong with the marketing plan. Bottom line:  it’s the team that grows the fan base and excites those who root for them with a passion, motivating them to buy team banners, t-shirts, caps. . . and ultimately bring in sponsors.

The Cube as it is currentlyIn a couple of my blogs, I talked about my biggest concern, which was taking the Playoffs to TwitchCon in San Diego, where it would be competing for the attention of video gamers, a brand new demographic with millions of worldwide fans. I was concerned that bringing The Cube, even with some of the promised bells, whistles and enhancements, could be a disaster, and that “the huge video game audience would walk right by it without ever noticing it’s there.” And as far as Wembley is concerned, it never seemed big enough to be the center of attention in a huge stadium, at least not for a long time.

I’m glad that Dreyfus and team are committed to making the GPL a success on a long-term basis. I respect them for holding back until they’ve made some much needed adjustments. I am betting that within a couple of years, the League will have done what it needs to do to work itself into our hearts and minds; after all, it made me a poker fan and I can’t wait for more! I just wish they would have handled the re-scheduling and venue changes as professionally as they handled their inaugural draft.

Send me your comments or thoughts!

Texas Poker StoreJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

If you’re tired of Poker tournaments where you play endless hours to get to a final table, sometimes having to overcome and defeat thousands of other players, then maybe you’re ready for a quick cash game where you can cash out anytime you wish and take home your winnings, if any. Then, you can either jump to another table or go out and enjoy the pleasures of wherever you are, whether it is in Malta or Bulgaria or wherever the Cash Game Festival Tours are being played.

Cash Game FestivalThat is the concept behind The Cash Game Festival that co-founders Enri Orav and Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk came up with a few years back that is gaining ground in the poker world. Originally it began in Tallinn, Estonia and went international this year with its first stop in Aspers Casino, Westfield Stratford City in London in March, with a second stop at Casino Malta, located in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast, in June.

Platinum Casino Sunny Beach, BulgariaAnd now, it opens up its tables on August 31st, 2016, at the Platinum Casino in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, a seaside resort located on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria.

So y’all might wanna make some plans to head off to Bulgaria by the end of the month where the action at the poker tables will be hot and the night life might just scorch you. But don’t worry, y’all be able to jump into the Black Sea and cool off on the sunny beach.

Check out this little video from the Cash Game Festival in Malta if you need a little more enticement. Then hurry up and make your reservations. Maybe we’ll see you there.

Add your comments or thoughts!

Queen of Hearts ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

Our readers want to know what’s going on with the Global Poker League.  As far as I know, the GPL is on a scheduled break for about a month, so this is a good time to bring everyone up to speed.

Alexandre DreyfusAs a blogger who’s been following and writing about the new League since before their highly professional inaugural draft in February, I’ve made no secret of how impressed I’ve been with Alexandre Dreyfus and the GPL. The innovative team concept, the use of web cams, the fan-focused experience as opposed to an experience focused on professional poker players   . . . all came together incredibly well in just 14 short weeks. The GPL had half a million unique viewers, with sustained average viewing times of 17 to 21 minutes per viewer throughout the summer.

Could they have done even better? Absolutely, if they’d wanted to spend millions of dollars on television and online advertising which they obviously did not. Probably a wise decision too, since they now have “proof of concept” without exposing the whole ball of wax to the world prior to doing some very necessary tweaking. Plus they got some free marketing every time someone said or wrote: “Congratulations to Jason Mercier of the New York Rounders”. You can’t buy better branding than that.

GPL's The CubeIt was clear from the start that there had to be a GPL TV studio in Vegas, the mecca for poker players. And, to accommodate all the GPL team members also playing in the 2016 WSOP, they needed the convenience of a TV studio in close proximity to the Rio. I admire Dreyfus and his team for taking the calculated risk to break out their signature platform, The Cube, during the Summer Series, instead of waiting for the reveal originally set for September. In fact, Dreyfus wrote on Facebook that “it was a last minute decision to bring The Cube . . . to Vegas to form the centerpiece of our 2nd TV studio.”

I felt validated reading that, since at the time I had written in my blog: “No surprise, either, that he decided to break out the much-hyped, but not quite ready-for-prime-time Cube ahead of schedule.” It was no surprise because it was obvious to anyone paying attention that The Cube set-up, even in its pared down version, provided the perfect contrast to the play at the WSOP:  up close and personal, fast-paced, poker standing up, innovative and fun!

The players seemed to agree, saying they enjoyed the pace, the slightly intimidating electronic music and SFX — the loud beat, beat, beating of their hearts — the intensity of the heat and lights in the isolating sound-proof glass enclosure. Personally, I think they got a kick out of the jock-like activity of standing and sweating after the passivity of sitting at the poker tables in the air-conditioned Rio for hours on end.

In the meantime, we fans got the rare opportunity to enjoy the “other side” of some of the biggest names in poker – Fedor Holz, Jason Mercier, Sorel Mizzi, Jonathan Jaffe, Anatoly Filatov, Bryn Kenney, Fabrice Soulier, Randy “Nanonoko” Lew, Dan “Jungleman” Cates, Byron Kaverman, Tom Marchese, Faraz Jaka  and the list goes on — as they “let it all out” against their opponent in The Cube.

Many of these matches were not only good heads-up poker but also incredibly engaging entertainment. And for a newbie like me, the expert commentary provided by Joe Stapleton and Eric Danis broadened my poker education without delving too heavily into higher level strategies like range and variance. Their poker knowledge, humor and great chemistry, along with interviews by the smart and sexy Laura “Corndog” Cornelius, made for a highly enjoyable few hours in my day.

By the way, based on comments made by Dreyfus in several interviews, I imagine that what we saw was The Cube in its most basic iteration . . . many of the bells and whistles are still to come.( I’ll cover much more on the improvements I hope to see in The Cube in an upcoming blog!)

So now what?

I’ve been trying to figure that out and according to the schedule that appears on the GPL website, inter-conference play begins again on August 16th.  Unfortunately, a note on the homepage of the site also says “Thank you for joining us in the Las Vegas Summer Series – Back in September.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Dreyfus and team if they want to hold on to the fans they have acquired and continue to grow the way they need to. I’ve been saying for months that the website needs to be overhauled (design and programming) and then maintained consistently. Stories and features need to be updated regularly, a less cumbersome schedule and video archive has to be developed, the site has to load faster and it MUST be optimized for mobile. There’s enough content to fill ten websites, so that’s not the problem. It simply needs to be handled by developers who can deliver a high class, high-functioning professional site.

Eurasia ConferenceConceptually, the GPL‘s vision of poker as a team sport is what sets it apart. It began with players being drafted onto a team representing a major city, and it was that team concept that was supposed to build the fan base.

America ConferenceUnless the mission has changed, I don’t believe the GPL did enough to reinforce the team concept. If this was being marketed as a Team Sport, the logos of the teams should have always been prominent. Instead, the way in which the graphics were designed for the online matches made the team logos difficult to see. Viewers could easily see the players and the hole cards, but sadly, the team names were covered up.

And when play progressed to the Summer Series in The Cube, the players should have been wearing their team t-shirts sporting their team logo. Had the GPL been on time with their team merchandise (a costly misstep) fans of the teams could have worn their t-shirts all over Vegas, including at the heavily attended WSOP, where tons of attendees might have been tempted to purchase an LA Sunset or Las Vegas Moneymakers team shirt — free advertising! Dreyfus commented, “We also didn’t connect with the WSOP fan-base as deeply as we had the potential to do.” He’s right; they blew it. In addition, team branding as well as GPL branding were mysteriously absent from The Cube, at least from the online audience’s vantage point.

Because of the GPL, I grew to know and like some of the players personally; I feel a kind of crazy proprietary interest in many of them whenever I see them playing poker anywhere.  But in the end, if I don’t know what GPL team Fedor, Nano or Mercier play for, there’s something wrong with the marketing plan. Bottom line:  it’s the team that grows the fan base and excites those who root for them with a passion, motivating them to buy team banners, t-shirts, caps. . . and ultimately bring in sponsors.

Dreyfus has promised to “amp up the adrenaline inherent in many of our matches and focus more on the players than the game.” Maybe so, but if he still wants the team aspect to be the GPL’s hallmark, then some good old Yankees/Red Sox, Celtics/Lakers team dynamics have to be built up as well.

I have tremendous faith in the brilliance of Alex Dreyfus and his team to make the necessary adjustments to the GPL in ways I’ve suggested . . . and in ways I’ve never even thought of.  I look forward to the immediate improvements I hope will be made as they finish out this year with the league playoffs and the Season 1 Championship at Wembley Stadium in London. And I can’t wait to watch what happens next year and in the years to come. I got hooked on poker because of the GPL, so I’m rooting for it to evolve into everything Dreyfus envisioned — poker “sportified” to appeal to millions of old and new-generation poker fans.

And I’ll be blogging about it all as soon as the next half of their season begins in August . . . or September.

Add your comments or thoughts!