Texas Poker StoreBy: Queen of Hearts Paris:

Queen of Hearts ParisI was thinking about the Global Poker League (GPL) over the weekend, when there are no matches going on. I was trying to figure out how Alex Dreyfus and the GPL will ever get to that place they’re aiming for – that sweet spot where everyone has at least heard of them (like the NFL or the NBA) and where they attract a wide audience of fans around the globe. And that audience can’t just be poker fanatics. They need to bring in brand new fans that become excited about the competitive format, start identifying with and then rooting for their “home team,” and can’t wait for that team to make it to the playoffs in September and ultimately, the finals in November.

It’s hard to figure, because in some ways the GPL is obviously most akin to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) since it’s about poker, and ultimately crowning a champion. But even though at this point more people have heard of the WSOP than the GPL, I’d bet that the audience for the WSOP consists of 98 percent poker players and fans. Period.  And of course, the WSOP is all about individual players. It’s huge, but it isn’t going to grow much bigger.

Maybe the GPL wants to be more like Major League Baseball (MLB) in that just about everyone has at least heard of it; it has fans from every walk of life; some people have season tickets and some catch a game occasionally; even if you’re only a casual fan you still know what team you root for, and then just about everyone gets involved as the competition heats up and the leagues face off against each other until only two remain to play in the World Series.

Then again, we call it the World Series because of our ethnocentricity, but it’s never been about the world; it’s always been the United States’ Series, hasn’t it? Same  for the Super Bowl; everyone around the world has heard of it, football fans root passionately for their favorite team and hope they make the playoffs, but again; the NFL is made up of leagues from the U.S. and culminates in a Super Bowl that, although watched by millions, is only played by teams from the U.S.

Perhaps the GPL is more like soccer’s World Cup, with teams from all around the world playing each other until the victor emerges.

NY Rounders vs Las Vegas MoneymakersOkay, I apologize. I’ve been fantasizing about the future of the GPL and what we might compare it to, but there’s really nothing like it. And that’s its advantage. It has the pull of home teams that can start building a loyal fan base; people are already rooting for their favorite team. It has the software and webcams that make it possible to get inside the players’ heads to learn their strategy and get to know them personally, the feature I most enjoy.  It has live chatting and tweeting at the same time to create even more fan engagement. It has the innovative “time banks” which, according to Earl Burton on “Poker Update” are not only turning out to be a useful tool in a player’s arsenal but are also so successful that they should be borrowed by all of online poker. It has the mystique of the” Wild Card” choices, where anything can happen, including drafting a famous actor like Aaron Paul for your team.

Although it has been a global league from its inception, with teams representing Hong Kong, Berlin, London, Paris, Rome and Moscow, it is poised to become a global phenomenon after striking a recent major media deal with Sina Sports, the leading online sports platform in China, with a daily traffic flow of 15 million online users and 26 million mobile visitors. Dreyfus noted that the deal is destined to increase interest in poker and the GPL among a potential viewership of more than 40 million people. Not only that, but the media giant will be hosting poker content alongside an array of mainstream sports, from soccer to basketball. In other words, Sina Sports is an already highly credible media platform that should boost the credibility and reputation of the GPL  tremendously. Talk about attracting a new audience!

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Texas Poker StoreQueen of Hearts ParisBy: Pocket Queens Paris

For those of you who have been following my blog about the Global Poker League, it seems like a good time to catch you up on the team standings and to make some random observations after the first two weeks.  And by the way, you can watch replays of all of the matches on www.globalpokerleague.com.

Global Poker LeagueThe audience for the live streaming events has been pretty impressive considering this is a brand new team poker concept that can only be watched by going to www.Twitch.tv. According to his tweet on April 5th, Alex Dreyfus noted there were more than 429,000 views and 290,000 unique visitors. As a variety of minor glitches as well as some good suggestions were tweeted or came up in the chat room, @GPL responded quickly and/or made adjustments, demonstrating how engaged they were with the fans and how invested they are in turning out an exciting and high-class product.

The players also appeared to be highly invested in supporting their teams, entertaining the viewers and playing some good poker. This is especially obvious when the web cams are on and players reveal their personalities and poker savvy. That has not only made for some closely contested matches but a lot of “corollary” activity to build their fan bases. Each team has a Facebook page and a Twitter account; the more active the team pages and the individual players are on social media the more likely they are buying into the concept of the GPL in terms of bringing poker into the mainstream and attracting a whole new audience.

The League has already begun to change the narrative in the poker world. If a poker player from the NY Rounders wins big at a WPT or WSOP tournament, and happens to defeat a player from the LA Sunset or the San Francisco Rush in the process, the player is now automatically associated with their Global Poker League team whenever the results are written or tweeted about, bringing free advertising and recognition to the fledgling League.

In fact, my only criticism of the screen format for the 6-Max and Heads-Up matches streaming every week is that the names and faces of the individual players are easy to see, and of course, their hole cards and the river cards are prominently displayed, as well as their chip count and the pot. However, it’s much more difficult to see the team each player is representing – most of the time the team logo is covered by the hole cards.

Obviously, the majority of the players are far more familiar to their fans than are their teams, but eventually that has to change if the GPL’s innovative vision for team poker is realized. Clearly it’s a big advantage to have star players on your team and, just as in any sport, they usually grab the most attention: take Kobe, Curry, Manning (either one) and Brady as examples. But if you don’t know what team they play for there’s something wrong with the marketing plan. 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, season tickets . . . and ultimately bringing in sponsors. To continually reinforce the team concept, I believe it’s critical for Dreyfus and the GPL to implement a re-design of the screen layout so that the team name and logo are always easy to see.

For those of us who are just dipping our toes into the poker-watching water, it’s having a favorite team to root for that’s going to turn us into fans. In the end, it’s not Thomas Marchese taking on Anthony Zinno in a Heads-Up poker match; it’s the NY Rounders beating the Las Vegas Moneymakers six to three in GPL play. That’s how the GPL will change poker.

Standings After Two Weeks:

Eurasia Conference: 

Eurasia Conference

 

 

 

  1. Paris Aviators:                         30 points
  2. Hong Kong Stars:                   23 points
  3. London Royals:                       19 points
  4. Moscow Wolverines:              19 points
  5. Berlin Bears:                           18 points
  6. Rome Emperors:                    16 points

Americas Conference:  

americasconf

 

 

 

  1. Montreal Nationals:                 29 points
  2. New York Rounders:               25 points
  3. LA Sunset:                               23 points
  4. Las Vegas Moneymakers:       20 points
  5. San Francisco Rush:               14 points
  6. Sao Paulo Metropolitans:        13 points

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Queen of Hearts Paris

By: Queen of Hearts Paris

As the second week of online GPL matches continues, I have found myself extremely pleased that I made the decision to follow this new, highly innovative form of team poker.  I had approached it tentatively, thinking it would be fun to write a few blogs about it and then move on, but that isn’t what happened. I got hooked!

Queen of Hearts ParisSo, you are now looking at my current work set-up: laptop for working, including writing blogs, and second screen to follow the 6-Max and Heads-Up matches when they’re live streaming on www.globalpokerleague.com  or www.twitch.tv/gpl on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Most people who know me will find this hard to believe, since I have never been the poker player in the family and never particularly enjoyed watching poker being played, live or online. My husband is the poker enthusiast, which is one of the reasons we created the Texas Poker Store four years ago. He’s the one who plays in a friendly poker game once a week and online most nights. He’s the one who has gone to Vegas to “cover” the WSOP Final Nine each year (at least that’s what he tells me) and he has the photos to prove it.

Anyway, yesterday, I was watching a Heads-Up match between Kitty Kuo of the San Francisco Rush and Joao Samoa of the Sao Paulo Metropolitans ( the end result of the 6-Max match among a member of each team from the Americas Conference ) I started to get deeply involved in one of the most unusual and entertaining aspects of the GPL: the live webcams inviting the viewing audience into the minds, strategies and personalities of the players. It was fun listening to Kuo saying “Ooooh; I want to win” and then screaming for joy as she won the match for her team.

And it’s been fascinating to hear other players share their thoughts with us. Xuan Liu was narrating her every move and observed, “So much fun when you’re getting good hands. I hope I didn’t jinx myself.” She didn’t, winning points for the Montreal Nationals. Sam Trickett, of the London Royals had a very different approach, remaining stoic and unemotional (even as he let us see his dog!) in his match against Randy Lew of the Hong Kong Stars. Lew revealed so much of his thought process and showed his emotions throughout, finally taking the win in the rubber match. And then, as I tried desperately to write this simple blog, I got totally caught up in a never-ending Heads-Up between Dominik Nitsche of the Berlin Bears (it seems all the Bears love to entertain and inform the audience) and Vladimir Troyanovskiy of the Moscow Wolverines. In fact, that’s when I took it too far and wound up starting an entire meme in the chat room based on my public observation of how hot he was. He finally won, giving the Wolverines some big points.

Somewhere in the midst of all of that I had an epiphany. I understood why Alex Dreyfus believed he could sportify poker, because he had already reeled me in. I’m a huge sports fan, mostly football and basketball, so I know what it feels like to root for your team.  And I also know that even people who don’t follow college basketball at all still get involved in March Madness. Dreyfus understood that. He knew if he could just get the attention of non-poker fans by being innovative, giving them teams to pull for and personalities to attract and excite us (not to mention that L.A., making the very last wildcard pick, added the wildly popular actor/poker player, Aaron Paul) that the Global Poker League might just make a huge impact in the poker world.  I think, within the next couple of years, he’s going to wind up being right.

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Queen of Hearts Paris

By: Queen of Hearts Paris

It’s Day Two for the Global Poker League and if you haven’t checked it out, you should. Go to Twitch.com/GPL or GlobalPokerLeague.com for live streaming of 6-MAX and Heads–Up matches every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Before you plunge right in, however, I highly recommend that you catch up on the GPL concept, including the rules, teams, formats, scoring or anything else about the League. (You can read our previous blogs — just enter GPL in the blog’s search function — but for in-depth information explore the GPL site.)

Global Poker LeagueBecause I’ve been following the formation of the GPL on our blog for a few weeks, I was ready to watch the minute they launched. Judging by the chat room participants on Twitch on Day One, most had absolutely no idea what they’d stumbled upon. There were lots of haters, tons of crazy comments and a million questions about where to get more info.

Daniel Jungleman CatesIt was interesting to see that the people chatting today already seemed more informed about what they were watching. Of course, it’s brand new and it’s bound to take a year or two for global team poker to catch on, which is exactly what its creator, Alex Dreyfus, predicted. But when it does, there’s no telling how big it might get.  Once they added the head cams today in the H-U matches, it became personal and exciting even for a total poker dummy like me.  Suddenly, the chat room was buzzing with positivity as we all had the privilege of observing each player’s strategy and listening to some of the more vocal and entertaining players as they let us inside their heads. Dan “Jungleman” Cates, representing the Berlin Bears, was especially open and extremely funny.

Justin BonomoAs of this writing, Justin Bonomo, for the London Royals is playing heads-up against Timothy Adams, for the Rome Emperors and even though I have so much work to do, I can’t seem to pull myself away. I can just imagine how hard it will be for me not to watch once I’ve picked a team to root for (probably the New York Rounders since I always root for NY teams; it’s where I grew up) and gained more poker knowledge along the way.

And that’s truly the whole point of the GPL: building an appreciation of poker for a brand new audience, attracting more and more fans by giving them a team to root for, until ultimately there’s a big enough appetite to watch team poker that it attracts sponsors. Suddenly it’s not just for points and pride; the players are making money without having to spend their own. You know, like other team sports.

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