Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris
Last year, when I was covering The Global Poker League’s inaugural season very closely, there were so many exciting announcements, advancements and “innovations” to report about. Some of them happened just the way they were described, like the choosing of 12 team managers and the highly professional inaugural Draft. Some happened not quite the way they were originally hyped, but still– at least in a scaled-down version they were pulled off successfully, like the heads up competition in The Cube®, the playoffs, finals and the Championship, won by the Montreal Nationals. Players were extremely loyal to their teams and the business of “sportifying” poker proved it had legs.
Not only that, but the software developed for the GPL’s online competition platform – the online arena optimizing the fan experience – was met with almost universal approbation. Of course, a few advancements were talked about a lot by GPL creator and founder, Alexandre Dreyfus, but didn’t quite take off.
One supposed big deal in their arsenal was HoldemX, a pumped up version of digital Texas Hold’em designed to appeal to the burgeoning gamer set, the millennials, and the non-poker crowd who just might be drawn to poker if it had all the bells & whistles of a video game. After all, the GPL matches were competing with millions of established and new video games on the Twitch network.
The alpha version was launched in 2015. It appeared on the GPL website all year. Many top poker players tested it and loved it, but between planning GPI Award shows, launching the GPL, traveling to Tibet and China (and becoming immersed in the culture and the booming sports economy), helping set up the China Poker League etc., Dreyfus/Mediarex didn’t have the time or money to give the development of HoldemX the attention it needed.
Fast forward to Oct. 2016, when PokerStars became the exclusive online poker sponsor of the GPL. Suddenly, there was money for desperately needed advertising and marketing, and lots of money for product innovation.
So, I found it fascinating that PokerStars is in alpha testing of their new innovative product, Power Up, announced as a big push to bridge the worlds of poker and eSports. According to their spokespeople; “It’s a combination of traditional enjoyable No Limit Hold’em injected with powers that give players the ability to influence how hands play out and change up game play in a variety of ways with boards, cards and chips. This project introduces a lot of new features to poker that we have built from scratch and it’s taken a lot of time and effort to get to this stage in the game’s life. . . We integrated a new engine within our software, created animations and powers, and put a lot of time and thought into how poker players will have fun with the game.”
So, I have some burning questions for Alex Dreyfus. Why no mention of the GPL or you? Did PokerStars simply take over the GPL (and HoldemX) lock, stock and barrel, or are you still involved, at least emotionally.
Is there going to be a GPL in 2017 – NOT the one in China? Because its March and I haven’t heard a word about it.
Send us your thoughts!