Archive for July 2016

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!

Jim "Pocket Bullets" ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

It has been a very exciting World Series of Poker that brought a lot of tears of joy and even more tears of frustration through a total of 69 Events that started May 31 and culminated with the WSOP Main Event Championship.

The final table became a reality yesterday as the last couple of players were eliminated. The well know phrase “so close yet so far away,” will resonate in John Cynn’s mind again and again after he was eliminated in 11th place by Gordon Vayo, who secured his place in the world famous 2016 November Nine. The same phrase is surely going to haunt Josh Weiss – eliminated in 10th place when he went all in for 850,000  with an eight of clubs and ace of diamonds. He was called by Michael Ruane from the small blind and Gordon Vayo from the big blind and Ruane ended up taking the pot with two pairs.

A little more than a week after Event #68: $10,000 MAIN EVENT No-Limit Hold’em Championship started, with more than 6,700 players,
the Final Table is set with the November Nine happily taking a much deserved break. They’ll return to the Rio Hotel and Casino on October 30 and play down to the 2016 WSOP Championship Title, the most coveted WSOP bracelet, and a little spending cash of $8,000,000 bucks.

The November Nine are:

2016 WSOP November Nine

Cliff Josephy 74,600, 000 chips
Qui Nguyen 67,925,000 chips
Gordon Vayo 49,375,000 chips
Kenny Hallaert 43,325,000 chips
Michael Ruane 31,600,000 chips
Vojtech Ruzicka 27,300,000 chips
Griffin Benger 26,175,000 chips
Jerry Wong 10,175,000 chips
Fernando Pons 6,150,000 chips

Now y’all know that all of the November Nine constitute poker’s newest guaranteed millionaires, but for your personal knowledge, the
payout breakdown is as follows:

1st place: $8,000,000
2nd place: $4,658,452
3rd place: $3,451,175
4th place: $2,574,808
5th place: $1,934,579
6th place: $1,463,906
7th place: $1,250,000
8th place: $1,100,000
9th place: $1,000,000

Of course, the pride of winning this particular event is priceless.

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Jim "Pocket Bullets" ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

Here it is folks!  The 2016 WSOP Main Event is down to just 27 players (out of a 6,737 starting field) at three tables still fighting for the right to make it to the Final 9 Table, which will begin in October, to battle for the WSOP Championship title, the famed bracelet and eight million greenbacks, the champion’s share of this year’s prize pool of $63,327,800 million dollars.Vojtech Ruzicka

As of the end of day 6 Vojtech Ruzicka of the Czech Republic is leading the remaining field with a total of 26,415,0000 in chips.

Michael Ruane

 

In second place is Michael Ruane, from Maywood, NJ, with a healthy stack of 24,565,000 in chips.

 

Cliff JosephyLots of other well known players made it to day seven including: Cliff Josephy, holding strong in third place with 23,860,000 in chips and  looking for his third WSOP bracelet.

James ObstJames Obst, with 19,560,000 pretty chips, is in fourth place. Obst has already cashed in seven events this summer.

Tom MarcheseThen down the leader’s ladder is Tom Marchese coming into the 7th day in 10th place with 15,420,000 chips.

The Main Event playdown to the Final Nine begins today at noon pacific standard time. And regardless of the chip counts, we all know anything can happen in poker!

Michael TureniecAnd as if that wasn’t enough, let’s not forget that there was also Event:#69 $1,000 + 111 Little One For One Drop No-Limit Hold’em which was  conquered by Michael Tureniec from Stockholm, Sweden. Making him the final gold bracelet winner of the biggest poker series in history. Tureniec walked away with his first WSOP bracelet and $525, 520 to fatten his piggy bank.

Hope you’re as excited as we are for the Main Event to start today.
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Jim "Pocket Bullets" ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

The 47th Annual World Series of Poker Main Event is down to only 251 players out of a total field of 6,737 participating players, each and every one of them reaching for the same thing, the 2016 WSOP Championship Bracelet. Cashing would be good, reaching the Final Table would be great, but nothing would compare to taking down that final table, outlasting the 6,737 players and walking away with the much-coveted Championship 2016 WSOP BraceletBracelet, not to mention the millions of dollars, eight million to be exact,  to stuff under their mattresses.

 

Brian Piccioli

As of day four and entering day five the current leader is Bryan Piccioli with a bag of 4,026,000 in chips.  But he will have lots of competition, all eager to take his entire stack. Here is the current breakdown of the top nine players entering day 5:

 

1. Bryan Piccioli – 4,026,000 – 2. Daniel Colman – 3,711,000 – 3. Thomas Miller – 3,684,000 – 4. Pierre Merlin – 3,396,000
5. Farhad Jamasi – 3,380,000 – 6. Goran Mandic – 3,216,000 – 7. Adi Abugazal – 3,180,000 – 8. Daniel Zack – 3,085,000
9. Melanie Weisner – 3,078,000

Maria Ho There are lots of other notables who are still in it and we all know that anything can happen in poker, so we wouldn’t count any of the 251 remaining players out quite yet. Good luck to each and every one of you. One of our favorites, Global Poker League’s Maria Ho, is definitely still in it and we are sending Lady Luck to stand by her side.

James Alexander and yours truly Pocket Bullets ParisWe’d like to give a shout out to our friends; Tina, Duane and James Alexander for proving that the family that plays together stays together; all three entered the Main Event this year and undoubtedly had a great time. Duane has cashed once before at the WSOP, his brother James has cashed eight times including six times this year, and their mom, Tina, is a poker pro in the making.

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