Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris
As most of you know, my primary focus in this blog has been on the Global Poker League. I’m looking forward to the GPL’s Playoffs and Championship to be held in Las Vegas, but since they are still a couple of weeks away, I thought I’d look around for something else poker-related to get excited about. Luckily, I happened upon a great article by Marty Derbyshire (@MartyDerby). Since I agreed with everything he wrote, I’ll share the highlights with you.
Derbyshire’s premise is that he wants to “highlight positivity in the poker community” so he is launching a weekly column titled Good For The Game. Since I have always stressed my belief that the Global Poker League was extremely good for the game of poker, it seemed like a good fit. And it was.
That is probably because he began his series by writing about the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table, which my husband and I watched together and thoroughly enjoyed. We both found the action at the table incredibly exciting, which is not something I could have ever written before (because I didn’t understand poker prior to learning through watching the GPL matches) and because of the exhilarating pace, engaging coverage by ESPN and the enormously entertaining players at the Final Table. It looked to us as though the players were really having fun. It made me want to play poker.
The champion, Qui Nguyen, was the improbable but highly likable winner, and it was his style of play that helped make this such a compelling event. As Derbyshire wrote, “Nguyen . . . outplayed a final table full of professional players using an aggressive and relatively unpredictable style . . . effectively putting pressure on his opponents at every step and challenging them to make tough decisions.”.
Our all-time favorite, Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, served as ESPN’s analyst along with poker super star Phil Hellmuth, so that expert pairing, along with their on point analysis, helped a lot. Negreanu was quoted heavily in the article, which made sense since he was so obviously loving the action.
“I think the whole final table was good for poker,” Negreanu said. “The speed of play for one, and Qui Nguyen specifically, played a style that, for lack of a better term, was not the boring, fundamentally correct and game-theory-optimal style. He was fascinating and exciting, because at any moment he could just be all in. He was doing things that were outside the box and unconventional and I think that gives hope to people that are not 23-year-old grinders who have studied game theory. They think if this guy can win, then I can win too.”
The author and Negreanu agreed that in the end, people want to be entertained, and that different personalities, table talk, bluffing, interesting characters, the pace of the game and going “all in” are the kinds of things that attract people and turn them into poker fans.
Alexandre Dreyfus must be smiling broadly somewhere, since that’s exactly what he’s been saying about his innovative team poker concept and the GPL. His goal has always been to turn poker into entertainment that connects to the existing poker community, attracts new poker fans and is part of the burgeoning mainstream entertainment and e-sport sector on a global scale. But we can talk about that next time.
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