Archive for March 2017

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

On March 3rd I wrote a blog titled, “Isn’t PokerStars’ POWER UP Really Alex Dreyfus’ HOLDEMX?” In it, I went over all that I had enjoyed about the inaugural Global Poker League, primarily to get some answers concerning whether or not there would be a second GPL season!

And, as the title suggests, I was also pointing out what seemed like a tremendous similarity between the GPL’s HoldemX and PokerStars’  new game called Power Up. (Not out of the question, since PS is the exclusive online poker sponsor of the GPL) So I posed the question: Had PokerStars simply taken over the product?

After I posted my blog, I tweeted it out, hoping to attract the attention of Dreyfus. I wanted his response concerning the two similar games, but what I really wanted to know was if he was abandoning the U.S. for China, where all the attention seemed to be focused.

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" Paris

I made the tweet intentionally provocative, and was quite pleased when Dreyfus responded with the following tweets:

Alex Dreyfus and Queen of Hearts Paris

Hmmmm.  I guess I have to take his word for that one! After all, he’s never lied to me before!!

Dreyfus then continued to tweet, with me responding in order to get my two cents in regarding much-needed GPL improvements:

Alex Dreyfus and Queen of Hearts Paris

So I had my answers, in 140 characters or less! But I really missed the boat by not publishing those responses then.

Instead, on March 16th I posted a blog titled, “GPL Making Great Use of its Down Time” in which I praised the strategies, especially their dynamic, high-quality videos,being implemented by Dreyfus and the league during the long lull in GPL action as Alex Dreyfus’s team (and their PokerStars sponsors?) take their time to make some much-needed improvements to all things GPL (website, merchandising, marketing and the Cube to name a few).

In other words, I buried my own story, which was later covered by Earl Burton in pokernewsdaily.com on March 19th and on cardschat.com on March 20th. As John Reger wrote: Just because the second season has been delayed, Dreyfus said not to mistake that for quitting on his brainchild. He did, however admit there were some problems with the inaugural run of the league and said those need to be corrected before another year of competition can get underway.”

In fairness, I should note that the majority of the aforementioned articles dealt with Dreyfus and the GPL’s expansion into the gigantic poker market in China and other countries, a topic I will cover in a future blog. But one thing is clear; I should have posted THIS blog on the 5th of March!

Guess I was way too distracted with all the action at our own local poker tournament.

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

I absolutely LOVE what the Global Poker League (GPL) has been posting on Facebook recently. It’s a smart marketing strategy, calling attention to the players in various tournaments who just happen to be members of the GPL. It not only promotes different tournaments like the WSOPC, PSC Panama and the WPT, but also gets the GPL brand out there. Important, especially when there’s a long lull in GPL action as Alex Dreyfus’s team (and their PokerStars sponsors?) take their time to make some much-needed improvements to all things GPL (website, merchandising, marketing and the Cube to name a few).

As a diehard GPL fan, the posts on my news feed catch my eye immediately. On this particular one, there were pics of  two of my favorite players, Sorel Mizzi (from the Berlin Bears) and Olivier Busquet (from my favorite team, the LA Sunset) and a video.The post said:

“A Heads-Up between you legends would be awesome! Good luck Sorel Mizzi & Olivier Busquet at the WPT Rolling Thunder Final Table.” I clicked on the video and I was hooked . . . it’s short, dynamic, engaging and features “GPL” twice in 30 seconds, once by coining the phrase “GPL-Certified” – very clever! Check it out!

Then I Googled the WPT Rolling Thunder Final Table as any curious writer/researcher would do, and discovered that this was the second-to-last major event of the Season 15 World Poker Tour. I also discovered that the WPT was live streaming the Final Table which was extremely unfortunate, in that I couldn’t resist clicking on it. I succumbed to the fun of watching live poker and watched for four hours until Busquet (in 5th place) was knocked out. The fact is, not only did we have dinner plans that I had to rush to get to on time, but clearly there would be no Heads-Up between the two GPL representatives.

By the way, for those of you who want to know the outcome, the final heads up took place between Mike DelVecchio and Sorel Mizzi with DelVecchio taking it down. On the final hand, the last two standing went all in when the dealer ran a 4s on the turn of a 7s4c2h flop. Mizzi had the 6s5s, and Del Vecchio had the 5d4h. The Jh on the river gave the victory to DelVecchio.

Keep up the good work, GPL!

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

It has never failed to amaze me that more states, in fact all states, don’t want to take advantage of the huge amount of extra revenue generated by online gambling, especially poker. I would have thought by now we’d catch up to the rest of the world, yet more than three years have gone by with only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware successfully passing legislation, and reaping the benefits, of making online poker legal.

Online PokerAfter more than three years, why does there suddenly seem to be more action in more states to get similar legislation passed? There’s California, of course, which has tried and failed on several occasions to get internet poker legalized. Until they can get the politicians, card rooms, horse racing crowd and the Indian tribes that currently have the monopoly on gambling to come together and make it happen, the latest bill from online gambling advocate, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, will probably die on the vine. That sure leaves a whole lot of money on the table that the union’s largest state could definitely make use of.

New York has managed to get two bills to the committee stage, which, if combined into one actionable and acceptable-to-all bill, might just have a chance of being signed by Governor Cuomo. Pennsylvania is also eager to have online casino gambling, but still needs to pass the necessary regulations. Their HB 392 would authorize full online casino gaming but also would open daily fantasy sports in the state; it has lots of support but hasn’t passed anything yet.

A couple of new-to-the-game states have also shown a lot of interest recently. Michigan has a bill, SB 203, to legalize online poker that’s also open to including other forms of online gambling activity. The voters of Michigan seem to be behind its passage, but there are still a bunch of hurdles to go through. And finally, a bill in Hawaii, SB 677, has been introduced to open “internet gaming” in the state, Interesting because Hawaii actually has laws on the books preventing live gambling.

As some might imagine, the desire on the part of these states and perhaps others to get legislation passed quickly has grown considerably since the current administration took office. While no one can predict what the president thinks about online poker (he seemed to be for it five years ago, but we all know that means nothing today), we CAN predict where the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, stands on the subject. During his confirmation hearings he was asked directly what his thoughts were on the legality of online gaming by famously anti-gaming Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been among those who would love to re-institute the Federal Wire Act of 1961 (passed to deal with racketeering). Sessions testified that he already thought it wasn’t legal for online gambling to be conducted and would look into it further once he was heading the Department of Justice. Don’t you just love these states’ rights republicans?

Keep in mind that in 2011, it was the Department of Justice that announced its belief that the 1961 Wire Act applied only to sports betting, thereby opening the door for states to legalize intrastate non-sport online gambling, such as lottery ticket sales and Internet poker.

Bottom line is that we really have no idea which way this will go, considering the extreme views of certain leading republicans who continue to want to restore the federal Wire Act. Should that happen, states would be unable to circumvent federal law to pass their own internet gambling laws. Although that seems highly unlikely, the uncertainty about it has hastened the efforts of at least a few more states to pass a bill, under the assumption that they would be grandfathered if they had already legalized online poker.

We’ll keep you updated as things progress.

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Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “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.
Holdem X

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.

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