Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Dreyfus’

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When I first began watching and blogging about The Global Poker League, I was thrilled to be covering something brand new in the poker world. I loved Alexander Dreyfus’ idea of teams of world-class poker players behaving more like sports teams, pulling for each other and competing with other GPL teams. I enjoyed the 8-week online format tremendously as each of the two GPL conferences – Americas and Eurasia –battled for points and aimed for the Playoffs, just like other sports teams do. As I’ve mentioned many times, I became addicted to watching and learning about poker after following it in this format.

But there were a few small tweaks I wished had been made along the way that weren’t corrected, despite my tweets to Alex Dreyfus and the League. I imagine it’s because the pace they’ve been on has been incredibly demanding, going from one format to another, and one location to another in their very first season.

Nevertheless, I’ve complained from the beginning that if this was being marketed as a Team Sport/Game, the logos of the teams ought to be prominent. Instead, they were often difficult to see the way the graphics were designed for the web. For example, in this typical screen shot, the team logos can’t be seen when the hole cards are being shown, whether it was a heads up or 6-max format.

Cube Shot 1

In all cases, the web cams made up for some of the lesser problems; it was great fun listening to the player’s explaining their thought processes and strategies, much less becoming familiar with so many great poker players, but this still seems like an easy fix

In addition, someone needs to be assigned to keeping the GPL website up-to-date! The same articles and stories stay up for weeks. Also, the site is slow to load, and most importantly, it hasn’t been optimized for mobile which is an absolute must.

Moving on to the much ballyhooed Cube, there are a couple of quick fix things to improve the experience beyond the general observations I’ll make later in this blog.

It’s been annoying that the player’s names and hole cards are often under the wrong player, as in this shot:

The Cube shot 2

In this particular case, it didn’t matter because I was so focused on both of the player’s faces, as well as their playful banter, that I ignored the incorrect graphics. Who could take their eyes off Fabrice and actor/poker player Aaron Paul? But I did find it odd that there was no branding at all – none for the GPL or again, none for the teams other than in the intro graphics that precede every match.

Thankfully, by the second Cube match, both players were wearing team t-shirts and I assume that will be standard operating procedure from now on. It really reinforces the “sportify” poker concept. (Apparently, as seen during the 4th match between Nanonoko and Jacobson, the players can get out of wearing their team shirts which isn’t smart in my opinion, unless the GPL has another identifier for later on,)

In this close-up of Jonathan Jaffe, his San Francisco Rush shirt was prominently displayed, as was the Moscow Wolverine shirt of his opponent, Urbanovich.  These two players kept up a steady table talk throughout the match, with Jaffe poking and prodding to get information out of Urbanovich, which made it great fun to watch.

The Cube shot 3

It also helped that the commentators (Joe Stapleton and Eric Danis) as well as the guest commentator only spoke occasionally, never taking the attention off these two compelling players.

In the 3rd match, guest commentator Felipe Mojave Ramos spoke over the players almost continuously. Although his insights were great, I tweeted at him after the match about it, and he graciously accepted the idea that it was important to find the right balance.

As far as the Cube itself, just a few general comments as I’m sure I’ll have more to say once we’ve all seen more.

So far, most players have said it was a fun but somewhat difficult environment to get used to. Several said it was a bit intimidating, with the music and heartbeat sounds and being cut off from the world. I felt “naked” in there, Martin Jacobson said and many spoke about the standing element as well as the heat. All seemed to enjoy it, however, and I applaud them all for being so supportive of the concept.

Based on comments made by Dreyfus in several interviews, I imagine that this is the Cube in its most basic iteration . . . they broke it out in time for the Vegas Summer Series but many of the bells and whistles are still to come. They better come, because although it’s fun to watch these heads up matches, most of the fun is created by the players inside. They have to create it with their chatter and trash talk and personalities . . . and if you really enjoy poker, that’s all you need.

Watching on the live Twitch stream, it’s a great experience because I get to see terrific close-ups of the players as well as side-by-side shots as the camera shows pretty much everything. But it’s hard to imagine what the live viewers will see.

Is it this? The Cube shot 4

Or this?
cube-6

I’m going to hold off all judgment for now. But by the time TwitchCon comes along in September, everything planned to enhance the Cube better be in place, or the huge video game audience will walk right by it without ever noticing it’s there.

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I had no idea how much of an impact blogging about the Global Poker League would have on me, beyond simply enjoying watching the GPL matches. I quickly bought into the new league created by GPL founder, Alexander Dreyfus, including the competitive “team” play, or “sportifying” poker concept (starting with the Inaugural Draft) the use of web cams, getting to know the personalities and strategies of world-class poker players, the informative but also highly engaging commentators and hosts.

I knew right away which teams I’d root for; the two teams representing the cities where I’d spent most of my life – The New York Rounders and the L.A. Sunset. And I got excited as my two teams continued moving up in the standings of the Americas Conference through the first online phase of the GPL. I’m ready, and more than a little excited, to watch the first of the 48 Heads-Up Cross-Conference Live Summer Season matches tonight, June 6, as the GPL begins Heat I, Match 81 in the studio in Las Vegas.Fabrice SoulierAaron Paul

And of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m especially eager to see the debut of talented actor and team wildcard, Aaron Paul, who will be playing for the L.A. Sunset. He is scheduled to go heads-up against the team manager of the Paris Aviators, Fabrice Soulier, at 8 P.M. Eastern time. Most poker fans and players would undoubtedly say that Paul was over-matched, but we all know anything can happen in poker.

I’ve mentioned in prior blogs my concerns about the production values of this live, in-studio phase after the GPL got off to such a high-quality, professional start. I’ve also talked about my biggest concern, which comes later when the GPL takes its Playoffs (the top four teams from each conference) to TwitchCon San Diego, where it will compete for the attention of video gamers, a brand new demographic with millions of worldwide fans. There is plenty of time to delve into those concerns later.

For now, I want to get back to the amazing impact the GPL has had on me. Not only has it expanded my general knowledge about poker, but it has also brought me a whole new group of followers and fans; “poker people” have begun to follow me on Twitter. On a more personal note, a few people mentioned to my husband how much they were enjoying my blog about the GPL, which they were learning about through me. Some even thanked him for the great content. A few referenced seeing “member of the GPL” next to a particular player’s name at the SHR Bowl and/or the WSOP and now knowing what that meant!Fedor Holtz

On an even more personal note, I can’t believe the difference between me this year and me at the same time a year ago. My husband has always watched WPT action and tournaments like the SHR and World Series of Poker on TV, usually after I fell asleep. (In addition to his attending the WSOP every year as they draw close to the Final Nine) Now, I stay up with him. Not only do I recognize many of the players, but I actually feel like I know many of them personally. When I saw that the Super High Roller Bowl included Fedor Holz, Brynn Kenney, Jason Mercier and three other GPL team members, I was immediately drawn in: I KNOW these guys! I watched all the coverage of the Final Table, and was happy that Fedor finished second.

It’s not just that I’ve come to recognize so many live and online, national and international poker players (besides the always recognizable Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth) but I can actually follow the action. I understand what each player is doing based on his or her hole cards; I know if they’re bluffing or limping or value betting and it suddenly makes poker exciting to watch.

Kid Poker - The MovieEven within the context of a movie or TV show, if the characters are playing poker, I “get it” on a whole different level now. We watched “Kid Poker” the other night on Netflix and found it extremely entertaining. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it last year simply because Negreanu has a great rags-to-riches story and he’s so cute and charismatic, but this year I was mesmerized because I “got it.” After eight weeks of watching GPL matches and hearing them analyzed, I could fully appreciate the Kid’s ability to read players, figure out what was in another player’s hand and bet accordingly . . .  and it was truly mind-blowing.

The GPL has already had a major impact on me; now I’m anxious to see if it can catch on big within the next few years.

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