Posts Tagged ‘Anatoly Filatov’

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!

Queen of Hearts ParisTexas Poker StoreBy: Queen of Hearts Paris

After writing four blogs about the Global Poker League (GPL) (1.What is the Global Poker League (GPL) and… |2. Did You Watch The GPL Draft? | 3. We’ll Know More When They Want To Tell Us More, |4. What’s the Goal?) we planned to begin focusing in on each of the teams. But with play beginning in a week, I was also desperately searching for news of the “wildcard” selections. Two days ago, I decided to take a chance and send a tweet to Alex Dreyfus, GPL, who answered me immediately with the first two teams to announce. (Not bad for timing, by the way) Soon after that, wildcard announcements started breaking rapidly.

As a reminder, we’ve already reported that most team managers were expected to name themselves as one of their two wildcards. Also, the question about whether the wildcard had to be one of the draft-eligible players who hadn’t yet been selected has been answered; the fact is that anybody can be a wildcard! In other words, depending on their overall strategy, some team managers might choose a high-ranking player to make their team stronger, while others might choose to attract more buzz and increase marketability by choosing someone with known fan appeal.

Alexandre LuneauFabrice SoulierFabrice Soulier, Team Manager of the Paris Aviators, was the first to announce his GPL wildcards. Soulier named himself as expected, and then welcomed Alexandre “Alexonmoon” Luneau, to the Aviators. He chose Luneau despite the fact that there were many higher ranked French players. Luneau, however, is not only a seriously sexy gamer; he’s one of the most successful online poker players in the world. He is also known for his starring role in “Nosebleed,” an exclusive documentary about the world of online high stake players, directed and produced by Victor Saumont,. His goal now is to win a bracelet at the 2016 WSOP.

Anatoly FilatovNext to announce his picks was Anatoly Filatov, manager of the Moscow Wolverines, who proudly made his announcement live from Moscow’s Red Square. He chose the #1 ranked poker player in the Ukraine, Igor Yaroshevsky, who he said was smart and tough.  This was most definitely a team-strengthening choice; Yaroshevsky has nine Top 15 finishes on the live tournament circuit since last year’s WSOP. And for his second choice, Filatov charmingly named a young, smart and fearless player — himself.

Once the floodgates opened, the wildcard announcements kept coming. Manager of the Rome Emperors, Max Pescatori chose himself and high-stakes poker player Todd Brunson, whose resume includes taking billionaire Texas businessman Andy Beal at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for $5 million last year. His total live tournament winnings exceed $4,000,000 and he’s won a gold bracelet at the WSOP. Oh, and his father is the legendary Doyle Brunson.

Liv BoereeLondon Royals Team Manager, Liv Boeree, already managing one of the GPL’s early favorites, announced on Twitter that her wildcard picks are the top-ranked female poker player in the world (Boeree herself) and “the one and only” Sam Trickett.

Trickett has live tournament earnings exceeding $20m, and has competed against the world’s top poker players in both cash games and tournaments. He’s known for his quickness which should be an asset in the GPL format. He and his fellow teammates, Kurganov, Boeree, and Justin Bonomo have already shared a deep bonding experience at Burning Man. And of course, Boeree and Kurganov are a hot item. Lots of chemistry on this team!

Yesterday and today, three more teams made their wildcard announcements. First came Faraz Jaka, manager of the San Francisco Rush who chose himself and added young pro, Jonathan Jaffe. They were quickly followed by Philipp Gruissem, managing the Berlin Bears, the first team manager NOT to name himself as a wildcard player.  He chose @junglemandan  (aka Daniel Cates) and @bp22 (aka amateur poker player Bill Perkins) to play for his team. And today, we had Chris Moneymaker, team manager of the Las Vegas Moneymakers, welcome @RuMCaKeS (amateur Scott Ball) which made the eSports enthusiast extremely grateful and excited for the opportunity.

Global Poker League - Week One

There will be much more to come, so stay tuned and we’ll keep you up to speed. We want our followers to be ahead of the curve. And, we hope to get a few of you excited, maybe even hooked on a particular team in the 12-team league before the action begins on April 5th, 2016. Make sure to check out all the action at the GPL poker tables starting next Tuesday.

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