Posts Tagged ‘Laura Cornelius’

Queen of Hearts ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

I haven’t written much about the Global Poker League lately, mostly because there hasn’t been a whole lot to report. Don’t get me wrong; the League has been thriving, we know which teams are clearly going to make the playoffs and I’ve been enjoying watching the heads-up matches in The Cube tremendously.  I find it mesmerizing to watch the same men and women who I’ve seen sitting at tables at huge events like the WSOP, WPT or Super High Roller matches displaying their “poker pro” personalities and then, when they come to play a GPL match, they morph into “performance” mode, actually entertaining us while playing poker.  The 6-max and heads-upGlobal Poker League matches played in the first part of the season were interesting for a different reason. The players on the webcams thought out loud; they explained their strategy or game plan or state of mind to us, the audience, but their opponents couldn’t hear them. That was a great learning tool for me as a beginning poker player, and a way to get to know the players better as well.

And, that’s when the concept of individual poker players feeling committed to their team (almost an oxymoron) and supporting each other began to take hold — and when I found myself rooting for my favorite teams (LA Sunset and NY Rounders) and checking out the standings. In fact, part of what helped me enjoy a match when my team wasn’t playing was the overall standings. That, and the opportunity to learn something new from some of the brightest, and in some cases best-looking professional athletes around. Hold on a minute; I just wrote “athletes.” Alex Dreyfus’ vision to “sportify” poker has already started working on me.

But there’s never been anything quite like standing up, face-to-face with your opponent, in a 20-ton glass soundproof Cube out of which you can neither see nor hear a thing, knowing your hole cards are exposed for all the world to see, while the viewing audience can see and hear everything, including the good bluffs and bad folds, the constant chatter, trash talk, teasing and off-beat humor, even the beads of sweat on your upper lip. It’s hot in The Cube, and the soundtrack is intimidating, especially when the heart beat starts pounding and the time clock is on. Boys still sound like boys but boys can conquer men in The Cube (think Fedor vs. Mizzi ).

The Cube - Aaron Paul vs. Fabrice SoulierAnd where else in the world could I have watched 3-time Emmy award winning, poker-loving, sexy-cool actor, Aaron Paul (brilliant wildcard pick by Liv Boeree for the LA Sunset) go face-to-face against The Paris Aviators’ team manager, the also sexy and undeniably hot poker superstar, Fabrice Soulier? Paul used both his poker and acting skills, including the Jesse Pinkman stare down, to win 2-1, but the match was an inspired way to open competition in The Cube. The potential for future wildcard picks who play poker is phenomenal.

Team Texas Poker Store's Night Hawk Poker TableIt sounded gimmicky to me at first, but I’m forced to admit it. Putting poker players in The Cube to face off in a poker match has proven to be another brilliant move by Alex Dreyfus. Bringing in the professionalism and polish of Joe Stapleton, along with Eric Danis for commentary and Laura Cornelius for interviews has upped the ante. With the Summer Series coming to a close and the playoffs beginning, who knows what additional twists, turns and enhancements – faster action, more music, light shows, more projection – will be added to The Cube and to the GPL in general. What I now know I can count on is that it’s bound to be fun, and bound to be innovative.

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It’s hard for me to believe, but the Global Poker League has completed its seventh week of online action. After this week’s matches are completed, the second phase of the schedule — the GPL’s Summer Series — will begin in Las Vegas on June 6th, making life way more convenient for those players who will also be playing in the World Series of Poker events.

Global Poker LeagueFor those of us who hadn’t spent much time watching poker before, much less finding themselves addicted to the entertainment value of the game, the Summer Series should be an exciting change of pace from the online matches we’ve gotten used to enjoying. First of all, the action will be live on the felt in the GPL’s Las Vegas studio. Second, there will only be Heads-Up matches, but it will be cross-conference action (for the first time) until all the Americas Conference teams have played all the Eurasia Conference teams. As they’ve done in the HU matches online, winners will receive three points per game for their teams and losers receive no points, so a total of nine points per match will be at stake. It will be fascinating to see how the results of these cross-conference games scramble up the rankings.

Of course, the HU action will be live streamed on Twitch, GPL and other platforms globally so we can continue cheering for our favorite team. There are some cross-conference pairings I’d love to see, but for now we only know which teams are playing when (http://www.globalpokerleague.com/schedule/)

The GPL has made the games easy-to-watch as well as highly entertaining for newbies like me by providing Great Content: web cams to get to know what’s going on inside each player’s head (from strategy to analyzing their opponent to how much they love their dogs); excellent interviews (Laura Cornelius and Eric Danis in the Lounge) and two humorous and knowledgeable commentators (Griffin Benger and Sam Grafton during the matches). In other words, there’s enough pure entertainment value so that my lack of poker savvy didn’t preclude enjoying the competition. In the end, I never forgot that I was rooting for the NY Rounders and the LA Sunset, the two teams representing places I’ve spent most of my life.

Team Texas Poker tore's Night HawkOn the other hand, for experienced poker players, the level of chatter and commentary was never dumbed down; the participants all speak the language of poker and it’s been up to me to determine how much I’ve wanted to learn. Suffice it to say that I’ve learned more about poker in the last two months than I’d ever known (considering we’ve owned an online poker supply store for four years) and more importantly, I’ve become intrigued by it. I’ve researched a bunch of terms I didn’t understand, watched late night poker on TV with my husband so we could discuss everything from player position to ranges, bluffing and gut shots and I’m ready to take my place at one of our tables and play.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is all playing out for us, the audience, just as Alex Dreyfus envisioned several years ago. What fascinated me when I decided to make the GPL the focus of my blog was that it was something new in the world of poker: a fan experience with digital content and competition at its core. And its founder, Dreyfus wanted . . . needed ambassadors to help him make poker bigger and more mainstream. Dreyfus knew “this skill game, sport game, brain game, whatever you want to call it” was not just gambling. He also knew that without exploiting its entertainment value and getting the media to talk about it, it would slowly die.

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Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

I’m feeling somewhat apologetic right now because it’s been more than a week since I posted my last Global Poker League blog, which is certainly unfair to my small but growing list of followers.  I was traveling/vacationing, which I mentioned last time, and my timing was way off, but I DID manage to write one blog from California, since you can take the GPL with you!

Sorel MizziFuBerlin Bearsnnily enough, last week Sorel Mizzi’s timing was way off too. Playing in his first match for the Berlin Bears, he got his start time completely wrong. Driving under pressure to get to a place where he could play, he discovered that he’d left his laptop back in the Motel 6. With no time to go back for it, he drove to the first Apple store he could find, bought a new laptop, pulled into a coffee shop and apologetically entered his first 6-max, because he didn’t want to let his team down. (He wound up scoring 13 crucial points for the Bears over two days, more than making up for his late arrival.)

My real excuse for not writing again was that I got sick as a dog two days before my vacation ended, which was compounded by winding up on an American Eagle flight from hell (upon which I tragically left my tablet with its awesome collection of ebooks). After that, I came as close to praying for my own demise as I can ever remember while suffering through three agonizingly difficult days.

Nevertheless, because I’m admittedly hooked on the GPL, I managed to follow a few of the matches on my cell and dragged my laptop to my bed on occasion to catch some of the replay action on globalpokerleague.com. Of course, you can watch GPL poker from any device, but on Thursday, with my health restored, I had my favorite GPL fan experience so far. My husband fixed it so we could stream the matches onto the big screen in the living room where we watched the Americas Conference Heads-Up matches together.

Olivier BusquetL.A. SunsetI was rewarded by a shirtless L.A. Sunset’s Olivier Busquet playing heads-up poker from a beach bar in Jamaica (why not; he’s not only been dominant in HU matches but he also looks damn good with his shirt off) against Felipe Mojave “Vamos” Ramos of the Metropolitans, who’s been a phenom in his matches but a decided underdog against Olivier.  Although Busquet was as charming and generous with his gems of poker strategy as always, often finding new and creative ways to outplay Felipe, he ultimately relinquished his unbeaten status to the lovable Brazilian, losing 2 out of their 3 matches. Later, the humble Felipe expressed his admiration and respect for Busquet, admitting to Laura Cornelius that he’d studied Busquet’s prior matches which might have been what gave him the edge.

The third match was important to me personally because I’d seen my N.Y. Rounders go from first place to third during this week so I wanted their competition, the Montreal Nationals, to lose. And, lose they did, eventually. Pascal Lefrancois played lights out for the Nats in the first game, but a stoic and determined Jonathan Jaffe, feeling the pressure to help his team, won the second and third games, earning six points for the last place San Francisco Rush.

What is quite clear after seven weeks of GPL matches is that the league has not only delivered on its promise to entertain its audience with exciting matches played by elite poker players (with tremendous pride and a wealth of poker knowledge) but that these players truly care about winning for their teams. And that’s how you begin to “sportify” poker.

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