Posts Tagged ‘NY Rounders’

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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After the final heads-up match of the online phase of the Global Poker League’s inaugural season, Olivier Busquet, (LA Sunset) with a “slim-as-can-be 2-1 win” over Tom Marchese of the NY Rounders, said during his interview; “The GPL has been tons of fun:  the webcams, the whole team aspect, following the standings, I’ve totally enjoyed it and gotten a lot of poker practice. Everyone now is ready for the live portion; I think it will be a blast.”

So now I’m ready to be convinced, knowing that many of the team members prefer live play to online, that watching the heads-up cross-conference matches will bring its own kind of excitement. I have to believe that the GPL has prepared as well for this phase as they did for the online launch phase (notwithstanding Dreyfus’ tweet about building a studio in just 10 days). It’s hard to imagine that Dreyfus and his team are counting on last minute preparations, so I’m assuming the production values will be top-notch, there will be well-thought out extras and some unanticipated surprises, and hopefully enough fans have bought into the team concept that they can keep that crucial part of the League, the team competition, alive and growing.

But once the in studio Summer Series (approximately 48 heads-up matches over eight weeks) are over, and each team has played every other team in the opposing conference, and the four top teams in the Americas Conference and the four in the Eurasian Conference have been determined . . . then what?

GPL's The CubeWell, as just about everyone who’s been following the Global Poker League has discovered, Dreyfus is taking the GPL Playoffs to TwitchCon San Diego, for what is being called three days of unprecedented action. The top four teams from both conferences will square off to see who will progress to the Wembley finals in November. According to Dreyfus, The Cube®  will be unveiled for the first time. In other words, poker, and specifically the GPL, will be large part of this video gaming convention.

All along, Dreyfus had talked about wanting to make poker bigger, wanting it to go mainstream and reach a much wider and younger demographic. Is that audience made up of video gamers? I was flabbergasted to learn that more than twice as many people viewed a competitive video game tournament last year than watched Super Bowl 50!

“Last year, more than 225 million people watched competitive gaming (eSports) and the passion, engagement and size of this audience only continues to grow,” said Mike Sepso, senior vice president of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and co-founder of Major League Gaming.

Apparently, the alignment of poker and eSports is one that Dreyfus has been pushing for a long time. His company, Mediarex Sports & Entertainment, spent almost a year and millions of dollars to develop the new proprietary game of HoldemX, described as “a whole new poker game that tries to build a bridge between poker and eSports.”

“With HoldemX, we are also going to target a whole new demographic that has been largely untouched by the poker industry; we want to engage the new generation of video game players who haven’t been into poker yet.”

I’m out of my league on this — in completely over my head. I was just starting to get a grasp on playing poker and forming allegiances with my two favorite teams in the GPL. I naively thought that people like me were the audience for this league:  sports enthusiasts who would learn to enjoy “sportified” poker. But I’ve come to learn that I’m part of a very small demographic.

Suddenly all the talk is turning to eSports and competitive video gaming. I thought I knew very little about poker but was eager to learn. I’m positive I know nothing about video games and the gamer generation.

For now, I will continue to follow the GPL as it does what it needs to do to work its way into our hearts and minds. I’m hoping it doesn’t leave recent converts like me behind.

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Texas Poker StoreQueen of Hearts ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

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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Texas Poker StoreQueen of Hearts ParisBy: Queen of Hearts Paris

 

I’m traveling, I’m visiting my kids in Los Angeles, but somehow I remembered to check the GPL streaming schedule and managed to catch the heads-up match between Randy “Nananoko” Lew for the Hong Kong Stars and Justin Bonomo for Liv Boeree’s London Royals; Bonomo swept Nano for nine points which made me a little sad cause I’ve grown to like Nano.Global Poker League

Every once in awhile, I realize that although I’ve been living in a Global Poker League bubble for the past couple of months, the unfortunate fact is that it not only remains an unknown entity even to most poker fans, but no one I know has the slightest idea what it is. My friends and family don’t even get why I’m suddenly interested in poker. And I’m not sure how to change that. Our blog is not exactly Buzzfeed, nor can I force people to read my columns in order to catch my enthusiasm for the new League.

Alex DreyfusSo I’m trying to keep in mind what founder Alex Dreyfus has said about what he’s trying to accomplish with the GPL. It’s definitely NOT about becoming an overnight success or converting the world of elite poker players into the NFL in one season.  It will take two, three or more years, and it will be a slow process.

In fact, says Dreyfus “Our intent is not to create an event for players, like the World Series of Poker, but an event for fans and spectators. Our goal is to shift from a player and customer experience to a fan experience.” In other words, the GPL has no desire to compete with the WSOP. Its goal is to create a framework and platform where the best poker players regularly play for their team, as you can see on Twitch-TV right now, while we fans get into their heads and discover their stories.

What Dreyfus is doing is setting the stage for a continuing and engrossing poker storyline. In my case, for example, last week I got wrapped up in the heads-up matches between the Sao Paulo Mets’ Olivier Busquet and the NY Rounders’ Thomas Marchese, not because of my love of poker, but because, through the webcams, I had access to both of their New York Rounderscommentaries, both of their strategies, their very different personalities, and both their hole cards at the same time! This has never been done before, Dreyfus assures us. Not only that, but I was pulling for the team from New York, the Rounders, because that’s what I do . . . I root for New York teams.

Eventually, you and your friends and poker buddies will be talking about the amazing heads-up match you saw on Tuesday. One might say, ‘ Olivier got awfully lucky on the river with that final King.” You might answer, “I like Ladouceur’s style; he’s a very thoughtful poker player, but OB had an awfully good run. When it came down to the all-ins, Busquet always seems to win.”

It’s that “Hey, did you see what happened yesterday” mentality that the GPL wants to cultivate. The marketing goal for Alex Dreyfus is to provide enough sports or entertainment content to create a habit. And a habit is something you do every day or every week.

“What we aim to do with the GPL is for you to be hooked to watch GPL whether it’s one, two, or five matches per week, every week,” Dreyfus explains.

Which is why I’m with my daughter in L.A, and have a million things to do, but still took the time to watch a GPL match today.

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