Lynn “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.
For 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.
On 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.