By: Queen of Hearts Paris
Our blog has been somewhat silent for the past few days, ever since I decided to do a series on the Global Poker League. I’ve been coordinating my blogging schedule with the GPL’s match playing schedule, which takes place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. There are many other elements about the new League I need to write about, but I’m not ready yet. As I’ve mentioned, I’m getting hooked. .. It’s not that I sit and watch every match scheduled because that would mean I wouldn’t get anything else done. It might also mean that I had a slight problem! But I prefer blogging about poker when I’m in a poker state-of-mind.
So, when I’m doing some work that doesn’t require a lot of concentration, I have Twitch.tv/GPL on my second screen. When one of my favorite players (yes, I already have favorites) is playing or when one of the teams I root for (NY Rounders and LA Sunset) are in a 6 MAX, I tend to abandon my work and focus on the match. Of course, there are many times when that kind of devotion isn’t possible and I have to settle for the replay, or even just the highlights, knowing you can always find what you’re looking for on www.globalpokerleague.com.
The standings were shaken up a bit after all the Week Four matches. In the Americas League, the Montreal National took the lead away from the Rounders, who had been in the lead for the last couple of weeks, but the entire league is pretty well bunched up, with a mere 10 points separating first place from last place, currently occupied by the San Francicso Rush. I’m pretty sure that with so many matches yet to be played, those teams will switch places more than once, with the team in first place changing often.
In the Eurasia League the standings are significantly more spread out, with 25 points separating the first place Moscow Wolverines from the Rome Emperors who are not only in last place, but are the only team to have 0 wins. It will be more difficult to overcome the teams in the upper level of that league, but anything can happen in poker.
Just a few comments about the play last week. I really enjoyed the epic HU battle between Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier and Randy “Nanonoku” Lew. The match, referred to as the Clash of the Twitch Titans, was highly anticipated because Elky is a “brand” in the world of poker, considered one of the best players in the world, while Nanonoku is fast becoming an early star of the GPL. The match itself was just fun to watch; both guys were perfect for the GPL/WebCam set up: they were both loquacious, talking trash, talking strategy, displaying their very different but charming personalities. Elky talked a lot about Nano’s strategy against Jungleman, making it clear that these guys are watching each other’s game for any strategy hints they can pick up for upcoming matches. At the same time, Nano was charming as he talked about Elky being his first poker hero, and in his post-match interview he spoke candidly about his 2 out of 3 win, which gave the Hong Kong Stars some much needed points . “I’m just so happy right now,” he told the audience. “I’m gonna talk smack to Elky all week in Monte Carlo.” (site of European Poker Tour’s Grand Finals).
Jeff Gross, playing for the Berlin Bears, earned a clean sweep (nine points) over the Rome Emperor’s Todd Brunson in the heads-up game. They seemed to be feeling each other out a lot in the beginning since they’d never played before. Gross, a former University of South Carolina soccer player, said at one point, “I really don’t know what he thinks of my game yet,” referring to Todd, the son of the legendary Doyle Brunson.
In the first game of the match, Gross also said that he’d learned from Jungleman to “always bet your gut shot,” so he followed that advice and made what looked like a ballsy/crazy call, ultimately drawing the inside straight on the last river card, while Brunson was left sitting with his two aces and no chips. That game only took nine hands but it pretty much set the tone.
With the EPT going on simultaneously, it helped prove a couple of the of the GPL ‘s underlying concepts. The first is that the GPL has some of the very best players in the world playing in the league, as evidenced by how many of them were doing extremely well in the EPT.
At the same time, it shows how viable the GPL’s team concept is, with some not-so-well-known players, like hedge-fund manager Bill Perkins, getting the opportunity to play in a 6 MAX while other members of his team, the Berlin Bears, played in the EPT. Other less well-known players, such as Tyler Kenney (brother of Bryn Kenney, manager of the NY Rounders) and Felipe Ramos Mojave (playing for the Sao Paulo Mets under manager Andre Akkari) have been playing some stellar poker and really delivering points for their franchises, proving that only in poker can a less experienced player mix it up with the big boys and have the chance to come out on top. That doesn’t happen in boxing, or on the basketball court or in a tennis match.
Mostly it’s starting to demonstrate in a big way how much these GPL players want to win one for their team, as opposed to for themselves which is what poker has always been about. They all talk about the pressure they feel representing their team, wanting to win to help their team in the standings and so on. It’s fostering a real camaraderie among poker team mates as the fans begin rooting hard for their team.
The GPL is for every kind of fan, from the highly experienced to the newbie. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been playing poker for years or are just starting out, once you watch a few matches you realize how exciting it is to root for a poker team. And, for those who want to learn the game, or play it better, there’s an added bonus. So many of the players are also wonderful teachers and strategists, explaining their moves as they go along. Some, like Jonathan Little (nicknamed the professor) explain every move; it’s like they’re conducting a poker clinic. Others just smatter us with glimpses of strategy. It’s got something for everyone, and somehow, it works.