Lynn “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-up 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 ).
And 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.
It 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.