Posts Tagged ‘London’

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

I hadn’t heard much about the Global Poker League lately. (And then, almost as if they knew I was about to publish this blog, there were GPL sightings TODAY on Facebook, plus updates to their website – finally!) I found the paucity of information somewhat surprising, considering the two-and- a-half-month break between their Summer Series and the second half of their season. I thought it would be an ideal time to fix some of the things Alex Dreyfus had said needed fixing.Global Poker League

In fact, in his wrap-up of the first half of the season, Dreyfus said that they needed to:

  • Revamp the website (I’ve been saying that for months)
  • Improve the mobile app
  • Create drama by increasing the “character dynamics” and focusing more on the players’ personalities and less on the game – create WWE-esque narratives
  • Connect more with casual fans and grass-roots players
  • Provide GPL branded merchandise
  • Consider possible partnerships with key online poker rooms (social, free-to-play and real money offers)

Dreyfus wrapped up his post by advising all GPL fans to get ready for some “transformative changes and risk taking.”

Nevertheless, although I kept checking, the only changes I was able to discover were the facts that the Playoffs, originally scheduled for TwitchCon in San Diego, as well as the Finals, originally set to be held at Wembley Arena in London, would instead take place in The Cube at the GPL Vegas-based TV studio.

Clearly, it seems that the entrepreneur, rather than taking big risks, has been focused on tamping down expectations for the remainder of this first year. But, as always, there is a method behind the madness/genius of Alex Dreyfus.

In a terrific podcast, our all-time favorite, Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, interviewed Dreyfus, giving us all a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the entrepreneur from Malta.

In a nutshell, Dreyfus made it clear that his thinking has been long-term since he first bought the Global Poker Index (GPI). His vision, to establish a neutral and independent ranking system for poker, paid off.

As for his vision for the GPL, in the short-term Dreyfus is proud of the fact that they launched successfully and managed to get 72 of the best players in the world to play online for the new league. He’s proud of some of the innovations put in place, like the web-cams and The Cube.

But he’s not interested in short-term profits or putting on anything less than a great show. His long-term vision is a multi-continent league with four different conferences, and a predominantly digital platform to capture millennials. He seems certain that the game of poker HAS to change, has to engage new fans. Ultimately, predicts Dreyfus, although he will no longer own it, the GPL will grow in the hands of a leading sports marketing company. His goal is to do everything in his power to make the League last long enough for that to happen.

For now, I’m going to trust Alexandre Dreyfus and wish the GPL luck in their upcoming second season, beginning on September 20th!

Send us your thoughts!

Texas Poker StoreJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

If you’re tired of Poker tournaments where you play endless hours to get to a final table, sometimes having to overcome and defeat thousands of other players, then maybe you’re ready for a quick cash game where you can cash out anytime you wish and take home your winnings, if any. Then, you can either jump to another table or go out and enjoy the pleasures of wherever you are, whether it is in Malta or Bulgaria or wherever the Cash Game Festival Tours are being played.

Cash Game FestivalThat is the concept behind The Cash Game Festival that co-founders Enri Orav and Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk came up with a few years back that is gaining ground in the poker world. Originally it began in Tallinn, Estonia and went international this year with its first stop in Aspers Casino, Westfield Stratford City in London in March, with a second stop at Casino Malta, located in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast, in June.

Platinum Casino Sunny Beach, BulgariaAnd now, it opens up its tables on August 31st, 2016, at the Platinum Casino in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, a seaside resort located on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria.

So y’all might wanna make some plans to head off to Bulgaria by the end of the month where the action at the poker tables will be hot and the night life might just scorch you. But don’t worry, y’all be able to jump into the Black Sea and cool off on the sunny beach.

Check out this little video from the Cash Game Festival in Malta if you need a little more enticement. Then hurry up and make your reservations. Maybe we’ll see you there.

Add your comments or thoughts!

Queen of Hearts ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

Our readers want to know what’s going on with the Global Poker League.  As far as I know, the GPL is on a scheduled break for about a month, so this is a good time to bring everyone up to speed.

Alexandre DreyfusAs a blogger who’s been following and writing about the new League since before their highly professional inaugural draft in February, I’ve made no secret of how impressed I’ve been with Alexandre Dreyfus and the GPL. The innovative team concept, the use of web cams, the fan-focused experience as opposed to an experience focused on professional poker players   . . . all came together incredibly well in just 14 short weeks. The GPL had half a million unique viewers, with sustained average viewing times of 17 to 21 minutes per viewer throughout the summer.

Could they have done even better? Absolutely, if they’d wanted to spend millions of dollars on television and online advertising which they obviously did not. Probably a wise decision too, since they now have “proof of concept” without exposing the whole ball of wax to the world prior to doing some very necessary tweaking. Plus they got some free marketing every time someone said or wrote: “Congratulations to Jason Mercier of the New York Rounders”. You can’t buy better branding than that.

GPL's The CubeIt was clear from the start that there had to be a GPL TV studio in Vegas, the mecca for poker players. And, to accommodate all the GPL team members also playing in the 2016 WSOP, they needed the convenience of a TV studio in close proximity to the Rio. I admire Dreyfus and his team for taking the calculated risk to break out their signature platform, The Cube, during the Summer Series, instead of waiting for the reveal originally set for September. In fact, Dreyfus wrote on Facebook that “it was a last minute decision to bring The Cube . . . to Vegas to form the centerpiece of our 2nd TV studio.”

I felt validated reading that, since at the time I had written in my blog: “No surprise, either, that he decided to break out the much-hyped, but not quite ready-for-prime-time Cube ahead of schedule.” It was no surprise because it was obvious to anyone paying attention that The Cube set-up, even in its pared down version, provided the perfect contrast to the play at the WSOP:  up close and personal, fast-paced, poker standing up, innovative and fun!

The players seemed to agree, saying they enjoyed the pace, the slightly intimidating electronic music and SFX — the loud beat, beat, beating of their hearts — the intensity of the heat and lights in the isolating sound-proof glass enclosure. Personally, I think they got a kick out of the jock-like activity of standing and sweating after the passivity of sitting at the poker tables in the air-conditioned Rio for hours on end.

In the meantime, we fans got the rare opportunity to enjoy the “other side” of some of the biggest names in poker – Fedor Holz, Jason Mercier, Sorel Mizzi, Jonathan Jaffe, Anatoly Filatov, Bryn Kenney, Fabrice Soulier, Randy “Nanonoko” Lew, Dan “Jungleman” Cates, Byron Kaverman, Tom Marchese, Faraz Jaka  and the list goes on — as they “let it all out” against their opponent in The Cube.

Many of these matches were not only good heads-up poker but also incredibly engaging entertainment. And for a newbie like me, the expert commentary provided by Joe Stapleton and Eric Danis broadened my poker education without delving too heavily into higher level strategies like range and variance. Their poker knowledge, humor and great chemistry, along with interviews by the smart and sexy Laura “Corndog” Cornelius, made for a highly enjoyable few hours in my day.

By the way, based on comments made by Dreyfus in several interviews, I imagine that what we saw was The Cube in its most basic iteration . . . many of the bells and whistles are still to come.( I’ll cover much more on the improvements I hope to see in The Cube in an upcoming blog!)

So now what?

I’ve been trying to figure that out and according to the schedule that appears on the GPL website, inter-conference play begins again on August 16th.  Unfortunately, a note on the homepage of the site also says “Thank you for joining us in the Las Vegas Summer Series – Back in September.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Dreyfus and team if they want to hold on to the fans they have acquired and continue to grow the way they need to. I’ve been saying for months that the website needs to be overhauled (design and programming) and then maintained consistently. Stories and features need to be updated regularly, a less cumbersome schedule and video archive has to be developed, the site has to load faster and it MUST be optimized for mobile. There’s enough content to fill ten websites, so that’s not the problem. It simply needs to be handled by developers who can deliver a high class, high-functioning professional site.

Eurasia ConferenceConceptually, the GPL‘s vision of poker as a team sport is what sets it apart. It began with players being drafted onto a team representing a major city, and it was that team concept that was supposed to build the fan base.

America ConferenceUnless the mission has changed, I don’t believe the GPL did enough to reinforce the team concept. If this was being marketed as a Team Sport, the logos of the teams should have always been prominent. Instead, the way in which the graphics were designed for the online matches made the team logos difficult to see. Viewers could easily see the players and the hole cards, but sadly, the team names were covered up.

And when play progressed to the Summer Series in The Cube, the players should have been wearing their team t-shirts sporting their team logo. Had the GPL been on time with their team merchandise (a costly misstep) fans of the teams could have worn their t-shirts all over Vegas, including at the heavily attended WSOP, where tons of attendees might have been tempted to purchase an LA Sunset or Las Vegas Moneymakers team shirt — free advertising! Dreyfus commented, “We also didn’t connect with the WSOP fan-base as deeply as we had the potential to do.” He’s right; they blew it. In addition, team branding as well as GPL branding were mysteriously absent from The Cube, at least from the online audience’s vantage point.

Because of the GPL, I grew to know and like some of the players personally; I feel a kind of crazy proprietary interest in many of them whenever I see them playing poker anywhere.  But in the end, if I don’t know what GPL team Fedor, Nano or Mercier play for, there’s something wrong with the marketing plan. Bottom line:  it’s the team that grows the fan base and excites those who root for them with a passion, motivating them to buy team banners, t-shirts, caps. . . and ultimately bring in sponsors.

Dreyfus has promised to “amp up the adrenaline inherent in many of our matches and focus more on the players than the game.” Maybe so, but if he still wants the team aspect to be the GPL’s hallmark, then some good old Yankees/Red Sox, Celtics/Lakers team dynamics have to be built up as well.

I have tremendous faith in the brilliance of Alex Dreyfus and his team to make the necessary adjustments to the GPL in ways I’ve suggested . . . and in ways I’ve never even thought of.  I look forward to the immediate improvements I hope will be made as they finish out this year with the league playoffs and the Season 1 Championship at Wembley Stadium in London. And I can’t wait to watch what happens next year and in the years to come. I got hooked on poker because of the GPL, so I’m rooting for it to evolve into everything Dreyfus envisioned — poker “sportified” to appeal to millions of old and new-generation poker fans.

And I’ll be blogging about it all as soon as the next half of their season begins in August . . . or September.

Add your comments or thoughts!

Texas Poker StoreBy: Queen of Hearts Paris:

Queen of Hearts ParisI was thinking about the Global Poker League (GPL) over the weekend, when there are no matches going on. I was trying to figure out how Alex Dreyfus and the GPL will ever get to that place they’re aiming for – that sweet spot where everyone has at least heard of them (like the NFL or the NBA) and where they attract a wide audience of fans around the globe. And that audience can’t just be poker fanatics. They need to bring in brand new fans that become excited about the competitive format, start identifying with and then rooting for their “home team,” and can’t wait for that team to make it to the playoffs in September and ultimately, the finals in November.

It’s hard to figure, because in some ways the GPL is obviously most akin to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) since it’s about poker, and ultimately crowning a champion. But even though at this point more people have heard of the WSOP than the GPL, I’d bet that the audience for the WSOP consists of 98 percent poker players and fans. Period.  And of course, the WSOP is all about individual players. It’s huge, but it isn’t going to grow much bigger.

Maybe the GPL wants to be more like Major League Baseball (MLB) in that just about everyone has at least heard of it; it has fans from every walk of life; some people have season tickets and some catch a game occasionally; even if you’re only a casual fan you still know what team you root for, and then just about everyone gets involved as the competition heats up and the leagues face off against each other until only two remain to play in the World Series.

Then again, we call it the World Series because of our ethnocentricity, but it’s never been about the world; it’s always been the United States’ Series, hasn’t it? Same  for the Super Bowl; everyone around the world has heard of it, football fans root passionately for their favorite team and hope they make the playoffs, but again; the NFL is made up of leagues from the U.S. and culminates in a Super Bowl that, although watched by millions, is only played by teams from the U.S.

Perhaps the GPL is more like soccer’s World Cup, with teams from all around the world playing each other until the victor emerges.

NY Rounders vs Las Vegas MoneymakersOkay, I apologize. I’ve been fantasizing about the future of the GPL and what we might compare it to, but there’s really nothing like it. And that’s its advantage. It has the pull of home teams that can start building a loyal fan base; people are already rooting for their favorite team. It has the software and webcams that make it possible to get inside the players’ heads to learn their strategy and get to know them personally, the feature I most enjoy.  It has live chatting and tweeting at the same time to create even more fan engagement. It has the innovative “time banks” which, according to Earl Burton on “Poker Update” are not only turning out to be a useful tool in a player’s arsenal but are also so successful that they should be borrowed by all of online poker. It has the mystique of the” Wild Card” choices, where anything can happen, including drafting a famous actor like Aaron Paul for your team.

Although it has been a global league from its inception, with teams representing Hong Kong, Berlin, London, Paris, Rome and Moscow, it is poised to become a global phenomenon after striking a recent major media deal with Sina Sports, the leading online sports platform in China, with a daily traffic flow of 15 million online users and 26 million mobile visitors. Dreyfus noted that the deal is destined to increase interest in poker and the GPL among a potential viewership of more than 40 million people. Not only that, but the media giant will be hosting poker content alongside an array of mainstream sports, from soccer to basketball. In other words, Sina Sports is an already highly credible media platform that should boost the credibility and reputation of the GPL  tremendously. Talk about attracting a new audience!

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