Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris
Imagine my surprise when I checked the Global Poker League’s schedule one last time before posting my GPL blog yesterday, only to discover that the second half of the season, scheduled to begin next week, had been pushed back to September 20th.
What was particularly frustrating is that I follow @GPL and @Alex_Dreyfus on Twitter and Facebook, but the news didn’t come directly from either primary source. The announcement, along with the news that the Playoffs and Finals will take place in Vegas and not at TwitchCon and Wembley, came from Pokernews.com in an Aug. 10th blog by Matthew Parvis, retweeted by the GPL and Dreyfus. Their second retweet, after a bit of sleuthing, came from an independent poker site called www.backdoorquads.com, which also claimed to be breaking the news exclusively at the same time.
I’ve not only been an advocate for the Global Poker League, but I’ve also blogged about it – 20 in-depth blogs to be exact. I expect breaking news about the League I’ve been following so closely and supporting so fervently to be announced by its CEO and the GPL. I don’t want to learn it in a retweet!
I don’t get it. I’ve focused on The Global Poker League from its inception. I introduced it, explained it, praised it, waxed poetic about it and motivated people to watch it. I applauded the innovative team concept. I raved about the genius of Alexandre Dreyfus and his vision to “sportify” poker and to make it “fancentric.” I was a huge fan and followed the action closely.
Along the way I also pointed out what I considered its shortcomings and made some constructive suggestions about what I believed needed to be improved.
I noticed that my tweets were either liked and/or retweeted more than 16 times by @GPL and @Alex_Dreyfus when I had posted a positive blog, which the vast majority of them were. The likes and retweets seemed to stop when I incorporated suggestions or recommendations for improvement the League might consider. Probably just a coincidence, but still . . .
One of my major criticisms was directed towards the GPL website. After their incredibly successful professional inaugural draft, it soon became clear that the GPL site needed to be redesigned and then maintained consistently. Stories and features had to be updated frequently, a less cumbersome schedule and video archive had to be developed, the site had to load faster and, of course, it had to be optimized for mobile. In other words, the site MUST be a high class, high-functioning professional website.
I’ve been writing since the beginning that the GPL’s vision of poker as a team sport is what sets it apart. In fact, I wrote:” . . . it was that team concept that was supposed to build the fan base. Unless the mission has changed, I don’t believe the GPL did enough to reinforce the team concept.”
For example, during the online matches, I wrote in my blog and in the Twitch chat “, the logos of the teams ought to be prominent. Instead, they are often difficult to see. The design of the graphics covered up the team logos when the hole cards were being shown.”
During the Summer Series in The Cube, I also wrote, “ . . . the players should have been wearing their team t-shirts sporting their team logo”. There was practically no visible branding of the teams or of the GPL for the streaming audience. And, because the team merchandise was STILL not available, I lamented that a huge marketing opportunity had been missed: “ fans of the teams could have worn their t-shirts all over Vegas, including at the heavily attended WSOP.”
In other words, I bought into the team sport concept. Naturally I grew to have my favorites among the players; it was hard not to., But in the end, I explained, “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.
In a couple of my blogs, I talked about my biggest concern, which was taking the Playoffs to TwitchCon in San Diego, where it would be competing for the attention of video gamers, a brand new demographic with millions of worldwide fans. I was concerned that bringing The Cube, even with some of the promised bells, whistles and enhancements, could be a disaster, and that “the huge video game audience would walk right by it without ever noticing it’s there.” And as far as Wembley is concerned, it never seemed big enough to be the center of attention in a huge stadium, at least not for a long time.
I’m glad that Dreyfus and team are committed to making the GPL a success on a long-term basis. I respect them for holding back until they’ve made some much needed adjustments. I am betting that within a couple of years, the League will have done what it needs to do to work itself into our hearts and minds; after all, it made me a poker fan and I can’t wait for more! I just wish they would have handled the re-scheduling and venue changes as professionally as they handled their inaugural draft.
Send me your comments or thoughts!