The Global Poker League: Opening Night Review

TAGs: Global Poker League

Lee Davy shares his views on a Global Poker League opening night that saw the Paris Aviators and New York Rounders take early leads in their respective conferences.

Three years ago it was an idea, two years ago it was a word document, one year ago it was a PowerPoint, and now it’s a living, breathing part of the poker ecology.

Day 1 of the Global Poker League (GPL) is in the bag. The GPL Twitch channel attracted more than 429,000 views and 290,000 unique. Social media was buzzing. Everyone who loves the game of poker tuned in to have a gander.

The Global Poker League: Opening Night ReviewBut did people go away satisfied?

Let’s take a look shall we.

The first day saw four Six-Max games (two from Eurasia Conference, and two from the Americas) hit the GPL airwaves. Paris Aviator’s Davidi Kitai beat London Royals’ Igor Kurganov in heads-up action to take maximum points from the first match in the Eurasia Conference. Hong Kong Stars Raiden Kan defeated Rome Emperors Walter Treccarichi, in heads-up action, to take maximum points from the second game.

Before the first match-ups, a late flurry of bets for the Berlin Bears saw them become the new favourite on BetStars. Philipp Gruissem threw Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates into the fray for those two games, and he came away with the bagel on both occasions.

Eurasia Conference Day 1

Match #1

1st. Davidi Kitai (Paris) – 7 points

2nd. Igor Kurganov (London) – 5 points

3rd. Dzmitry Urbanovich (Moscow) – 3 points

4th. Weiyi Zhang (Hong Kong) – 2 points

5th. Walter Treccarichi (Rome) – 1 point

6th. Daniel Cates (Berlin) – 0 points.

Match #2

1st. Raiden Kan (Hong Kong) – 7 points

2nd. Walter Treccarichi (Rome) – 5 points

3rd. Davidi Kitai (Paris) – 3 points

4th. Dzmitry Urbanovich (Moscow) – 2 points

5th. Chris Moorman (London) – 1 point

6th. Daniel Cates (Berlin) – 0 points.

Eurasia Conference Table

1.Paris Aviators – 10 points

2. Hong Kong Stars – 9 points

3. Rome Emperors – 6 points

4. London Royals – 6 points

5. Moscow Wolverines – 5 points

6. Berlin Bears – 0 points

The second tranche of matches came from the Americas Conference. There were victories for the New York Rounders Jason Wheeler and Las Vegas Moneymakers Anthony Zinno. Tony Gregg of the San Francisco Rush made Daniel Cates feel a little better by also picking up two bagels.

Match #1

1st. Jason Wheeler (New York) – 7 points

2nd. Anthony Zinno (Las Vegas) – 5 points

3rd. Byron Kaverman (Sao Paulo) – 3 points

4th. Mike McDonald (Montreal) – 2 points

5th. Fedor Holz (LA) – 1 point

6th. Tony Gregg (San Francisco) – 0 points.

Match #2

1st. Anthony Zinno (Las Vegas) – 7 points

2nd. Mike McDonald (Montreal) – 5 points

3rd. Jason Wheeler (New York) – 3 points

4th. Fedor Holz (LA) – 2 points

5th. Byron Kaverman (Sao Paulo) – 1 point

6th. Tony Gregg (San Francisco) – 0 points.

Americas Conference Table

1. New York Rounders – 10 points

2. Las Vegas Moneymaker – 10 points

3. Montreal Nationals – 9 points

4. Sao Paulo Mets – 4 points

5. LA Sunset – 3 points

6. San Francisco Rush – 0 points

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In general, you have to say that Alex Dreyfus and the team did an excellent job on the first day of the GPL coverage. Dreyfus is a successful entrepreneur. He understands the importance of getting into the arena, getting some blood on your hands, figuring out what went wrong, fixing it, repairing it, and plodding on.

The Commentary Team

I want to start by saying that Laura Cornelius is fast becoming the most impressive host in poker. She is utterly faultless in her delivery. I don’t see anything better on Sky Sports News. That’s how highly I rate her and once again I thought her professionalism stood out on opening night.

Here is Cornelius in action:

I loved the interview with Paris Aviator Team Manager, Fabrice Soulier, in the build up to the action. The set up was very ’Soccer AM’ and Eric Danis always does a great job as the link man for the team. I would love to see more guests analysing the play in the future.

Watching Sam Grafton and Griffin Benger, it struck me that they are the two most influential people in the GPL right now. When Dreyfus made the announcement that they would be calling the action, I thought it was a great move. I had no idea they would be single-handedly managing the whole show.

What a weight of responsibility to put on their virginal shoulders. Sometime during the first match, Grafton spoke of the pressure that the players must have been under having their games placed under public scrutiny.

“I think we are under more pressure,” said Benger.

Never a truer word said in jest.

I will get to this later, but poker is not a game that is going to grab you by the balls. It’s like shagging. There is a lot of effort for maybe one or two climactic moments. Benger and Grafton are the foreplay, and they managed to turn me on.

The online gameplay is not going to captivate people.

Grafton and Benger will have to fill that sizeable hole.

With this in mind, I think it was a bold move by Dreyfus to throw two rookies into the mix on opening night. I kept imagining how much better the dynamism and flow would have been with Jesse May in control, and both Grafton and Benger taking up the slack. I guess that May would have been Dreyfus’s first choice, but his responsibilities as a father would have ruled him out of a Maltese move.
It’s a shame because May can make snail racing interesting.

Let me ask you this?

Who is the lead commentator between Grafton and Benger?

Is it clear?

I think it needs to be as we move on, and I think Benger fits that role better than Grafton, with the squid sitting in the sidecar.

Missing Parts

Why are we entering Day 2 of the GPL and we still don’t know what the full team lineup is for the Los Angeles Sunsets? When Dreyfus and his team have to try and control so many moving parts, I think this one is an own goal.

It was a mistake to come away from Draft Day with holes in squads. The scoring system should have been made clearer from the get go. I only caught wind of it as we were losing players, but that’s a minor nuisance.

The biggest problem the GPL has is one of engagement. I love poker, and yet I only managed one match, and I was bored a long time before that ended. Watching online poker is not going to work if Dreyfus is going to achieve his goals and dreams of ‘sportifying’ poker.

There was one magical moment in the first match when Davidi Kitai folded a weaker top pair against Igor Kurganov when it seemed sure the money would go into the middle. There was the magic dust right there. The commentators were illuminated, which in turn illuminated my deadening senses. It woke me up. It increased my heart beat.

So how do we get moments like that repeatedly?

We need Holdem X.

There is no way this format will survive future seasons. Poker is boring as a spectator sport, and until we find a resolution for this fact, then we are stuck in quicksand with the Devil pulling at our socks.

On the other hand, how would the action have faired had the matches been live?

That’s an interested one because the players can create emotion, and coupled with Grafton and Benger’s wit and wisdom, we might get somewhere.

So the Cube might work.

But this doesn’t.

Production & Support

I kept reading people complaining about the quality of the stream. Some were complaining about the quality of the audio, others about the lag. From my end, there were no audio problems. There was some lag, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, because, like I said previously, I didn’t find the game very enjoyable.

I did feel some anger, though. It wasn’t churned up by the lag. It was churned up by the idiots who troll the chat on the Twitch channel. I found the criticism of Grafton and Benger appalling, and turned it off quickly, and will never be turning it on again.

Poker is a cynical world, but overall I think the support for this project is tremendous. People want it to work – I can feel it in my bones. The only concerns are whether poker itself can be interesting enough for people to fall in love with it and on this first showing I have my doubts.

At least, we have Neymar Jr on our side.


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