With Poker Central banging out original programming with a Netflix style veracity, Lee Davy, ponders what next for the PokerGO audiences?
My first album was Rebel MC by Rebel MC. It was vinyl. I taped it and gave a copy to my mate.
“I can’t take that,” he said with a look on his face like he was standing in front of a target in an archery range with an apple on his head, and Stevie Wonder holding a bow and arrow.
“Why not?” I asked.
Shooting someone is illegal. Robbing a bank is illegal. Snorting cocaine is illegal.
I was never sure that the Rebel MC thing was illegal. And I don’t know whether watching the best TV shows in the world on Kodi is illegal, but since I can’t do that anymore, I guess it was.
So I am back to Netflix.
And it reminds me of Poker Central.
I know I sound like a warped Rebel MC record, but when Poker Central first announced plans to become the only 24/7 poker TV show in the world, I thought the person running things must have spent too much time with their head stuck in an unlit yet very noxious gas oven.
I had seen a 24/7 poker channel on Sky TV, and it was crap. The only way you can run a 24/7 poker channel, is to have a shit ton of content, and the only way to do that, was to put more garbage front and centre than a used car dealer.
And that’s what they did.
And I guess it worked for a while.
And then it gets kind of boring.
Netflix was the same when they began. I remember a friend, telling me how great it was. I took a look, and it reminded me of Christmas – all the old favourites, and nothing new. I gave it a miss.
Then something changed.
I don’t know if it was pure brilliance or purely accidental, but the Netflix team started to study the analytics of their viewers, to see what types of shows they were watching, and then created Netflix Originals in those genres.
And they even went further than that.
There is a button on the right-hand side of the screen that allows me to skip the intro to House of Cards. They are reading my fucking mind. I love this little button. I can’t get enough of this little button.
House of Cards
Orange is the New Black
Better Call Saul
All of these sumptuous songs came out of the crumpled old tape deck that played nothing but reruns, and Poker Central is doing the same, either by complete luck, or an unbelievably astute finger on the pulse of what the poker people want to see.
Super High Roller Bowl
Poker After Dark
But what’s next?
Four Ideas for PokerGO Originals
1# National Heads-Up Championship
Ok, not an original, I grant you, more of a makeover, but it’s going to happen, so I had to include it.
I never watched the NBC National Heads-Up Championship, but I believe it worked. I can certainly see how. There is no greater sporting sight than Gladiator versus Gladiator. We have all played wrestling games with our Barbie and Action Man until there was only one winner. It’s endemic in our DNA, like paper ribbons at the end of cup finals.
When the show died in 2014, Mori Eskandani, founder of Poker PROductions, said that the show would return:
“I have good reason to believe that the future of the series will be bright.”
Eskandani is amidst the steel pan sifting at PokerGO, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is the one who keeps turning up with the gold.
I think a National Heads-Up Championship will feature on PokerGO within the next two years but hope the producers are taking note of the likes of Ozark and The Sopranos.
Ozark is like Breaking Bad except the family know everything from the outset. The Sopranos was a story about a mob boss who was seeing a shrink.
Choose a universal theme, and then create a twist to differentiate it from the rest.
What could the twist be?
It’s a tough one, but I would love to see PokerGO teaming up with Alex Dreyfus at the Global Poker Index (GPI), to persuade the Top 64 ranked GPI players of that year to compete in the event on an annual basis. The draft can be seeded, and the top seeds could have more time bank chips to use than their competitors.
I know I am having a daydream moment here, but I think it’s an incredible way to showcase the very best players in the business, in the purest form of poker. Does the better player win? No. But who the hell cares? This is about entertainment.
2# Survivor Series
As a wrestling fan in my youth (yes, I know it’s not real, Dad) I loved the Survivor Series more than any other competition. There was something about one man facing four giants that tuned into my underdog mentality.
With the Global Poker League (GPL), and now the World Series of Poker (WSOP), making tag-team style matches sexy again, I think there is a niche growing here for something the fans would love to see.
Without going into the minutiae of how it would work, I would like to see online poker rooms, from around the world, nominate four ambassadors, to represent their online poker room in a Survivor Series style tag team match.
Players begin with an equal amount of chips and can tag in and out in accordance with the rules (not sure what they are yet). You could have a situation where one player with a single big blind could be facing four players with mountains of chips, and then makes a classic WWE wrestling style comeback.
I believe the use of online poker room ambassadors adds a little friendly spice and creates the good old underdog vibe by allowing the likes of Natural8 to compete against the likes of PokerStars. And who wouldn’t want to see a PokerStars v partypoker final with the likes of Patrick Leonard, and Sam Trickett, going head to head with the likes of Daniel Negreanu and Igor Kurganov.
3# A Reality TV Show
Everyone is a voyeur.
We all spend our time staring at the lives of other people through the lens of social media. That awkward moment when you mention your mate’s wife in that bikini when the only way you could have seen it is via her Facebook photos. We have all been there.
It’s for this reason that a Reality TV Show would be as attractive as a hole in the wall sex shop for an ex-con.
But how to play it?
I am torn.
One angle I like is The Rookie.
I think people smarter than I could make something of a Reality TV show where prospective poker wannabe stars compete for the right to win a multi-year deal to represent a top online poker room as a member of their ambassadorial team.
Online poker rooms will once again feature heavily, and their ambassadorial teams will be the ones coaching the Rookie how to be the best in the business: competing in cash games, tournaments, Sit n Go’s, mixed games, writing blog posts, creating Vlogs, being interviewed, and anything else we can think of that professional poker players get up to when not tweeting.
The eviction process can be similar to Big Brother, so there is the combination of strategy and popularity intertwined.
The other angle I like is a straight up popularity contest between our biggest personalities in the game. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a constant pigeon for pigeon battle with the likes of Luke Schwartz & Doug Polk? Who wouldn’t want to see Patrik Antonius crawling out of the hot tub in his tight speedos?
Make it Big Brother Poker Style.
I don’t care.
But let’s put these people under some real pressure and see how they handle it.
4# The Sitcom With a Twist
The Office works because it accentuates the uncomfortableness and hilarity of real life, in a simple setting, with a small cast of characters. The Royle Family was the same.
Ever since I wrote The Ogmore Poker Tour for BLUFF Europe magazine (a sitcom version of my home game), I have always believed if Ricky Gervais wanted to write a script about a poker home game it would be another smash like The Office.
So let’s do it for poker, with a twist.
Instead, of using professional actors and actresses like Poker Nights, let’s use real life poker players. PokerGO can hire Matt Salsberg to create a script that will have us pissing our knickers on a weekly basis and then it’s all in the casting.
Will it work?
How many of you loved the first season of the Global Poker League (GPL), and what was your abiding memory?
Mine was watching the Jungleman flipping out during his match with ElkY. I didn’t care about the poker. I can’t even remember who won, but he was the Bill Burr of the moment and would be the second person to sit on my casting couch, behind Patrik, of course.
There you have it, four ideas for poker TV shows, that I believe could take PokerGO to the next level.
What about you?
What would you work on next, if you were the man in charge of PokerGO?